News Local

Japanese adventurer braves frozen lake

Teresa Carey
Kanya Tanaka has chosen to take up the challenge once again of facing extreme conditions, as he camps out in an unheated tent on the frozen surface of Lake Winnipeg for the next week or more.

Kanya Tanaka has chosen to take up the challenge once again of facing extreme conditions, as he camps out in an unheated tent on the frozen surface of Lake Winnipeg for the next week or more.

When you go to sleep tonight under warm blankets, your mind may wander to Kanya Tanaka, who will be trying to do the same.

But he'll be trying to do it in his small tent and -20 C down-filled sleeping bag, which he has brought with him from Tokyo, Japan. Tanaka has chosen to take up the challenge once again of facing extreme conditions, as he camps out in an unheated tent on the frozen surface of Lake Winnipeg for the next week or more.

Tanaka's tent is set up approximately half way between Siglavik, on the lake's south west shore, and Grand Beach, where it will remain unless it becomes too windy, he said.

On the last windy night he moved camp to a treed area on Willow Island. He wants to make the journey, as he says, "walking on skis" to Hecla Island as long as the north wind remains manageable, otherwise his plan is to take a southerly route. If that becomes impossible, he will continue to camp where he is on the lake.

As far as Tanaka is concerned, the colder it is, the better. Despite a frostbite injury from a -40 C night spent in The Pas in 2008 which impaired his walking, he remains firm in his resolve. Since arriving in Gimli on Feb. 4, 2011, frostbite has left its mark on his cheeks and nose. This does not concern him much though. He is on a mission of self-mastery.

"I want to try my possibility," Tanaka said in broken English.

This is Tanaka's third visit to Manitoba. He visited four years ago, and again three years ago. He has returned because of Manitoba's winter, and a landscape that allows a full visual experience of a beautiful sunrise, not possible at home, nor in Alberta or British Columbia where he has had other adventures, on skis, bicycle, and on foot.

He has ventured into difficult terrain in 30 countries, including Nepal, Australia, Norway, and China. He prefers, always, to make it a solo adventure. While in China, he entered "no trespassing" areas in the Takuramaken Desert and Inner Mongolia. He has cycled 7,000 km in Canada's Northwest Territories in the middle of winter in 1995, the first person to ever accomplish such a feat. He did the same in Labrador in 2001. He has also kayaked 1,500 km along the Yukon River system.

In the future, Tanaka would like to visit northern Quebec, as he is very interested in Native culture, which he said is similar to the Japanese in its "hospitality."

"Native people not friendly when first meet, but stay awhile, very hospitality-little by little-like Japanese," Tanaka said.

Tanaka had spent one month as a guest on Bloodvein First Nation four years ago where he enjoyed ice fishing.

Tanaka has been doing this sort of thing for 25-30 years. He considers it a hobby. Back home he makes a living, in part, as a mountaineering guide and tour coordinator, as well as working in high building maintenance, where he scales the sides of Tokyo's tallest skyscrapers.

Tanaka's friends, whom he works with in Tokyo, are much like him, finding enjoyment in extreme adventure. They also take on extreme challenges, preferring, as well, to do it alone.

At age 45, Tanaka remains unmarried. His heart is in the solo trek, the challenge, the thrill. "Success" or "failure" is irrelevant, Tanaka tried to explain. It is the challenge that is "good", he said.



Featured Businesses

Go to the Marketplace »