"I will never give up my dreams. You draw strength from keeping dreams alive no matter how old you are."

Adventurer Yuichiro Miura takes on Mt. Fuji with his team
  • Videographers
    Takaki Yajima, Koki Sengoku
  • Photographer
    Kenzaburo Fukuhara
(All footage shot in August 2023)

Yuichiro Miura, a prominent Japanese alpinist known for adventures he undertook over many decades, summited 3,776-meter Mt. Fuji at age 90 in a three-day mission at the end of August 2023. While having conquered Mt. Everest three times before, this time Miura was not able to reach Japan's highest peak alone. In 2020, he developed a spontaneous spinal epidural hematoma, a disease that left him with a tingling sensation in his legs and a loss of mobility that meant he required trekking poles to walk.

During his latest Fuji attempt, a team of over 40 people -- including some who worked with him over the years during previous adventures and projects, as well as members of his family -- helped transport him up the mountain in a bespoke wheelchair.

We documented his days leading up to the climb, starting with his physical therapy in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

Yuichiro Miura
三浦 雄一郎
三浦 雄一郎
  • 1932
    Born in Aomori, the capital city of the northernmost prefecture of Japan's main Honshu island.
  • 1966
    Successfully skied down Mt. Fuji
  • (Photo by Akira Kotani)
    Successfully skied down Mt. Everest from 8,000 meters in altitude. The effort saw him awarded a Guinness World Record. A documentary film chronicling his adventure won an Academy Award.
  • 1985
    Skied from the highest peaks on the world's seven continents
  • (© Miura Dolphins)
    Scaled Mt. Everest with his second son Gota and became the oldest person to do so at age 70. It was also the first time a Japanese father-son pair reached the summit.
  • 2008
    Reached the top of Mt. Everest for a second time at age 75.
  • (© Miura Dolphins)
    Reached the top of Mt. Everest for a third time at age 80.

Physical Therapy


Japan is rapidly aging like no other nation. A population estimate released by the internal affairs ministry in September 2023 showed 29.1 percent of Japanese are 65 years old or older, and one in 10 people are 80 or older. The aging of the population is one of the major issues facing Japan. Miura turned 91 in October 2023.

Mt. Fuji is "the origin of the power of my dreams."

We visited Miura in Sapporo in August amid excruciating heat. What we found was a man focused on physical therapy and training drills ahead of his planned attempt at Japan's highest peak. While needing poles and a wheelchair to go about his daily life since he developed his disease, he showed no signs of wavering. Mt. Fuji has always held a special place for him. In 1966, Miura earned his fame by doing the improbable: skiing down the slopes of the mountain using a parachute as an airbrake. "It gave me the power to get out in the world. It is the origin of the power of my dreams," Miura says of the mountain. Now he was taking it on again.

"Does this hurt?" a therapist said while massaging Miura's body, including both of his legs, which still suffer a tingling sensation. He needed help to sit up in bed. But there was no sign of weakness in his eyes, which were fixed ahead.

Miura worked on his thighs while hospitalized, using equipment to measure his motor skills. When data showed improvement, he kept a stern look on his face. "If I say '100' represents being able to walk normally, I've only gotten to around '50' now." Miura then slowly went up and down the stairs using his poles and handrails.

One day, Miura had his second son Gota, who lives in the same city, take him to a sports club. Miura moved up and down on a stool. He exhaled a deep breath in-between 30-second-long efforts. "Does it keep coming once you begin to feel tingling?" Gota asks as he checks his father's body. He has been helping Miura with his regimen.

As Miura slowly moved sideways using his poles, Gota encouraged him: "You sure look like you are skiing, Dad," he said.

Gota has accompanied Miura on many adventures, including climbing Mt. Everest together, but Miura's endeavor in the summer of 2023 had him concerned. He had to find answers to questions like: "At what intervals should Miura rest and when he should use a wheelchair, given his tingling gets stronger the more he exerts himself." Gota made sure his father's workouts would help him be able to walk on his own feet as long as possible.

During filming, Miura visited Gota's place for dinner at his son's invitation. Miura showed no lack of appetite despite his age. Roast beef, tomato salad, edamame soybeans and sweet corn were on the healthy menu. He ate well and drank wine. We struggled to believe a 90-year-old can eat so voraciously.

"Remember the large tent we used during our ascent to Mt. Everest? I've brought it out for the first time in 10 years so I can use it for camping."

Miura spent the evening with Gota reminiscing about past escapades. A granddaughter of his who calls Miura "the super-grandpa" sang him a song. A proud super-grandpa applauded the performance.

"My family means a lot to me," Miura said, something his latest endeavor proved again.

New Attempt

"I want to get to the summit, while taking the time necessary, with your support"

The day arrived with a blue sky and strong sun. On the morning of Aug. 29, 2023, Miura, his family and team started their ascent of Mt. Fuji, the nation's highest peak at 3,776 meters. They set out from the 5th Station, at 2,400 meters in altitude, on the Shizuoka Prefecture side of the mountain.

Miura took steps on a gravel trail using handrails and poles, mindful of small rocks that litter the path. On the slopes, Gota supported his father's back and waist, while other group members helped him by holding his arms. Every so often, Miura would sit on a collapsible chair to catch his breath. Miura and his teammates slowly made their way up, their feet crunching through the rough terrain.

Climbing Mt. Fuji isn't easy. The Fujinomiya Trail begins with a path that threads a needle between small boulders. Climbers must be aware of their footing on the uneven ground. Being mostly unable to use his legs, Miura was facing a grueling ascent. Using trekking poles, he heaved as he tried to move his legs forward, but they betrayed his resolve. The sunglasses he wore hid much of his expression, but his gritted teeth were a telltale sign of the difficulties he was having.

About 40 minutes into the ascent, as the team reached a spot where amateur climbers would take a break, Gota signaled to Miura. Miura got into a wheelchair designed for climbing as the team confronted steep slopes of gravel and volcanic rocks. With Miura in the wheelchair, they proceeded on a path designated for vehicles. He was not exactly "walking on his own," but climbers who caught the scene applauded nonetheless.


Miura's special three-wheeled wheelchair, used during difficult phases, is about 180 centimeters long and weighs less than 20 kilograms. During the ascent, eight people pulled ropes attached to the sides. Three others, positioned beside the chair, adjusted its level. At least one person was tasked with scouting ahead to make sure no obstructions could halt progress. Altogether, at least 12 people were involved in the process at any given moment.

Over 40 people helped Miura on the steep trail leading to the peak. Those tasked with pulling did so in shifts, with several people changing hands each time. They bellowed as they hauled Miura toward the peak.

The group arrived at the 7th Station of the trail, at 3,010 meters in altitude, after five-and-a-half hours of toil and stayed overnight at a cabin there.

At the 9th Station, at 3,460 meters, the following day, students from Clark Memorial International High School's alpine club joined. Miura serves as the school's honorary principal. During his stay at a hut nearby, Miura had his legs thoroughly massaged.

Aug. 31 was the third and last day of the ascent. Miura & Co. finally scaled the mountain, with the then 90-year-old hauled to the top in his wheelchair. "Banzai! Banzai! Banzai!" Miura shouted with his teammates with chilly winds blowing under a clear sky.

"I was able to make an ascent with a happy group. This will stay with me for the rest of my life," Miura said as he repeated words of gratitude to his family and teammates.

"Thanks to you, I've managed to reach the summit, which was my long-time dream. I'm having a great moment."

  • 2023
    In 2023, Miura summited Mt. Fuji at age 90.

"I have a lot of hopes for living past 100."

Miura is now 91 years old. Once an energetic adventurer, he now has grey hair and his face is sometimes stubbled. Miura represents a society that transitioned from one that enjoyed rapid economic growth to one marked by slow growth and an aging population. He is also a representation of a society trying to make life easier for people with disabilities.

Miura's teammates carried around a collapsible chair for Miura during their trek, part of which he walked on his own. A granddaughter of Miura's, who is a nurse, also accompanied him, providing him with massages along the way. What became apparent through the climb was a codependent relationship between Miura's family, who provided him with necessary care, his teammates and Miura's dreams.

Opinions on social media were divided. Some criticized the special support provided to Miura. But others found meaning in his accomplishment, seeing it as encouraging to seniors and those with disabilities.

Miura's life is all about "one step," even when he is suffering from his condition -- some of those steps were taking part in the Tokyo Olympics torch relay; going downhill on the slopes of Mt. Taisetsu, the highest peak in northern Japan's Hokkaido; and his latest ascent to Mt. Fuji's peak.

In pursuit of a hard-to-accomplish dream, Miura worked on physical therapy in his home in Sapporo and trained at a sports club. His strong will and tenacity were more valuable than his extensive support system.

Health, the economy, future and death. One finds it harder to have hopes as they age. It can perhaps be said that the "power of dreams" Miura preaches is an ability to put aside pessimism when faced with difficult realities.

Miura dwelt on how he views his last moments:

"I hope to disappear on a mountain while I ski. Every person encounters death eventually, whether they are in bed or elsewhere. You can just accept it because you are going into nothingness. But as long as I'm alive, I hope to spend every day thinking, 'I want to do more this way or that.'"

The Old Man
The Mountain

  • Videography
    Takaki Yajima, Koki Sengoku
  • Photography
    Kenzaburo Fukuhara
  • Art Direction
    Koki Sengoku
  • Page Design
    Kotaro Nakagawa
  • 3D Modeling
    Koki Sengoku
  • Motion Graphics
    Kazuha Dannohara
  • Technical Assistance
    Kevin Chow, Andhika Kurniawanto, Leonardo Yudhistira
  • Text
    Takeshi Ozawa, Tomohiro Iwata, Takaki Yajima, Hidetaka Komukai
  • Text Editing
    Takuro Yabe
  • Translation
    Daisuke Yamamoto
  • Footage by arrangement with
    Miura Dolphins
  • Photos courtesy of
    Miura Dolphins, Akira Kotani