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Many explorers preceded the current generation of expats. They travelled to unknown places and discovered new regions, peoples and treasures. Their astounding insights inspired generations. We believe that today's expats are continuing the legacy of the world's great travellers, on their own (stubborn) adventure into the unknown.

To mark International Women's Day, we are highlighting Junko Tabei from Japan. This adventurer was the first woman to succeed in climbing Mount Everest.

You learn what you live

As a 10-year-old, Junko took a school trip to Mount Nasu, a 1917-metre mountain in Japan. This trip was the beginning of a lifelong love of mountaineering.

During her university years, she joined several mountaineering clubs. Because she was bothered there were so few female members, she founded the Women's Mountaineering Club in Japan after completing university in 1969. Using the motto of ‘Let's go on an overseas expedition by ourselves’, she wanted to get more women involved in mountaineering and challenge them to push their limits.

Ain't no mountain high enough

In 1975, Junko managed to climb the 8848-metre-high Mount Everest with an all-female team. In 1992, 17 years after this phenomenal achievement, she literally scaled the heights by once again becoming the first woman to climb the highest mountains on each of the 7 continents (Seven Summits). Even though she was diagnosed with cancer in 2012, Junko didn’t stop climbing. She reached the highest summits of Niger, Benelux and Oman.

Besides mountaineering, Junko Tabei was also committed to the environment. More specifically, she addressed the problem of waste in the Himalayas. She contributed to developing solutions for the cleanup of abandoned climbing equipment and participated in several cleanup expeditions in Japan and the Himalayas.

On 20 October 2016, Junko Tabei passed away. She was 77 years old.

For more information on Junko Tabei, please see:

Would you like to share your travel experiences?

Are you an expat or do you know someone with an inspiring experience abroad? Please don't hesitate to contact us at overseas-expat@onssrszlss.fgov.be. And who knows, you might inspire future expats with your story.

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