When Junko Tabei left her home of Japan to tackle the most difficult mountain on the planet, Mount Everest, she and the 15 members of her all-women team “were told we should be raising children instead”, she recalled to reporters. That didn’t stop Junko from reaching the top of the world’s highest mountain in 1975 age just 35-years-old.
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Sadly, today at the age of 77 Junko died of cancer-related problems at a hospital just outside of Tokyo.
“There was never a question in my mind that I wanted to climb that mountain, no matter what other people said,” Junko once stated. She climbed her first mountain while still in primary school when her teacher led a trip to the summit of Mt Nasu. According to her website she reached the highest peaks of 56 countries and in 1992 became the first woman to have completed the Seven Summits by reaching the highest points of the seven continents.
It was her trip up Everest that put her on the map as not only an excellent climber but a fighter for women’s rights. She told the Japan Times in 2012, “Back in 1970s Japan; it was still widely considered that men were the ones to work outside and women would stay at home,” before adding, “Even women who had jobs — they were asked just to serve tea.”
Junko climbed over mountains and over expectations of the time to become one of the most revered people in the world. She is survived by her husband and two children.