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Junko Tabei

Junko Tabei




  • Junko Tabei was born in the small town of Miharu, in Fukushima, Japan in the year 1939. The great woman discovered her love for climbing when she was only 10 years old, while on a school trip to Mount Nasu.
  • Although she was interested in doing more climbing, her family did not have enough money for such an expensive hobby, and Tabei made only a few climbs during her high school years.


  • From 1958 to 1962, Tabei studied English literature and education at Showa Women’s University, where she was a member of the mountain climbing club.
  • After graduating, Tabei formed the Ladies Climbing Club: Japan (LCC) in 1969. The club’s slogan was “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves”, and was the first of its kind in Japan.
  • During this time, she climbed mountains such as Mount Fuji in Japan and the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. By 1972, Tabei was a recognized mountain climber in Japan.


  • Tabei’s LCC contained a team known as the Japanese Women’s Everest Expedition (JWEE), headed by Eiko Hisano, that would attempt to summit Mount Everest. After Tabei and Hiroko Hirakawa successfully summited Annapurna III on 19 May 1970, LCC decided to tackle Mount Everest.
  • After a long training period, the team began the expedition early in 1975 when they traveled to Kathmandu.
  • They used the same route to ascend the mountain that Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay had taken in 1953.


  • In early May, the group was camping at 6,300 meters when an avalanche struck their camp. The women and their guides were buried under the snow.
  • Tabei lost consciousness for approximately six minutes until her sherpa guide dug her out. Twelve days after the avalanche, on 16 May 1975, with her sherpa guide, Ang Tsering, Tabei became the first woman to reach the summit of Everest.
  • As a result of her achievement, Tabei was showered with attention: she received messages from the King of Nepal and the Japanese government.


  • In the 1990–91 season, Tabei reached the summit of Mount Vinson, Antarctica’s highest mountain. On 28 June 1992, she summited Puncak Jayain Indonesia and thus became the first woman to complete the Seven Summits.
  • In addition to her climbing, Tabei worked on ecological concerns; in 2000, she completed postgraduate studies at Kyushu University focusing on the environmental degradation of Everest caused by the waste left behind by climbing groups.
  • Tabei was also the director of the Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan, an organization working at a global level to preserve mountain environments.


  • Tabei was married to Masanobu Tabei, a climber she met while climbing in Japan in 1965. The couple had two children: a daughter, Noriko, and a son, Shinya.
  • Tabei was diagnosed with peritoneal cancer in 2012; however, she continued with many of her mountaineering activities. She died in a hospital in Kawagoe on 20 October 2016.


  • On 22 September 2019, Google commemorated the 80th anniversary of her birth with a Doodle. The accompanying write up gave her motivation slogan, “Do not give up, Keep on your quest.
  • The doodle depicts a graph along with seven icecapped mountains which symbolise all the “seven summits”- the highest peaks such as Everest, Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Vinson, Elbrus, Puncak Jaya, on each continent that was climbed by Tabei.