- J.E.T to a takeoff -

Caving is ultimate outdoor sports. However, there are few oppotunities which can meet with the caving in Japan now. Katsuji Yoshida (1966 birth) is a lucky guy who was not only able to meet with caving, but also with wonderful exploration friends.

Katsuji Yoshida still did not have the way to predict birth of J.E.T on 1994. It has been 5 years since he vegan mountain climbing. He was pursuing especially hard genre of mountain climbing to satisfy his overwhelming power, like mountain in the winter or the rock climbing. It was "Tokimeki (excitement)" he hunted to feel when he meet the unexpected world. One day, he realized that such unexpected was not remained in the world of mountain. He began to beleave the strangeness and the unexplored scenes he hunted will be in the world of depths of the earth. One scene of the TV program which he watched is vividly recollected as a child. As he look at the darkness of the unlighted passage in a sightseeing limestone cave, the thrilling image the expeditionary party goes into the cave was overlapping rapidly.

In summer of 1994, Yoshida was fascinated by the report with a certain outdoor magazine. There was a report about spelunking of the Hamamatsu caving club. 2 seconds after seeing it, Yoshida made a phone call to the number in the report, and he attached a promise to take him to spelunking at the weekend. As many other explorer, his decision and action are very quick. This was the encounter with Mr. Takeuchi who is the chairman of the Hamamatsu caving club, and Mr. Inagaki. Since then, Yoshida spend every week in Hamamatsu to learn ABC of spelunking.

When Yoshida began to participate in the Hamamatsu caving club, he knows that a caving festival will be held in the Tokai district. The caving festival is the one big event that the cave reseachers or cavers of Japan gather for the purpose of information exchange and improvement of technique. At that year, the festival was organized by the Hamamatsu caving club. Yoshida became an executive committee. However, it was so hurried as the night duty work for a week, preparation and management. It has closed before he understood who is whom, or what is going on.

After that, Yoshida circulates eagerly to Hamamatsu and Mr. Takeuchi who is the chairman of the Hamamatsu caving club carries out fatal advice to him. Mr. Takeuchi said there are many untouched field of caving is located in Mie, Gifu, and Shiga pref. Yoshida with full of pursuit heart was recommended the activity there. It was a starting of his independent stroking in the bush. He has not met a local exploration friend yet, so it was natural to go caving independently. There was not physical problem in "a bush stroke" to find a new cave for him because he used to belong the local mountaineering club. However, he felt a necessity for a friend painfully because he had experienced an accident during moutain climbing in 1993.

At such a certain time, he heard of a fine university student is in Nagoya from Mr. Takeuchi, and Mr. Takeuchi introdeced Oikawa to him. It was just encounter of fate. Oikawa was the only one who can apply brakes to Yoshida who had deviated from general society, but also, Oikawa was resonating in superhuman physical strength and superhuman vitality of Yoshida. The way of speaking of Oikawa, an university student who was just desappointed in love, was "I'm on the summer vacation all year" those days. But, probably, Oikawa himself never predict that the indefinite summer vacation visited after that. Day after day, together, they were go into the mountain since they lived in near house, so that they were suspected from the surrondings. They did not go to the well-known caves, most activities were spent on finding a new cave. To feel the impression of discovery of new cave which Mr. Takeuchi said, they spend their all holidays and weekends in the mountain.

2 perwons who were asking the cave for the place to express their power met together and their power had swollen numbers of times. It did not take a long time for their power to become a germ of J.E.T. Mr. Inagaki of Hmamatsu joined 2 persons who were fighting only by power, and knowledge and experience were compensated. Although, Mr. Inagaki was the stylish youth who dressed in white jeans those days, while he keeps investigating spelunking not shaking and mattering, it became his trademark the shabby T-shirts and long beard. Futhermore, the name "the hermit of J.E.T" was established as retreat of the hair progressed. In this way, J.E.T could achieve the further improvement. After power and brains ware tagged, the 3 persons seem to be perfect, but there were no planning and durability. Probably, with this, 3 persons had finised the liftime only by running about the inside of the mountains.

The cause for J.E.T to be born was at the unexpected place.
In 1995, Yoshida started to attend the English conversation school to master English. (The curiousity of Yoshida does not know the place to stop) It was there to meet Hayama, a doubtful lecturer, who was a teacher in charge. At that time, Hayama was already a little fat, which was a point Yoshida was warried about, but anyway they made a promise to go caving as Hayama wanted strongly. It was the cave debut of Hayama which was performed by wearing tennis shoes in the mood of a hike. Yoshida waked up Hayama to the pleasure of a cave by training him as a friend, here and there, sometime there was a hard time, like rock-climbing the 60m wall without knowing why. Hayama was gifted the natural communication capability. He held the caving tour for biggeners and he increases members to make the J.E.T known to the other caving teams. Then, he becomes large every year and will become a heaviness J.E.T person, not only physically.

When Yoshida (leader), Oikawa (offence leader), Inagaki (adviser), Hayama (secretary) ware all gathered together, they decided to name on the team. There were many ideas to make a big, easy-to-memorize, good name. Actually, the name J.E.T does not have the big meaning, "Japan Exploration Team" was spplied afterwards. The dismissed names were "mud worm", "mud scworm", "friendship" and otheres, all the things without sence.

J.E.T may be the team of the social dropouts who could not get used to an adult gathered, but we are connected with hard bonds and friends each other. Even if it is called self-satisfaction, we want to keep exploring the strange world according to the foundation member's pioneer soul, with our own sense of values. Although it will be a rainy or snowy day, against the virtical wall or inside the water, 4 strange person trips continue, today andf tomorrow. While taking in a new friend like a typhoon, it becomes large rapidly.
There you can see J.E.T is taking off now.

To be continued...