Chris (Rock Chalk) is Geocaching HQ’s Senior Public Relations Manager. He is also a dedicated geocacher who has cached in all 50 U.S. states and 22 countries. He recently visited Japan for the first time and shared some of his experience.
One of the beautiful aspects of geocaching is how it connects people all over the world. I most recently experienced this during my first visit to Japan. One evening, I enjoyed dinner in Osaka with ShinyOrbital, the geocaching community volunteer reviewer for Japan. As we talked about geocaching in the country, he mentioned a cacher who organizes an annual campaign to publish hundreds throughout Japan on a single day.
I was interested to learn more about this project, and I was soon trading messages with that cacher, chii-sun. We arranged to meet a few days later in Oyama with several of her geocaching friends. It was a wonderful evening of camaraderie that never would have happened if not for geocaching!
Since she began geocaching in 2012, chii-sun has found more than 19,000 geocaches and hidden around 600 caches that have earned nearly 1,200 Favorite points! She graciously answered some questions about her big project and geocaching in Japan.
Why did you decide to create a project to organize cache owners to publish so many new caches on the same day?
In Japan, geocaching is not as popular as in some other parts of the world, such as Europe and North America. The country as a whole has fewer geocachers. While there is a relatively higher number of geocachers in urban areas such as Tokyo, active geocachers are almost non-existent in some rural areas. However, I have learned through social media that there are many people who want to enjoy geocaching even in less-populated areas.
I thought about what we could do to have fun together, and as a result, I launched a project in 2021 to publish caches all over Japan at the same time.
How many caches are published?
In 2021, 30 cache owners placed 453 caches. In 2022, 45 people placed 703 caches. In 2023, we had our biggest project yet, with 61 hiders placing 833 geocaches, including Adventures.
Where were the caches located?
They are located all over Japan. The hiding situation changes every year depending on where the cache hiders are located. For the 2023 project, published caches were located from Hokkaido in the north to Fukuoka Prefecture in the Kyushu region in the south.
What were the challenges of organizing the project?
Since the participants are all over Japan, it was necessary to create a sense of unity.
First, I set up communication channels. I created dedicated groups on Facebook and X (Twitter), and for those not using social media, I used the Geocaching Message Center to keep in touch as needed.
We also added a matching logo to all cache descriptions. For this project, we all submitted our cache pages with [JH3] at the beginning of the cache title so that our reviewer (ShinyOrbital) could easily identify caches from the project. JH3 is an abbreviation for “All Japan Hiding Campaign, the 3rd” and good collaboration with our reviewer was essential to publishing so many caches on the same day.
How did the community react to seeing so many new geocaches?
Some people could not sleep on the day before the big launch! Some appeared to count down, and some sent messages to me. At the very moment of publishing, the notification messages never stopped ringing. It was like a fireworks display, and we were all delighted.
Can you describe geocaching in Japan for people who have never visited?
There are currently almost 33,000 active caches in Japan, including such popular destinations as Mt. Fuji, Tokyo Tower, and Fushimi Inari Shrine. They are hidden not only in famous tourist spots, but also in fascinating locations only known to local people.
How would you describe the Japan geocaching community?
Geocaching communities in Japan are active on various social media sites, with each region having its own characteristics and attractions. By joining a regional geocaching community, one can rediscover the charms of a region and make new encounters and friendships. However, there has not been a Japan-wide effort to do something like our Japan Hiding Campaign in recent years.
One of my fondest memories was a Travel Bug® (TB) race in 2014 to see how far TB could travel. At that time, I was excited to see the performance, hoping that my TB would move faster and increase its travel distance. As I write this, my TB is currently traveling in Poland. (TB6M7H9)
The success of this TB race made me think how fun it could be if all geocachers in Japan could do something together. This led to an idea of publishing caches all over the country on the same day. I am sure there will be many more initiatives in the future.
How did you first begin geocaching?
A friend found a children’s newspaper article featuring geocaching and told me about it. I was intrigued, and that’s when I created my account on Geocaching.com.
What are your favorite things about geocaching?
I have been playing this game for 12 years now. For the first five or so years, I was looking for caches with gusto because I enjoyed the pleasure of being able to go places I could not go without encountering geocaching and the gradual increase in the total number of caches I found.
Today, I still love searching as much as ever, but five years ago I started to feel the joy of hiding caches. I have organized projects such as this latest one to publish caches all over Japan at once, held events to create caches such as Maker Magic, and posted information about geocaching on social media.
Anything else you would like to share?
To all geocachers around the world, there are many interesting caches in Japan. Please come and find them!
Have you geocached in Japan? Tell us about your favorite experiences in the comments below!