Google on Sunday celebrated the 80th birthday of mountaineer Junko Tabei, the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, with a special animated doodle. Rich in colours, the doodle depicts a graph along with seven ice-capped mountains which symbolises all the seven summits - the highest peak on every continent climbed by Tabei. Apart from Everest, six other peaks include Aconcagua, Denali, Kilimanjaro, Vinson, Elbrus and Puncak Jaya. Fronted by six letters of the word G-O-O-G-L-E, the celebrated landmark also shows a moving animated cartoon, representing Tabei.
Born on September 22, 1939, the Japanese mountaineer devoted most of her life in scaling peaks, climbing the tallest mountains in more than 70 countries. Her philosophy was to live life to the fullest. "I want to climb even more mountains," she said in a 1991 interview with The Associated Press, 16 years after conquering Everest. "To think, 'It was great,' and then die". To do so required defying stereotypes, and a supportive husband, in a country that thought a woman's place was in the home.
Interestingly, she first experienced the joy of climbing at the age of 10 during a class trip to Mount Nasu. Though Tabei was the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest, she once said she preferred to be remembered as the 36th person to climb the world's highest mountain peak.
Tabei, the celebrated mountaineer, founded the Ladies Climbing Club in 1969 with the slogan "Let's go on an overseas expedition by ourselves," and reached the summit of Everest on May 16, 1975, as the leader of the climbing party of an all-female Japanese team. "Most Japanese men of my generation would expect the woman to stay at home and clean house," the mother of two said in the 1991 interview.
In 1992, she became the first woman to complete the "Seven Summits," reaching the highest peaks of the seven continents. Her first summit was nearby Mount Nasu with her teacher in the fourth grade.
Later in life, she became concerned about the degradation of Everest, completing master's studies in 2000 at Kyushu University in southern Japan on the garbage problem as the famous mountain was opened to more climbers. "Everest has become too crowded. It needs a rest now," she said at a 2003 parade in Nepal to mark the 50th anniversary of the first successful ascent of the peak by Sir Edmund Hillary.
Google in its notes stated that Tabei kept her passion and dream to scale new heights alive even while battling with peritoneal cancer since 2012. Her goal was to climb the tallest mountain in all of the more than 190 countries of the world. She fell short, but ticked off four more as recently as 2015, according to her website, in Niger, Luxembourg, Belgium and Oman.
Tabei died of cancer at a hospital outside of Tokyo in October, 2016. She raised in Miharu, a hilly farming town in Fukushima prefecture about 230 kilomeres north of Tokyo.