The government has just established a new public award named after alpinist-skier Yuichiro Miura for "adventurers who challenge themselves to the limit of human potential." Originally the recipients of the prize, whom Miura will select himself, were going to be seniors, but at its namesake's insistence all ages are now eligible. Nevertheless, the deed that inspired the honor, Miura's conquering of Mount Everest last month at the age of 80, thus making him the oldest person ever to scale the world's highest peak, has been heralded as a valuable inspiration for Japan's boomers. If Miura can reach the summit of Everest at such an advanced age and with a faulty ticker to boot (four operations for arrhythmia since 2008, not to mention a history of diabetes and hypertension), then think of what mere mortals can accomplish.

The mass media tend to ignore those aspects of a human-interest story that might detract from its positive effects. Nobody wants to be a wet blanket — except maybe the weekly magazines.

One, Bunshun, published an article in its June 13 issue that attempted to temper the excitement of Miura's accomplishment with a balanced accounting of how he went about it. The reporter mentions that no one can deny that the feat was impressive, but it's not as if any healthy 80-year-old, even one who trained as hard as Miura did, can do the same thing. You need money, and lots of it, and for all intents and purposes the Miura family, which is in the mountain-climbing business, is run like a corporation. This was the octogenarian's third successful climb of Everest, and though it was characterized as one man versus nature, it was actually a huge financial undertaking. A dozen sponsors jockeyed for the right to have their names printed on the flag that Miura waved when he reached the summit because there was a cameraman there to film it, ostensibly for record-keeping purposes but also because those sponsors expected it. According to Miura's daughter, Emiri, the climb cost ¥150 million, of which ¥100 million came from sponsors, ¥18 million from individual "supporters," and the rest from fees the alpinist received for speaking engagements and media appearances.