Japan’s Mount Fuji, where man meets mountains

Mount Fuji

Most national symbols in the world are man-made: the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower, the Kremlin, the Great Wall of China. In Japan, however, it is a natural phenomenon, although thanks to its almost complete symmetry, the snow-capped cone of Mount Fuji, even in summer, is so harmoniously composed that it seems more the work of an infinitely patient landscape designer rather than the result of volcanic activity. The majestic lonely peak rises to the heavens to a height of 3,776 meters. In short, it is simply beautiful. Here, more than in any temple garden or ancient castle grounds, it becomes clear why the Japanese prefer the blurred lines between nature and art.

The name of the volcano is thought to come from an Ainu word meaning “fire.” Fujiyama volcano last erupted in 1707, and nowadays only occasional clouds of steam burst through its crust, like the measured breathing of a sleeping giant. Its sleep seems solid, fortunately for the hundreds of thousands of people who climb to the summit each year. For some, the ascent is a sacred act, as the mountain is revered as the abode of the ancient Japanese gods. For others, it is an act of strengthening self-discipline and a way of physical cleansing. For others, the ascent is not motivated by any religious impulse, and they come here on vacation to say they have been here, although they leave, to their surprise, with a strong sense of spiritual uplift. No tourist booklet can make Fujiyama a banal tourist attraction, and even the world’s most jaded travelers will not be indifferent to what comes before their eyes.

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Video: Fujiyama

Climbing Fujiyama.

Most begin the climb at Lake Kawaguchi, in the resort area north of the mountain after about a two-hour train ride from Tokyo. The official climbing season runs from July 1 to August 27, but the mountain shelters at all ten stations on the various climbing routes are open from April to mid-November. Climbing the mountain “out of season” (especially in wet weather) is not recommended, but people do it anytime.

From Kawaguchi, you’ll take a local bus to Go-Gome (“Fifth Station”) on the north slope, where you can start the five-hour climb to the summit. You can also get here directly from Tokyo by bus from Shinjuku Bus Station; travel time is about 2.5 hours. If you’re coming from Kyoto or Osaka, a train or bus will take you to the Fujino-miya trail on the south slope.

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True pilgrims begin the climb around midnight, reaching the summit by sunrise. The trail is well-marked, so there is no risk of getting lost. In addition, the night ascent allows you to avoid spending the night in one of the dormitory shelters (the conditions are, in truth, awful) . You can stop to rest at the seventh or eighth station. Bring warm clothes, comfortable shoes, headgear, and gloves. You can only buy snacks from vending machines at the top, so it’s worth stocking up on provisions and, most importantly, a thermos of coffee or tea.

In one respect, Fujiyama is like any other mountain – it is much easier to descend than to ascend. More adventurous climbers can make their way back down the volcanic sand-strewn descent to Shin-Go-Gome (the “New Fifth Station”). You simply sit on top of your backpack or a piece of cardboard and glide down. From Shin-Go-Gome, the bus will take you to the town of Gotemba, where you can transfer to other transportation.

Fujiyama Surroundings

Don’t limit your visit to these places to just Mt. Fujiyama’s five lakes, which arc around the foot of the mountain from the north, offer great fishing, boating, and hiking. The largest is Yamanaka-ko. Kawaguchi-ko is the most popular, probably because of the sightseeing boats that ply the northern shore, from which you can admire the perfect mirror reflection of Mount Fuji in the water in calm, clear weather. Sai-ko has the best trout fishing, and Shoji-ko is the smallest, most beautiful, and relatively undeveloped by man. Motosu-ko is the clearest and deepest.

Between Sai-ko and Shoji-ko stretches the dense and mysterious Jukai (“Sea of Trees”) forest, notable for being easier to enter than to leave. The volcanic rock makes a magnetic compass completely useless. Many people wander here, some deliberately: the eerie Jukai is invariably popular with suicides, and local authorities scour the forest every year for bodies that would otherwise never be found. South of Motosu-ko, Shiraito Falls, 26 meters high, sparkling with foamy water, is a much more pleasant place for a picnic.

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Fujiyama

Fujiyama

Fujiyama is a mountain located on the island of Honshu in Japan. It is cone-shaped and part of the “Japanese Alps” system. Mount Fuji is a famous tourist attraction from the UNESCO World Heritage List. It is also a regular destination for Buddhist and Shinto pilgrims. The summit of Mount Fuji in the photo is usually covered with snow, the exception being the last summer months.

Many people wonder: is Mount Fujiima a mountain or a volcano? The answer to this popular question: it is a mountain volcano of the layered type.

Mount Fuji is a symbol of Japan and is also called a sacred mountain (Fujisan). On its slopes is a Shinto temple, equipped with a weather station and a post office. Mount Fujiyama is the highest point in Japan, a status earned by its peak Kengamine.

In fact, the common name “Mount Fuji Yama” is considered redundant and therefore incorrect, since “yama” translates from Japanese as “mountain. The accepted name is “Mount Fuji. There is no exact explanation of where the word “Fuji” came from and what it means, there are only various theories.

There is another interesting fact about the mountain in Japan. Many people do not think about whose property Mount Fujiima is. In fact, it is privately owned by the Great Temple of Hongu Sengen, this Shinto temple received Fuji from the Shogun, according to a donation in 1609.

Fujiyama

Images in Culture

Fujiyama has inspired many people to use its image in their art. Since ancient times, the Japanese have composed various legends about the mountain, attributing magical properties to it. You can see Mount Fuji in pictures, movies, and literature. Contemporary researchers believe that artists of past centuries romanticized and idealized the mountain, depicting it not as it really is. Sometimes its name is used only as a metaphor and a vivid image, for example, the book How to Move Mount Fuji by W. Poundstone is devoted not to Mount Fuji, but to the methodology of talent search in the hiring process.

Mount Fuji and Pelevin

In 2018, the book “Secret Views of Mount Fuji” by contemporary Russian writer Viktor Pelevin was published. Briefly also called “The Mystery of Mount Fuji,” the novel is about the search for happiness and features a satire on feminism, start-ups and modern society. According to the story, the word “Fuji” is used in the name of a startup whose author helps clients feel the joy of life again, in the process he uses various Buddhist practices, modified for today’s oligarchs. Written in the spirit of postmodernism, Victor Pelevin’s novel Mount Fuji is filled with a play of meanings and references to various cultural phenomena. According to reviews, after reading Pelevin, the views of Mount Fuji open up from a new perspective – it turns out that the secret view is very close when you can’t see it, but whether you should climb the mountain and what it will yield is a big question. The title of the book also refers to the work of Hokusai and his series of prints, “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.

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Fujiyama

Mount Fuji and Hokusai

Some of the most famous depictions of the mountain are Japanese ukiyo-e prints. Katsushika Hokusai, a famous Japanese artist, depicted the sacred mountain in numerous prints. Hokusai depicted Mount Fuji in several series of prints:

  • “36 Views of Mount Fuji” . Everywhere Fujisan is seen from the Tokyo side, subsequently made another 10 additional works, where the mountain is drawn from the opposite side. Included in this series is the famous depiction of the wave against which the mountain can be discerned, “The Big Wave in Kanagawa.” Hokusai’s views of Mount Fuji were repeated by the artist Hiroshige in a series of 36 works of the same name.
  • “One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji . These are three albums that differ from the first series of works in color – the prints are done in two colors: black and gray.

Fujiyama

Climbing Mount Fuji

The mountain is located in Mount Fuji Hakone-Izu National Park. To climb Mount Fuji is recommended from July to August, when it is equipped with tourist infrastructure: rescue centers and mountain hotels for recreation, there is trade of food and drinks. It is during these months there is no snow on the summit, so this time is preferable and safer for climbing Mount Fuji. In early July, it may still rain, it is better to plan a trip for the second part of the month. Nevertheless, tourists climb the mountain even in winter.

There are 10 levels (stations) on the mountain, with four different routes starting from different points near the foot. From level 5 to the very top also lead four roads:

  • Yoshida (yellow route) is 13.8 km long. It starts at 2,305 m and takes about 6.5 hours to reach 3,710 m. This route to Japan’s Mount FujiMA is most often chosen by those arriving from Tokyo.
  • Subashiri (red) is 12.9 km long. From an altitude of 2,000 m it leads through a forest, the ascent to Mount Fuji (3,710 m) takes 7 hours, the descent through a sandy section.
  • Fujinomiya (blue) is 8.7 km long. The most difficult and steepest route, leads to an altitude of 3,720 m. The way up – about 6 hours.
  • Gotemba (green) 17.4 km. This route is preferred by experienced mountaineers. The ascent to the sacred mountain Fuji takes about 9 hours.
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Fujiyama

The descent usually takes about 4 hours. Buses travel on the Subaru Line toll road from Lake Kawaguchiko to the station at Level 5 on Mount Fuji. There is a parking area and restaurants, and most hiking trails pass through here. You can also use the toll road to get there on your own.

Traveling to Mount Fuji does not require special preparation, you should be prepared for some physical exertion, bring warm clothes, gloves, and rain gear. It is not recommended to plan a visit to Mount Fuji on weekends and holidays, when a large number of people go here. Usually allocate two days for the trip to adapt to the altitude. Overnight stays are organized only in mountain hotels, pre-booking is required. On the slopes of the volcano Fuji there are toilets, you should bring change. It is also necessary to prepare garbage bags, as for the preservation of the nature of the national park is strictly monitored.

In some reviews, travelers write that the best view of Fuji Volcano is from the foot, when you can see the whole mountain, and the views from the top do not impress them much. Therefore, they consider the effort spent on climbing to be in vain and recommend enjoying the mountain from below.

Panoramic view of Mount Fuji in Japan:

The eruption of the volcano Mount Fuji

Many people wonder if Mount Fuji is an active or extinct volcano. It is active, but is now considered slightly active. The last eruption of Mount Fujiema took place in the first decade of the 18th century, in the Edo period. It was one of the most violent explosions, causing new craters to form on Mount Fuji and covering several cities, including Tokyo, with a layer of ash. In recent years there have been occasional reports of a possible eruption of Mount Fuji. It is difficult to predict its behavior because the volcano is considered young.

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The age of Mount Fuji is defined as several thousand years. It roughly began to form 11,000 to 8,000 years ago. The mountain sprang from the lava of other ancient volcanoes.

At the foot of Mount Fuji is an area with the sad name “Suicide Forest” (“Aokigahara”). According to legends, demons and ghosts live here. Over time, the forest near Mount Fuji has become a place for committing suicide; it ranks second in the world ranking of places to commit suicide. It is a forest of various conifers and boxwood trees that grew on the ground of volcanic rock. It is said to be unusually quiet and windless. You can walk through it when climbing Mount Fuji from the north slope, or just come for a picnic.

Forest near the mountain

How to get to Mount Fuji

The active volcano Mount Fuji is located in Shizuoko Prefecture, about 120 km from Tokyo. It takes about 2 hours to get there by car.

You can get here by the following ways from Shinjuku Station:

  • Fujikyu buses to Station No. 5 on Mount Fuji, where the climbing routes begin. The trip takes about 2.5 hours.
  • JR Chuo Line (Chuo Express Line) to Otsuki Station, where you change to the Fujikyu Railway Line to Kawaguchiko Station. Then you need to take a local bus to Mount Fuji (station on level 5). On weekends and during the summer vacations, the express train goes directly to Kawaguchiko. The train ride is more expensive than the bus.

Note that during the climbing season (July-August) the number of flights increases and at other times decreases significantly. To get to Mount Fujiyama in Japan by cab, you can use the services of Uber, Japan Taxi, Takkun Tokyo Taxi. Sightseeing excursions near Mount Fujiema are also organized to the mountain.

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