Mount Fuji (富士山 - "Fuji-san") is a volcanic cone and Japan's holiest mountain. It is located on the main island of Honshu. With its 3,776 meters above sea level, it is the highest point in the country and one of the main symbols of the archipelago.
Located about a hundred kilometers from Tokyo, it is one of the most popular destinations for foreign and local tourists who climb it, considered a real pilgrimage, which every Japanese must make once in their life. . Since 2013, the mountain has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Although the volcano is still active, its last eruption dates back to 1707. The Japanese call it Fujisan. This "san" is not the honorific suffix used with personal names, such as Watanabe-san, but the Sino-Japanese reading of the character yama (山, "mountain").
Around the mountain, there are many places to discover, such as the great Kawaguchi and Ashi lakes, or the astonishing and chilling forest of Aokigahara (we reveal more below! ).
The official climbing season is between the months of July and August. Outside of this season, the ascent is not recommended, as it can generate many accidents, even among experienced climbers. In 2019, a streamer from the NicoNico platform fell live during the ascent. His body was found two days later, 800 meters below.
On average, it takes 5 to 6 hours to go up and 3 hours to go down. Mount Fuji consists of ten stations in addition to its relay huts, where it is possible to sleep there. The first station is its base, the tenth its summit.
Generally, people decide to climb Fujisan to watch either sunrise or sunset from the top. It is symbolic to observe the sunrise, and therefore to climb the mountain at night, starting the ascent in the early evening. This tradition is reflected in the name of the country “Japan” (日本) meaning “origin of the sun” but also its nickname “Land of the Rising Sun”.
Although elderly people climb it every year without problems, climbing Mount Fuji is far from a simple walk. You have to come with training and good physical condition. Also, it is necessary to provide equipment and warm clothes because, arrived at the top, we lose 20 degrees.
An average of 300,000 valiants climb the mountain each year, with most doing so during the July-August period. It is however advisable, to avoid the influx of tourists, to avoid the ascent between Friday and Sunday, but also during the Obon holidays (mid-August).
Mount Fuji is a sacred mountain in religions.
In Shintoism (a religion unique to Japan), natural sites are considered places where revered spirits and gods reside (called kami). Thus, the kami of Mount Fuji is the goddess Sengen-sama (Konohanasakuya-hime). According to the myth, she would prevent the volcano from erupting, as long as she was shown respect. Climbing the mountain is a way of honoring Sengen-sama.
In Buddhism, ascension is seen as a purification ritual. This is the path to enlightenment. Reaching the top allows communication with the gods and the kami.
Now, one can find shrines, teahouses and torii gates (Shinto monument that separates the sacred from the profane).
Between myths and legends, the Fuji-San is a venerated being, which brings together the four elements: air, fire, earth and water. According to the locals, the volcano is divine and has a soul. It represents both peace and prosperity.
Mount Fuji is depicted in many forms, especially in art. With wood carvings, the mountain is popularized during the Edo period (1603-1867).
Ando Hiroshige illustrates the Japanese symbol in all its forms and decorations with “The Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji”. Master Katsushika Hokusai influenced Vincent Van Gogh with his work.
The mount also appeared on 5,000 yen bills.
To climb Mount Fuji, there are four trails:
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