Japanese Scenery (I): Mount Fuji

Japanese Scenery (I): Mount Fuji

Fujisan (Mount Fuji) is located on Japan's main island of Honshu, west of Tokyo. It straddles the border of Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures. It is the highest peak in Japan, standing 12,388 feet (3,776 meters) in height. Mount Fuji is an active volcano that last erupted in 1707. For centuries, this perfectly shaped volcano has been enshrined as a sacred mountain and is popular among artists and the public.

A Muse for Artists

Fujisan-The Great Wave off Kanagawa

For thousands of years, the magnificent natural wonder has inspired countless artists. The status of Mount Fuji nowadays can be attributed to the ukiyo-e woodblock prints of Hokusai (1760-1849) and Hiroshige (1797-1858). Hokusai was an artist in the Edo period (1603-1867). He created a new art form where a human being was not at the center of the painting. His Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji is one of the highest levels of the depiction of Mt. Fuji. Among the paintings of the mountain, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, is the most famous one.

Mt. Fuji has been extolled by artists through poems, novels, and paintings during Japan’s 2,000-year history. Japan’s oldest poetry collection, the Manyoshu, contains 11 poems about Mt. Fuji. The earliest Japanese fictional narrative, The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, ends with a description of smoke on top of Mt. Fuji. There were numerous paintings of Mt. Fuji in the Nara period (710-794) and Heian period (794-1185). However, many of them have been lost in the course of history. The most ancient painting of Mt. Fuji is the Illustrated Biography of Prince Regent Shotoku, which depicts Prince Shotoku flying over Mt. Fuji on a black horse.

A Sacred Land for Believers

Fujisan Shrine

Mt. Fuji is both a mountain and a shrine for some. Relgious beliefs about Mount Fuji combine Shinto, Buddhism, Shugendo, and folk beliefs. Believers of Buddhism and Shintoism gather here for their practice. Mt. Fuji is surrounded by temples and shrines - there are even shrines at the rim and base of the crater. Climbing the mountain has long been a religious activity. There is even a religious group centered on Mt. Fuji called Fujiko.

In Shintoism, the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha, the head shrine of the 1,300 Asama or Sengen shrines, is located on Mt. Fuji. Apart from the mountain path and the meteorological observatory, the shrine owns all the land above the 8th station (3,100m) of Mt. Fuji. The shrine was originally built to prevent volcanic eruptions.

In folk belief, Mt. Fuji is a symbol of good luck. Japanese people consider it the most auspicious omen if they can have a dream of Mt. Fuji on January 2nd. Moreover, there is also a Japanese custom of looking at Mt. Fuji on January 3rd.

How to Enjoy Mt. Fuji


If you think climbing is the only way to enjoy Mt. Fuji, you are wrong! No matter your travel preference, Mount Fuji can suit your tastes. UNESCO recognizes 25 sites of cultural interest within the Mount Fuji locality. The snow-capped peaks can be seen from each of these sites.

If you prefer natural scenery, the most famous sites around Mount Fuji are the Fujigoko (five lakes around Mt. Fuji), Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, and Miho no Matsubara (a pine forest). There are also hot springs around Mt. Fuji where you can appreciate the breathtaking beauty of the mountaintop while bathing. If you prefer architecture, there are many temples, shrines, and museums around the base of Mt. Fuji, such as the Fuji-Yoshida Sengen Shrine and Hakone Open-Air Museum.

If you prefer a leisurely tour, you don't even need to reach Mt. Fuji to enjoy its magnificence. All you need is to take the train between Tokyo and Osaka, and you can enjoy the best view of the mountain near Shin-Fuji Station. Or, you can choose to ride the Ferris wheel at Fuji-Q Highland and enjoy the beauty of Mt. Fuji from a high elevation. Of course, if you want to get your body moving, climbing Mt. Fuji is always the best option. In addition, if you want to do something a little different, you can ride around the mountain, ski, and paraglide.

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