Mount Fuji

04 May, 2009

Mount Fuji: Beauty in Symmetry

Mount Fuji

Japan’s capital, Tokyo, is known to be a very beautiful, if expensive, city. But on a clear day, the beauty of this city is even more pronounced. This is because on such day, Japan’s most prized natural treasure is visible within the cityscape. This natural wonder is known around the world for its shape—as a symmetrical cone, its shape is truly remarkable and exceptional, something that can hardly be found elsewhere in the world. It can be seen in various paintings and other works of art, being one of Japan’s most famed symbols. It helps that this attraction is also picturesque and well-preserved, making it a favorite citation in travel guide publications and tourist books as one of the must-see attractions in Asia.

This natural wonder is no other than Japan’s Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji is Japan’s tallest mountain. It is also one of the more popular attractions in the country, a nation that is not too known for its natural wonders. However, it is safe to say that Mount Fuji is popular not merely because of its distinction as the talents mountain in the country. To be fair, Japan isn’t an overly industrialized country; after all, it is a country known for its cherry blossoms during spring, the lush and green forests that surround its numerous temples. However, it is Mount Fuji that tourists and travelers remember as the quintessential Japanese attraction and destination. People all over the world travel to Japan to visit Mount Fuji and take a glimpse of its beauty, its shape that is said to be symmetrical, the forest beneath the mountain that is rumored to be filled with supernatural creatures. Mount Fuji is everything Japan is and is known for—it demonstrates the beauty of the country while not betraying its reputation as a country of wonder.

Mount Fuji is located at Chubu region of the Honshu island in Japan (Honshu is the biggest of the four main island composing the country). Also part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, it overlaps with the boundaries of the Yamanashi and the Shizuoka prefectures. One of the Three Holy Mountains (or the sanreisan), Mount Fuji is 12,388 feet high. The height of the mountain isn’t exactly overwhelming, to say to the least, considering how China and Nepal’s Mount Everest (also located in Asia) is more than double that height, with 29,029 feet. But again, this mountain boasts more than just height. It is surrounded by Lake Shoji, Lake Motosu, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka, and Lake Sai. Those five, together with Lake Ash nearby, provide a spectacular view of Mount Fuji, making them popular tourist attractions. The mountain is also visible from Lake Hamana, as well as in Yokohama, Chiba, and Saitama.

Essentially, Mount Fuji is an active volcano, although studies have proven that there is very little chance for an explosion. In fact, the last recorded explosion of Mount Fuji was in 1707, more than 300 years ago. As expected from Japan, Mount Fuji is filled with many stories and folklores.

One such story is the belief that the forest on the foot of Mount Fuji, the Aokigahara, houses a great number of paranormal phenomena—or spirits, as the natives would call it. The outer part of the forest has signs of obvious human contact, although the part of the forest leading to the mountain is still in a pristine condition. Strangely enough, the Aokigahara is a popular location for suicides—it ranks second, next to America’s San Francisco Bridge, as the most popular places where people commit suicide. However, tourists who travel to the mountain should not be overwhelmed by this fact. For one, suicide rates in Japan are high in the first place (one of the highest in the world), and it is considered as a national problem. But through the years, the suicide rate in Aokigahara has declined, thanks to signs in the area discouraging people to take their own life. In the past, the area is actually used by the samurai as a training ground. This only proves that the area surrounding the Mount Fuji is full of history and mystique.

Climbing the Mount Fuji

Of course, tourists should not miss the opportunity to climb Mount Fuji. There is an old saying in the country that says only a fool would miss the chance to climb the Mount Fuji at least once; although only a fool would attempt to do it twice. In anyway, once, twice, or regardless how many times one would climb the mountain, the travel would certainly be well worth it.

The climbing the Mount Fuji is not as common as it was before, but it still can yield a number of interesting sights. More than 200,000 people climb Mount Fuji every year, and more than 30 percent of this number are foreigners. The climb can take around three to eight hours, depending on the station where the tourists would start their hike, while the descent to the mountain could take around two to five hours. The mountain is open for hiking and climbing from July to August. At this time, huts and other tourist facilities are open. Four major routes to the peak of the mountain include the Fujinomiya, Kawaguchiko, Gotemba, and Subashiri routes. Kawaguchiko is the most popular among these routes, although the Gotenba and Subashiri routes offer a unique experience due to the presence of ash-covered paths. These routes, and others, also offer historical attractions that will surely entice tourists. The Murayama and the Yoshida routes, for instance, has a number of shrines, huts, and teahouses, giving the place an ancient Japanese atmosphere that may already be hard to find within the city premises.

The pristine lake surrounding the mountain, the snow on top of the symmetrical mountain, the virgin and mysterious (also infamous) forest on its foot—Mount Fuji is simply one of the most unique and stunning attractions in the country, and perhaps in the world. No book, travel guide, or television show can ever fully describe the truth beauty of this wonderful natural treasure.

Mount Fuji

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