The Saint Mountain – Fujiyama
The Fujiyama Mountain is the number one attraction in Japan. It offers the people that get there a natural landscape that one cannot see anywhere in the world. This is not a simple mountain it is actually a volcano, and an active one, situated in the southern part of the Honshu Island, in the north part of the Izu peninsula and West of Tokyo, in the Yamashita province.
What makes it stand out between those hills that it is surrounded by, is the height. It has a conic shape and 3.776 meters height. Whichever angle you may look from, the Fuji Mountain is almost identical; therefore when you are at its bottom you cannot know which part of the Mountain you find yourself at. Its crater has a 600 meters diameter and contains three burning points – Komitake, Ko-Fuji and Shin – Fuji. The last eruption of this volcano took place in December 1707 and lasted until January 1708. Nowadays, it is believed to be a sleepy volcano.
The Japanese see this mountain as sacred, being in present days a main point of pilgrimage. Before the Buddhism appeared in Japan, climbing in white clothes on Fujiyama Mountain was regarded as an obligation for those that chose the penance way, in the Shinto religion. After the Buddhism was introduced in Japan, the Fujiyama Mountain changed its religion as well, from Shinto to Buddhism. It is regarded as a reincarnation of a God, this is why any verbal addressing to this mountain ends with the suffix “-san” or “-sama”. Until the end of the nineteenth century, women were not allowed to climb on this mountain. For them and for those that the physical condition did not allow them to climb the mountain, replicas of Fuji were built.
The paintings that represented the image of this sacred mountain were looked for in all times, except the Meiji period, when the accent was put on modernization and industrialization. This is why the conservative artists were put in the back and the new ones were granted success.
In Japan the spirits that have the power to bring happiness in people’s lives are known as “kami” and the belief in these spirits is known under the Shinto religion. These spirits can signify anything, animals, natural phenomenon, landscapes, heroes etc.
There is a famous Japanese saying that states that you are wise if you climbed to the peak of the Fuji once, but you are stupid if you do it twice. Between 200.000 and 400.000 people, annually climb this mountain. Anyhow, there is a certain period recommended for one to make this trip, from the middle July till the end of August. In the rest of the year, not even the professionals try it, due to the harsh natural conditions. There are “4 paths” to climb this mountain on. Most of the visitors and tourists climb this mountain by bus or car up to the 5th level, and then they take the Kawaguichiko path that lasts 5 hours till the top. Descending is usually done on the Subashiri path and lasts almost 3 hours. The motives that one would have to climb Fuji, are said to be the fantastic view of sunrise and sunset and the desire to have climbed at least once in a lifetime this sacred mountain.