Mt. Fuji sacred place and source of artistic inspiration

Mt. Fuji

For travellers considering a trip to Japan, Mt. Fuji is often considered a must-see destination. As the highest mountain in Japan, standing at 3,776 meters, it is also an active stratovolcano, akin to renowned Italian volcanoes such as Etna, Vesuvius, or Stromboli. Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013, Mount Fuji holds sacred significance and has long been a source of inspiration for artists and poets.

Its iconic conical silhouette, often capped with snow, has captivated minds for centuries and attracted pilgrims seeking spiritual connection. Since the Edo era, depictions of the mountain have adorned various forms of media, from woodcuts by famous artists like Hokusai to modern-day Japanese guides, book covers, postcards, and souvenirs.

In an interesting twist, the name and popularity of Mount Fuji inspired the founders of a new television channel in 1957. Seeking a name that would resonate with the public, they chose “Fuji Television,” citing the mountain’s widespread appeal and iconic status in Japan. Today, Fuji TV stands as one of the country’s most popular television stations, with its main building situated in Odaiba overlooking Tokyo Bay.

Mt. Fuji – sacred place and symbol of Japan

For followers of Shintoism, Mount Fuji holds sacred significance, serving as a holy mountain, while for all Japanese people, it stands as an eternal symbol of their country. Revered for centuries, it is a place of religious worship, attracting nearly 17 million visitors annually. At the foot of the mountain lies the Fujisan Hongu Sengentaisha Temple, a thousand-year-old shrine dedicated to the female deity, Princess Konohana-no-sakuyahime-no-mikoto.

An intriguing historical note is that until 1868, entry to the temple was prohibited for women.

Before ascending the mountain, it is customary to pay respects to the deity by bowing and acknowledging any potential disturbance of the peace. Additionally, the temple was constructed with the belief that it would safeguard the surrounding area and Edo (now Tokyo) from future volcanic eruptions. The last eruption, triggered by a powerful earthquake, occurred in 1707/1708, making expressions of gratitude especially pertinent.

Mt. Fuji – climbing

It is feasible to summit Mount Fuji during specific times of the year, with the primary climbing season spanning from July to August. From May to September, visitors can ascend to 2400 meters via an asphalt road accessible by bus or car. The journey from this point to the summit typically takes between 4 to 7 hours, contingent upon the hiker’s fitness level, weather conditions, and trail traffic. The descent may require 2 to 4 hours. Along the route, several shelters provide rest stops, and at the mountain’s peak, there is a meteorological observatory. During the winter season, one of the slopes transforms into a downhill ski area.

The famous Japanese proverb advises, “You have to be a fool not to enter it once, and even more foolish to enter it twice.” To avoid appearing foolish, proper preparation is essential for your first-time trip, including ensuring you have appropriate equipment. It’s important to note that even during the peak summer season in August, temperatures on Mount Fuji can drop to 5 degrees Celsius. Surrounding the north side of Mount Fuji are five lakes collectively known as Fuji Goko, and the mountain itself is situated within the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Mount Fuji implements regulations to combat overcrowding and preserve Cultural Heritage

Mount Fuji, an iconic UNESCO World Heritage site in Japan, faces challenges of overcrowding and environmental degradation due to an influx of climbers. Concerns include human traffic jams, littered foothills, and poorly dressed hikers, some even attempting the ascent in sandals. To address these issues, the Yamanashi prefectural government has implemented new regulations.

As for 2024, climbers will be charged 2,000 yen ($13) and face a daily limit of 4,000 individuals. Additionally, new safety guides will enforce etiquette rules on the trails. The government aims to preserve Mount Fuji’s cultural significance, rooted in the Fuji-ko religion while combating overtourism and ensuring the mountain’s preservation for future generations.

Mt. Fuji – how to get there from Tokyo?

To reach nearby Mount Fuji from Tokyo, both train and bus options are available, with the bus being the more economical choice. Several buses depart daily towards the mountain, with the Highway Bus being a popular option. A one-way ticket from Shinjuku station in Tokyo to Fujian typically costs around 1750 yen (approximately 14 euros). It’s advisable to book tickets in advance online, specifying your desired departure and arrival times, as well as reserving a seat. Remember to pick up your ticket no later than 15 minutes before departure to avoid losing it.

The bus terminal for the Highway Bus is located at the Shinjuku Station West Exit, situated across the street from Shinjuku Station. The entrance to the main hall of the bus station is marked, and stairs leading up to the station hall on the 4th floor are easily found. Inside, you will find a spacious and comfortable waiting room with several ticket counters. Even if you’ve made a booking, you may have the option to change your departure or arrival time when purchasing tickets at the station.

In the waiting hall, large screens display visible and well-marked timetables, making it easy to locate the departure gate. Buses are conveniently parked just outside the waiting room, eliminating the need to search for a stop. During the journey to Mount Fuji, the mountain itself becomes a captivating attraction as it appears directly in front of the bus, offering stunning views. The trip from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to the final bus stop at Kawaguchiko Station typically takes around 1 hour and 45 minutes.

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