The legends of Fuji-san and its fast facts
When you talk about Japan, aside from its flag, what other image comes into your mind? Isn’t it the Mt. Fuji? It is one of the must-see and must-visit attractions of locals and foreign tourists. It is sometimes elusive to our eyes, but most of the times, it is visible from different parts of Japan, especially in Tokyo. During my visit, I had to wait for a long time before I got the chance to see it from the Tokyo Tower Observatory.
Mt. Fuji is considered one of the famous mountains in the world, and the highest peak in Japan. It plays a vital role on the country’s preserved culture and tradition, especially that of Shinto.
Fuji-san is a stratovolcano, which means it is made of lava and ash, located at the Honshu Island, 60 miles south west of Tokyo. It has an elevation of 12,388 feet, with a summit crater of 1,640 feet wide and 820 feet deep, and a base diameter of 31 miles.
Here are some of the fast facts about this mysterious mountain that most Japanese local endearly call Fuji-san.
Did you know that it is made up of three active volcanos?
Fuji is the main stratovolcano at the top and it also has two other active volcanoes within – Kofuji in the middle and Komitake at the bottom. Fuji-san’s last recorded month-long eruption was on December 26, 1707 until January 1708, where coal and ash flew out of the summit then. Fuji-san is now considered dormant, however, there is a lean possibility that it can erupt anytime.
Did you know that it has four different trails?
Yoshidaguchi, Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya are the four known trails to the summit of Fuji-san. Each of these trails has 10 stations providing climbers with basic rations. Of these four trails, Yoshidaguchi is the most popular among climbers and the route usually takes between eight to 12 hours to the summit. More than 200,000 people climb to the summit each year and according to statistics, 70 percent are Japanese and the rest are mostly European and American climbers.
Did you know that it is surrounded by five lakes?
Kawaguchiko, Yamanakako, Saiko, Motosuko and Shojiko are the lakes of Fuji-san. These lakes usually give travelers the best spots to view Fuji-san, and of these five, Kawaguchi is the best so far. The others aren’t as developed and as suitable for travelers as Kawaguchi yet.
Did you know that it is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu national park?
Fuji-san is actually part of the most visited national park in Japan, the Fuji-Hakone-Izu, where other historic sites are located, too.
Did you know that it is an important part of Shinto?
Fuji-san is a significant place for the followers of Shinto, the main faith in Japan since the 7th century. There are Shinto shrines at the base of the mountain and other parts of Fuji-san.
Did you know that it is privately-owned?
Yes, it is! I got mixed-emotions, too, when I found about it the first time. Fuji-san is owned by Fujisan Hongu Sengentaisha Shrine since 1609.
Aside from these interesting fast facts, Fuji-san is also famous for its compelling myths and legends.
Goddess of Fire.
Its name itself, Fuji, is believed to be derived from “Huchi” or “Fuchi” which are the words for the Aino people’s Goddess of Fire. It was also believed that women weren’t allowed to climb Fuji-san until the 1860s because legend says the Fire Goddess would be jealous of any woman.
The Birth of Fujiyama.
One famous tale about the creation of Mt. Fuji is a folklore about a woodsman who was awakened by a loud noise he thought was an earthquake. When he checked near his house he saw that in the land that used to be flat appeared a mountain. The woodsman was amazed by the mountain’s mysterious existence that he called it Fuji-yama or the Never-Dying Mountain.
Deities of Fuji-san.
It is home to a lot of deities, including Goddess Sengen who used to have a temple in the summit of Fuji and was known to expel from the mountain pilgrims with impure heart and intentions; and Princess Konohanasakuya, who is considered the main deity of Fuji, whose symbol is cherry blossom, and whose shrines are all over Japan.
Don’t miss the opportunity to talk with the locals when you get the chance on your next visit, especially within the vicinity of Fuji-san. Surely, they have a lot more stories to tell about their mountain of worship. You can tell us, too, what other legends and myths have you known and heard about the mysterious Fuji-san?