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The Magnificent of Mount Fuji - January 2010 Newsletter
Mrs Lin's Kitchen - January 2009 Newsletter - The Magnificent of Mount Fuji

 

The highest mountain in Japan, Mt. Fuji has attracted artists, poets, photographers, sightseers, and mountain climbers to gaze at its unusually symmetrical dome. Located just west of Tokyo in Honshu, Japan, Mt. Fuji stands at a grand 12,388 feet high, with a 78-mile circumference. Mt. An inactive volcano, Mt. Fuji’s last recorded eruption took place in December of 1707, and there have been no signs of eruption since.

Three small cities and five sprawling lakes in a national park surround the mountain. The cities are Fujinomiya, Gotemba, and Fujiyoshida, and the lakes are Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Sai, Lake Motosu, and Lake Shoji. Resorts and hot springs are luxurious situated around these lakes, as well as in some of the more remote wooded regions of the mountain.

At the mountain’s base lies Aokigahara forest, where legends and folktales of ghosts and otherworldy beings found their beginning. Ancient samurai once used the remote region around the mountain’s base as a training ground.

The Climb

According to a popular Japanese saying, you’d be a fool not to climb Mt. Fuji, and you’d also be a fool if you climbed it twice. Many Japanese residents prefer to say, “We admire Mt. Fuji from afar.”

Thirty percent of the 200,000-300,000 people who climb Mt. Fuji each year are foreigners, usually visiting in the heart of summer. The highway going halfway up Mt. Fuji made many of these treks possible beginning in the 1960’s. However, the first ascents did not occur with any highway’s help.

The first climber was said to have been an anonymous monk in 663, while the first ascent by a foreigner is recorded at happening in 1860 by Sir Rutherford Alcock. Though half of the climbers on Mt. Fuji today are women, females were not allowed on the mountain’s summit until the Meiji era.

There are several routes to the top of Mt. Fuji, including the Kawaguchiko route, popular for housing mountain huts where climbers can stay; the Subashiri and Gotemba routes with their ash-covered paths; and the Yoshida route with historical sites like shrines and former teahouses along its path.

Overall, the climb to the summits takes about 8 hours and there are about 10 stations along the way.

Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji

A ukiyo-e series of woodblock prints, Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji by famous Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, is the most well-known of its kind to feature the spectacular mountain. The 46 prints that complete the series were created in the early 1800’s, and the most famous among them is known as “The Great Wave of Kanagawa", though other translations have been rendered of this title. In this woodblock print, the wave appears to be larger than the mountain, and tiny fisherman sliding down on their sleek crafts are chosen here as subjects over nobility.

(Search Mrs. Lin’s Kitchen for reproductions of Hokusai’s famous Mt. Fuji images on beautiful, high-quality items like noren, greetings cards, chopsticks, and chopsticks rests.)

Other cherished artistic renderings of the Japan volcano include a series of the same name, “Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji, by ukiyo-e artist Ando Hiroshige, who depicts the mountain in varying seasons, angles, and perspectives. “One Hundred Views of Mt. Fuji” is a later work done by Hokusai.

Mt. Fuji Symbolism

Considered sacred, Mt. Fuji is regarded as a symbol of immense beauty. The current Japanese symbols for Mt. Fuji mean “wealth” and “abundance,” as well as “man with status.” It’s said that Mt. Fuji, though, is named after the Buddhist fire goddess, Fichi. In the 1800s, Fuji-ko societies inspired thousands of people to take yearly white-robed pilgrimages to Mt. Fuji, as they were devoted to the worship of the mountain.

One legend has it that the Goddess of the Flowering Trees, or Konohana Sakuya Hime married a jealous god. After she became pregnant, she felt inclined to prove her loyalty by entering a flaming bower and giving birth to a son, untouched by the flames. Between the 14th and 16th centuries, Konohana Sakuya Hime was believed to protect the villages around Mt. Fuji as she did her son. Later, she became the principal goddess of the mountain. Shrines at the base and summit of Mt. Fuji are still used to worship her along with the fire god.

The ideal locale for meditation and reflection, Mt. Fuji hosts nearly two thousand religious organizations in or around its base. The Buddhists regard the mountain as home to the Buddha of All-Illuminating wisdom, and their name for its summit translates to the “perfect meditative state.” Japanese Buddhists have said the Mt. Fuji is the gateway to another world.

  OUR 2010 NEWSLETTERS

The Magnificent of Mount Fuji


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