Mount Fuji – Sacred Place in JapanSacred Mountains | March 24, 2010
Mount Fuji (Fuji-san), the cone-shaped dormant volcano in Tokyo, is so named after the Buddhist fire Goddess Fuchi and is the home of the holy Shinto shrine of the Goddess Sengen-Sama at its pinnacle. Geographically, it is the highest mountain in the country at 12,388 feet and the most sacred among its ‘Three Holy Mountains’. Its dimensions are stunning with 25-30 miles of diameter, 78 miles of circumference, 1600 feet of the crater diameter, and 820 feet of the crater’s depth.
Clearly visible from Tokyo in the west and situated in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, the mountain is enclosed by five lakes namely, Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Yamanakako, Lake Saiko, Lake Motosuko, and Lake Shojiko. As compared to other holy mountains, a hike to Mount Fuji is not considered impious. In fact, thousands of pilgrims and visitors trek to the pinnacle even at night to see the magnificent sunrise and natural views. Mount Fuji has a nickname Konohana-Sakuahime, which means “causing the bloom to flower brightly,” due to the pink cherry buds surrounding the snow-clad mountain during spring.
According to the geologists, Mount Fuji was created 6,00,000 years ago, while the Buddhist tradition says that it emerged from the earth in 286 BC following an earthquake also forming the largest Lake Biwa.
For the Fujikos (a sect in Japan), the mountain is a holy form living with a soul. On the other hand, the Japanese Buddhists consider it a doorway to another world.
Mount Fuji Attractions
The mountain boasts several Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, and torii gates. The only attraction here is its steep, 8 hours climb to its peak for rewarding views and temples making it a lifetime experience. The official trekking time is July and August when snow has melted.
To ease climbing and provide resting stations, Mount Fuji offers 10 stations out of which the first is at its base and the last is at the peak. At these stations, there are resting huts for the climbers with basic facilities. Until the 5th station at 1400 – 2400 m, paths are paved after which most began their ascend trip to the peak. Here, four 5th stations occupy the different sides of the mountain out of which Kawaguchiko facing Tokyo is well known. These are listed below.
- Kawaguchiko 5th Station (Yamanashi Prefecture):
Located at 2300 m that is reached after 5-7 hours of ascent, this forms the famous base to the summit. The toll road taking you here is the Fuji Subaru Line taking 2300 Yen. To access the summit, the Yoshidaguchi Trail is taken up. Many mountain huts are found at the trail surrounding the 7th and 8th stations. An overnight stay is available here costing around 5000 Yen per person without meals and with two meals is 7000 Yen per person. Sunrise is seen on this side of the mountain. Note that there are different trails for ascent and descent.
- Subashiri 5th Station (Shizuoka Prefecture):
Located at 2000 m and accessible after an ascent of 5-8 hours, this is where the Subashiri Trail starts that coincides with the Yoshidaguchi Trail at the 8th station.
- Gotemba 5th Station:
Located at 1400 m that is reached after 7-10 hours of ascent, this offers the Gotemba Trail to reach the summit. Around the 7th and 8th station, you will find some four huts.
- Fujinomiya 5th Station:
Located at 2400 m that is reached after 4-7 hours of ascent, this is the most nearby 5th station to the summit that offers the Fujinomiya Trail. This trail is packed with many huts and is easily reachable from the railway stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen Line between Tokyo and Osaka. The toll free road takes you to the Fujinomiya 5th Station.
Ensure you have proper hiking shoes, clothes, food, water, and flashlight. To overcome altitude sickness, climb slowly and take several breaks.