No visit to Japan is complete without discovering sacred Mount Fuji
In the land of the rising sun, you can dream of spring cherry blossoms or the red and gold fallen leaves of autumn. You can dream away, but one thing is a must: a trip to explore Mount Fuji.
Why Mount Fuji?
For the Japanese, Mount Fuji is both a source of pride and a sacred place. Located around 80 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, visitors can reach Mount Fuji by many modes of transport, such as by car or via high-speed train, which takes about one hour.
With an altitude of 3,776 meters, one would have thought the road leading to the mountain’s top was treacherous, but this is not the case. Visitors can enjoy a surprisingly peaceful trip up the gradually ascending mountain slopes. Cars run smoothly under shady old cedars, interspersed with bamboo.
Immortal Mount Fuji
Listeners are moved by a feeling of dreamy excitement when their car passes a section of the road where a song praising Mount Fuji is played and their tour guide recounts a legend about the immortal Mount Fuji. The story tells how, once upon a time, an old married couple lived near Mount Fuji. One day, the husband went to the mountain and found a shining stalk of bamboo. He cut the bamboo and brought it home. Next morning, a pretty young girl appeared in the bamboo stalk. The old couple rejoiced and took good care of the girl, who grew up to become a beautiful young lady with many talents. Rumors spread to the royal court. Hearing of this special girl, the Emperor came to see her and fell in love with her.
While their love seemed indestructible, one night, under an incredibly bright moon, the girl sadly told her parents: “I am the princess of the moon. I made a mistake and was exiled to Earth as punishment. Now that I have served my sentence, I must return to the upper realms.” She took off her gorgeous kimono to give to her parents as a present, and asked them to bring the Emperor a sad farewell letter and an elixir of immortality.
Upon receiving these items, the Emperor lamented: “Oh my dear, without you, what good is immortality?” He had the elixir placed on the top of Mount Fuji. It is probably for this reason that the mountain top is covered with white snow all year round, and has stood tall and pure as their love, through many volcanic eruptions. Mount Fuji was formed by volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago. The mountain’s peak is a giant crater of 500m in width and 200m in depth, which contains a lake of deep blue that changes color at sunrise and sunset.
Every year from June to August, hundreds of thousands of people climb the mountain. There are four trails with nine rest stations leading up the mountains’ slopes. No words can describe the sunrise on Mount Fuji! At around four in the morning, the red sun begins to rise, giving a reddish tinge to the clouds and the water. Reflected in the giant, snow-capped mirror on the mountain’s top, everything seems to glow with a beauty that leaves onlookers speechless. Lower down lie lush green grasslands and grand cedar forests that surround ancient pagodas.
Oshino Hakkai village
When the volcano was active, its eruptions spilled lava onto surrounding areas, creating fertile hills and soil. Tea plantations, orchards, and lush and colorful vegetable and flower gardens are notable tourist attractions here. Small shops selling local specialties like mushrooms, tea, and seeds line the ancient, winding roads of Oshino Hakkai village, which lies at the foot of the mountain, adding to the flavor and color of this place. Some products are processed, so visitors are invited to try them. Many visitors end up buying a lot, as this region’s special soil makes its agricultural products unusually tasty.
One end of the village’s road leads to a blue lake, the water of which is exceptionally pure, coming from the melted ice of the mountain. Legend has it that anyone who drinks this water will enjoy great longevity and good fortune, so tourists all take a few sips and bring a bottle home. The far end of the village’s road leads to a market that sells local agricultural products that are hard to resist.
Fuji-Q Highland is a theme park at the base of Mount Fuji, bordered by the five lakes that lie around the mountain. In the spring, the park comes to life with vibrant pink shibazakura (phlox moss), which adds to the majestic mountain scenery. This is a large amusement park. You can enjoy thrills on high-speed roller coasters or immerse yourself in the world of famous animated movies. In addition, in the park’s museum, you can admire beautiful photos and paintings celebrating Mount Fuji.