is the highest mountain in Japan at .An active volcano that last erupted in 1707–08, it straddles the boundary of Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures just west of Tokyo, from which it can be seen on a clear day. It is located near the Pacific coast of central Honshū. Three small cities surround it: Gotemba (east), Fujiyoshida (north) and Fujinomiya (southwest).
Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers.
The volcano is currently classified as active with a low risk of eruption. The last recorded eruption started on December 16, 1707 (Hōei 4, 23rd day of the 11th month) and ended about January 1, 1708 (Hōei 4, 9th day of the 12th month) during the Edo period. This is sometimes called "the great Hōei eruption." Fuji spewed cinders and ash which fell like rain in Izu, Kai, Sagami, and Musashi. Since then, there have been no signs of an eruption.
Mount Fuji is located at the point where the Eurasian Plate (or the Amurian Plate), the Okhotsk Plate, and the Philippine Plate meet. Those plates form the western part of Japan, the eastern part of Japan, and the Izu Peninsula respectively.
Fuji-san is sometimes referred to as "Fujiyama" in some Western texts, but this reading is not correct in standard Japanese.
In Nihon-shiki and Kunrei-shiki romanization, the name is transliterated as Huzi. Other Japanese names for Mt. Fuji, which have become obsolete or poetic, include Fuji-no-Yama (ふじの山, the Mountain of Fuji), Fuji-no-Takane (ふじの高嶺, the High Peak of Fuji), Fuyō-hō (芙蓉峰, the Lotus Peak), and Fugaku (富岳 or 富嶽, the first character of 富士, Fuji, and 岳, mountain).
The origin of the name Fuji is unclear. An early folk etymology claims that Fuji came from 不二 (not + two), meaning without equal or nonpareil. Another claims that it came from 不尽 (not + exhaust), meaning neverending. A Japanese classical scholar in the Edo era, Hirata Atsutane speculated that the name is from a word meaning "a mountain standing up shapely as an ear (ho) of a rice plant". A British missionary John Batchelor (1854-1944) argued that the name is from the Ainu word for 'fire' (fuchi) of the fire deity (Kamui Fuchi), which was denied by a Japanese linguist Kyōsuke Kindaichi (1882-1971) on the grounds of phonetic development (sound change). It is also pointed out that huchi means an 'old woman' and ape is the word for 'fire', ape huchi kamuy being the fire deity. Research on the distribution of place names that include fuji as a part also suggest the origin of the word fuji is in the Yamato language rather than Ainu. A Japanese toponymist Kanji Kagami argued that the name has the same root as 'wisteria' (fuji) and 'rainbow' (niji, but with an alternative word fuji), and came from its "long well-shaped slope".
A text of the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter says that the name came from and also from the image of ascending the slopes of the mountain.
It is thought that the first ascent was in 663 by an anonymous monk. The summit has been thought of as sacred since ancient times and was forbidden to women until the Meiji Era.
The first ascent by a foreigner was by Sir Rutherford Alcock in September 1860, from the foot of the mountain to the top in eight hours and three hours for the descent. Alcock's brief narrative in The Capital of the Tycoon was the first widely disseminated description of the mountain in the West. Lady Fanny Parkes, the wife of British ambassador Sir Harry Parkes, was the first non-Japanese woman to ascend Mount Fuji in 1867; and photographer Felix Beato climbed Mount Fuji in that same year.
Today, Mount Fuji is an international tourist destination and common destination for mountain-climbing. In the early 20th century, populist educator Frederick Starr's chatauqua lectures about his several ascents of Mount Fuji --1913, 1919, and 1923 -- were widely known in America. A well-known Japanese saying suggests that anybody would be a fool not to climb Mt. Fuji once--but a fool to do so twice.
Mount Fuji is an attractive volcanic cone and a frequent subject of Japanese art. Amongst the most renowned works are Hokusai's 36 Views of Mount Fuji and his One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji. The mountain is also mentioned in Japanese literature throughout the ages and the subject of many poems.
Mt. Fuji also houses a warrior tradition: ancient samurai used the base of the mountain as a remote training area, near the present day town of Gotemba. The shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo held yabusame in the area in the early Kamakura period. As of 2006, the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the United States Marine Corps operate military bases near Mount Fuji.
The most popular period for people to hike up Mt. Fuji is from 1 July to 27 August, while huts and other facilities are operating. Buses to the fifth station start running on 1 July. Some climb the mountain at night in order to be in a position at or near the summit when the sun rises.
There are four major routes from the fifth station to the summit with an additional four routes from the foot of the mountain. The major routes from the fifth station are (clockwise) the Kawaguchiko, Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya routes. The routes from the foot of the mountain are the Shojiko, Yoshida, Suyama, and Murayama routes. The stations on different routes are at different sea levels. The highest fifth station is located at Fujinomiya, followed by Kawaguchi, Subashiri, and Gotemba.
Even though it is only the second highest fifth station, the Kawaguchiko route is the most popular route because of its large parking area and many and large mountain huts where a climber can rest or stay. During the summer season, most Mount Fuji climbing tour buses arrive there. The next popular is the Fujinomiya route which has the highest fifth station, followed by Subashiri and Gotemba.
Even though most climbers do not climb the Subashiri and Gotemba routes, many descend these because of their ash-covered paths. From the seventh station to near the fifth station, one could run down these ash-covered paths in approximately 30 minutes. Besides these routes, there are tractor routes along the climbing routes. These tractor routes are used to bring food and other materials to huts on the mountain. Because the tractors usually take up most of the width of these path and they tend to push large rocks from the side of the path, the tractor paths are off-limits to the climbers on sections that are not merged with the climbing or descending paths. Nevertheless, one sometimes see some people riding a mountain bike down the tractor route Mt. Fuji from the summit. This is particularly risky, as it becomes difficult to control speed and may roll some rocks along the side of the path which may hit some people.
The four routes from the foot of the mountain offer historical sites. The Murayama is the oldest Mount Fuji route and the Yoshida route still has many old shrines, teahouses, and huts along its path. These routes are gaining popularity recently and are being restored, but don't expect to meet many people climbing from the foot of the mountain. Also, bears have been sighted along the Yoshida route.
An estimated 200,000 people climb Mount Fuji every year, 30% of whom are foreigners. The ascent from the new fifth station can take anywhere between three and eight hours while the descent can take from two to five hours. The hike from the foot of the mountain is divided into 10 stations, and there are paved roads up to the fifth station, which is about 2,300 meters above sea level. Huts at and above the fifth stations are usually manned during the climbing season, but huts below fifth stations are not usually manned for climbers. The number of open huts on routes are proportional to the number of climbers - Kawaguchiko has the most while Gotemba has the least. The huts along the Gotemba route also tends to start later and closes earlier than those at the Kawaguchiko route. Also, because Mount Fuji is designated as a national park, it is illegal to tent above the fifth station.
There are eight peaks around the crater at the summit. The highest point in Japan is where there used to be the Mount Fuji Radar System. Climbers are able to visit these peaks.
Paragliders take off in the vicinity of the fifth station Gotemba parking lot, between Subashiri and Hōei-zan peak on the south side from the Mountain, in addition to several other locations depending on wind direction. Several paragliding schools use the wide sandy/grassy slope between Gotenba and Subashiri parking lots as a training hill.
Due to the dense forest and rugged inaccessibility, the forest has also attracted thrill seekers. Many of these hikers marked their travelled routes by leaving coloured plastic tapes behind, causing concerns from prefectural officials with regard to the forest's ecosystem.
On 5 March, 1966, BOAC Flight 911, a Boeing 707, broke up in flight and crashed near Mount Fuji Gotemba New fifth station, shortly after departure from Tokyo International Airport. All 113 passengers and 11 crew members were killed in the disaster, which was attributed to extreme clear air turbulence caused by lee waves downwind of the mountain. There is now a memorial for the crash a little way down from the Gotemba New fifth station.
View from the top
CLIMBING MOUNT FUJI If you start right after breakfast, you can be back in time to slip like a cherry blossom into a hot-spring fed bath.
Nov 19, 2006; KAWAGUCHIKO, Japan -- When I mentioned to Satoko Hara, a friend from graduate school, that I would climb Mount Fuji -- at 12,388...