We are all familiar with the beautiful photos of Mount Fuji from a distance, or even photos of the sunrise from Mount Fuji, however, you don’t often see pictures of the mountain itself. Being on Mount Fuji, whether you are hiking or have driven up, is spectacular. The rich variety of plants and climates on Fuji need to be seen for the history of Mt Fuji’s creation to be experienced.
Mount Fuji is an activate volcano, even though it has not erupted for many years, since 1708. The current shape of Mount Fuji is actually created from 3 different eruptions over the past thousands of years. Mount Fuji stands at 3,776m tall and is the highest peak in Japan and is one of it’s three Holy mountains. Mount Fuji was initially a place of pilgrimage for those following both Buddhism and Shinto. However Buddhism and Shintoism view Mount Fuji differently, in Shintoism Fuji is a kami and they built shrines at the base of the mountain. Whereas in Buddhism Fuji represented the line between this world and the next at the point where no trees grow so climbing was their aim. This is because of the harsh environment on Mount Fuji, and why climbing is only for two months each year when temperatures have only gotten to -7.
Although you may not be able to see the green of the trees from far away, up close Mount Fuji is covered in a sea of living trees. Interestingly the trees that can grow on Fuji differs greatly depending on the elevation and temperature, in some places only very specialised plants can survive. This is also due to the fact that the surface of Mount Fuji is made up of volcanic rock, not soil! Mount Fuji is also home to many birds and mammals, with squirrels and fox, and even bears have been sighted on her slopes.
From afar Mount Fuji looks like a homogenous spread of trees and volcanic rock, however up close that is not the case! When viewed from afar Mount Fuji appears to have no life as you can see no buildings. Although if you view Mt Fuji at night during the climbing season you will see zigzags of light reaching from the 5th stations to the peak!
On each of the four main hiking routes there are guest houses, shops and buildings lining the way. On the more popular routes, there are more buildings than on others and there is even a road (sort of) all the way to the peak which tractors use to get supplied up the mountain. Not only are there guest houses Mount Fuji also houses shrines, temples, shops and hotels! Traditionally Shinto shrines to Mount Fuji were built at the base of the mountain as worship was done from afar. Since the introduction of Buddhism Shinto shrines have also been built on Fuji. At the 5th station, you can visit shops and shrines! They are especially beautiful when surrounded by clouds (although the views are less stunning).
Mount Fuji is much more than just a conical volcano which is loved by many- Mount Fuji houses wildlife, plants, buildings and history!