The role of Mt. Fuji in Japanese culture

  • The most stereotypical shot of Japan that you can find is that of Mt. Fuji in the backdrop, peeking through cherry blossom branches. Yet what lends to its kitschy quality is the undeniable beauty of Mt. Fuji itself. With an almost perfectly spherical cone shape, and perpetually snow-capped top, Mt. Fuji has been an important symbol in Japanese culture, and still continues to be important in the minds of Japanese people today.

    Historical Site

    Mt. Fuji has historically played an important part in the Japanese imagination, and it has been inspiring people to make countless art, poetry and songs for a long time, particularly after the establishment of Edo (olden-day Tokyo) as the capital city in 1600. People can stop and admire the sight of Mt. Fuji on a clear day in Tokyo, so as to see it up close as they travel up or down north.

    In Edo, people dreamed of reaching Mt Fuji, but it was impractically far and arduous for many in the days, without high-speed trains and cars, so to fulfill their dreams, they built shrines dedicated to Mt. Fuji, where small hills are worshipped as proxy of the actual Mt Fuji, and people climb these smaller hills to mimic the experience of climbing Mt. Fuji itself.

    Even today, the view of Mount Fuji draws appreciation from Japanese people. On weekdays with fantastic weather, when the sight of Mount Fuji is clear, office workers would often make small talks about the beauty of Mt. Fuji (and their relative plight being stuck in the office on a wonderful day). People also flock to the areas near Mt. Fuji, such as Shizuoka, for hot spring holidays, and to be treated with great views of Mt. Fuji, should the weather be clear that day.

    Diamond Fuji

    Closer to the city, people also visit observatory towers to enjoy the cityscape, and hope to catch a view of the diamond Fuji. The diamond Fuji is a phenomenon when the sun sets over the summit of the mountain to create a brilliant diamond shaped glare at the crater. Perhaps one would be excused for imagining it was like witnessing the birth of a star (albeit a scientifically misinformed view.

    You can access most popular start point for hiking up Mt. Fuji “5th station” by taking a bus from Kawaguchiko station.

    Kawaguchiko Station Access