Fujisan, symbol of Japan

The Fujisan (富士山) is the most beautiful volcano in the world, with a very distinctive shape: symbol of Japan (at the name Fuji is always added the title of honor san), is the  highest mountain of the country (3776 m).
The last time, its top erupted, was in 1707, the stunning eruption lasted for 3 weeks and threw into panic the citizens of Edo (ancient Tokyo) at 120 km, darkening the sky in daytime and covering the city with ashes; now the volcano is asleep, but we can’t exclude another eruption.
Among all the mountains venerated by shintō, the Fujisan is the Almighty, respected as sacred since prehistoric times; its sanctity is official: in 1962, after 5 years of discussions between local government and the Sanctuary of Fuji about who owned the top of mountain by law, was issued a ruling in favor of the Sanctuary.
The scenery around is amazing and, through the slopes coated by thick forest, provides poetical views of the great volcano; also the nearby area of ​​the 5 Lakes of Fuji doesn’t go unnoticed.
600.000 years ago there was the creation of two volcanoes, the Komi-take and the Fuji, which 300.000 years later were englobed in the present Fujisan, to whom multiple stratifications of lava gave its particular aspect; according to legend, instead, Mount Fuji arose in one only night, but it also says it could disappear quickly, wrapped in a ball of fire.
It was adored by the Ainu, who gave it the name of the Sacred Domestic Fire Fuchi and believed it was the abode of the Gods, symbol of the link between earth and heaven; according to the shintō, the numerous Kami are living, as well as in a Sky World, also in the most beautiful works of nature: the sacred mountains are especially appreciated by the Kami and therefore is necessary venerate and respect these abodes, doing tribute to them.
For Buddhists, the sacred path of Ochudo-Meguri, that surrounds the Fuji at the height of 2500 m, divides two different worlds: the lower, terrain, and the upper, spiritual.

Many Japanese people are convinced that to climb until the top of their sacred mountain at least once in their lifetime is a religious duty to respect, but an old Japanese proverb states: “Everybody goes up to the Fujisan at least once, but only a mad man would do it again.”
Through six equipped paths, in seven hours of an arduous ascent, can be achieved the summit; The ceremonial season lasts only in the months of July and August, but in the ascent the temperature moves from summer hotness to winter coldness; several shintō shrines, the Sengen, dedicated to the mountain spirit, the goddess Konohana, are scattered along the routes.
In the largest of the Five Lakes, Kawaguchi, there is the picturesque island of Cormorant that hosts the Sanctuary of Benten; just below the peak is, instead, a Sanctuary 2000 years old, built by the Emperor in an attempt to appease the gods who expressed their anger with repeated eruptions and earthquakes.
For shintō pilgrims, in their white tunics, climb Mount by night to watch the rising of Sun, is a ritual that celebrates the Goddess of the Sun, Amaterasu Omikami, mother of Japan.
Today the pilgrims are 400.000 each year, with peaks of 20.000 per day and 1 / 3 of the climbers come from other countries, but previously Fuji was forbidden to people, according to the concept that wanted inviolable the sacred mountains: later, the ban was removed, but women were allowed to go only in 1868, with the Meiji Restoration.

 

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