Mount Fuji, located on Japan's main island is the countries tallest mountain standing at 3,776 meters (12,389 ft). Still an active volcano, Mt. Fuji has erupted several times with the last recorded eruption taking place in 1707. Along with Mt. Tate and Mt. Haku, Fujisan is one of the three holiest mountains in Japan.
Mt. Fuji is arguably the most perfect volcano cone in existence and is often portrayed in art and photography. Unlike other famous high-elevation mountains in the world, Mt. Fuji is not part of a large mountain range, as it stands alone, in all its magnificence.
Mt. Fuji's significance to Japan is embedded in centuries of rich history surrounding the arts and religious activities and in more recent times, is celebrated globally as people travel from around the world to encounter the living legend of Mt. Fuji.
An artistic history
Mt. Fuji has long been the subject of interest for Japanese artists, poets and authors. It is no doubt the many paintings and literature capturing Mt. Fuji's beauty that has led to the mountain becoming a symbol of Japan.
Probably the most famous and influential of these are Katsushika Hokusai's wood block prints; Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji. Hokusai's work became renowned world wide spreading Mt. Fuji's influence beyond Japan's borders. Hokusai's Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji
Mt. Fuji has long been revered by Japanese as a place of worship and for centuries, Japanese pilgrims have climbed to the summit as part of a spiritual journey. Starting off from the many Sengenjinja shrines at the base of Mt. Fuji, ancient pilgrims sought to reach the summit, so as to hike around the crater, in honor of a deity believed to be dwelling there by the Shinto.
As these pilgrimages started to grow increasingly popular, organizations began to spring up in support of the growing pilgrim population journeying up Mt. Fuji. Trails were designated, mountain huts started, shrines built and the rest is history.
Fun trivia:Mt. Fuji's summit is privately owned land. To this day, from station 8 up to the summit, the land is private property, owned by the Sengen Grand Shrine.
Climbing Difficulty Level
Do not believe the blogs that say that Mt. Fuji is an easy climb. Make no mistake; at 3776m/12,388ft the climb up Mt. Fuji is characterized by serious elevation gain, rapidly changing extreme weather, steep inclines, and long switchbacks.
This is not a climb that you want to attempt without proper conditioning and physical preparation. While it is true that some people climb Mt. Fuji in sneakers, jeans, and a sweatshirt, they are taking serious personal risks that should never be replicated. Despite weather forecasts, the weather on Mt. Fuji can never be predicted 50% of the time. This means that unexpected thunderstorms, rain downpours, snow storms, hails storms, etc. are common and should be properly prepared for with proper equipment.
Although it may be common to see young children and older adults climbing Mt. Fuji, you need to remember that those old people on the mountain have been doing this their whole life and those young kids are generally the exception and not the rule. But do not be frightened; with proper gear and proper physical conditioning, Mt. Fuji is an exciting and challenging climb worthy of its place in the book, "100 Things to do Before You Die".
Weather and Altitude
Even during the middle of the summer when temperatures in Tokyo reach 40c/100f, the summit of Mt. Fuji is usually below freezing with a biting wind. Wind-chill taken into account, the summit often feels like -10c/15f in the predawn darkness.
Suffice to say, Mt. Fuji is serious alpine terrain and is not to be underestimated. At 3,776m (12,388ft) the oxygen on the summit has two-thirds the density of normal oxygen at sea level which can cause altitude sickness or AMS.
In order to avoid altitude sickness FMG sets a slow, steady pace to help you acclimatize and enjoy your climb more. Due to the exposed nature of this volcanic mountain Fuji's weather can be extremely temperamental; in extreme conditions high gusts have been known to knock people to the ground and hail has been known to reach a diameter of one centimeter.
Combination rain-wind is also a doosy as the high winds can cause the rain to slash sideways and pelt the climbers. Once again, if you have the proper gear and you are climbing with an experienced guide, this kind of extreme weather is an exciting experience that is enjoyable. But remember--if you have any medical conditions that may put you at risk or impede your performance at high altitude or in cold conditions please consult a physician before considering an ascent of Mt. Fuji.
World Heritage status
In June of 2013, Mt. Fuji was named a UNESCO cultural world heritage site. To read up more on Mt. Fuji's world heritage status follow this link to the official UNESCO Mt. Fuji page.