Big in Japan: Fun facts about Mount Fuji

There is only another week or so left in the Fuji climbing season…

While most of you probably won’t get the chance to scale Japan’s most iconic peak this summer, fret not as there’s always next year! In the meantime however, here is a list of fun facts about Mount Fuji (????, Fuji-san) to get you excited about the climb…

Did you know?

- The Japanese characters for Fuji, ?? and ?, mean ‘wealth’ or ‘abundance’ and ‘a man with a high status,’ respectively.

- Every summer, more than 200,000 people climb to the top of Fuji. Some years, about a quarter of all of the climbers on the mountain are foreign residents and tourists.

- In the Japanese language, there is a dedicated word that describes the sunrise at the top of Fuji, namely goraiko (?????).

- The summit of Fuji is high enough to induce altitude sickness (??????, kouzanbyou), though it’s possible to buy bottles of oxygen along the climbing route.

The list goes on, so keep reading!

Did you know?

- Mount Fuji has been regarded by the Japanese as a sacred moumtain since the earliest recorded history on the archipelago.

- An anonymous monk first reached the summit of the mountain in 663. However, it was forbidden for women to climb until the Meiji Era (1868-1912).

- The first ascent of Fuji by a foreigner was in 1860 by Sir Rutherford Alcock, the first British diplomatic representative in Japan.

- Gotemba 5th Station, located between Subashiri and Houei-zan peak on the south side of the mountain, is one of Japan’s most famous take-off spots for paragliding.

- In feudal times, the town of Gotemba was used by the samurai as a remote wilderness training camp.

- Fuji is an active volcano, though it is classified as having a low risk of eruption. The last recorded eruption started on December 16, 1707, and ended on New Year’s Day of 1708.

- Fuji’s eruption during the Edo Period is known as the ‘The Great Houei Eruption,’ which resulted in cinder and ash raining down across the surrounding countryside.

- Mount Fuji is located at the point where the Eurasian Plate meets the Okhotsk and Philippine Plates (think lots and lots of earthquakes!).

- The forest at the base of Fuji, which is known as Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), is reported to be the world’s second most popular suicide location after the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

- In the ancient days of Japan, people believed that Aokigahara was haunted by evil demons. Poor families used the forest as a place of abandonment for the very young and the very old.

- While long lines occasionally form near the summit along the Kawaguchiko route, the Yoshida route is so remote that bears are occasionally spotted by hikers.

Want some tips for climbing Fuji, Japan’s most iconic mountain peak? Check out this past Wednesday’s installment of Big in Japan, entitled ‘How to Climb Mount Fuji.’

** Special thanks to my climbing partners! From left to right: Kei-chan, me, Tomori and Will-san **