Mount Fuji

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Mount Fuji, located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan's "Three Holy Mountains" (三霊山 Sanreizan?) along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku; it is a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, a Historic Site, and has been submitted for future inscription on the World Heritage List as a Cultural (rather than Natural) Site.

Approximately 300,000 people climbed Mount Fuji in 2009. The most-popular period for people to hike up Mount Fuji is from July to August, while huts and other facilities are operating. Buses to the fifth station start running on 1 July. Climbing from October to May is very strongly discouraged, after a number of high-profile deaths and severe cold weather. Most Japanese climb the mountain at night in order to be in a position at or near the summit when the sun rises. The morning light is called 御来光 goraikō, "arrival of light".

There are four major routes from the fifth station to the summit with an additional four routes from the foot of the mountain. The major routes from the fifth station are (clockwise): the Lake Kawaguchi, Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya routes. The routes from the foot of the mountain are: Shojiko, Yoshida, Suyama, and Murayama routes. The stations on different routes are at different elevations. The highest fifth station is located at Fujinomiya, followed by Kawaguchi, Subashiri, and Gotemba.
Even though it has only the second-highest fifth stations, the Kawaguchiko route is the most-popular route because of its large parking area and many large mountain huts where a climber can rest or stay. During the summer season, most Mount Fuji climbing tour buses arrive there. The next-popular is the Fujinomiya route, which has the highest fifth station, followed by Subashiri and Gotemba.

Even though most climbers do not climb the Subashiri and Gotemba routes, many descend these because of their ash-covered paths. From the seventh station to near the fifth station, one could run down these ash-covered paths in approximately 30 minutes. Besides these routes, there are tractor routes along the climbing routes. These tractor routes are used to bring food and other materials to huts on the mountain. Because the tractors usually take up most of the width of these paths and they tend to push large rocks from the side of the path, the tractor paths are off-limits to the climbers on sections that are not merged with the climbing or descending paths. Nevertheless, one can sometimes see people riding mountain bikes along the tractor routes down from the summit. This is particularly risky, as it becomes difficult to control speed and may send some rocks rolling along the side of the path, which may hit other people.

The four routes from the foot of the mountain offer historical sites. The Murayama is the oldest Mount Fuji route and the Yoshida route still has many old shrines, teahouses, and huts along its path. These routes are gaining popularity recently and are being restored, but climbing from the foot of the mountain is still relatively uncommon. Also, bears have been sighted along the Yoshida route.

The ascent from the new fifth station can take anywhere between three and eight hours while the descent can take from two to five hours. The hike from the foot of the mountain is divided into 10 stations, and there are paved roads up to the fifth station, which is about 2,300 metres (7,550 ft) above sea level.

Huts at and above the fifth stations are usually manned during the climbing season, but huts below fifth stations are not usually manned for climbers. The number of open huts on routes are proportional to the number of climbers—Kawaguchi-ko has the most while Gotemba has the least. The huts along the Gotemba route also tend to start later and close earlier than those along the Kawaguchi-ko route. Also, because Mount Fuji is designated as a national park, it is illegal to camp above the fifth station.
There are eight peaks around the crater at the summit. The highest point in Japan, Ken-ga-mine, is where the Mount Fuji Radar System used to be. Climbers are able to visit each of these peaks.
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