Mount Fuji, also known as Fujisan, is an iconic mountain located in Japan and is considered one of the country's most sacred places.
Standing at a height of 12,388 feet (3,776 meters), Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and attracts visitors from around the world. In this article, we'll explore the location, history, and fascinating facts about this iconic mountain located on the island of Honshū.
Mount Fuji: At a Glance
Location: Honshu, Japan
Height: 12,388 feet (3,776 meters)
Mountain Range: Fuji Volcanic Zone
First Ascent: 663 by an anonymous monk
Interesting Fact: Mount Fuji is an active volcano, and last erupted in 1707-1708.
Mount Fuji is located on Honshu, Japan's largest island, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southwest of Tokyo. The mountain is situated between two prefectures: Yamanashi and Shizuoka.
Mount Fuji is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, which covers an area of approximately 1,227 square miles (3,178 square kilometers). It is the highest peak in Japan and is ranked at the top of the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains.
Fuji is also one of Japan's three "Holy Mountains." This list also includes Mount Tate and Mount Haku.
Mt. Fuji Cultural Significance
Mount Fuji's cultural importance stems from its natural beauty, spiritual associations, and historical significance.
First and foremost, Mount Fuji's aesthetic appeal has inspired countless artists throughout Japanese history. Its symmetrical cone shape, often shrouded in mist or capped with snow, has been a subject of admiration and artistic representation in various forms.
From traditional woodblock prints to contemporary paintings, Mount Fuji has been depicted in numerous artworks, reflecting its enduring status as a muse for creativity and visual expression.
Beyond its physical beauty, Mount Fuji holds deep spiritual significance in Japanese culture. It has been revered as a sacred mountain and a gateway to the divine since ancient times.
The mountain is closely associated with Shintoism and Buddhism, two major religions in Japan. In Shinto belief, mountains are regarded as sacred places inhabited by deities, and Mount Fuji is considered one of the most sacred of them all.
Many Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples can be found at the base of the mountain, attracting pilgrims and visitors seeking spiritual enlightenment.
One of the most notable religious practices associated with Mount Fuji is the climbing of the mountain, known as "Fujisan-ko." The pilgrimage to the summit of Mount Fuji has been a traditional practice for centuries, undertaken by individuals seeking purification and spiritual renewal.
The ascent typically takes place during the summer months, when the weather is more favorable, and it is believed to offer a transformative experience.
Mount Fuji is an active volcano and is part of the Fuji Volcanic Zone, which spans about 62 miles (100 kilometers) across central Japan.
The mountain has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013.
The first known ascent of Mount Fuji was in 663 by an anonymous monk.
Mount Fuji has been an important religious and cultural symbol in Japan for centuries and is often depicted in art and literature.
The mountain is composed of several layers of lava, ash, and rock, with the uppermost layer being a cone-shaped peak.
It is the second-highest mountain located on an Asian Island (after Mount Kerinci in Sumatra).
Mount Fuji Climbing History
Mount Fuji has a long history of climbing, and it is estimated that around 300,000 people climb the mountain every year. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was in 663 by an anonymous monk, but it wasn't until the Edo period (1603-1868) that climbing Mount Fuji became popular.
It's believed that the first ascent by a foreigner was in 1860 when Sir Rutherford Alcock climbed the mountain in a total of 11 hours (8 up and 3 down). Only a few years later, the first non-Japanese woman, Lady Fanny Parkes, climbed the mountain.
Today, climbers can choose from several routes to the summit, which range in difficulty from relatively easy to extremely challenging.
The most popular climbing season is from July to August, when the weather is mild and the mountain is free of snow.
Geography and Climate
Mount Fuji, with its majestic and iconic presence, is a stratovolcano known for its steep cone shape. It proudly stands as part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, a sanctuary that encompasses a rich tapestry of natural wonders, including lush forests, serene lakes, and invigorating hot springs.
Encircling the mountain are the picturesque Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko): Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Sai, Lake Shoji, and Lake Motosu. These sparkling bodies of water not only enhance the scenic allure of the area but also offer delightful recreational opportunities for visitors to indulge in.
The climate surrounding Mount Fuji is a direct result of its elevation and location. At its summit, the mountain experiences a subarctic climate characterized by biting cold temperatures and abundant snowfall that persists throughout the year.
The upper slopes become a pristine canvas of glistening snow, contributing to a breathtaking winter landscape. In contrast, the lower regions and foothills enjoy a more moderate climate, with warm summers and chilly winters.
For those considering an ascent of Mount Fuji, the optimal time to embark on this adventure is during the summer months, typically from early July to mid-September. During this period, the weather tends to be more stable, and the snow has largely receded, allowing for a safer and more enjoyable climbing experience.
Among the fascinating elements of Mount Fuji's climate is the formation of its renowned cap cloud, affectionately referred to as "Fuji-Hatsudoki" or "Fuji's hat." Given the mountain's impressive height and distinctive shape, it often generates its own microclimate, giving rise to a stationary cloud that envelops the summit.
Interested in Japan? Explore our Traveler's Guide to the Tateyama Mountain Range.
In addition to Mount Fuji, the Fuji Volcanic Zone is home to several other notable peaks. Some of the most popular include:
Mount Hakone 1,438 metres (4,718 ft).
Located about 20 miles (30 kilometers) southeast of Mount Fuji, Mount Hakone is a volcanic mountain that stands at 1,438 meters (4,718 ft).
Mount Asama 2,568 m (8,425 ft)
Located about 93 miles (150 kilometers) northwest of Mount Fuji, Mount Asama is an active volcano that stands at 2,568 m (8,425 ft).
Mount Ontake 3,067 m (10,062 ft)
Located about 87 miles (140 kilometers) northeast of Mount Fuji, Mount Ontake is a stratovolcano that stands at 3,067 m (10,062 ft).