“Aspire to be like Mt. Fuji, with such a broad and solid foundation that the strongest earthquake cannot move you, and so tall that the greatest enterprises of common men seem insignificant from your lofty perspective. With your mind as high as Mt Fuji you can see all things clearly. And you can see all the forces that shape events; not just the things happening near to you.”MIyamoto musashi
This thread of posts is on my bucket list, both the parts of it I have done and those I am yet to do. It has been written to provide consistent content for your perusal (particularly with lockdown at the moment). I hope West’s Bucket Lists will provide some inspiration, perhaps for your future travels, and even a little escapism in these uncertain times. This post is number 5 on West’s Bucket List. Enjoy!
Mount Fuji, although famous the world over, only really jumped onto my radar as an addition to my bucket list once I read Shoe Dog by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. In his quest to find those places in the world which most spoke to him on an ethereal level, Phil Knight described climbing Mount Fuji as a ‘mystical experience’. That really caught my attention.
I have never been a particularly religious person. I went to a Christian school and some of my closest friends have strong connections to their faith; however, that was something I never came to share. For one reason or another, common forms of worship just didn’t seem to resonate with my personality.
Instead, my father raised me with a profound respect for nature. To respect the land and all of those creatures living upon it with a sense of quasi-reverence. I believe it is for this reason that my travels already seem to end up taking me to places of unadulterated and exquisite natural beauty. These places stir something deep within me.
Gullfoss, the roaring waterfall in Iceland, for example, captured my attention for it enormity and sheer power, whilst Madagascar, where I saw the horrors of mass deforestation, evoked strong senses of awe and terror in my psyche. As I travel further, it is such personal responses that I am looking for in nature, and many of my posts will reflect that. Mt Fuji is, therefore, somewhere that I hope will sit amongst these unearthly places.
Fuji’s name is something of a mystery. It has been claimed, in the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, that the name means immortal; however, there are just as many who claim the name derives from any one of a number of other possible etymological origins.
Mount Fuji itself is nearly four kilometers of snow capped mountain which hides a terrible secret. Although serene to observe, beneath still rock churns fire and smoke. The mountain is a volcano, albeit one which has not erupted in three hundred years, shrouded in a light cloud hat and snow topped peak. I’s outward beauty make its an apt sacred site and symbol for practitioners of Shinto, the indigenous faith of Japan.
Only around thirty five minutes from Tokyo by bullet train, Mt Fuji is a must if you are ever in the city. Ascent of the mountain is not supposedly particularly difficult. Hundreds of thousands of people hike the mountain every Summer and most without guides. You shouldn’t need one either should you follow the trails.
Of course, bring with you provisions, such as food and water, as well as money to buy more. There are many stations where you can pick up further supplies if you should wish or need to. There are associated risks whenever hiking and you should beware of both exhaustion and altitude sickness. If you have health conditions that should threaten to do you him, be careful and think twice about attempting the journey.
It might be that the view of Mount Fuji from ground level is more appealing to you than the view from the top. It is, of course, the form of the mountain which boasts to have inspired master artist Katsushika Hokusai, and through his work, the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh and compositions of Claude Debussy.
To say that views of Mount Fuji are iconic is therefore laughably understated; however, I don’t think the trip would really be complete without reaching the summit of this ancient volcano as well as laying eyes upon it. I think if you are visiting, and able to make the hike, a pilgrimage to the top should be a perfect way to experience one of element of Japan’s magnificence. I certainly plan on getting up there!
“In the darkness you could hear the crying women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men. Some prayed for help. Others wished for death. But still more imagined that there were no Gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness.”pliny the younger’s sombre take on the horrors of a volcanic eruption.