Imagine standing in solitude, surrounded by the crisp early morning air, just before sunrise. Streams of fog are weaving their way through the land. You look straight ahead, spot a snow-covered tip of a majestic mountain, standing in isolation, gracefully. The earth seems to hold its breath for a moment.
With a summit of 12,380 ft., Mount Fuji is literally the “greatest” of Japanese symbols. As the tallest mountain in the country, it shapes Japan’s physical and cultural appearance. However, it also has a highly spiritual relevance. As a “living mountain” centuries ago, the cone-shaped Mt. Fuji is shaped so perfectly because of a number of eruptions. Also, it is one of the few basalt volcanoes in the world.
A UNESCO world heritage site, Japan’s impressive mountain, which is located in Fujiyoshida, on the island of Honshu (bordering the two prefectures Yamanashi and Shizuoka), stands tall under the glowing sun. What seems like one single mountain is, in fact, made of three volcanoes – Mt. Fuji is a composite stratovolcano to be precise. Mt. Fuji doesn’t just draw in visitors from near and far, but specifically people of faith: pilgrims, monks, and other spirituals.
A Sacred Place
Behold! Thousands of years of history are lying in front of you. Allow this to sink in. Gaze at the incredibly beauty that is unfolding before you; feel the power of the spirits that are naturally surrounding you. You will, without a doubt, stand in awe.
It’s a place where the spirit of the Shinto religion is residing. As a sacred site, Mt. Fuji is home to many shrines. Those practicing Shinto believe in spirits of nature, as well as sacred powers. Hence, Mt. Fuji is a powerfully spiritual destination.
With your mind as high as Mt. Fuji you can see all things clearly […] all the forces that shape events; not just the things happening near to you – Miyamoto Musashi
On a beautiful day, under the blue sky and surrounded by lush green vegetation, wander towards this picture-perfect, isolated mountain. You have ways to go, but savor the journey, for the path even just to the foot of this natural beauty is a special one. Let the spirit lead and surround you.
Dating back to the time of the Ainu people – the native inhabitants of Northern Japan – it is said that the mountain’s name derived from their god of fire: Fuchi. “Fuji-san” is the Japanese term for the mountain and, loosely translated, means “fire mountain”.
In Buddhism, this holy place was a target point for those believing in rebirth. However, Mt. Fuji might just be the most important place for those practicing the Shinto religion. Hence, eight shrines sit at the base of the mountain; several others – hundreds – were added throughout the years. A place that truly is spiritual through and through.
Since it is so holy, one was not allowed, in former times, to walk the path up to Mt. Fuji without being accompanied by a monk or priest. And it makes sense, Mt. Fuji truly is a force of nature, a symbol of a godly creation.
A Beautiful (Mountain) Spirit
Nature is not only unpredictable, but also incredibly beautiful. Even more so when we think about the magical spirits that linger and give a place a certain energy. And so, based on a mythology that developed sometime in the 15th century CE, the flower blossom princess (Konohanasakuya-hime) became the goddess of Mt. Fuji. This is after she descended to earth. She was renowned for her sheer beauty – applicable to the shape and nature of this spiritual mountain itself. The wonderful cherry blossom as a token of beauty is the symbol associated with Konohanasakuya. The Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shinto shrine at the foot of the mountain is surrounded by 500 cherry trees blooming wonderfully during spring time.
The Rising Sun from Atop Mt. Fuji
Known as the “Land of the Rising Sun,” Japan is a destination that many associate with a lot of smiles, a warm-hearted welcome, optimistic residents, and a good dose of positivity.
The ascent up Mount Fuji is an experience of a lifetime. Depending on the level of practice, it takes between four to eight hours but will be a memory that lasts forever. To witness the “Goraiko” – the sunrise from the summit -, climbers leave in the night to witness this spectacular and, granted, almost spiritual, spectacle from atop. As the sun is appearing on the horizon, Japan awakens; its spirits come to life.
There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit – love – Morihei Ueshiba
And as you then stand atop the mountain, overlooking the beauty that is Japan, the sun tints the land in a warm, golden light. It is here where, in 663, the first monk set foot as he was also the very first person (as far as records show) to trek up this spiritual place. Eventually, after females were not allowed to climb up this holy mountain for the longest time, it was in the late sixties that the first woman reached the summit.
Nowadays, there are five possible routes leading up to the top. On the ascent, five lakes await; lava flows created them. Climbers usually ascend in the summer months of July and August, as the conditions are best due to the snow
Are you tempted to make the trek – hiking the path of spirituality and natural beauty?