Mt. Fuji, Shizuoka Prefecture ー A lot has happened in the past few months. In western Japan, we’ve experienced a major earthquake, torrential downpours, and a heatwave. At school, I finished my first semester and tested my Japanese language abilities far more than ever before. I’ve also been busy volunteering and started a new internship that I’ll talk about in another post soon! The past few months haven’t been easy, but they sure have brought a lot of excitement to my life.
Speaking of excitement, there’s nothing more exciting than scaling Japan’s tallest mountain (at 3776m/12389ft) in the pouring rain. That’s how I spent the last couple of days, and it was completely worth it.
I decided to go with a tour group that left from Osaka. For ¥20,000 (around $240), I was able to climb the mountain with a guide and have all of my meals and transportation covered. The bus left early in the morning from Osaka Station where all the eager climbers were picked up. We arrived in Shizuoka at Mount Fuji later that evening and began our ascent at 5:30 PM. There was some mist when we started, but nothing serious so with rain gear on hand, we made our way up the mountain. A few minutes after our departure, the wind picked up and it started pouring rain.
Finally, by 8:30 PM we made it to our hut and took shelter from the elements. Our goal was to make it to the top of the mountain to see the sunrise, so we were suited up and ready to go again at midnight. By then, the rain had stopped and we had a fantastic trek the rest of the way up the mountain.
At the top of Mt. Fuji, there is a large Shinto shrine and the highest post office in Japan! Historically Mt. Fuji has been a symbol of Japan that is deeply connected to religion. Shintoism, Buddhism, and even ancient Ainu traditions all revere Mt. Fuji in one way or another. Eight major Shinto shrines have been built around the mountain which is said to be home to a kami (spirit), specifically that of Princess Konohanasakuya-hime. Despite a few clouds drifting in and out of view, the sunrise was magical from the top of this mountain steeped in history.
The weather was beautiful for the trek down the mountain, and I felt a surge of energy despite a lack of sleep. That was until the guide mentioned we would have to go uphill again. . . Somehow, many hours later, we made it back to the bus and started on our way back to Osaka.
On the way home we made a couple of stops, one at an onsen which was a wonderful way to relax after such a long day of climbing.
All in all it was an amazing experience to get to climb Mt. Fuji. I now understand why so many people climb the mountain each year.