Mount Fuji Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji

Snow-capped Mount Fuji, also called Fuji-san is the tallest and most famous mountain in Japan. It's almost perfectly symmetrical cone shape make it one of the most beautiful volcano in the world and one of the most iconic images of Japan. Its towers stand above major metropolitan cities and lush green landscapes at over 3,700 meters (12,000 feet). Throughout the centuries Japanese painters have painted it, poets have written about it and pilgrims have flocked to it. Without a doubt, this mountain has been photographed more than any other tourist destinations in Japan.
The highest mountain in Japan is part of a larger national park called Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.It  is situated at the border of two prefectures - Shizuoka and Yamanashi, only 100 km from the center of Tokyo; it can be reached by express train in around 2 hours. It  is a dormant volcano, which most recently erupted in 1708. Fuji is visible on clear days (mostly in winter) from as far away as 161 km (100 miles), but unfortunately it almost always is cloaked in clouds. The best views can be captured from Hakone or Gotemba, at the South-East, or from the so-called Fuji Five Lakes on the North side. The 5 lakes can be found at the foot of of teh mountain; the largest one is Yamanaka lake but the best viewpoint is arguably the Kawaguchi lake. The easiest way to view Mount Fuji is from the train on a trip along the Tokaido Line between Tokyo and Osaka. If you take the shinkansen from Tokyo in direction of Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, the best view of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from around Shin-Fuji Station on the right hand side of the train, about 40 to 45 minutes after leaving Tokyo.
Mount Fuji has been revered by Japanese people since ancient times. They used to believe that gods lived on Mount Fuji. In the 17th-19th centuries, Mount Fuji was thought to have mystical energy and mountain worship, called Fuji-ko, was popular. The Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine was the start point for mountaintop pilgrimages. This shrine was built in 788 to calm the people's fears of a volcanic eruption, but that didn't prevent Fuji-san from errupting violently in 864. Women were banned from climing it until 1872, when the Meiji government lifted the ban to avoid Western criticism at Japan's first World Exposition in 1877. The Yoshida Fire Festival is held at this shrine on August 26 every year to mark the end of the summer climbing season. The festival is one of Japan's three most unique festivals and features over 70 large taimatsu torches 3 meters in height that are set on fire and carried blazing along a 2-km route.

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Climbing Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji can be ascended all year round. The best season for climbing is July and August, but it is also the most crowded. Winter months are recommended only for experienced mountaineers because it is very-very cold. Nearly 300,000 people throng to Mount Fuji each year to make the climb. The climb is popular because it is an easy ascent that can be managed by inexperienced climbers. Mt. Fuji doesn't require mountaineering ability or equipment, and bus service allows people to start at treeline. In order to witness the most breathtaking views, a lot of visitors begin the climb during the early afternoon to catch the sunset, or sometimes climb throughout the night in order to catch the sunrise at the summit. Either choice is inevitably an unforgettable experience. Tourist should notice that the temperature difference between the mountain’s base and top is around 20 degree’s, and even though summer is hot in Japan dawn temperatures at Fuji’s peak in August can still be near or below freezing. Winter clothing is essential; the local tourist office recommends tourists to hike in a long-sleeved shirt and trousers and to wear sweater, gloves and thick socks at higher altitudes.
Official Climbing Season is from July 1st through August 31st, but climbing into the first couple weeks of September is certainly possible. Although a lot of the bus service stops, many of the huts remain open and the conditions are generally safe.
The Yoshida Guchi Trail is the largest climbing trail on Mount Fuji and the most accessible trail from the Tokyo metropolitan area. About 60% of the total amount of Mount Fuji climbers chose this route for climbing. The trail is not technical, but it is steep and loose - requiring handholds at times. The top portions of the trail are often covered in snow and that is why it is removed in order to open the trail.
The original Yoshida Climbing Route starts from the Fuji Sengen Shrine, where the pilgrims of over 500 years ago came to pray before they started their climb up the sacred mountain. The climb from the Sengen Shrine takes about 15-20 hours round-trip, so staying at a mountain hut is common.  Bus service from Mt. Fuji Station is available to the Fuji Sengen Shrine and Umagaeshiwhich is located just below the 1st Station. This is a beautiful hike that meanders through a hushed forest full of centuries of marked history. It provides a much different climbing experience than starting from the 5th Station. The climb from Umagaeshi to the 5th Station takes about 2.5 hours.
Most climbers choose to climb Mt. Fuji from the 5th station. The Fuji Subaru Toll-Road provides vehicle access to the 5th Station, cutting the traditional climb in half.  The hike from the 5th Station to the summit takes approximately 5-7 hour. Many climbers start late in the evening (7-10pm) and climb through the night to reach the summit in time to see the sunrise (goraiko). The hike back down to the 5th Station takes about 3-4 hours.
The Fuji Subaru Line runs from the town of Fujii-Kawaguchiko to the 5th Station and is closed to private vehicles for the peak climbing season.  During this time, extra buses are available from the Fuji Hokuroku Parking Lot, Mt. Fuji Station, and Kawaguchiko Station. Bus service from the base area (Fujiyoshida and Kawaguchiko) runs daily throughout the climbing season and frequently during the spring and fall. The fastest and easiest way to access the 5th Station from Tokyo (Shinjuku Station) is via the direct highway bus.
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