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Sacred Mountains – Mount Fuji

Chances are, you have already heard about the highest mountain in Japan. Mount Fuji rises 12,388 feet into the air and on a clear day, the peak can be seen from Tokyo.  Located west of the city, the mountain is surrounded by lakes and a national park. In this article, you will learn why Mount Fuji is considered a sacred mountain.

The mountain itself is named after the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi and is sacred to the Shinto goddess Sengen-Sama. You will find a shrine that has been erected at the summit. For the Japanese, Fuji is considered the holiest out of the Three Holy Mountains , joined by Mount Tate and Mount Haku.

Mount Fuji is actually a volcano that geologists believe was created 600,000 years ago during the Pleistocene era. The last time the volcano erupted was 1707, but it is no longer active. The Buddhist tradition states that Fuji rose from the earth in 286 BC after an earthquake. This is the same natural disaster that created the largest lake in Japan , called Lake Biwa.

Fuji-san is seen as a sacred mountain by the people for as long as inhabitants have lived close to it. Originally, it had been regarded as a sacred mountain of the Ainu , the aboriginal inhabitants of Japan. The Shintoists in the region are the modern followers of the native religion and saw the mountain as being sacred to the goddess Sengen-Sama. To them, Fuji was a representation of the spirit of nature.  
Although especially important to Shintoists, Fuji is also sacred to Japanese Buddhists, who revere the mountain is a gateway to another world.

What Tourists See and Do

In the summertime, thousands of pilgrims and tourists make their way to the mountain to climb to the summit. Some of the visitors hike through the night just to catch a glimpse of the sunrise from the summit. Mount Fuji is found in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Five lakes surround the attraction, including Motosuko and Shojiko.  Tourists come to take in the beautiful natural scenery, which includes pink cherry blossoms. In the springtime, the mountain becomes snowy.
 
Since it is not considered sacrilegious to climb Mount Fuji, tourists often come to the site to climb. For some, ascending to the summit is a significant pilgrimage. There is also an official climbing season that lasts for only two months , July and August. During this time, most of the snow on Fuji has melted. Thousands of hikers and pilgrims visit the mountain during this time. Making the trek up Fuji is not an easy task , the mountain is rather steep and it takes about 8 hours to complete. Along the way, there are ten stations. The first is found at the foot of the mountain, where the 10th is positioned at the summit. Here, you can rest at a hut or acquire other basic amenities.
 
Fuji Mountain also serves as home to many Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and torii gates.