One of the first images that appear in the mind to represent the country of the rising sun is, without a doubt, Mount Fuji. Its importance within Japanese culture is undeniable. In this way, its influence on aspects such as art or religion make it one of the most representative symbols of the country.
In addition, Mount Fuji or Fuji San, the name by which it is known in Japan, has been on the Unesco World Cultural Heritage list since 2013 as an object of worship and a source of art.
Mount Fuji is located on the island of Honshu, between the Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. It is the highest mountain in Japan. It reaches an altitude of 3776 meters and its crater has a diameter of approximately 800 meters.
Mount Fuji is a dormant volcano that currently has a very low risk of eruption. The last recorded date of activation dates back to 1707. This eruption is known as the Hoei eruption and preceded one of the largest-scale earthquakes recorded in the country’s history.
One of the most interesting facts about the formation of Mount Fuji is that it is a compound volcano. In order of depth we find, under the various layers of hardened lava, the Komitake volcano; in the center of this is the Kofuji volcano and, finally, the name by which it is known, the Fuji volcano.
The top of Mount Fuji is very characteristic. It is almost always covered by a thick blanket of snow, forming patterns and silhouettes around the slope and peak of the volcano. In addition, during the different seasons, the volcano shows completely different landscapes.
In Japan it is customary to climb the Fuji once in a lifetime as part of a personal fulfillment or pilgrimage. About 300,000 people go to the mountains each year. Despite its height, the ascent is very easy. Therefore, any person, with the appropriate measures, can make the journey to the top without any problem.
Part of this pilgrimage path comes from the ancient beliefs of Japan. According to Shintoism, Mount Fuji was the home of a kami. The kami are protective gods of the Japanese people. Many legends and writings narrate the intervention of the kami that lives in the volcano. It is attributed both natural catastrophes and years of prosperity.
The main purpose of reaching its summit is to witness the Goraiko, which means the arrival of dawn. Contemplating the rising sun, an iconic name given to the country itself, embodies the renewal and rebirth of the spirit. In autumn and winter visitors are closed to protect them from low temperatures and snowfall.
Similarly, Mount Fuji has inspired numerous artists. Their presence has had, since the beginning of Japanese civilization, a great impact on art.
One of the most recognized Japanese artists, Katshika Hokusai, made his works, where Mount Fuji is almost always represented as the focal point, popularized in the West. Even artists like Van Gogh and Monet included this Japanese symbol in some of his works.