Background Info

Mount Fuji is a symbol of Japan. The mountain contributes to Japan's physical, cultural, and spiritual geography.

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan, standing at 3,776 meters (12,380 feet). It is an active volcano, sitting on a "triple junction" of tectonic activity: the Amurian plate (associated with the Eurasian tectonic plate), the Okhotsk plate (associated with the North American plate) and the Filipino plate all converge in the region beneath Mount Fuji. It is only 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Tokyo, Japan's capital and largest city. In fact, the last time Mount Fuji erupted, in 1707, volcanic ash fell on Tokyo.

Mount Fuji is the single most popular tourist site in Japan, for both Japanese and foreign tourists. More than 200,000 people climb to the summit every year, mostly during the warmer summer months. "Huts" on the route up the mountain cater to climbers, providing refreshments, basic medical supplies, and room to rest. Many people start climbing Mount Fuji at night, as better to experience sunrise from the summit—Japan, after all, is nicknamed "the Land of the Rising Sun." The sunrise from Mount Fuji has a special name, Goraiko.

Mount Fuji has been a sacred site for practicers of Shinto since at least the 7th century. Shinto is the indigenous faith or spirituality of Japan. many Shinto shrines dot the base and ascent of Mount Fuji. Shinto shrines honor kami, the supernatural deities of the Shinto faith. The kami of Mount Fuji is Princess Konohanasakuya, whose symbol is the cherry blossom. Konohanasakuya has an entire series of shrines, called Segen shrines. The main Segen shrines are at the base and summit of Mount Fuji, but there are more than 1,000 across all of Japan.

Fast Facts

  • Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is the most-visited national park in Japan.
  • Fuji-Hakone-Izu is not a single park, but a series of four major sites within 300 kilometers (186 miles) of the Tokyo metropolis.
  • In addition to Mount Fuji, Fuji-Hakone-Izu includes forest, island, and lake ecosystems.
  • Aokigahara is a forest in Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. This forest is very dense, sometimes nicknamed the "Sea of Trees." Because of the dense forestation, Aokigahara is very dark, even during daylight hours.
  • Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is home to historic sites as well as natural ones. The Old Tokaido Road preserves serene rest areas that have served travelers since the 17th century.

For Further Exploration

Vocabulary

Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry

active volcano

Noun

volcano that may erupt or has erupted regularly over time.

ascent

Noun

climb or movement upward.

base

Noun

bottom layer of a structure.

capital

Noun

city where a region's government is located.

Encyclopedic Entry: capital

city

Noun

large settlement with a high population density.

cultural geography

Noun

study of the impact of human culture on the landscape.

deity

Noun

very holy or spiritual being.

erupt

Verb

to explode or suddenly eject material.

Goraiko

Noun

sunrise seen from the summit of Mount Fuji, Japan.

indigenous

Adjective

native to or characteristic of a specific place.

kami

noun, plural noun

supernatural or divine force, in Shinto spirituality.

mountain

Noun

landmass that forms as tectonic plates interact with each other.

Mount Fuji

Noun

(3,776 meters/13,380 feet) active volcano in central Japan.

physical geography

Noun

study of the natural features and processes of the Earth.

route

Noun

path or way.

sacred

Adjective

greatly respected aspect or material of a religion.

Shinto

adjective, noun

indigenous spirituality of Japan, focusing on nature, history, and ancestry.

shrine

Noun

place of worship or spiritual devotion.

spiritual

Adjective

having to do with religion or faith.

summit

Noun

highest point of a mountain.

supernatural

Adjective

having to do with powers not explained by science or nature.

symbol

Noun

something used to represent something else.

tectonic activity

Noun

movement of tectonic plates resulting in geologic activity such as volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

tourist

Noun

person who travels for pleasure.

volcanic ash

Noun

fragments of lava less than 2 millimeters across.

Encyclopedic Entry: volcanic ash

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Photographer

Khor Ai Sang

Producer

Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

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