The iconic Mount Fuji is a symbol of Japan. Standing tall and proud, this sacred site is the country’s most popular tourist attraction. The mountain is located about 62 miles (100 km) from Tokyo, making it easily accessible to travelers. On clear days, it’s even visible from the capital.
These interesting facts about Mount Fuji highlight the most interesting and important aspects of the mountain. From cool science facts about its makeup to information about climbing the mountain, you might just learn a few new things.
Whether you’re planning a trip to Japan, or you’re just looking to learn more about one of its most beautiful sites, hopefully you’ll find these fascinating facts entertaining and educational.
25 Interesting Facts About Mount Fuji
Want to learn more about the first individuals to climb the mountain, or what group of people was banned from hiking it? Here are the 25 most interesting facts about Mount Fuji.
No one knows for sure how this magnificent mountain got its name, although several theories have been put forward. Some believe that it was derived from fuji-yama or fujin-yama, which means “immortality”.
A book of Japanese folklore from the 9th century, Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, proposes that the name came from “immortal” (不死, fushi, fuji).
There are four main trails that lead to the summit of Mount Fuji. They are called Subashiri Trail, Fujinomiya Trail, Yoshida Trail, and Gotemba Trail. Each route has several rest stations along the way that offer refreshments, snacks, and a place to take a break.
The easiest and most popular path is the Yoshida Trail. This route has the most resting stations of the four trails. It’s also the original pilgrimage path that travelers would climb when visiting the mountain for spiritual purposes.
The second easiest is the Fujinomiya Trail, followed by the Subashiri Trail. The Gotemba Trail is the most difficult to ascend. It’s the longest of the four trails and is only advised for advanced climbers.
Depending on the trail you select, it takes anywhere from 5 to 10 hours to climb Mount Fuji (one way). This is not taking into consideration rest breaks at the different stations. The descent is shorter and generally takes between 3 to 4 hours to complete.
Mountain huts are found along each of the four different Mount Fuji trails. It’s recommended to make the hike up and down the mountain over the span of two days. This allows climbers to pace their trek up, which helps prevent altitude sickness.
It’s strongly advised that you make a reservation to sleep in a mountain hut. The average price is between ¥5,500 yen ($48.00 USD) to ¥8,000 yen ($70.00 USD) for an overnight stay.
Water and hiking sticks are sold at the mountain huts. You can also order a hot meal at the hut for about ¥1,000 yen ($9.00 USD) extra.
The huts are very simple. They don’t have running water and you have to pay a small fee to use the toilet facilities, which are not connected to plumbing. Nevertheless, they’re well-equipped and offer all the basic necessities for an overnight stay.
To assist climbers as they ascend to the summit, there are 10 different stations located on the mountain. The first station sits at the foot of the mountain, and the final station is located at the summit. The easiest trails have the highest number of stations, and the more difficult trails have fewer stations.
The official hiking season for Mount Fuji is typically from July to August or September. This is when the climbing conditions are the most favorable. Although you can begin your climb at any time of the day, most hikers choose to start at night. This allows them to reach the summit just in time for sunrise. This is a breathtaking experience, and it’s also said to be good luck.
Technically you can climb the mountain whenever you’d like, however, in the off-season you must submit a ‘Climbing Plan’ first. This needs to list your route, equipment, group members, schedule, and emergency contacts.
Even if you’re fully prepared and submit all the required documents, there is no guarantee you’ll be accepted. Climbing out of season can be very dangerous, especially given that almost all of the mountain stations are closed during this time.
Most figures put Mount Fuji as the most climbed mountain in the world. Numbers show that about 300,000 people climb this towering peak each year. This is even more impressive considering the official hiking season only lasts for 2 to 3 months.
A tiny post office sits atop Mount Fuji that sells postcards for you to send to your loved ones. Your mail will even be marked with an official stamp of Mount Fuji.
Or, if that’s too old school for you, there’s also free Wi-FI offered at the peak of the mountain. It was mostly established so hikers could check the weather conditions. However, it’s free for everyone to use and provides a great opportunity to send digital photos and messages back home.
The Yoshida Fire Festival is an annual festival that marks the end of Mount Fuji’s climbing season. It begins at Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine, which was traditionally the starting point for climbing the mountain. Today, most visitors take the bus to an easier starting point.
During the festival, portable shrines are carried through the town, followed by large crowds. Locals also set ablaze giant torches to carry with them, making the whole town look like it’s on fire.
Mount Fuji is part of a stratovolcano. This is a type of conical volcano that’s built up of different, successive layers. The bottom layer in this stratovolcano is called the Komitake Volcano, and it was last active 700,000 years ago.
The middle layer is called Ko Fuji (Old Fuji) volcano. On top sits Fuji. This would make Mount Fuji the youngest of the three.
Mighty Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. It stands tall and proud at 12,300 feet (3,776 meters) above sea level. The second tallest mountain in Japan isn’t too much shorter. Mount Kita, in Japan’s Yamanashi Prefecture, is 10,476 feet (3,193 meters) tall.
There are four small Japanese cities that surround Mount Fuji. They are Gotemba to the east, Fujinomiya to the southwest, Fuji to the south, and Fujiyoshida to the north.
Five beautiful lakes rest peacefully along the base of Mount Fuji. They are Lake Sai, Lake Motosu, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka, and Lake Shōji. Known collectively as “The Fuji Five Lakes”, they were formed hundreds of years ago from lava flow following Mount Fuji’s eruptions.
Each offers stunning views of the majestic mountain in the distance. Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Yamanaka are the most developed. They’re surrounded by small towns and are popular areas for water activities and vacationing.
Mount Fuji is still an active volcano. The last time volcano activity was recorded was in the 1960s. However, the last confirmed eruption took place more than 300 years ago, in 1707.
Mount Fuji is a sacred mountain that has been used as a pilgrimage site for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Many accounts cite a Buddhist monk as the first person to climb to the peak. He made the ascent in 663 AD. Unfortunately, his name was never recorded.
Although this is the first recorded account, it’s possible that others have made ascents before this.
Sir Rutherford Alcock was a British diplomatic representative that lived in Japan. He was the first foreigner to ascend to the top of Mount Fuji. He made the climb in July of 1860.
Up until the Meiji Era (1868 to 1912), women were forbidden from climbing to the summit of Mount Fuji. Why, you may ask? There are several reasons proffered.
One stated that women disrupted the sacred practices that were required to climb the mountain. It was also said that women, particularly beautiful ones, could make Konohanasakuya-hime (the goddess of Mount Fuji) jealous, which could cause Mount Fuji to erupt.
Several women are known to have defied the ban that prohibited them from climbing Mount Fuji. In 1832, Tatsu Takayama, the daughter of a Japanese farmer, climbed to the summit with a group of five men. She had to disguise herself by cutting off her hair and wearing men’s clothing, however.
In 1867, Lady Fanny Parkes, the wife of an English ambassador, also decided to break the no-woman rule. It’s believed that she was the first non-Japanese woman to ascend to the top.
About 37 different species of mammals have been documented as living on and around Mount Fuji. This includes the Japanese serow, which is a type of goat-antelope. Asiatic black bears, squirrels, and foxes are other mammals that call the mountain their home.
A triple junction marks the point on the Earth‘s surface where three different tectonic plates meet. Mount Fuji is set on the Amurian Plate, the Okhotsk Plate, and the Philippine Sea Plate.
Upside-down Fuji is the term used to describe Mount Fuji’s reflection on the water. An image of this reflection that was taken from Lake Motosuko is displayed on the country’s ¥1,000 yen bill.
If you want to see it in person, you’ll have to visit one of the five lakes that surround the mountain. Although, you’ll need very favorable weather conditions. To see the mountain clearly on the water, it needs to be a sunny day with no fog, wind, or cloud cover.
“Red Fuji” is a phenomenon that occurs when Mount Fuji appears to be red. It’s dependent on certain weather conditions, including sunlight, fog, and cloud coverage. The only time of year it happens is at the end of summer, leading into autumn, and only during sunrise and sunset.
It’s very rare to see the red mountain in person. But, if you are able to witness it, it’s considered good luck. Speaking of Mount Fuji taking on different colors, an interesting WWII fact is the rumor that the CIA planned to paint the mountain either black or red. Talk about psychological warfare.
The scheme involved dropping buckets of paint on the peak of the mountain from aircraft. The plan was scrapped, however, when it was realized it would take thousands of planes and buckets of paint to complete the mission.
Mount Fuji is one of the three holy mountains in Japan. The other two are Mount Haku, which is a stratovolcano located on the island of Honshu, and Mount Tate, a mountain located in the Toyama Prefecture. Out of the three, Mount Fuji is considered the most sacred.
This may come as a surprise, but not all of Mount Fuji is public land. The upper part of the mountain, starting from the 8th stage up, or about 11,000 feet (3,360 meters) to the top, is privately owned by Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha. The owner isn’t a person, but rather a shrine. It belongs to a collection of more than 1,300 temples in Japan.
If you’re a fan of winter sports, you’ll appreciate this last Mount Fuji fact. There are two ski resorts found on the mountain.
On the southern slope sits the small ski resort known as Fujiyama Snow Town Yeti. On the mountain’s northern base you’ll find Fujiten Snow Resort. The resorts both use artificial snow to extend their winter recreation season.
Mount Fuji is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a beloved peak in Japanese culture. Its captivating beauty and easy accessibility make it a top destination for nature lovers everywhere. It’s no wonder Mount Fuji attracts so many visitors each year.
Whether you’re planning a climbing trip, or simply want to visit to admire its greatness up close, hopefully these interesting facts about Mount Fuji have given you a deeper sense of appreciation for the magnificent mountain.