Just gazing at the gentle slopes of Mt. Fuji — one of the world’s most serene mountains — creates a sense of ease and relaxation. Countless voices have admired its beauty.
Mt. Fuji is a typical stratovolcano* (Konide) with an elevation of 3776 meters. Among the world’s individual peaks, the stratovolcano Mt.Fuji is extraordinary for its size.
The present formation of Mt. Fuji is roughly divided into four stages.
1. The first stage, Sen-komitake: the oldest part of the volcano, formed hundreds of thousands of years ago, during the Pleistocene epoch.
2. The second stage, Komitake: a volcanic formation, formed after Sen-Komitake two million to a hundred thousand years ago. Volcanic activity then ceased for tens of thousands of years.
3. The third stage, Ko-Fuji (Old Fuji): formed from volcanic ash from erupions between 80,000 to 15,000 years ago. This ash accumulated over Komitake Fuji to something less than 3,000 meters above sea level.
4. The fourth stage, Shin-Fuji (New-Fuji): This period of activity dates from the eighth to the tenth century. The final Shin-Fuji eruption that covered Ko-Fuji occurred on November 23, 1707 in the Edo period. It is known as the Houei Blast.
Mt. Fuji was born 100,000 years ago, and has kept growing with every eruption. 11,000 years ago the crater at the summit moved to west to its present position. Subsequently, large amounts of lava flowed from near the top of the mountain until 8000 years ago; part of it reached as far as the mouth of the River Fuji and Mishima city. It did not, however, flow as far as the east side of Gotenba City or Koyama town at all. Mt. Fuji was once a twin peak volcano with both an older extinct summit to the east and a newer summit to the west which frequently erupted.
However, the old peak at the east side collapsed 2900 years ago. Today’s Gotenba City today is built on the earth and sand from that collapse. Evidence has proved that 90 percent or more of that earth and sand is rock from the old eastern peak.
Mt. Fuji has been regarded as a deity of “calming the country” and as a national treasure since ancient times. It has had a significant influence not only on the Japanese mind but also on the reverence for mountains in the Japanese soul. This combination of the kami?or the spirits that inhabit physical objects, including mountains?and the Buddha mind is the foundation of the fusion of Shintoism and Buddhism found only in Japan.
The Asama belief in worshipping Mt. Fuji from afar to appease the wrath of its eruptions arose at the beginning of the Heian period. By at the end of the Heian, these beliefs included climbing Mt. Fuji for ascetic practices.
During the Kamakura period climbing the mountain became popular among a class of spiritual practitioners and by the Muromachi period, even ordinary believers could climb the mountain.
In the Edo period, Fuji clubs were popular everywhere and mountain climbers flourished. Mountain climbing by women was allowed in the Meiji period, and Fuji was bustling with sightseeing climbers.
Moreover, Mt. Fuji has had a multi-sided influence on Japanese peoples’ consciousness, while it has had a deep relationship with the Japanese sense of beauty. It has had a close relationship with artistic activities and has been the subject of poetry, paintings, and novels and photography. Mt. Fuji has played an important role in the creation of Japanese culture and continues to this day to create an impression in the minds of people.
Mt. Fuji continues its erosion and rebuilding, while people admire the beauty the mountain today. We should not forget, however, that the shape of the beautiful Mt. Fuji is just a phase of the continually changing flux of nature.
･The Mt. Fuji primeval forest: It was designated as a natural monument on February 24, 1926.
･The Fuji air hole: It was designated as a natural monument on December 17, 1929.
･Mt. Fuji: It was designated as a special place of scenic beauty on November 22, 1952
(An exceptional site is designated as a “Special Place of Scenic Beauty.”)
*Stratovolcano: a typical geographical feature that produced when magma deep in the earth’s crust erupts onto the surface or seabed.