Snow-covered, wrinkled-ridged, flat-topped Mt Fuji greets me in the early mornings of winter. I look out my kitchen window as I am making my first cup of coffee. Sometimes I am up early enough to catch the pinky-peach hues cloaking the mountain at sunrise. Whenever I see it – I am always in awe – loving the mysterious and majestic Mt. Fuji.
I certainly never thought I would visit, much less live in Japan. But I think I have always been fascinated by Mt. Fuji. I distinctly remember in the 4th grade, Miss Middleton’s class, being assigned a project where we had to select a country to research. I chose Japan. While I don’t remember much about what was in the report, I can still see the front cover. A very classic, common view of Mt. Fuji with cherry blossoms in the forefront. I remember thinking “what would it be like to go to the top?” I don’t think I had any idea about mountain climbing, as I visualized people in kimono and those pointed conical straw hats just ambling up the mountain! Needless to say, Fuji is my favorite mountain ever.
The Japanese refer to the mountain as Fujisan and believe that it is sacred. Some believe it is a being with a soul, others that it is the embodiment of the goddess of nature and still others believe that Mt. Fuji is the gateway to a different world. Fuji is one of three “holy” mountains in Japan.
Climbing Mt. Fuji is not as easy as it looks. To me, the beautiful, almost perfect conical shape seems like it would be an easy climb – and I guess for some, it is. In fact, it is the most climbed mountain in the world (approximately 100,000 climbers per year). Many of my friends and acquaintances have trekked all the way. Several have done it more than once. Others, have made it part-way. I was thrilled just to be able to take a tour, which took us 5th station – about half way.
As our tour bus got closer to the mountain, our Japanese tour guide explain that Fuji is so much a part of the life and culture of Japan that school children learn a folk song about Mt. Fuji –Mt. Fuji song. But they don’t just sing, the also climb the mountain as part of a class/school activity! Our guide passed out lyrics for the song (in Romaji, so we could sound out the Japanese words) and explained that we would soon come to a section of the highway referred to as the singing road. We were to sing the song when we passed through the section of singing road because the road would provide the melody! See for yourself – Fuji Singing Road!
Arriving at the 5th station, we were greeted by a biting wind, but bright sunny skies. There was a huge wooden building with gift and food shops, a shrine and several other commercial buildings. We wandered in and out of buildings and made some souvenir purchases. Out time there was much too short. As we were getting ready to leave, we were treated with light snowfall. A perfect way to end our adventure. Before leaving, we stood in amazement looking at the snow-covered trail head… and I couldn’t help wondering, “what would it be like to see the sun rise at the top…?”