[From July Issue 2013]
Mt. Fuji, located between Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture, has been designated as a World Heritage Site. At 3,776 meters high, Mt. Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain and is known for the beautiful symmetry of its coned shape. Mt. Fuji appears to soar particularly high because there are no other tall mountains around it. Its majestic appearance has made it an object of spiritual worship for Japanese as well as an inspiration for artists. According to UNESCO, the mountain is a symbol of Japan, blending religious and artistic traditions.
Mt. Fuji was not registered as a natural heritage site, but as a cultural heritage site. Since ancient times Mt. Fuji has been regarded as an object of worship, so there are many shrines around its base as well as one on the top. Many people climb up to the summit. The highlight for them is to see the sunrise from the summit. During the summer climbing season, it is as crowded as streets of Tokyo.
Since the view of Mt. Fuji changes daily and each moment has its own particular beauty, some photographers take photos of the mountain every day. They shoot a variety of different scenes, such as “diamond Fuji,” with the sun rising from its summit, and “upside down Fuji,” of the mountain reflected in a lake. In the Edo period, artist KATSUSHIKA Hokusai drew the famous “36 Views of Mt. Fuji” which included “Red Fuji.” Mt. Fuji has always inspired artists.
Many people say that Mt. Fuji is more beautiful when it is viewed from a distance. There are some superb spots from which to view Mt. Fuji at resorts such as Hakone and Enoshima. “Miho no Matsubara” in Shizuoka Prefecture is known as one of the most beautiful spots from which to view Mt. Fuji and has been designated as one of “New Three Famous Sites of Japan,” and as one of the “Three Scenic Pine Groves of Japan.” It was requested that it be considered to be part of Mt. Fuji in the application for world heritage designation. Though since it is located 45 kilometers away from Mt. Fuji, it was excluded.
Although Kamakura applied at the same time as Mt. Fuji to be registered as a cultural world heritage site, its application was rejected. Located in Kanagawa Prefecture, next to Tokyo, Kamakura was the location of the feudal government from the late 12th to 14th century, in spite of this, there was insufficient evidence to prove its universal cultural significance. Japan now currently has 17 registered World Heritage sites: 13 cultural and four natural.
Uneasy Aspect of Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji is a volcanic mountain and might possibly erupt in the future. The last eruption occurred in 1707. This eruption created a large crater and lump (Houeizan) on the base.
At the foot of the mountain there are five lakes, but recently the water level has fallen. Some people say that this is a sign that there will be an earthquake or an eruption, but this cannot be verified.
Since there are so many climbers, garbage dropped on mountain trails has been a problem. However, it is likely that this will improve now it has been registered as a world heritage site.