The often snow-capped Mt. Fuji is recognized all over the world as one of Japan’s greatest symbols. Each year, thousands of tourists climb the mountain for a chance to take in stunning sights and sunrises. While most people know of the mountain, not everyone knows these fun Mt Fuji facts!
(1) The Suicide Forest
Due to popular culture (and certain Youtubers), this Mt Fuji fact is starting to become common knowledge. Seicho Matsumoto’s 1960 novel “Tower of Waves” (波の塔) detailed the love affair of a woman and prosecutor up until their untimely death at the end when they commit suicide in Aokigahara forest. The deep “sea of trees” had long been associated with spirits, but since then there have been hundreds of suicides within the forest. While most rumours regarding the forest aren’t true, it’s still a pretty damn scary place to visit.
(2) Mental Warfare: A Red Fuji
During World War 2, there were some truly ridiculous and outright wacky ideas such as attaching bombs to bats. The idea of painting Mount Fuji red to demoralise Japan is equally if not more ridiculous. The plan was scrapped when they realised they’d need 12 tons of paint and 30,000 plains to manage it.
(3) To Mount Fuji and Back in 25 Minutes
In the 1960’s Fuji Kyuko had plans to bore a tunnel through the south-west side of the mountain with a cable car that would take you to the summit in just under 13 minutes. Although the plan was shot down by conservationists, they did have a catchy slogan: to the summit of Mt. Fuji and back in heels.
(4) Debussy’s La Mer (the sea) was inspired by Mt. Fuji
Claude Debussy’s brilliant orchestral work, La Mer, is so free of traditions and influences that its modernity can still be felt today. Equally timeless was its inspiration, which is said to have come from the compelling force of the contrast between the wave and the mountain in Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave at Kanagawa.
(5) A Mountain of no Prefectures
Although the mountain itself sits on the boundary between Shizuoka prefecture and Yamanashi prefecture; a 1974 Supreme Court ruling stated that all land above station 8 belongs to a sacred shrine.
(6) A Thousand Yen View
Mt. Fuji, as it appears on Japan’s 1000 yen note, is a view from Lake Motosu and is based on a photograph by Koyo Okada, in which he captured Mt. Fuji’s upside down reflection in the lake.
(7) Mt. Fuji License Plates
Mount Fuji doesn’t only appear on the thousand yen bill! Due to popular demand, and in an attempt to stimulate the local economy, Shizuoka prefecture created a Mt. Fuji license plate in 2008. It’s available in 6 different districts and has become a collectible for Mt. Fuji aficionados.
(8) Not for Women
One of the more interesting Mt Fuji facts is that according to legend and rumor, Mt. Fuji used to be the abode of a fire goddess who would be jealous of any other woman in the vicinity. That’s why it has been said that women were not allowed to climb the mountain until 1868.
(9) Three for the Price of One
It may not look like it, but this icon is actually made up of three separate volcanoes: Komitake at the bottom, Kofuji in the middle and Fuji at the top.
(10) A Looming Threat
Despite its classification as a low-risk volcano, recent evidence suggests that the pressure below it rose after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan. Using seismic sensors, scientists measured what’s known as “seismic noise”, the fluctuations of which tell them about disturbances in the bedrock. What they’ve found, they believe, indicates a “high potential” for a volcanic eruption. But don’t let that put you off a visit; the volcano is under the watchful eye of a team of geologists, and it’s unlikely to erupt with no prior warning signs.