Japanese Tradition of Climbing Mt Fuji

I recently posted a song about Mt. Fuji and a haiku poem about a snail climbing Mt. Fuji. While I was working on them, I came across mention of there being a tradition in Japan of people wanting to climb Mt. Fuji during their lifetime.  I asked Sadao Mazuka who’s from Japan about this tradition. Here’s what he wrote…

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"It is a tradition for most Japanese people to try to climb Mt. Fuji, at least once in their life. The climbing routes of Mt. Fuji are very crowded in the summer. People climb at daybreak and try to pray when the sun is just rising from the horizon.  It doesn’t seem like a religious act, but it’s a tradition from old times.  I think it’s rooted in old Japanese Shintoism.

If you do not have any rest at the cottages of each point, it takes about 5 hours to climb. But you’d be better off taking a break at the each point, and walking slowly like a snail. It’s important to prepare for sudden weather changes, such as bringing a rain coat, padded clothes and mountain-climbing boots of course.

I can observe Mt. Fuji from my condominium every day when it is fine out. The lower mountains in front of Mt. Fuji are the Hakone mountains that old Japanese people passed through with difficulty on their way to the west, to places such as to Nagoya, Kyoto or Osaka."

Thank you for sharing Sadao!

Mama Lisa

Photo: Sadao Mazuka

Note: There is a Japanese proverb about climbing Mt. Fuji:

「富士山に一度も登らぬバカ、二度登るバカ」

English Translation:

“He who climbs Mt. Fuji is a wise man; he who climbs twice is a fool.”

This article was posted on Friday, March 28th, 2014 at 12:22 pm and is filed under Climbing Mt. Fuji, Countries & Cultures, Customs and Traditions, Holidays Around the World, Japan, Japan, New Years, Proverbs, Traveling. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

5 Responses to “Japanese Tradition of Climbing Mt Fuji”

  1. Lisa Says:

    Ayako wrote from Japan:

    “I read your blog post about Mt Fuji. I haven’t climbed Mt. Fuji, but many people like it, especially on New Year’s Day. Many wish for new hope on top of Mt. Fuji.”

  2. Joe Concordia Says:

    Thank you for this posting. I had the pleasure of climbing Mt Fuji during a business trip to Tokyo in the early 1990’s. It is an experience I will never forget. The climb involved hiking up to the 8th station, about 1000 feet below the top where there is a cabin, sleeping there a few hours then rising early in the morning before sunrise to climb to the top. I got to the top just before the sun came up. You look down on the clouds and see the sun breaking through. A spectacular view. A whole line of people are in the climb and there is a trail of flashlight going up the mountain as you climb. Everyone you pass greets you with “kaneshe wa”. A beautiful experience. The climb is not too difficult, but it does tire one very much. It is a very tall mountain. When I did my climb there were stories told that a woman of 90 years age had climbed it.

  3. Lisa Says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us Joe. It sounds lovely!

  4. Lisa Says:

    Sadao wrote, “‘Kaneshe wa’ must be the greeting ‘Kon-ni-chi-wa’ means good-day, good-morning or good-evening.”

  5. Lisa Says:

    Sadao wrote:

    You can get much information for climbing Mt. Fuji in this web-site:

    http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6901.html

    The following link is for an article about climbing Mt. Fuji by Victoria James in Japan Times. She says that “sprightly Japanese centenarians hiked it every year”. You will be much interested in this article, because this is a true record.

    http://www.japantimes.co.jp/life/2012/08/05/travel/how-not-to-climb-mount-fuji/#.U0FqYUaKDIU

    With regards,

    Sadao

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