12 Interesting Facts About Mt. Fuji That Will Make Your Visit Even Better!
While Mt. Fuji is one of the most recognized symbols of Japan, there are many interesting facts about it that many Japanese citizens don't even know! Keep reading to find out some trivia about this famous sightseeing spot.
- Mt. Fuji Is Actually Made Up of 4 Mountains!
- Who Owns Mt. Fuji?
- Can You Predict the Weather by Looking at the Clouds Above Mt. Fuji?
- Does It Get Colder As You Climb?
- How Many Days During the Year Is the Peak Not Covered in Snow?
- Are Fuji Five Lakes Really Fuji Six Lakes? Is There a Phantom Lake?
- Do Vending Machines Get More Expensive the Higher You Climb?
- Is Mt. Fuji the Reason There Are So Many Hills in Tokyo?
- When Was the Last Time Mt. Fuji Erupted?
- What Are Diamond Fuji and Pearl Fuji?
- Does Mt. Fuji's Narusawa Ice Cave Extend All the Way to Enoshima?
- How Tall is Mt. Fuji Compared to Other Mountains Around the World?
Mt. Fuji Is Actually Made Up of 4 Mountains!
The famous active volcano Mt. Fuji is actually made up of four mountains: Sen-komitake, Komitake, Old Fuji (Ko-fuji), and New Fuji (Shin-fuji). Sen-komitake was formed first, hundreds of thousands of years ago, and then Komitake was formed next after a succession of volcanic eruptions. Old Fuji soon formed, and after a prolonged period of volcanic activity that lasted from 80,000 years ago until 15,000 years ago, and it is said that the mountain reached 3,000m in height. Large-scale volcanic eruptions started again on the peak of Old Fuji around 11,000 years ago, and the result of that activity is that New Fuji, which is the Mt. Fuji we know today, was formed. It is surprising to know that Mt. Fuji had such a long and storied formation process!
Who Owns Mt. Fuji?
Mt. Fuji actually exists on private property, so does that mean someone owns it?
The area of Mt. Fuji from an elevation of 3,360m and up is private property that belongs to Fujisan Hongu Sengentaisha, a Shinto shrine. The land originally belonged to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo Shogunate (1603 - 1867), and the area of Mt. Fuji from the 8th station to the top is said to have been given to this shrine as a gift by the Tokugawa clan in 1779. The land was re-designated as national property for a time after 1871, when the Tokugawa Shogunate relinquished power to the Imperial Court, but has since been returned to the Fujisan Hongu Sengentaisha. The Hongu (Main Shrine) of the shrine is at the foot of Mt. Fuji, and the Okumiya (Rear Shrine) is located at the mountain peak.
Can You Predict the Weather by Looking at the Clouds Above Mt. Fuji?
There are various cloud shapes that can appear over Mt. Fuji depending on the current weather conditions. From ancient times there have been sayings such as, "If Mt. Fuji is wearing a kasa (conical-shaped hat) then it will rain soon," and "One kasa means rain, two kasas means rain and wind," and these indicators have been able to predict rain within 24 hours of the sighting with remarkable accuracy! Popular examples of cloud formations related to Mt. Fuji are the "kasa-gumo," a conical hat-shaped cloud that covers the mountain peak, and the "tsurushi-gumo," a cloud that forms somewhat downwind from the mountain. So, please make sure to pay special attention to the clouds when viewing Mt. Fuji!
*Image is of "kasa-gumo"
Does It Get Colder As You Climb?
Mt. Fuji is known for having extreme changes in climate throughout the year. It is said that for every 100m you climb, the temperature will drop 0.6-degrees Celsius, which means that for a mountain with an elevation that exceeds 3,000m, the temperature at the peak is drastically colder than the temperature at the halfway point. In fact, the mountain peak displays winter-like conditions even during the summer, and the effective temperature is made all the colder by heavy winds. The average yearly temperature at the mountain peak is minus 6.4-degrees Celsius, so make sure to dress properly for the cold weather when climbing the mountain.
How Many Days During the Year Is the Peak Not Covered in Snow?
While the classic image of Mt. Fuji includes a snow-covered top, the mountain peak isn't actually covered with snow all throughout the year. The snow goes away for a period during the summer, letting you see the bare earth underneath. The snow usually starts to appear on the mountain peak each year around the end of September to early October, and the peak for snowfall is from March to May. On average, there are usually around 90 days during the year where the mountain peak is not covered with snow.
Are Fuji Five Lakes Really Fuji Six Lakes? Is There a Phantom Lake?
Fuji Five Lakes (Fuji Goko) is the collective name for five lakes located at the base of Mt. Fuji: Lake Yamanaka, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Sai, Lake Shoji, and Lake Motosu. These lakes are said to have been formed when lava from volcanic eruptions dammed up rivers surrounding Mt. Fuji. When there is a large amount of rain, a temporary sixth lake called "Akaike" forms to the southeast of Lake Shoji. It is known as the "phantom lake" as it only appears once every several years.
Do Vending Machines Get More Expensive the Higher You Climb?
Vending machines are convenient and often-used places to buy drinks and other things. While they tend to have similar prices no matter where you are in Japan, the drinks in the vending machines on Mt. Fuji actually get more expensive the closer you get to the peak. Drinks that are priced at 100 - 160 yen at the base of the mountain are priced at 200 yen at the 5th station, 400 yen at the 6th station, and then 500 yen at the top. How shocking!
Is Mt. Fuji the Reason There Are So Many Hills in Tokyo?
There are many places in Tokyo with "saka/zaka" ("hill" in Japanese) in the name, such as Nogizaka, Akasaka, and Dogenzaka, and there are in fact many hills in Tokyo. These hills were actually originally formed by volcanic ash from Mt. Fuji!
The area of earth that contains present-day Tokyo was formed by volcanic activity by Mt. Fuji and other volcanoes in the Kanto area from the period of approx. 90,000 years ago until 20,000 years ago. Also, the reason why the land starts to flatten out when heading toward the Shitamachi area (low-lying area of eastern Tokyo near Tokyo Bay, incl. Asakusa, Shitaya, Kanda, Fukugawa, Honjo, Nihonbashi, Kyobashi and the surroundings) is that it used to be the site of an ocean in ancient times. It's quite strange to think that you can feel the effects of Mt. Fuji while sightseeing around Tokyo, isn't it?
If you're heading to Mt. Fuji from Tokyo, it is convenient to take the highway bus that leaves from Shinjuku, which costs 2,700 yen (one-way) and takes about 2 hours to reach the 5th station.
When Was the Last Time Mt. Fuji Erupted?
The last time that Mt. Fuji erupted was on Dec. 16, 1707, around 310 years ago. The force of this eruption was so great that the volcanic ash was carried by the wind as far as over 100km away from the mountain. This eruption actually caused the formation of a mountain called Mt. Hoei, the peak of which you can see on the right side of the picture below.
By the way, while many people think Mt. Fuji is bilaterally symmetrical, as you can see from this picture, that is not actually the case. Mt. Fuji appears symmetrical when viewed from the east from places such as Tokyo, because Mt. Hoei is hidden behind the main mountain, but if you view Mt. Fuji from the west from places such as Fuji City in Shizuoka Prefecture you can clearly see that it is in fact asymmetrical. If you take the Tokaido Shinkansen (bullet train) from Tokyo, be sure to see both views during the trip!
The crater of Mt. Hoei
What Are Diamond Fuji and Pearl Fuji?
Diamond Fuji and Pearl Fuji are two spectacular views that you can see without having to actually climb the mountain. Diamond Fuji is the name for when the rising or setting sun appears to sit atop the peak of Mt. Fuji, and Pearl Fuji is when the same phenomenon happens with the moon.
The view of the sun appearing from or disappearing behind the back of Mt. Fuji is a spectacular, dazzling sight. In contrast, the view of the moon sitting atop Mt. Fuji is quiet and mysterious. The best season and time of day to see these views depends on the location, so please do your research to figure out the best plan for you. One of the locations that you can see Diamond Fuji is the peak of Mt. Takao in Tokyo, which you can reach by cable car.
Does Mt. Fuji's Narusawa Ice Cave Extend All the Way to Enoshima?
Narusawa Ice Cave is a cave that was formed by a current of red-hot lava from an eruption at Mt. Fuji over 1150 years ago. The average temperature inside this cave is just 3-degrees Celsius! Because of the low temperatures, water dripping from the ceiling has frozen, causing the formation of many large icicles. The 150m cave can be traversed in around 15 minutes, making this a place to easily witness the wonders of nature.
There is a legend that arose from this mysterious landscape that states that Narusawa Ice Cave crosses the ocean floor, stretching all the way to the island of Enoshima in Kanagawa Prefecture. The truth is that it is not known exactly how far Narusawa Ice Cave extends, but there is in fact a cave in Enoshima that is a popular spot for being a good place to feel like an explorer. Why not try visiting both caves?
Narusawa Ice Cave
Enoshima Iwaya Cave
How Tall is Mt. Fuji Compared to Other Mountains Around the World?
The tallest mountain in the world is Mt. Everest, which is part of the Himalayan mountain range, at 8,848m in height. Even the 10th tallest mountain in the world, Annapurna I, is 8,091m tall. With that in mind, Mt. Fuji seems quite short, and the truth is that there are so many tall mountains on earth that Mt. Fuji's actual ranking among them is unfortunately unknown.
By the way, the top three tallest mountains in Japan are all in the same prefecture, but do you know which prefecture that is? The 2nd tallest mountain is Mt. Kita in Yamanashi Prefecture, and the third spot goes to Mt. Aino, which straddles Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures. As Mt. Fuji also straddles Yamanashi and Shizuoka, that means that Yamanashi is the prefecture to contain all of the top three tallest mountains in Japan. The view of Mt. Fuji that appears on the back of the Japanese 1,000 yen note is the view from Lake Motosu in Yamanashi Prefecture. If you flip the bill around to that side you can see Mt. Fuji reflected in the surface of the lake, a view that is called Sakasa Fuji ("Inverted Fuji").
Did you learn something? With all this knowledge, you can now consider yourself an expert on Mt. Fuji! Be sure to remember some of this trivia when visiting Mt. Fuji.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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