Mount Fuji isn’t just a peak, but a symbol of Japan that contributes to the country’s cultural, physical, and spiritual geography. In 2013, the mountain was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site of culture, making it one among the 16 Heritage sites existing in Japan.
According to UNESCO, the mountain is deserving of the title for inspiring poets, artists, and for being the object of pilgrimages for centuries. Even though the composite cone shape of the mountain and the views you get from it are widely revered, not many people are aware of its cultural significance.
Today we’re going to talk about the history and importance of Mount Fuji, also referred to as Fujisan, and how it came to be a wonder of the world.
Artistic significance of Mount Fuji
The earliest depictions of this majestic mountain can be dated back to the 11th century. However, it wasn’t until the 14th century that artists created numerous paintings and inscriptions of Fujisan. Between 17th and 19th century, the mountain claimed its stake in not only art but also in architecture, literature, and other forms of crafts.
In fact, the Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji, which is a famous woodblock print, had a profound impact on the western part of the world. It is this form of Fujisan that came to be known across the world as the symbol of Oriental Japan. Sure, the Pilgrims popularized the mountain as a sacred destination, but it was the artists who made the mountain known to the whole world.
The religious significance of Mount Fuji
The solitary, and often snow-capped and beauty of this stratovolcano, which towers above all else in Japan has long been a destination for inspired poets, artists, and pilgrims. Officially, 25 sites reflect the essence of this mountain’s artistic landscape.
This monumental miracle of nature was once the training center of ascetic Buddhism, which included elements of Shinto. From the ancient times, pilgrims set off on their journey from the Sengen-Jinja shrines and lodges at the foot of the mountain, to reach the summit where it was believed that Asama no Okami, a Shinto deity recited.
At the summit, they practiced a ritual named “ohachimeguri” that literally translates to “going around the bowl.” The pilgrimages picked up more popularity 18th century onwards, and various organizations were developed support the need of the pilgrims.
Tracks going up the mountain were created, huts were set up to accommodate them, and shrines were built along the way as well.
A splendor to experience yourself
Standing at the height of 3776 m (12,380 feet), the mountain stands as the tallest in the entire nation. Today, Fujisan is arguably the most popular tourist site of the country, for both locals and foreigners who throng to catch a glimpse of this marvel from all corners of the world.
Japanese people love to visit the site as well, and those who cannot, get their share of their views from various locations scattered all across Japan. Be it from the coastal town of Kamakura or a quick peek from the bullet train window in the city areas. This is truly one of the wonders of the world you must come and witness for yourself.