Sunday, May 27, 2007

Fuji-san wa dare desuka?

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan. He towers at about 12,388 feet. Every Nihon-jin knows that Fuji is 3,776 meters. He is a shy little character. He often hides behind layers of myst, and only on the clearest of days can you spot him from distances as far as Tokyo or Shimada. Recently, I have fallen deeply in love with Fuji-san. Perhaps it isn't until you have the chance to see him up close before you notice all his charms.

His head is covered with snow for half the year. Once summer begins to arrive, the rivers become a little faster and the lakes a little deeper.

He is still considered an active volcano but with a very low risk of eruption. The last time he got worked up, in the 1700's, he burst from his belly and sent ash and lava down his side into the valley below. Though the surface of his body is almost void of life, his feet are surrounded by lush hills of forest. Aokigahara Jukai is a fabledly haunted forest that has become a popular spot to commit suicide due to the dense and icy caverns of trees that make it unlikely that your body will be rescued from the attempt toward death. Most corpses are never found.

It might be a bit difficult to understand what it is about Fuji-san that attracts the curiousity of onlookers. Perhaps it is the fact that he stands so straight and alone and perfect amongst an unusually flat landscape, that captures such wild attention.

I stayed in a hotel that resembled The Shining which had one of the greatest balcony views that I have ever witnessed. It was utterly breathtaking. I mustn't forget to mention that I also onsened next to this amazing view.

It is very popular to climb Fuji-san during the summer months when the snow melts and the top crater becomes easier to deal with. You can go as high as the tip of the crater should you want to. People have suffered from altitude sickness due to climbing up too fast. You have to give yourself time to adjust to the levels in order to be at one with Fuji-san.

The first time I laid eyes on this beast was when i had stayed the night at my friend, Aine's, house. I arrived past midnight, drunk as hell and quickly fell asleep. However, once I went onto her balcony for a morning smoke, I happened to look up and see him as an absolute monstrosity.

He is scary, intimidating. Or rather stunningly fantastic and surreal.

Occasionally, your expectations and imagination can be struck by the unexpected girth and beauty of nature. Japan is amazing. Earth is beautiful.



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