Mount Fuji Listed as a World Heritage Site
On June 22, 2013, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) listed Mount Fuji as a UNESCO World Heritage site. ICOMOS praised Mount Fuji as an "object of reverence" and "wellspring of the arts" for the Japanese people.
Since the ancient days of the Man'yoshu (Anthology of Ten Thousand Leaves, 7th-8th centuries), the Japanese have venerated Mount Fuji, cultivating a rich spiritual sensibility through its influence.
At the time of the consecration of Sengen Shrine at the end of the Warring States era (1467-1568), a belief began to spread that those who ascended Mount Fuji would never suffer illness.
Unswerving Devotion from the Edo Era to the Present Day
During the feudal Edo era (1603-1868), the common people were forbidden from leaving their native fiefdoms, lest they shirk their jobs and tax revenues decline. Exceptions were made, however, for pilgrimages to Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, taking the hot-spring baths and climbing mountains. Nationwide, pilgrims flocked to Ise Shrine in today's Mie Prefecture and Zenkoji Temple in modern Nagano Prefecture, while in the Kansai region the faithful visited Buddhist sites in Koyasan in today's Wakayama Prefecture and Honganji Temple in Kyoto. In other regions, devotees made pilgrimages to nearby sites such as Kotohira Shrine (modern Kagawa Prefecture). It was in this period that climbing Mount Fuji gained popularity, taking hold among the Japanese people as a form of leisure activity.
In modern Japan, the TV, print and other media announce the opening of the official Mount Fuji climbing season every July 1, testifying to the deep affection the Japanese people feel for this unique mountain. It is no exaggeration to say that Mount Fuji holds a treasured place as the bedrock of the Japanese spirit.
|Note: Currently there are four routes to the summit of Mount Fuji.|
On the Shizuoka Prefecture side:
1,Fujinomiya Trail 2,Subashiri Trail 3,Gotemba Trail
On the Yamanashi Prefecture side:
In the summer of 2012, a total of 320,000 people climbed Mount Fuji.
Influence on Artists Past and Present
Artists past and present have drawn on their respective talents to depict Mount Fuji, creating an extensive artistic legacy for future generations to enjoy. One artist who was captivated by Mount Fuji's stately majesty was Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849). His series of woodblock prints, Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji, astounded the artistic community of 19th-century Europe.
Among the Western artists influenced by Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji were Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet, who incorporated ukiyo-e (Japanese woodblock prints and paintings of everyday life) in their works. Monet is said to have decorated his own rooms with ukiyo-e, and Van Gogh drew Mount Fuji into the backdrop of his Portrait of Père Tanguy.
Claude Debussy is thought to have been inspired to compose his symphonic suite La Mer by the surging waves in The Great Wave off Kanagawa. Later artists have continued to be fascinated by Mount Fuji, and particularly by its appearance in the morning, which constantly shifts from moment to moment.
Portrait of Père Tanguy, Vincent Van Gogh, 1887
Snowy Peak with Cranes, Yokoyama Taikan, 1953
Mount Fuji, Ryuzaburo Umehara, 1960
Mount Fuji's Place in the Hearts of the Japanese People
From early childhood, the Japanese sing about Mount Fuji and draw pictures of its majestic peak.
Fuji no Yama ("Mount Fuji") Ministry of Education song, 1910
|Lift your head above the clouds, look down from the mountain in all directions|
Listen to the thunder below: Fuji is Japan's greatest mountain.
Towering amid the blue sky, clad in a kimono of snow,
Its misty foothills far below, Fuji is Japan's greatest mountain.
The above reasons show why Mount Fuji is listed as a World Heritage site not as a natural heritage but as a cultural heritage.
The Rational Beauty of Mount Fuji
Roof of shrine
Seen from a distance, the outline of Mount Fuji can be seen to approximate the curve of the mathematical function y = ex. The contours of the walls of Japanese castles and of the roofs of temples and shrines follow this equation, expressing a graceful, rational beauty. A Swiss woman who resides in Japan once remarked, "the gentle foothills of Mount Fuji are a sight that soothes the heart." This feeling differs markedly from that of the Alps in her native Switzerland.
Equally beautiful from all sides, Mount Fuji even lends its good fortune to less well-known summits across Japan. Communities scattered throughout the country name the most shapely mountain in their area so-and-so Fuji, "furusato-Fuji (our hometown's Fuji.)" Some 397 of these beloved mountains dot the Japanese landscape. The cultural-heritage site of Mount Fuji encompasses a total of 25 sites, including not only the mountain itself but also nearby sacred ruins, mountain-climbing trails, the Five Lakes of Mount Fuji and the scenic coastline of Miho-no-Matsubara.
With the registration of Mount Fuji complete, a number of issues remain. The natural environment around Mount Fuji must be protected, and its scenic beauty preserved.
The governor of Yamanashi Prefecture has proclaimed, "the decision to register Mount Fuji brings joy to all the people of Japan." Mount Fuji is the soul of Japan, and we believe it will always be so.
The Five Lakes of Mount Fuji