You’ve probably heard about Mt. Fuji. For those who haven’t, it’s the highest mountain in Japan and it’s loved and worshiped by many nationally and internationally. The mountain was listed as the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, gaining much more international recognition. But there are many facts and truths that are not widely known about the beautiful mountain. How many trivia below do you know?
Trivia 1: Mt. Fuji’s summit is owned by a shrine
Mt. Fuji lays over in two prefectures of Shizuoka and Yamanashi. But to which prefecture does Mt. Fuji’s summit belong? The answer – either. The area above altitude 3,360 is a private property of Sengen Shrine, which has its headquarter in Fujimiya City of Shizuoka Prefecture.
In fact, Shogun Toyotomi Ieyasu (January 31, 1543 – June 1, 1616) donated this part of Mt. Fuji to Sengen Shrine Headquarter, and later it became a national property after the Meiji Restoration in the early 1920s.
After the WWII, many national properties were returned to the shrines and temples who were the original owners. But the past Japanese goverments took long time before they returned Mt. Fuji’s summit to Sengen Shrine. Finally in 1974 Japan’s Supreme Court recognised that it belonged to Sengen Shrine, but it took another 30 years before the summit was returned to the lawful owner in 2004!
Trivia 2 – Mt. Fuji is not a dead volcano
In the field of Volcanology, mountains are classified either as “active”, “dormant” or “extinct”. Mt. Fuji used to be classified as a dormant volcano in the past, but it was changed to an active volcano. Why? The Japan Meteorological Agency acknowledged and stressed the possibility that dormant volcanos, which haven’t erupted for over 100 years, are still likely to erupt in the future. So the Agency began classifying all dormant mountains, which have a record of eruption as active volcano, leading Mt. Fuji to be defined as such, too.
There are two noticeable eruptions after Japan began keeping records.
Named as “Kansei Eruption”, the first noticeable eruption in the record occurred in 864. Large amounts of lava split a lake called “Senoumi” into two, creating Lake Saiko and Lake Shoji (both in Yamanashi Prefecture). The stream of the large amount of lava also created what we call today Aokigahara, also known as the Suicide Forest or Sea of Trees.
Named as “Hoei Eruption”, the second noticeable eruption took place in 1707. It produced so much volcano ashes that people in Edo (what is Tokyo today) had to light up candles even during the day. Hoei Eruption also created ‘Hoei Crater’ in the southeast of Mt. Fuji.
Mt. Fuji hasn’t had an eruption for 300 years since the Hoei Eruption.
Many people seem to think, “It won’t erupt again because it’s been so quiet for 300 years”. After all, 300 years is like a small break for volcanos and Mt. Fuji has repeatedly erupted in the history. There was a time when Mt. Fuji didn’t erupt for 350 years. It is too early to assume that Mt. Fuji won’t erupt again.