My time in Japan has taught me to appreciate the smaller things in life: to pay attention to details and to honour the minutiae. Somewhat. At best, I may now notice a tiny cherished flower valiantly growing from a crack in the footpath a millisecond before I inadvertently crush the life out of its precious, delicate petals with my shoe. I can't help it; I focus on the big-picture and don't notice the varying levels of nuance, the appreciation of which is at the core of Japanese culture.
With this in mind, you may be able to imagine my absolute elation upon seeing something through which I can finally identify (again, somewhat) with a commonly held obsession in Japan. [Warning: once again, there will be many photos of essentially the same vista.] So, the big picture? Well, here it is, baby: Fuji-san!
At 3,776 metres, Fuji-san is a mere pimple on the earth's surface compared to the towering majesty of Mount Everest at 8,848 metres; however, this fact is completely irrelevant to this post. I just like stats. And perspective (because it's all about the big picture, you see).
The mountain last erupted in 1708, and is still classified as an active volcano, although with a low risk of eruption. Tall, conical volcanoes are common in subduction zones where tectonic plates — the outer plates of the earth's crust — meet and move in relation to each other, with one sliding under the other into the earth's mantle. Subduction zones are also known for producing massive earthquakes due to their high levels of geological activity. Fuji-san hovers over an area where three such tectonic plates bump and grind.
The photos above are views of both the valley and the far-off Japan Alps, and a closer shot of the peak [below]. I took these from the 5th station (altitude 2300 metres) and we didn't climb any higher than that. And when I say 5th station, I mean thriving village more than halfway up the mountain; and when I say climb, I mean the bus climbed the winding tarmac and dropped us off outside the restaurant for lunch.
We were lucky in that it was such a beautiful, although hazy, day. The sky was blue except for around the summit where plenty of moisture was in the air. It was absolutely freezing wandering around the 5th station, so climbing will definitely have to take place in summer.
Until then, I borrowed some photos from Wikipedia of the summit.
I've always had a vision of sitting zen-like on top of the mountain while looking out over the world. I never once envisaged having to queue up to do so.