It is Japan's highest peak and the most beautiful, it is the mountain of all mountains. Mount Fuji is just about in the middle of the Japanese archipelago. On a clear day you can see it from Tokyo, 130 km to the east. Its majestic profile can be seen more than 300 km away. It rises 3,776 meters about sea level, making it the 29th tallest volcano in the world. It is a beautiful, almost perfect cone, and the beauty is made complete with lakes dammed by lava flows, rivers and ponds
The area is rich in wildlife and natural vegetation. Fuji is an active volcano; from time to time it erupts, throwing out lava and cinders. Since ancient times, people have thought it that it is blessed; some even worshipped it as a god. These beliefs led more and more people to climb the mountain in medieval times and in the 18th century shrines were made all over Japan to respect the mountain. Today, about 300,000 people climb every year, realising their dream to get to the top at least once in their lifetime. Mount Fuji continues to have a special place in the hearts of the Japanese.
The Japanese have developed a strong bond with Mount Fuji, and the history of Japanese art shows it. There have been drawing and poems on Mount Fuji. They date from the 11th century. Fuji appears in art because it has been admired as a symbol of beauty.
Mount Fuji’s longitude is at 138°451 E and its latitude is 35°215 N. It is 3775 metres above sea level. The temperature varies between -18° to 8°C. The climate is very cold due to the altitude and the cone is covered by snow throughout the year and the higher up you go the colder it is.
The Japanese archipelago is thought to lie above the edges of five plates. These large slabs move about, collide and slide under and over each other, making Japan more likely to have earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. Mount Fuji is located just about in the middle of the archipelago, almost above where three of the plate meets. It has erupted violently many times in its history.
The Fuji we see today developed on top of two older volcanoes. About 10,000 years ago, one of these mountains, Old Fuji Volcano began throwing out huge amounts of lava everywhere. Over the next thousand years, out of this chaos came the shape of the mountain that now exists. Other later eruptions gave the finishing touches to the beautiful cone seen today.
The most recent violent activity lasted about 300 years, during the 9th, 10th and 11th centuries. The large forested highland and numerous lakes are the result we see today. Then in 1707, the volcano eruption opened up three craters and caused a lot of damage to villages and farmland. It sent huge clouds of volcanic ash that rained down on the big city of Tokyo.
Mount Fuji has been dormant since its last eruption in 1707 which was almost 300 years now. But for a volcano with a life span of hundreds of thousands of years, three centuries are almost no time at all. Geologists still believe that it is an active volcano so would be perfectly normal for the mountain to erupt again at any time and is only sleeping.