The picture of a snowcapped peak surrounded by blooming cherry blossoms paints an iconic picture of Mount Fuji, Japan's highest mountain. With gorgeous natural beauty and a fascinating history, the UNESCO world heritage site is recognised the world over.
It's not often that you get to saunter up an active stratovolcano. Its cone-like shape is made up of layers of ash, rock and lava, and the volcano hasn't erupted since 1707. At 3776 metres high, Mount Fuji can be seen from Tokyo (around 60 miles away) and makes for some jaw-dropping photographs. It has fast become Japan's most visited tourist site, with around 200,000 people visiting the summit each year.
Historically, it has inspired countless works of art, and when you visit, it's easy to see why. Of course, there's the natural beauty, but Mount Fuji is also an extremely spiritual space. Shinto, the ancient religion of Japan, dominates the area, with shrines at the base and along the ascent of the mountain.
Spiritual though it might be, during climbing season, don't expect a serene experience. Mount Fuji is extremely popular to climb, and at times you may find queues and hoards of people following the same trail.
If you're feeling fit, climbing the mountain is a great way to experience the views - not to mention a fantastic personal achievement. Many make the ascent, but it is by no means easy, with some very steep parts of the main trail. It generally takes around 8 hours to climb, and is usually best spread over two days.
On the ascent, you'll find 'huts' with amenities and food and water, however these can be few and far between.
If climbing isn't your cup of tea, there are plenty of other ways to experience the beauty of Mount Fuji, and take a few snaps that will be seriously Instagram-worthy. The Fuji Five Lakes are gorgeous lakes formed by lava flow from previous eruptions, within relatively easy access of Mount Fuji. For the best views of the mountain, head to Lake Yamanakako and Lake Motosuko, where you'll see the iconic views as seen on the 1000 yen bill. For a different angle, try Lake Shojiko - it may be the smallest lake, but it offers some seriously beautiful, unobstructed views.
If you're visiting Mount Fuji in the hope of reaching the summit, you'll need to visit within climbing season - between July and August. Outside of this season, weather can be very harsh and amenities are often closed.
If you're staying with your feet firmly on the ground, each season has its own charm. Notably, a visit in spring will bring the iconic pink cherry blossoms, and winter sees the mountain covered in snow.
As soon as you see Mount Fuji on the horizon, you know that it's something very special. Shrouded in art, history and culture, it's not hard to see how it has become such an iconic landmark. With views that will blow your mind and thrill the photographer in you, Mount Fuji is a must for every bucket list.
Sarah lives in London but has a bucket list longer than her arm. She's spent time everywhere from Russia to Australia, and has more than a few trips planned for the future. In the meantime, she works in social media and writes for a number of publications. Follow her on Twitter.comments powered by Disqus