Add Cultural Flavor to Your Mt. Fuji Climb

Add Cultural Flavor to Your Mt. Fuji Climb
| 4 min read

In 2013, Mt. Fuji became the 17th place in Japan to be designated as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. The registry said it was chosen was because it “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries”.

Since long ago, the mountain has been an object of worship and adoration and has inspired many works of art. This article will guide you as to how you can get the best cultural value out of your Mt. Fuji climb.

Start by Cleansing Your Body with Yumori Udon

add cultural flavor to your mt. fuji climb | start by cleansing your body with yumori udon

Just your average pre-hike meal? Not exactly.

As climbing Mt. Fuji became a popular act of worship towards the end of the Edo Period, travelers ate yumori udon, a type of noodle dish, at various places along the highway to purify their bodies before climbing.

The boiled broth is flavorless. Vegetables, katsuo bushi (bonito fish flakes), and udon noodles complete the dish. The wheat-flavored, smooth udon noodles are the focal point of yumori udon, which is exceptionally simple. After trying the original, plain taste, you can use the soy sauce and other spices on the counter to flavor it to your liking.

Udon noodles from this region are called yoshida udon, and they were selected in 2007 by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forests, and Fisheries as one of Japan’s top 100 local cuisines. Order them up yumori style to fully enjoy the luxurious taste of these specially prepared noodles.

Where to find yumori udon: Michi no Eki Fujiyoshida Keishoku ko-na- Araya 1936-6 Fujiyoshida City, Yamanashi Prefecture

Hours of Operation: 10:00AM - 5:00PM 9:00AM - 6:00PM (July - September only)

Next, Head to Fuji Sengen Shrine to Offer a Prayer

add cultural flavor to your mt. fuji climb | next, head to fuji sengen shrine to offer a prayer

After numerous eruptions throughout history, people came to fear Mt. Fuji and believed that a god was living inside. Fuji Sengen Shrine was erected at its base as an offering of appeasement, and offering prayers there before climbing became common practice.

The shrine is located below all four routes (Yoshida, Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya) going up Mt. Fuji. Given its designation as a cultural heritage site for religious reasons, it makes sense that it exists here.

Sometimes referred to as Subashiri Shrine, Fuji Sengen Shrine sits close to the base of the road leading up from Subashiri town. The beautiful vermillion colored gate and main shrine building are known for reflecting a green color. An interesting feature of this shrine is the lion statues standing guard near the main gate. The lion is preparing to throw its child into an abyss. There is a Japanese saying that lions do this in order to toughen up their children (the English equivalent might be “spare the rod, spoil the child”). Regardless, this is one deep cultural point you won’t want to overlook before making your climb.

The address for Fuji Sengen Shrine is:

Fuji Sengen Shrine, Motomiya, Higashiguchi 126 Subashiri, Oyama, Sunto District, Shizuoka 410-1431

See For Yourself: The Inspiration for Famous Artist Katsushika Hokusai’s “Red Fuji”

add cultural flavor to your mt. fuji climb | see for yourself:  the inspiration for famous artist katsushika hokusai’s “red fuji”

Instead of going straight for the summit, climbers should consider spending a night and watching the sunrise from just beyond climbing station 6.

It will take you about an hour and half to reach the forest’s edge. As you continue climbing, the trees will turn to shrubbery, and the ground underfoot will change to volcanic rock. Once you’ve passed station 6 you’ll reach the forest’s edge, and a beautiful view will open up.

When the sun begins to rise, everything will be dyed a burning red color. This sight can only be seen at daybreak. You’ll see the striking resemblance to Katsushika Hokusai’s famous “Red Fuji” painting; it feels like you’re in the real thing.

The sunrise from the top is also spectacular, but this spot on the Subashiri route is the only place you’ll see the inspiration for “Red Fuji”. It’s a bit steeper and longer than the other routes, but it’s well suited for experienced hikers and people with strong legs.

Important: The time of sunrise will depend on the season

You should plan to depart station 5 about 90 minutes before sunrise. It’s best to check with the owner of the rest station to determine what time is suitable for departure.

In July: 4:30-4:45AM Sunrise In August: 4:50-5:00AM Sunrise Note: The sunrise can also be viewed on the way up from the Yoshida route.

Don’t Forget Your Stamp: Only Available at Fuji’s Peak

add cultural flavor to your mt. fuji climb | don’t forget your stamp:  only available at fuji’s peak

After climbing the Subashiri route and (as is customary) bowing at the small shrine gates on your way up, you’ll reach Kusushi, the rear shrine. It’s located on the northeast face of the summit. It may not look like much of a shrine due to the stones placed on the roof, which serve to protect if rom the wind.

When visiting the shrine, you can receive a stamp. These stamps are popular collectors items for Japanese tourists, so why not collect some yourself? The largest one available here is 21.5 centimeters in diameter! Some people can’t find anywhere big enough to put the stamp, so they get it on a handkerchief or t-shirt. You can also buy a special stamp showing sakura blossoms on Mt. Fuji with a blue background.

This rear shrine is definitely worth a visit if you have the time to spare.

Kusushi Shrine is located at about 3,715m above sea level. It is also known as Tohoku Okumiya. It can be reached by climbing the Subashiri and Yoshida routes.

By following this route and enjoying Fuji’s history and culture, you can experience a different type of hike!

Mt. Fuji, the Symbol of Japanese Culture

I hope this guide helps climbers experience the cultural side of Fuji. Even if you’ve climbed Fuji before, there are still many fascinating points to discover if you go again.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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