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of Fuji never changes."

The breezes that blow down from the mountain-
top are the breath of its guardian goddess ; the rain
that falls on it is her tears.

To dream of a snow-clad Fuji, and, above all, if
with it appear an egg-plant (nasubi) and a flight of
three cranes, is the height of good fortune.

In modern Japanese literature the descriptions
of the charms of Fuji-san are perhaps less poetic,
though an exception must be made in the case of
a remarkable little volume, published some years
ago, for the use of visitors to the Hakone district,
near the eastern foot of the peak. It is entitled
A Guide-Book on Hakone, and was translated by a
Japanese writer into what he states to be the
"English that is generally spoken by most of

He warns us that these hill-country views of the
great mountain involve a toilsome ascent, but that
"the result of toleration is pleasure." The first
prospect afforded the traveller is when " the lake of
Ashi (Hakone) spreads a face of glowing glass
reflected upside down the shadow of Fuji, which is
the highest, noblest, and most glorious mountain
in Japan."

"Whenever we visit the place, the first pleasure
to be longed is the view of Fuji Mountain, and its
summit is covered with permanent undissolving
snow. Its regular configuration, hanging down the


sky like an opened white fan, may be looked long
at equal shape from several regions sm:'rounding
it. Every one who saw it ever has nothing but

The final inducement offered is that : " Forty-
five houses among whole village are the hotels for
cessation of travellers !'' for whom "transparent and
delicate liquid is constantly overflowing from the
vat, and its purity free from defilement so fully values
on the applause of visitors as it is with the air."
The liquid here is nothing more harmless than the
spring water in which these delightful valleys and
hillsides abound.

The place of Fuji in the Art of Japan is as
unique as it is universal. Each successive season
of the year invests it with its own peculiar charm.
One great artist devoted nearly fifty separate drawings
to the illustration of the beauties of the snow that
forms its winter drapery. There is scarcely a single
one of all the applied fine arts of this land of art
whose greatest masters have not found some of their
highest inspirations in the fascination of its form,
its colour, or its numberless and varied charms
viewed from land or sea.

It is not difficult to understand why Fuji makes
such a universal appeal to the affection and reverence
of an artistic and nature-loving people like the
Japanese. In spite of the terrors its volcanic
activities have inspired in bygone times, there is
something wholly friendly and sociable in the way
it looks down on the daily labours and the pleasures
of the millions of toilers in crowded cities, and on
the unceasing, ant-like activities of the country-side


of the thirteen provinces from which it is seen,
revered, and loved.

It was this friendliness of Fuji that appealed to
the imagination of Hokusai, the artisan artist of the
early part of the nineteenth century, and furnished
his nimble fancy with that endless variety of subjects
which his brush has portrayed with such extra-
ordinary skill. The two chief works of his later
days are his "Hundred Views of Fuji," printed in
light tints of black and red, and the "Thirty-six
Views " of the same mountain, mainly in green, blue,
yellow, and brown. They afford a striking proof
of the originality and capability of the one artist of
his time who had the courage to break away from
the traditions of the colour-print school of the past,
and establish himself the leader of a movement
entirely novel and revolutionary.^

It is curious that while the leading European art
critics who know and understand Hokusai's work look
on him as the greatest of Japanese painters, giving
him a place beside Rembrandt, Diirer, and others,
yet Japanese connoisseurs only place him in the
second rank. Probably the estimate that in his
"gift of facile and immediate expression of the
artist's thought by means of simple drawing the
world has never seen the superior of Hokusai, ' is
not wholly an exaggeration. He himself, however
conscious of his powers, never overrated them. His
last words are said to have declared that, "If Fate
had given me but five more years, I should have
been able to become a true painter."

The|actual meaning of the title "Fuji" is some-

^ Colour-prints of Japan (E. F. Strange), pp. 40, 41.


what ambiguous. Old Japanese books tell us that
for ages after its creation the mountain had no name
at all, and to-day the neighbouring country folk often
refer to it with a reverent familiarity simply as yama
("the honourable mountain"). While it is some-
times written with the two Chinese characters which
stand for "no two," "none such," "peerless,"^ it
is also occasionally represented by two which signify
"not dying," "immortal."^ Again, the title given to
the best-known work of Hokusai is Fugaku hyaku-
kei (" The Hundred Views of the * Mountain of
Happiness' or 'Prosperity Peak'"). Besides this,
however, there were many other names due to his
agile imagination, but less familiar to European ears.

The word "Fuji" is probably derived from the
Ainu push ("to burst forth"), and takes one back to
the days when the hairy aborigines dwelt in that part
of the land, before they were driven northwards
by the invaders from the west. Another reminder
of them is at hand also at the eastern foot of the
peak, for the name " Subashiri " (one of the most
popular starting-points for the ascent) is of Ainu
origin. Its meaning is "steaming earth," and points
back to some now vanished solfatara, such as is found
near the base of all the great volcanoes of Japan.
Another alternative explanation is that the word
is derived from Hucki (the name of the Ainu
Goddess of Fire).

The actual birth of Fuji-san itself is no less
a subject of romantic fancies than its name. In any
case it is, from the point of view of geological time,
a mere infant of a mountain, an upstart among


volcanoes. Japanese tradition tells us it first rose to
view in the fifth year of the reign of the Emperor
Korei, 285 B.C.). One night, in the province of Omi,
the earth opened in a gigantic chasm, forming the
Lake of Omi (Biwa), while the soil thrown forth
was transported some 150 miles to the north-east
and deposited in the province of Suruga, to form
in Fuji a cone of perfect symmetry. The com-
paratively modern excrescence of Hoei-zan, which
mars the eastern slope, did not appear until centuries
afterwards. A curious survival of this tradition
is suggested by the fact that whilst it was once
the rule for ordinary pilgrim climbers to fast and
mortify the flesh for one hundred days before
ascending to worship on the summit, there was
a special dispensadon in favour of the men from
the province of Omi. Since the mountain was
formed from the soil of their birthplace, a natural
autochthonous afifinity with it redeemed them from the
need of more than seven days of special preparation.

One of Hokusai's " Hundred Pictures " gives
a quaint illustration of this legend of the birth of
Fuji, and shows the tall cone suddenly rising into
the grey sky of early morning, while among the
astonished spectators a village official is drawing up
a sort of proces-verbal of the marvel.

A shrine on the summit is said to have been
dedicated to the presiding divinity by the Emperor
Heijo, in a.d. 806, to the goddess Ko-no-hcma-saku-ya'
hime ("the princess who makes the blossoms of
the trees to flower"). The most popular shrine,
perhaps, in her honour, is that of Fuji Sengen
(another of her titles) at Yoshida, the northern


"entrance" to the mountain, which was built about
A.D. 900. But probably the most ancient of such
foundations is really that at Omiya, at the southern
foot, the starting-point of the Murayama ascent.
This was the most convenient way of approach
in early times from the ancient capitals of Nara and
Kyoto, and would naturally be the first to be
honoured with the "Great Shrine" which its name
implies. This is the only direction, by the way,
from which Fuji is viewed as a pointed peak and
not as a truncated cone. Between the eighth and
eighteenth centuries there are twelve distinct erup-
tions recorded, and smoke is said to have been seen
proceeding freely from the crater as late as the
fourteenth century. The latest took place in the
winter of 1707-1708, when the crater and mound
known as Hoyei-zan were formed.

At the present time steam still continues to issue
from various cracks on the east side of the outer rim
of the great crater on the top of the mountain, and
on my last ascent, in 1914, it was possible to boil an
egg in some of them.

On the other hand, within a few hundred yards
or so of these, on the level space inside the north of
the crater wall, there gushes forth an icy spring
of crystal clearness, well called Kim-mei-sui ("golden
famous w^ater"). Near the shrine of the tutelary
divinity on the south-east edge of the crater, a
companion spring wells up, Gimmei-sui ("silver
famous water"). Some of the lava streams ejected
by the earlier eruptions have flowed for a distance
of 15 miles, as far as to the banks of the Fuji-Kawa
river beyond Omiya. Others have been dammed

[To face p. 46.


up against the flanks of the granite hills that encircle
the foot of Fuji on the north and west, and in
the hollows thus formed there lies the chain of
the five lovely lakes that lend the prospect of the
mountain on the Koshu side so much of its charm.
Of all the approaches to Fuji, that from Kofu by the
Nagakura-toge is justly described by Mr Freshfield
as the most charming of the many ways of reaching
it, reminding one, as it does, of a bit of Tyrolese
landscape warmed with the colour of Japanese life
and atmosphere.

Some miles to the south of Shoji are several
waterfalls of great beauty. The Shira-ito-no-taki
(''White Thread Cascade"), with the snow-clad form
of Fuji as its background, is one of the loveliest
in Japan. The stream rushes over the edge or
through the face of a semi-circular clifl" in the lava,
in a series of some fifty cascades, into a basin
nearly 100 ft. in depth. The two larger of these
are known as the "Father" and "Mother" falls
respectively, and the smaller ones form their
numerous progeny.

The height of Fuji above the Pacific shore, from
which on the south-east it sweeps upwards in one
mighty unbroken curve, is about 12,400 ft. It has
been suggested that as volcanic mountains may
decrease in altitude, owing to some subsidence of
their eviscerated foundations, possibly a phenomenon
of this kind is now taking place in the case of Fuji-
san itself.

Experiments carried out on the summit in 1884
by the late Professor Milne suggested that the
stability of the upper part of the peak was affected


by a strong wind. The movements of the tromometer
used there were very much greater than those of
another simultaneously observed at Tokyo.

The steepest inclination of the upper slopes is
about do\ on the western side. This fact is worthy
of note in view of the exaggerated statements of
admiring writers, whose language is apt to be more
picturesque than accurate. Lafcadio Hearn, for
instance, speaks of the "amazing angle" and the
" stupendous pitch " of the slopes on the south-east,
and he adds, " Evidently I am not fitted to climb high
mountains. . . . And yet there are people still alive
who have climbed Fuji three or four times for
pleasure!'' Another describes it as a "stupendous
incline which shoots up at a dizzy angle into space."

Probably, however, the most delightfully com-
prehensive claim on its behalf is that of a /icda, a sort
of charm sold to pilgrim climbers who have achieved
the ascent : —

"Fuji-no-yama is the origin of all other moun-
tains, and its grandeur equals that of both sun and

A modern Japanese proverb states that "there
are in Japan two kinds of fools— those who have
never once climbed Fuji, and those who have climbed
Fuji more than once." The distinction, however, of
the first ascent and of many subsequent ones is
usually claimed by an ancient and highly venerated
worthy known as En-no- Shokaku, alleged to have
been born in the land of Yamato, the ancient cradle
of the Japanese people, in a.d. 633. From child-
hood he loved to dwell in mountain solitudes,
and ultimately founded the sect of Gydja (pilgrim


ascetics) called YamahusM. Their modern descen-
dants one may still meet on some of the remoter
sacred peaks.

The alpenstock {kongo-zue) is of white pine,
octagonal in section, for in popular Buddhism the
number eight has a special significance. This, like
the white costume, is carefully stamped with the
name and sign of the topmost shrine on the mountain
of pilgrimage.

As the upward way grows toilsome, the tired
climbers chant a curious antiphonal invocation —
''Rokkon shojo" gasps one half of the breathless band
("May our six senses be pure"). — "0 yama kaisei,'*
comes the fervent response ("And may the weather
on the honourable mountain be fine ! ")

Some years ago, on Ontake-san, next to Fuji, the
most sacred of all the Japanese peaks, I met a
pilgrim party, whose leader I asked for the reason of
the white garments of his order. His explanation
seems worth recording : " We wear them to show the
mountain gods we have come to worship, that we
want to be sincere in heart and upright of life, for
without this we know they will not hear our prayers."

It reminded one of the familiar words of a kindred
spirit : " Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord,
and who shall rise up in His Holy Place ? " — " Even
he that hath clean hands and a pure heart."

Shokaku ultimately excited the suspicions of the
authorities by his use of magic (majinai) and mystical
incantations (in-7nusubi — a kind of " deaf and dumb
alphabet "), by which he communicated with and con-
trolled the evil demons of the hills. He was banished
to the island of Oshima, ofi" Idzu, but each night he


became invisible to his guards and made the ascent
of Fuji-san under cover of darkness. He vras finally
able to escape China-wards on a raft of sods, accom-
panied by his mother seated in an iron bowl, in the
year a.d. 701.

The first European traveller to announce to the
Western world the fact of the existence of Japan,
was the famous Venetian, Marco Polo, who heard
of the wonders of " Zipangu " during his visit to
China in the thirteenth century. The first to actually
land on its shores (in 1542) seems to have been
Mendez Pinto, the Portuguese adventurer, whose
tall stories earned him the alias of ''Mendacious."
The first Englishman to set eyes on Fuji was probably
the sturdy and sagacious Kentish pilot, Will Adams,
who spent the last twenty years of his life, from 1600
to 1620, mainly in the service of the great Shogun,

None of these have told us of the "Matchless
Mountain," although Will Adams must often have
looked out on the glorious view of it over the island-
studded waters that wash the feet of the green hills
above Hemi, his Japanese home, where modern
Yokosuka now stands.

But it was reserved for the German, Engelbert
Kaempfer, who visited Japan as a surgeon in the
service of the Dutch East India Company, and resided
there from 1690 to 1693, to give us the first really
scientific account of the country and its people.

His History of Japan was not published until
1727 (and then first in London, in an English trans-
lation by Scheuchzer), at the expense of Sir Hans
Soane, who bought the original manuscript, but it


contains glowing references to Fuji as the mons ex-
celsus et singularis of this land of mountains. *'It
is incredibly high," he says, "and not unlike the
peak of Tenerifife. Poets cannot find words, nor
painters skill and colours, sufficient to represent this
mountain as they think it deserves."



(II.) In Sunshine and in Stoimi.

The first recorded ascent of Fuji by any European
was that made, by the Murayama route, in September
1860, by Sir Rutherford Alcock, the British Minister
in Japan from 1859 to 1862. The expedition of which
it formed a part was undertaken mainly for political
reasons. He was anxious to ascertain for himself
*' whether the clause of the Treaty, giving unrestricted
right of travelling to Foreign Representatives residing
in the capital, was, like so many other official Japanese
stipulations, to be regarded as a dead letter to all
practical purposes . . . and whether there was any
foundation for the never-failing assertion of the
(Japanese) Ministers that the country was in an
unsettled state, owing to the increased dearness of
everything, caused by the sudden demands of foreign
trade." Incidentally, the journey had valuable
scientific results. Sir William Hooker had stated
that it was "an object of great interest to botanists
to learn something of the mountain vegetation of
Japan ; and especially Fusiyama, of which nothing
absolutely was known." Amongst the botanical
results achieved was the discovery of two important


conifers, now known as Abies Alcoquiana and Abies
Veitchii, the one named after the leader of the expedi-
tion and the other after a temporary member of his
stafif, who was attached for the purpose of botanical

Owing to the severe restrictions on foreign travel
outside the limits of the " Treaty Ports," it was seldom
possible for Europeans to repeat the ascent. But in
1867 a step onwards, and upwards, was made by Lady
Parkes (wife of the famous British Minister to Japan
from 1865-83), who achieved the, distinction of being
the first woman actually to climb to the top of Fuji.
It is noteworthy that the divinity at whose shrine
on the summit some 15,000 now yearly pay their
devotions is a feminine one ! Until quite recently
no woman was ever permitted to ascend the peak,
and the upward way allowed them reached, on the
Murayama route, no higher than 5000 ft. An
imaginary cordon was drawn round the flanks of
Fuji, and called Nio-nin-do (''Woman's Way"), and
beyond it no female might venture. It was, how-
ever, a varying thing on different sacred peaks. On
Ontake-san it reached 8500 ft., while on Tateyama an
upright stone at 7000 ft. marks it and the spot where
the wife of the alleged first pioneer of that mountain,
disobediently seeking to emulate his feat, was petrified
on the spot for her pains.

There is, however, one holy peak where this
restriction is still enforced — Omine-san, in Yamato,
sacred to the cult of En-no- Shokaku, the founder of
the ascetic mountain pilgrims {Gydja), whose descend-
ants are still to be met with in the " climbing season "
to-day. A Japanese writer lately gave an amusing


account of an attempt on the part of two lady teachers
of an Osaka Girls' High School, who attempted to
break the ancient rules. He quotes the account
given by one of the mountain villagers of Dorogawa,
at the western foot of Omine-san, where the Nionindo
hut stands : "We have no legal right to prohibit the
women from . . . their impious attempts. But we
had other means. Fortunately, in due time they
surrendered. Our stratagem was this — that we
persist in our petition to them to abandon the idea
by lying flat on our faces on the ground, so that the
ladies would have to tread upon our heads if they
wished to pass." The writer's comment on the
incident ends as follows : " We were struck with
the feeling of gratitude for our privilege of being born
men. . . . We felt those feminine infidels should
have been shot. Until such hussies be cleared out
of the educational circles the spiritual education of
the fair sex in Japan will never be satisfactory."

A curious parallel with this intolerance is afl'orded
by the practice of some of the Christian monasteries
under the control of the Greek Church, described in
Curzon's Monasteries of the Levant (6th ed.). On
p. 311 he tells us that he was informed "that no
female animal of any sort or kind is admitted on any
part of the peninsula of Mount Athos " ; and that
since the days of Constantine the soil of the Holy
Mountain had never been contaminated by the tread
of a woman's foot. He also mentions (p. 353) a
monk who had been brought as an infant to the
monastery thirty or thirty-five years before, but had
no recollection of ever having seen a woman, and was
anxious to know if they resembled the stiff, expression-


less mediaeval pictures of the Virgin which adorned
the walls of the coenobitic institutions of the little
peninsula which formed his very restricted world.
Karyoe, the capital of the region, is stated to possess
the distinction of being the only town in the world
where no woman is to be found. The fact that
a nionindo is found on Fuji-san, whose guardian
divinity is a feminine one, finds a parallel in the
circumstance that the oldest monastery on Mount
Athos (Xeropotamos), and also that of Esphigmenon,
are both held to have been founded in the fifth century
by the Empress Pulcheria !

Giraldus Cambrensis, the Pausanias of Wales,
writes towards the end of the twelfth century of
Priestholme Island, near Anglesey, that it is "in-
habited by hermits, engaged in manual labour, and
serving God . . . and no woman is suffered to enter
it" So strangely do the weaknesses of human nature
clasp hands across the ages, and manifest themselves
irrespective of climate, race, or creed I

The ascent of Fuji under ordinary conditions offers
no difficulty whatever. The climbing season, which
lasts from the middle of July to the middle of
September, is ushered in by a formal ceremony
called Yama-hiraki, or " mountain- opening," conducted
by the head Kannushi, or "God-guardian," in charge
of the principal shrine. Outside that official period
the goddess of the mountain is not supposed to be
"at home" to pilgrims, and only disaster is to be
expected by the importunate and unwelcome. By a
curious coincidence, I have had that experience on
nearly every ascent I have made before the Yama-
hiraki had been proclaimed.



Early one July, my wife and I were not only
imprisoned, at a height of 10,000 feet, by a storm
which raged on the mountain for three days, but
our coolies refused to go to the actual summit, and
we had to finish the climb alone in the " tail end of
the typhoon."

Some years earlier my experience was still more
singular. Up to that time practically nothing was
known, from the climbing point of view, of the snows
of Fuji and the possibilities of ascending them. One
lovely morning, early in May, I started with two
friends from the "front entrance" at Omiya, only
after earnest dissuasion and well - meant warnings
from the village fathers, policemen, and priests of the
Sengen Shrine. No sooner had our unwilling goriki
(mountain porters) reached the lower limit of the
forest, and made our bivouac in a broken-down shed,
than the promised typhoon broke with appalling
violence. We had been warned to "look out for
squalls," but for the next three days we looked out
very little at all. The squalls saw to that. Finally,
the weather cleared up, and we cleared out. An
excellent snow-climb of nearly 6000 ft. rewarded us,
but the coolies, thoroughly unnerved, deserted at
intervals on the way to the top, though one hardened
sceptic persevered. The view from Ken-ga-mine, the
highest point (which, by the way, is seldom visited by
foreign travellers, and is some 250 ft. higher than the
topmost huts on the crater lip), was quite the most
wonderful prospect of the kind I have ever gazed
upon. Almost the whole width of Central Japan,
at its broadest span, lay spread out like a gigantic
relief-map. While the Pacific waves washed the


southern base of Fuji at our feet, the haze of distance
alone seemed to veil the waters of the Sea of Japan
to the north, over 120 miles away. The combination
of the dazzling snows that clothed the upper half of
the peak with the dark pine forests rising from
verdant prairies of extraordinary vividness, and the
foaming breakers of the Pacific rolling beyond them
eastwards — all this, under a cloudless sky of deepest

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