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Archive for January 29th, 2021

And with one final push, I completed the Mt. Fuji, Japan Conqueror challenge on the evening of the 29th December. After my walk earlier the day I noticed I had only just over 1km to go, so off I went πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

This final stage took me to the summit of Mt. Fuji, and apparently some of the best views….wish I was there for real πŸ˜‰πŸ”πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈ

I’ve enjoyed several days exploring the lakes, the forest, the ice caves and seeing Mount Fuji with its perfectly shaped cone from all angles but today was the day for the final climb to the summit.

Shortly after leaving the 5th Station I reached a fork in the trail. To the right was the trek to Fujiko. Heading left, I soon arrived at the Komitake Shrine, named after old Komitake Mountain which is now buried deep beneath Mount Fuji. The Shrine is important to many worshippers who each year on 1 July attend the Kaizansai festival and celebrate the opening of Mount Fuji.

From here to the 7th Station the trek weaved its way through a shady and dense forest. On hot summer days the forest provides a welcoming relief. The path itself was narrow and rough with rocks jutting out and tree branches stretching across the pathway. As with any climb sure-footedness was essential alongside some duck and weaving around branches. There were trail sections resembling carved out channels instead of just flat paths. I can imagine on foggy days this trail would be quite challenging with low visibility and for those who climb at night in order to catch the sunrise at the summit could run the risk of getting lost if not careful. Thankfully ropes line the route providing guidance and assistance up the mountain. Occasional openings in the forest canopy gave me glimpses of Fuji’s peak, like small teasers of what is yet to come.

Leaving the forest zone behind, there were no more trees, just very low shrubs with small white flowers. The ground became more rocky and gravel-like, making it looser underfoot. It makes me realise that although Mount Fuji is not a technically difficult climb, it does however, present its own set of challenges such as a sudden change in weather, the steep inclines, long switchbacks and more importantly the potential for altitude sickness because the oxygen density is only two-thirds of the normal oxygen thereby making it more difficult to breathe.

I forged my way onto the 8th Station where my trail merged with the very popular Yoshida Trail. As expected it became quite congested. Taking a slow and steady approach it was time for the final push. The terrain here was barren, vegetation seemed non-existent.

I knew the summit was near when I made my way through the white Torii gate, which stood proudly on a set of steps signifying that “heaven on earth” is within my grasp.

Reaching the summit though was not the end, yet. The final part was a walk around the crater on the Ohachimeguri Trail. The crater has a 2,560ft (750m) surface diameter and a depth of 790ft (240m). With its jagged edge, the crater is encircled by eight sacred peaks, each with their own name: Oshaidake, Izudake, Jojudake, Komagatake, Mushimatake, Kengamine, Hukusandake, and Kusushidake.

My quest ended at the Kusushi Shrine near the last station. Here I stood to absorb the aerial views, reflecting on my journey and contemplating my descent but that’s a story for another time.

On a final note, did you know that the top 1,312ft (400m) of Mount Fuji is actually private property? Here’s an online excerpt explaining how this ownership evolved:

“… belongs to Fujisan Hongu Sengentaisha, a Shinto shrine. The land originally belonged to Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Edo Shogunate (1603 – 1867), and the area of Mt. Fuji from the 8th station to the top is said to have been given to this shrine as a gift by the Tokugawa clan in 1779. The land was re-designated as national property for a time after 1871, when the Tokugawa Shogunate relinquished power to the Imperial Court, but has since been returned to the Fujisan Hongu Sengentaisha. The Hongu (Main Shrine) of the shrine is at the foot of Mt. Fuji, and the Okumiya (Rear Shrine) is located at the mountain peak.”

So there you have it, my 5 Stages of the Mt. Fuji Conqueror challenge. πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘ I hope you enjoyed the journey, as well as all the information, and the amazing history linked to this iconic mountain…instantly recognisable. Who knew the top of Mt. Fuji was private property? πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€”

Hoorah!! 4 days to virtually ‘climb’ Mt. Fuji

Immediately after finishing this challenge I got started on the Alps to Ocean challenge in New Zealand (289.7kms). Nothing like putting a bit of pressure on yourself then Cindy 🀣🀣🀣🀣 But of course, starting that challenge/walk is taking a wee bit longer to complete because not only is it much longer, but I started my next booking on 4th January and my free time is limited to 2 hours a day, weather permitting. Still, I hope/plan to finish the walk by 31st January.

Why not join me on one of the challenges https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474 they are excellent motivation to get out and and walk, especially now that our wings are clipped by Covid-19 and lockdown.

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The research proves to be as interesting as the walks πŸ˜‰ On receiving the postcards from the Conqueror challenge organisers, I usually set about investigating various aspects that are of interest. This usually takes me on another adventure altogether….😁😁

There are four trails to choose from to climb Mount Fuji. The most popular trail, Yoshida Trail, gets a whopping 150,000 climbers a year. Looking for more solitude and introspection I chose the less trodden trail called the Subashiri Trail, which sees an average 25,000 climbers per year. Where the Yoshida climb is from the north of the mountain, the Subashiri climb is from the east.

My target was to reach the 5th Station where the actual trail to the Summit really begins. Reaching the 5th Station can be made by vehicle but during the climbing season, which is July to September, private vehicles are prohibited from using the road. A shuttle buses services the area ferrying climbers from the base of the mountain to the station.

The ascending route to the 5th Station started at the Subashiri Sengen-jinja Shrine which was tucked away amongst giant pine trees. According to legend the shrine was built in 807AD and although it was damaged during the 1707 eruption, it was rebuilt in 1718. Followers of the Fuji-ko religion, a fusion of ancient Japanese mountain worship and Buddhism, congregated at this shrine to commence their pilgrimage to the summit. They continue to do that today and are usually seen dressed in white robes and carrying pilgrims’ staffs.

Heading southwest, just before the Subashiri turn off, was a monument commemorating Prof Frederick Starr. He was a New Yorker who in the late 19th century took up a position as professor of anthropology with the University of Chicago. Upon request to undertake field work in Japan circa 1909, the Professor would eventually become a “student of Japan” visiting the country 15 times in his lifetime. He had a deep love of Mount Fuji having climbed it five times. His ultimate wish was to be buried in a place where he could always see Mount Fuji. In his words: “By climbing Mount Fuji, I found heaven on earth”.

The road up to the 5th Station was a gently sloping, straight section with a beautifully manicured tree-lined road. Two miles (3km) in the landscape morphed into tall, dense pine trees until the road took a sharp, left turn and continued in a zig-zag fashion for the next 5mi (8km) up to the station. Halfway up the zig-zag the trees changed again taking on a rugged appearance indicating the kind of forest trail I will be travelling through on part of my climb.

The 5th Station is far less developed than the Yoshida Trail with limited amenities and shops, however near the main trail was a short hiking trail to a small peak called Kofuji (Little Fuji). Kofuji is a secondary peak that formed on the side of Mount Fuji and stands at 6,492ft (1,979m) tall. Access was via a nature trail through the forest. A twenty minute walk, I eventually emerged onto the peak of Kofuji. It was a large, long, oblong clearing with a beautiful 360 degree view of a lush forest, the peak of Mount Fuji to the west, Lake Yamanaka to the east and Fujiyoshida city to the north.

I wonder, if by doing these walks… will I too find ‘heaven on earth’? And if not in Japan, then certainly the varied scenery on my walks around the UK, which astounds me every time I watch a programme about Scotland, or the many famous islands, or the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales…..

Why not join me on one of the challenges https://www.theconqueror.events/r/CE1474 they are excellent motivation to get out and and walk, especially now that our wings are clipped by Covid-19 and lockdown.

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One of the benefits and downfalls of being hooked up to the matrix is that you know where you’ve been, but ‘they‘ know where you are at all times, especially if you have your gps switched on, on your ever so ‘smart’ phone. Or have the various walking apps like mapmywalk turned on.πŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸšΆπŸ»β€β™€οΈπŸ˜―

Personally I think our phones have been sneakily hooked up to all those big brother cameras dotted around every street corner, in every city, town and village….its creepy.

Its also quite useful for when your memory starts fading and you think “where was I?” Imagine how useful it would be if you’re one day considered to be a suspect of ‘foul play’!! If the arresting officer asks you “where were you at 1.30pm on Saturday 13th December 10 years ago. Wtaf!! They actually expect me to remember πŸ€”πŸ€”πŸ€” But, if you had Google you could protest your innocence and say “Uh uh, Officer, I wasn’t there….here look at mapmywalk, that’ll tell you exactly where I was”. Of course that wouldn’t be useful if in fact you did commit a foul deed, and were as guilty as sin!!! πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ˜‚πŸ€­ then you’d want to lose that app pdq πŸ€ͺπŸ€ͺ

But, be that as it may, one of the benefits is that from time to time Google photos sends me a notification to remind me of where I was either 2 years ago or three!! A bit like Facebook memories, which I don’t use. I’m not a fan of Facebook 🀫🀫🀫

So anywayyyy, yesterday I got a pop up to say “this is where you were”

2 years ago : Broadstairs looking towards Stone Bay
2 years ago: Heading towards Margate
3 years ago: Margate harbour

How cool is that!!

Seems I walk this route quite frequently 😁😁 Lucky me, it is a gorgeous section of the English coast.

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