Where Heaven Meets Earth

John Powell and Chris Short from the CCRI have travelled to Japan for the 14th Global Conference of the International Association for the Study of the Commons.

In this post, Chris talks about a trip up Mount Fuji – not to the summit, but from the 5th to the 6th station…

Mount Fuji is the national symbol of Japan and dominates the landscape, as well as the activities of this region.  According to legend the end of the tree line – and at this time the start of the snow line is the place where heaven meets earth – it has a surreal appearance where great heat has scarred a line through the earth. The last eruption was 600 years ago but in places the landscape more closely resembled the moon.   The shape of the crater as a near symmetrical circle makes me wonder if there is a link to the national flag as well as the ‘land of the rising sun’. [Chris later said ‘I have learnt that since Mt Fuji is conisdered within local religions (Buddhist and Shinto) to be the point where the sun god touched earth, it is very likely that there is a link between the flag and Mt Fuji.]

Apparently the best time to reach the summit is at dawn … but we left that to others.

 Climbing up the mount is for some a tourist trip, while for others it is a pilgrimage. The numbers of people at the 5th station – as far as the cars and bus go – were a real surprise.  It was like busy village, with a very active post office and cafe.  Mt Fuji clearly attracts all ages – not all of them dressed for weather at 2,200 metres on what was a warm sunny day down at 700 metres.  The social aspects were quite heart warming – this was a place for memories of both past and future a time of reflection.

 We did manage the route from the 5th station on the road route across to the 6th station on the climbing route (see red line on the map – below).  The was quite an effort as the air was thin and this was quite a surprise.  There are annual competitions to run up the mountain (early June) and a climbing festival on 30th June to welcome in the climbing session.  Locals say that at its height there is a single line of people snaking up the mountain from the 6th station to the top at high season.

 Of course for those not able to walk – or just wanting a different experience there is always horseback – now I am not one to moan but if I was noticing the lack of oxygen then how are these horses feeling with 2 riders.  May be they don’t notice this so much – does any one know?



*Blog Editor’s Comment – Having spent a lot of time at altitude in the Himalayas, I would suggest that the horses simply become acclimatised. Donkeys are used for transporting goods at altitudes upto several thousand metres.