Mount Fuji

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Like a king resplendent in all his glory, Mount Fuji stands majestically and proudly covered in a robe of snow. And like courtiers of old, artists, mountain climbers, and nature lovers from Japan and the whole world come and pay homage to its stately beauty and grace. So much so that it is hailed as one of Japan's best attractions. No visit to Japan is ever the same without a visit to Mount Fuji.

Some say that the word "Fuji" actually means "not" and "two", which further goes to mean "no equal". And indeed, there is no other mount to equal Mount Fuji in all Japan. Not only is it the country's highest mountain at 3,776 meters, it is also blessed with a perfectly symmetrical cone. It is the crowning jewel of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

Mount Fuji is actually a volcano (a dormant one, at that) that last erupted some 300 years ago. Located west of Tokyo, one can see the mount from there on clear days. The mountain is near central Honshu's Pacific coast, between the boundary of Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. It is surrounded by five lakes and three small cities (namely Fuji-Yoshida on the North, Fukinomiya on the Southwest, and Gotemba on the East). All these also contribute to the charm and allure of a visit to Mount Fuji.

Viewing the mountain from afar may not be enough, especially for avid climbers. A hike to Mount Fuji is an exhilarating experience. The climb up Mount Fuji is divided into ten stations, starting from the foot of the mountain and onto the summit. The fifth station is only as far as paved roads go, so most people choose the fifth station as the starting point of their climb to the summit. There are four fifth stations, namely Kawaguchiko, Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya. In all, you can choose from any of the eight routes – four from the foot of the mountain and four from the fifth station.

Whatever route you choose, you will be rewarded with stunning views below and maybe even a spectacular sunset (if you are there at the right time). You may also opt to stay the night in one of the many huts along the road and at the summit and get to see the sunrise as well. What's more, you can also look at the crater at the mountain's center. Do not fret, Mount Fuji has long been dormant.

Now, if climbing Mount Fuji is not excitement enough for you, try paragliding. Take flight and experience an all new high as you glide from the Gotemba station parking lot. This is also where you can find some paragliding schools that can help you indulge in this sport.

You can also visit the five lakes that surround Mount Fuji, namely Lake Yamanaka, Lake Motsu, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Sai and Lake Shoji. These provide breathtaking views of Mount Fuji but at a more leisurely pace. These five lakes are results of volcanic eruptions by Mount Fuji.
The Fuji Five Lake region, as the area covering these lakes is called, makes for an excellent playground for outdoor activities such as camping, fishing and hiking. For those who are more into modern attractions, there is the Fujikyu Highlands, an amusement park which boasts of having on of the tallest roller coasters in the world.

Now, if you want to view Mount Fuji while you take a relaxing dip, you can most certainly do so. Visit Hakone, which is a popular for its hot springs with great views of the mountain. Another must-see sight in Mount Fuji is the Sengen Shrine, which is dedicated to the Shinto goddess of Mountain Fuji, Princess Konohanasakuya. Although there are over a thousand such shrines in all Japan, the one on the north side of the mountain is the main Sengen Shrine and is worth a visit.

Ah, Mount Fuji! Visit this natural wonder that is Japan's pride.

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