Mount Fuji seen from Lake Yamanaka

When I look at the list of the most clicked links  on this blog, there are usually the latest posts in the top ten along with a few topical ones. When full moons, solstices or equinoxes approach those older posts always get a few extra clicks. And sometimes a few images are clicked.

For some reason, an image I have on a post about my own name, Ken, which has some reference to Japan and used an image of Mount Fuji,  has been very popular for the past six months.

The popularity precedes the recent disasters in Japan, so I have to believe there is something about that mountain that holds readers’ interest.

I decided to look closer at Mount Fuji. It is is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). It is actually an active stratovolcano, but it last erupted in 1707–08.

It is 100 kilometers (60 miles) south-west of Tokyo. Part of its appeal in Japan must be that it can be  seen from all around the area including from Tokyo on a clear day.

Visually, part of its appeal is that it is exceptionally symmetrical. That snow-capped white cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and so it frequently is seen in art and photographs.

Mount Fuji

It is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku.

Mount Fuji has a number of myths about its origin that go back to ancient times. There are tales of resident deities, and its spiritual powers. The mountain’s peak has been venerated as the home of a fire god, later the dwelling of a Shinto goddess of flowing trees, and since Buddhist times, as the abode of Dainichi Nyorai, the Buddha of All-Illuminating Wisdom. Dainichi Nyorai (in Sino-Japanese Buddhism, Vairocana) is also seen as the embodiment of the Buddhist concept of shunyata or emptiness.

Though Westerners view emptiness as a negative thing, in Buddhism, emptiness is important to insight and enlightenment. Emptiness is a characteristic of phenomena arising from the Buddha’s observation that nothing possesses an essential, enduring identity. In the Buddha’s spiritual teachings, the realization of the emptiness of phenomena is an aspect of the cultivation of insight that leads to wisdom and inner peace. The importance of this insight is especially emphasized in Mahāyāna Buddhism, and is explicated in the tathāgatagarbha sutras.

Hokusai (1760-1849) created this painting, “Mt. Fuji Off Kanagawa”, which is more commonly called in the West “The Wave.” It was part of his series, “Thirty-Six Views of Mt. Fuji.” It is one of the best-known Japanese woodblock prints. Along with others of this period, it had a strong  influence on the French Impressionist school.

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