Every mountain has a story.  Some are geologic, and some are of paternity tests better suited for the Maury Show. Mt. Fuji is one of the immediately recognizable icons of Japan.  We have realized we act like Japanese when we get a glimpse of the volcano, exclaiming “Fuji-san!” even though we can see the mountain on clear days from our home in Kanagawa.  The mountain has inspired such reverence that thousands of Shinto Shrines dedicated to the mountain in some way have littered the local Japanese landscape for several hundred years.  Hiking the mountain last summer we came up close and personal with the volcano, but got to hear about its origin on a bus tour last Fall.  Our good friend Jonathan was visiting us from the states, and we signed him up for a tour around the base of Mt. Fuji as a site seeing acquaintance as it was not climbing season.

We stopped at the Fuji-Sengen Shrine at the northern foot of the mountain, an important site as it is the location of the festivities surrounding the opening and closing of the two month climbing season. Apparently it is dedicated in some part (again, not sure on the translation of our tour guide) to the mother deity of Mt. Fuji.  When she was pregnant with the fetus volcano deity her husband/god-mate accused her of infidelity with a human and that he was not the father.  She became enraged at his accusations and gave birth over a pit of fire, therefore proving that a god had fathered the child since a half human infant would have died in the fire.  Thus we have Mt. Fuji, literally forged in fire.  But it makes sense, given the violent geologic events that created the volcano.  In any event we politely enjoyed the story then walked around the shrine.  Many hikers start their journey up to the summit though tori gates leading away from the shrine.  We were told that the shrine has a view of the mountain, but there was no way anyone inside the hut could see through the magnificent forest we were in.  Several large trees littered the sacred site, including two trees at least 1,000 years old that had been ringed with rice-rope found at shrines.  These trees really were amazing, and had seen Mt. Fuji grow and erupt a few times, so a shrine to his mother watching over his adolescence seemed to just make sense