“I can see Mt. Fuji from my balcony.”
Imagine your Japanese friend told you this. How would you reply?
I’m afraid that isn’t the right answer to let the person be satisfied. Some compliments with a little surprise like “Wow!” “Really?!” “How nice!” are the better choices to make the conversation smooth.
What does Mt. Fuji mean to Japanese people?
As you may know, Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. It is located almost in the center of Japan, straddling both Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures. It was registered as a world heritage site in 2013. It is definitely one of the most popular spots not only for climbers but also for many tourists both Japanese and foreign.
It’s 3,776 meters high, so it’s outstanding even though there are many other mountains in this country. The height proves that we have some chances to see it even from a distance.
☆Impression from Japanese people
“How do you feel when you see Mt.Fuji?” (Multiple choice question)
I asked 70 Japanese people about their impressions of Mt. Fuji. Please look at the pie chart.
96% of the people took it positively and answered “happy,” ”’relieved,” and/or “lucky.” 4% of the people answered “scared.” I asked them the reasons and found out that some were afraid of the next eruption, and others had climbed or got closer before and felt the power of nature. Most of them chose some positive answers too. Nobody answered “nothing.”
These are other words that some people use to describe Mt. Fuji.
- Beautiful, respectable, overwhelming, dignified, holy, proud, mysterious, majestic, great, sharp, powerful, Goddess
- Symbol of Japan, source of energy, maternal love, icon of stable belief
- Something to share with our family
- Something we try to see from airplanes or bullet trains when we get a chance
- Something we want to say, “Good morning!” to when we see it every morning (From people who can see it from their houses)
- Wall paints at public baths (You can see a painting of Mt. Fuji on a wall behind a bathtub at traditional public baths in Japan.）
This result shows that Mt. Fuji is something meaningful to Japanese people.
☆Name of “Fuji”
There are countless places and things which use “Fuji” as their names in Japan. Let me introduce some of them.
1) Fuji Television(フジテレビ) – TV station
2) Fujipan(フジパン) – Bread maker
3) FUJIFILM(富士フイルム) – Imaging solutions company
According to my sources, Fuji Television and Fujipan are named in order to be the top companies in Japan like Mt. Fuji. “FUJIFILM” was named with a strong desire to promote the domestic production of film, and the first president chose the iconic mountain of Japan as its name.
4) Fuji-Q Highland(富士急ハイランド) – Amusement park
This nation-wide popular amusement park is located just close to Mt. Fuji. The height of its roller coaster named “’FUJIYAMA” is 79 meters, which was a Guinness record. Surprisingly, 9 rides here have Guinness records. There is no doubt that this is the most thrilling amusement park in Japan, and it attracts many people just like Mt. Fuji does.
5) Proverb “Ichi-Fuji, Ni-taka, San-nasubi(一富士二鷹三茄子)”
This is an old saying that means “No.1-Mt. Fuji, No.2-Hawks, No.3-Eggplants.” It is said that if you dream about these things on the first night of a new year, you can have a lucky year. There are various theories, but one of them says that the spreading shape of Mt. Fuji means to be blessed with children or success in a business.
6) Proverb “Ichido mo noboranu baka, nido noboru baka(一度も登らぬ馬鹿、二度登る馬鹿)”
Although there isn’t a word “Fuji” in this proverb, it means, “The person who never climbs Mt. Fuji is a fool, and the person who climbs it twice is a bigger fool.” Luckily, I’ve climbed it once. Needless to say, the experience was life-altering. The sunrise from the sea of clouds on the top of Mt. Fuji never fades no matter how many years have passed. At the same time, I can say we shouldn’t take climbing lightly. It is a great and sometimes dangerous piece of nature, not an artificial object, where we should take good care of ourselves.
Thank you for reading my article. I hope you got interested in Japanese people’s feelings for Mt. Fuji. Last of all, let me boast a little bit.
“I can see Mt. Fuji from my balcony!! Only the top of it on clear days though.”
※Thanks to all of my friends who cooperated to this article, I could get the data and use the various pictures.
English teacher for children. My source of energy is my students’ smiles full of curiosity. I love visiting my friends in and out of Japan. Simple living is my motto.