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Definition: Fuji from Merriam-Webster's Geographical Dictionary

or Fu•ji•ya•ma \ˌfü-jē-ˈyä-mä\ or more correctly Fu•ji–no–Ya•ma \ˈfü-jē-ˌnō-ˈyä-mä\ or Fu•ji•san \ˌfü-jē-ˈsän\. Sacred mountain in S cen. Honshū, Japan, ab. 70 mi. (113 km.) WSW of Tokyo; 12,388 ft. (3776 m.); an isolated peak, highest in Japan; almost a perfect cone; its crater has diameter of nearly 2000 ft. (610 m.); a quiescent volcano, last eruption 1707.


City, Shizuoka prefecture, Honshū, Japan; pop. (2000c) 234,187.

Summary Article: Fuji, Mount
From Encyclopedia of Environment and Society

MOUNT FUJI IS Japan’s tallest and most sacred mountain, and is also known as Fujiyama, Fuji-Yo-Nama and Fujisan. At 12,388 feet, Fuji is a coneshaped volcanic mountain located on the Island of Honshu—the largest of four major islands of Japan—and eminently stands 70 miles west of Tokyo. Geologists consider the volcano active, its last eruption occurring in 1707.

Fuji is one of the many active volcanoes that form what is popularly known as the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” The earth’s surface crust is divided into irregularly shaped “plates” of various sizes and thickness, which are constantly on the move. The source of this movement is found at divergent boundaries where hot viscous magma from the interior of the earth pushes its way to the surface through rifts along ocean floors. Here it cools and hardens to produce new crust while moving older crust and consequently lithospheric plates away from the divergent boundaries and each other. Along other boundaries, plates converge—crunching against, or sliding along or beneath one another. Most volcanic activity and mountain building, known as orogenesis, occurs along these boundaries. Mount Fuji, like many other volcanoes along the “ring,” formed at a convergent boundary where lighter, less dense crust of the Pacific–oceanic plate slides below the Eurasian–continental plate. As it does, the plates fracture, and fissures channel magma to the surface of the earth where it spreads as lava. Legend has it that Fuji rose from to its present height in just one night. However, it has taken thousands of years of successive lava flows to create what many have called the perfect composite volcano.


Mount Fuji is sacred landscape to both the Shinto and Buddhists religions. For the Buddhists, Fuji, with its snow-capped peak, resembles the white bud of the sacred Lotus flower whose petals symbolize the Noble Eight-Fold Path to enlightenment. For the Shinto, the ethnic religion of Japan, Fuji stands as a beautiful Goddess and Supreme Altar of the Sun. Climbing the volcano is a sacred ritual and is usually undertaken during the months of July and August. Prior to the Meiji Restoration of 1868, pilgrims donned white robes, and were male only. Today, pilgrims and foreign tourists of all kinds make the relatively easy climb to the ancient temples and shrines scattered in and along the edge of the crater—which has a 2,000 feet diameter—to greet the rising sun and beginning of divine day. Just beyond Fuji’s base, which has a circumference of 65 miles, are lakes and foothills where summer and winter recreational opportunities abound. Tens of thousands visit the area annually yet, unfortunately, the effects on the mountain itself have been deleterious. Although ancient myth asserts that soil and stone rolling down from pilgrims’ feet are magically repositioned on the mountain during the night, erosion from trail walking continues to scare its face. Discarded plastic wrappers and bottles and cigarette butts along the trails have led one to dub Fuji the “sacred rubbish dump.” Considerable efforts are being made by the Japanese government to maintain Mount Fuji’s reputation as one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world—from both near and far.

  • Japan; Mountains; Ring of Fire.

  • Robert W. Christopherson, Geosystems: An Introduction to Physical Geography (Macmillan College Publishing Company, 1994).
  • Anthony Huxley (ed.), Standard Encyclopedia of the World’s Mountains (G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1962).
  • Peter Yapp, ed., The Travelers’ Dictionary of Quotation (Routledge, 1983).
  • Ken Whalen
    University of Florida
    Copyright © 2007 by SAGE Publications, inc.

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