Con i suoi 3776 metri di altezza, il monte Fuji è il monte più alto del Giappone, nonché simbolo e icona del Paese. La sua maestosità e la perfetta forma del cono hanno sempre suscitato una grande ammirazione nei giapponesi, che hanno un vero e proprio culto verso la montagna e la considerano una destinazione sacra.
Non si conoscono le ragioni dietro la sua denominazione: secondo alcune teorie deriva dai caratteri di “immortale” o “senza eguali”, altre sostengono che provenga da Kamui Fuchi, divinità della popolazione indigena Ainu.
In quanto vulcano, il monte Fuji era temuto e rispettato come una divinità, tanto da spingere i giapponesi a dedicargli più di mille santuari chiamati “santuari di Asama” (o “santuari di Sengen”, a seconda della lettura dei kanji) e a sceglierlo come luogo di allenamento per samurai e monaci; il primo uomo a scalarne la cima fu proprio un monaco, nel 663, aprendo la strada dei pellegrinaggi ai fedeli.
Considerato suolo sacro, l’accesso alla montagna fu vietato alle donne fino al 1872, anche se il tabù venne infranto anni prima dalla ventiquattrenne Takayama Tatsu, che partecipò alla scalata vestita da uomo.
Il numero di opere e poesie dedicate al monte Fuji prosperò nel Periodo Edo, nel 1600, grazie ai viaggiatori e agli artisti che potevano ammirare la montagna sulla strada verso l’attuale Tokyo; tra i lavori più famosi di quel periodo spicca Trentasei vedute del Monte Fuji del maestro Hokusai.
L’amore dei giapponesi per il monte Fuji è sempre stato molto forte e si dice che durante la seconda guerra mondiale gli americani avessero pensato di gettare tonnellate di vernice rossa lungo le pendici del vulcano con l’intenzione di ricoprirlo completamente e scoraggiare così le truppe giapponesi. Il piano venne accantonato a causa dell’elevato costo dell’operazione.

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