Western view of Mt. Fuji, Wikipedia Photo

(富士山, Fujisan, Mount Fuji)
"Lo! There towers the lofty peak of Fuji
From between Kai and wave-washed Suruga,
The clouds of heaven dare not cross it,
Nor the birds of the air soar above it.
The snows quench the burning fires,
The fires consume the falling snow.
It baffles the tongue, it cannot be named
It is a spirit mysterious."*

*Poem (top) from A Waka Anthology, Vol One: The Gem Glistening Cup,
trans. and commentary by Edwin A. Cranston, 1993).

Konohana Sakuya Hime (木花之開耶姫, Princess Blossoms of the Trees)
(Citations from "Sacred Mountains of the World,"
by Edwin Bernbaum, University of California Press, 1997)

ZENJO "Impressed by its purity of form and extraordinary height, Buddhists found in Fuji a sublime symbol of meditation. The word they used to describe its summit, 'zenjo' (禅定), is a Buddhist term for the flawless state of perfect concentration. Just as the peak of a mountain soars above the mists that gather in the valleys below, so a person in meditation rises above the passions and illusions that obscure the vision of ordinary people. The Japanese say that the clouds that cover the tops of other peaks only curl around the foot of Fuji. Its summit, a lofty place of contemplation, provides an attractive sanctuary for the deities, who dwell there free from the sorrow that trouble the world below." [...]

"The fire ceremony [marking the end of the mountain climbing season on August 26] has its origins in the earliest known myth about Konohana Sakuya Hime, the principal goddess of Mount Fuji. According to the 'Kojiki', the great 8th-century AD compilation of Japanese mythology, she married a god who grew suspicious of her when she became pregnant shortly after their wedding. To prove her fidelity to her husband, she entered a benign bower [in the volcano] and miraculously gave birth to a son, unscathed by the surrounding flames. The [fire] ceremony at Fuji-Yoshida recalls this story as a means of protecting the town from fire and promoting easy childbirth among women.

"Konohana Sakuya Hime originally had little or no connection with Mount Fuji. Sometime between the 14th and 16th centuries, the belief arose among the people of the region that she would protect them from eruptions of the volcano as she had her newborn son from the flames of the burning bower. During the Tokugawa period, between 1600 and 1868, the Fuji-ko [Fuji mountain-climbing] movement confirmed Konohana Sakuya Hime as the principal goddess of the sacred mountain. She is now the central deity in major Shinto shrines at the base of the volcano and on the rim of its crater. Fuji-ko members worship her at altars in their homes, and each group lights a torch in her honor at the fire ceremony of Fuji-Yoshida."

Earth Observatory Topographical Map
Click image to enlarge (128K)
• Photo (top): Mt. Fuji from the west, near the boundary between Yamanashi
and Shizuoka Prefectures, from Wikipedia Commons, public domain
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