2010 04 20 - Mount Fuji day 1

Mount Fuji Travel Blog

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After waking up very well rested I found out that I was in the overseas headquarter of the Tenrikyo religion that had just celibrated the 100th anniversary of the womens department. Apparently this religion wasn't so local because I was quickly explained that about 20000 followers from outside Japan were currently in Tenri and that it had about 2000000 followers in Japan. Not bad at all for a religion that is based on the teachings of 1 woman only 173 years ago. A visit to the sanctuary with the Kanrodai pillar and the current house of the passed-away-but-still-there Oyasama with more indepth explanation about the religion convinced me that I was pretty much a follower of Tenrikyo (except for the rituals and believe in God-the-parent). The sanctuary was magnificent and humble at the same time. Huge, but modest. And the incredible dormitories surrounding it will one day form an even greater ring around this sanctuary. I have no idea why I didn't take any pictures though.

A short walk through Tenri and I was back to the Tenri Freeway/Highway crossing standing in the warm rain. I got a lift that put me on the Highway very quickly and was brought all the way to a restplace near Nagoya by a bridge-engineer that had worked in Canada for a year and was now involved in the construction planning of a river-bridge in Nara. From that restplace it was easy to get a ride with a truckdriver that didn't speak a single word of English but was going all the way to ..... Mount Fuji, or at least that is where he said we were. From the Fujikawa-Rakuza highway service area were I was dropped off I got a Mount Fuji map that showed I still had to go quite a while in the direction that I just saw "my" truckdriver driving to. But another lift is easily found at service stations on the Highway and soon I was driving with a surfer-looking man in the direction of Tokyo/Gotemba. If I had known then what was going to happen the next two days I might have joined him to Tokyo.

In Gotemba I walked a bit and then got a lift to Mount Fuji. To be precise we followed freeway 138 to spot "19" on my map which was indicated as "The Fuji Sengen Shrine is located at the start point of a trail up Mount Fuji from Subasira" which sounded to me like I could start walking up there tonight and put my tent somewhere halfway up Mount Fuji. The driver told me he could even drive me up that path for a big part which sounded nice because the weather was still horrible. After about 5 kilometer we reached a sign that apparently said (in Japanese only) that because of avalanche danger Mount Fuji was closed to all traffic. I insisted that walking would be fine by me, he insisted that walking was traffic as well and that I would die. I had no choice but to stay in the car and although I got shown around Mount Fuji and Lake Yamanaka I couldn't stop thinking about sleeping on the mountain. Eventually we found a spot next to the lake and close to the police office with a toilet/bathroom and a little busstop-like house were I could sleep dry, safe, and clean.

But I couldn't stop thinking about going up Mount Fuji as high as possible and sleeping on the mountain. I stayed near the busstop-like house at a 7-11 (that closed at 9???). Then the weather had cleared up and I decided I was going to spend a lot of time going up Mount Fuji already that night, sleep on the mountain and then finish the climb and descend the next day. I got another short ride with a local goverment worker to another closed entrance to Mount Fuji. A short walk to a car repair place gave me good directions up untill to a 7-11 that would still be open.  The shopowner was a very worried woman that couldn't stand the idea of anyone going up on the mountain alone at night. But after I bought breakfast she realised she couldn't stop me and became very helpful. She gave me a climbing map, a (great tasting, warm) chicken bonus, and a kiss for good luck. Another man in the shop like the idea of this adventure and he brought me to the bottom of the mountain. The same entrance I had been many hours ago.

I started my climb at the Kitaguchihongu Fuji Shengen Shrine (850 meter high) and walked for about 3 hours along a car road untill I reached Umagaeshi (1450 meter high). Umagaeshi is where the real climb begins on a hiking path (unless you are lazy and take the tourist bus or train to station 5 at 2300 meter high) and the original point where horses were no longer allowed. From there to the 1st station should only be 15 minutes, but I found the path blocked after about 10 and had to find another way. Another path was easily found and I continued climbing up, hoping to make it to the 5th station in about 2 more hours. The mountain was completely dark, except when I was walking through the snow and when I hadn't even seen something like the 1st station after 2 hours (but I was walking on a carway again) I was sure I had taken the wrong path and was now walking up the busway to the 5th station (and was close). Time to put up the tent and rest.


Explanation of the Tenrikyo religion
Tenrikyo is the religion that teaches that God-the-parent created human beings to live the Joyous-Life.
It became openly revealed on 1838 10 26 through a woman called Oyasama aged 41 by then, a married and dedicated housewife. She became the shrine of Tsukihi, meaning she had God-the-parent in her. She taught people during the rest of her life for 50 years and was a good example herself enduring many hardships and oppression but always accepting it with joy and sharing what she had with others. When her teachings started to evolve in a religion she got constantly arrested whenever performing ceremonies. When she reached the age of 91 her followers were hesitant to perform the rituals because of Osayama's constant arrests. Osayama insisted on 1 more ceremonie and fell into a sleep during it, never to wake up again, choosing to shorten her life by 25 years to make life easier on her followers. She had thoroughly documented these ceremonies in one of the three holy books. The other books involved God-the-Parent and the further explanations by her most trusted (male) disciple. This religion is completely equal to men and women, even in the ceremonies of 5 men and 5 women. This is the basic teaching of Osayama: 900 099 999 (translation error) seeds of human beings were created and rebirthed based on drawings that were created to change the muddy ocean that existed before into the world that exists today. The first human conception is called Jiba and a pillar called Kanrodaid is setup at the specific location that was specified by Osayama. We are borrowing our body (including it's weaknesses and mortality) from God-the-Parent and only our mind is our own. We should use it for good to help spread joy. If we use it for bad or cause bad in others mind (somewhat like the Christian 7 sins) it's called dust and the body might get sick. Dust can be swept away and is there to remind us of improving our life by leading the Joyous-Life. Leading this Joyous-Life makes God-the-Parent more Joyous which radiates upon all life on this world.
Basically this religion teaches to accept mortality and problems. Focussing on the good for yourself and others leads to a better life for everyone.

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Mount Fuji
photo by: Lotus28