Tuesday, June 14, 2005

MT. FUJI IN PURPLE



One of the pleasures of my occasional trips to Tokyo is to catch a glimpse of Mt. Fuji.

On that late evening flight, the skies were cloudy and the sun, setting. I was sitting on the right side of the plane and just minutes after lift-off, the plane banked to the right, revealing a beautiful cone shaped structure.

While a student at Nagoya University, I climbed Mt. Fuji on two occasions.

The first was a solo trip. It was in the midst of summer as I took the first steps from mid-mountain. The 'proper' time to start is at about 8:00 pm so as to reach the summit just before sunrise.

There were countless number of people climbing and the long lines of shining torches looked like flickering candles in the dark. But it was the smell of pee that left a strong impression. Plus, the garbage that was scattered all over the slopes.

By accident, I had chosen a moonless night and boy, the number of shooting stars I saw that night... it was unforgettable. Each time a shooting star zooms by, fellow climbers would 'wow' and 'aah'... A number of elderly climbers were breathing from oxygen bottles.

On the second occasion, I led a group of foreign students. We saw fewer shooting stars because of the bright moon.

But, the cold up the summit... it was like winter there. They have a post office and a Shinto Shrine up there.

As in the first trip, the sunrise observed from the summit was memorable...

There is talk that Mt. Fuji may erupt in the near future...