Mount Fuji is an attractive volcanic cone and a frequent subject of Japanese art. Among the most renowned works are Hokusai's 36 Views of Mount Fuji and his One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji. The mountain is mentioned in Japanese literature throughout the ages and is the subject of many poems.
It is thought that the first ascent was in 663 by an anonymous monk. The summit has been thought of as sacred since ancient times and was forbidden to women until the Meiji Era. Ancient samurai used the base of the mountain as a remote training area, near the present day town of Gotemba. The shogun Minamoto no Yoritomo held yabusame in the area in the early Kamakura period.
The first ascent by a foreigner was by Sir Rutherford Alcock in September 1860, from the foot of the mountain to the top in eight hours and three hours for the descent. Alcock's brief narrative in The Capital of the Tycoon was the first widely disseminated description of the mountain in the West. Lady Fanny Parkes, the wife of British ambassador Sir Harry Parkes, was the first non-Japanese woman to ascend Mount Fuji in 1867. Photographer Felix Beato climbed Mount Fuji in that same year.
Today, Mount Fuji is an international destination for tourism and mountain-climbing. In the early 20th century, populist educator Frederick Starr's Chautauqua lectures about his several ascents of Mount Fuji—1913, 1919, and 1923—were widely known in America. A well-known Japanese saying suggests that anybody would be a fool not to climb Mt. Fuji once—but a fool to do so twice. It remains a popular meme in Japanese culture, including making numerous movie appearances, inspiring the Infiniti logo, and even appearing in medicine with the Mount Fuji sign.
In September 2004, the manned weather station at the summit was closed after 72 years in operation. Observers monitored radar sweeps that detected typhoons and heavy rains. The station, which was the highest in Japan at 3,780 metres (12,400 ft), was replaced by a fully-automated meteorological system. As of 2006, the Japan Self-Defense Forces and the United States Marine Corps continue to operate military bases near Mount Fuji.
"A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step." -- Lao Tzu
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