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Your Comprehensive Guide to Mt. Fuji’s Geography

Mt FujiGeography

As Japan's tallest peak, Mt. Fuji stands at 3,776 meters (12,388 feet), its perfectly symmetrical cone dominating the skies. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this active stratovolcano is a revered symbol of the Land of the Rising Sun and a complex geological wonder. Understanding Mount Fuji's geography, from its volcanic formation to its surrounding landscape, is not just about appreciating its physical grandeur, but also about gaining a deeper understanding of its cultural and historical significance.

Eager to learn about Mt. Fuji’s tectonic origins, volcanic history, surrounding ecosystems? You’re in the right place. Read on!

Mt. Fuji geographical stats

A woman in front of Mt. Fuji
  • Elevation: 3,776.24 meters (12,389 feet) 
  • Location: Honshu Island, Japan. Straddles the border of Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures.
  • Last eruption: 1707 (classified as active but dormant)
  • First ascent: Recorded ascent by monk En no Odzunu in 663 AD
  • Hike difficulty: Moderate to challenging
  • Type of volcano: Stratovolcano (composite volcano)
  • Number of trails: 4 main trails: Yoshida Trail, Subashiri Trail, Fujinomiya Trail, and Gotemba Trail. 
  • Crater diameter: Approximately 780 meters (2,560 feet)
  • Base diameter: Approximately 40-50 kilometers (25-30 miles)
  • Number of crater peaks: Eight peaks surrounding the central crater
  • Nearby geographical wonders: Fuji Five Lakes: Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Yamanakako, Lake Saiko, Lake Shojiko, Lake Motosuko, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Tanzawa-Oyama Quasi-National Park, Hakone Caldera.

Where Does Mt. Fuji stand? Location and formation

Location
Formation
Reflection of Mt. Fuji in Lake Kawaguchi

Island: Honshu

Distance from Tokyo: 100km

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Mt. Fuji, also known as Fujisan, is situated on the main island of Japan, Honshu. It straddles the border of two prefectures: Shizuoka to the south and Yamanashi to the north. It stands approximately 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Tokyo, making it visible from the Japanese capital on clear days.

A closeup of Mt. Fuji's peak
  • Mt. Fuji is a classic example of a stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano. These are formed through the gradual accumulation of lava, ash, and volcanic debris ejected during numerous eruptions over a long period.
  • The specific formation of Mount Fuji is attributed to the complex interplay of subduction zones, where one tectonic plate slides beneath another. 
  • The Philippine Sea Plate subducted beneath the Okhotsk Plate and the Amurian Plate, creating a zone of intense heat and pressure that triggered the melting of rock in the mantle, leading to the formation of magma. This magma eventually rose to the surface, erupting and solidifying to form the layers of Mt. Fuji.
  • While the exact timing of Mount Fuji's formation is still under investigation, geological evidence suggests it began forming around 400,000 years ago.
  •  The present-day mountain is a composite of 3 successive volcanoes: Komitake, Ko-Fuji (Old Fuji), and Shin-Fuji (New Fuji)
  • Over millennia, eruptions from Ko-Fuji and subsequent weathering processes gradually reshaped the landscape, ultimately leading to the formation of the iconic cone we see today.

The 4 phases of Mt. Fuji

Mt. Fuji is the result of a millennia-long complex geological history. Did you know geologists identified four distinct phases of volcanic activity that contributed to its formation, each with its own fascinating story? Here’s a simple breakdown of each phase.

Volcanic eruption - Mt. Fuji’s Geography

Sen-komitake

  • Period Approximately 400,000 - 100,000 years ago.
  • Characteristics: Composed of andesite, a type of volcanic rock with a light-colored, fine-grained texture.

The first chapter of Mount Fuji's story began with Sen-komitake, a fiery andesite volcano that laid the foundation deep within the earth. Its eruptions ceased, leaving behind a hidden testament to the mountain's fiery beginnings.

Magma and lava from an eruption - Mt. Fuji’s Geography

Komitake-Fuji

  • Period Approximately 300,000 - 100,000 years ago
  • Characteristics: Composed of basalt, a dark-colored, fine-grained igneous rock formed from cooled lava flows.

Time marched on, and another chapter unfolded with Komitake-Fuji. This phase saw eruptions of basalt, a darker and denser lava, adding another layer to the growing mountain, shaping its base, and setting the stage for the next chapter.

Mt. Fuji seen from the window of an airplane

Ko-Fuji (Old Fuji)

  • Period Approximately 100,000 to 17,000 years ago.
  • Characteristics: Composed of alternating layers of lava and ash, forming the bulk of the present-day mountain's structure.

History took a dramatic turn with Ko-Fuji, a stratovolcano. Unlike its predecessors, it built its form through alternating layers of lava and ash, gradually taking shape over Komitake-Fuji. This phase, lasting for approximately 83,000 years, formed the bulk of the present-day mountain's structure.

Mt Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko

Shin-Fuji (New Fuji)

  • Period 10,000 years ago to the present.
  • Characteristics: Composed of lava and ash, shaping the familiar, nearly symmetrical cone that defines Mount Fuji's visual identity.

This ongoing phase has seen continued eruptions, shaping the mountain's iconic symmetrical cone. The most recent confirmed eruption occurred in December 1707, leaving behind a new crater and ash deposits. And, while still classified as an active volcano, it is currently dormant.

Exploring Japan’s tallest mountain: Mt. Fuji's height & prominence

Height

Imagine 9 Empire State Buildings stacked on top of each other. That’s how high Mt. Fuji is. The peak stands tall at a staggering 3,776.24 meters (12,389 feet). But how does Mount Fuji compare to global titans? Mount Fuji stands above the challenging Ben Nevis (1,345 meters) in Scotland, the highest point in the British Isles and even lords over the tallest mountain in Spain and the highest point of land in the Atlantic Ocean, Mount Teide (3,718 meters) 

Prominence 

In mountaineering terms, Topographic Prominence is a peak's vertical rise above its surrounding landscape. It measures how isolated a mountain is from higher neighbors.

Mount Fuji's prominence:

  • With a prominence of 3,776 meters (12,388 feet), exactly its own height, Mount Fuji stands completely independent of any surrounding mountains.
  • This exceptional value signifies its towering dominance over the surrounding landscape, making it a truly isolated and majestic peak.

Mt. Fuji trails & routes

It’s not just the destination with Fujisan, but also the journey. The four ancient natural trails, worn by pilgrims for centuries during their ascents offer an unforgettable journey before you reach Mt. Fuji’s summit.

The mountain huts on the Summit, Mt. Fuji

Fujinomiya Trail

  • Difficulty level: Moderate 
  • Hours to reach summit: 6 to 8 hours

Known for its gentle slopes and shorter ascent, ideal if you’re a first-timer or someone seeking a less strenuous climb. Get up close to Mount Fuji's southern slopes, with convenient access from Fujinomiya Station, and shorter climbing time compared to other trails.

People on the Yoshida Trail, Mt. Fuji

Yoshida Trail

  • Difficulty level: Moderate 
  • Hours to reach summit: 5 to 7 hours

The most popular and well-developed trail is known to be the traditional pilgrimage route. Get access to historical sites like Yoshida Sengen Shrine and stunning views of perched mountain huts.

A gate on the Subashiri Trail, Mt. Fuji

Subashiri Trail

  • Difficulty level: Moderate to challenging
  • Hours to reach summit: 6 to 8 hours
  • A less crowded option cutting through dense forests and volcanic terrain. Enjoy sights of neighboring valleys and unique rock formations like the Twin Boulders on your way up.
Orii Gate: Mount Fuji, Gotemba Trail

Gotemba Trail

  • Difficulty level: Very challenging
  • Hours to reach summit: 7 to 10  hours

The shortest but steepest route offers a direct and challenging ascent. This is perfect if you're an experienced and well-prepared climber. Catch a beautiful sunrise, black lava fields, and more on this trail.




Book Your Mt Fuji Tours

From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi & Lake Yamanaka Guided Tour
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From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji, Oshino Hakkai, Onsen Hot Springs or Outlets Guided Day Tour
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From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji, Mt. Komagatake & Lake Ashi Guided Tour with Optional Lunch
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From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji Area, Oshino Hakkai, & Lake Kawaguchi Guided Day Tour
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From Tokyo: Mt Fuji, Lake Ashi, Owakudani Valley & Onsen Guided Day Tour
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From Tokyo: Mt. Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi, Oshino Hakkai, Ice & Wind Caves Guided Tour with Lunch
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From Tokyo: Private Tour of Mt. Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi & Oshino Hakkai with Hotel Transfers
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Frequently asked questions about Mt. Fuji’s geography

Is Mt. Fuji still active?

Yes, Mount Fuji is classified as an active volcano, although it is currently considered dormant. The last confirmed eruption occurred in December 1707.

When did Mt. Fuji erupt last?

The most recent confirmed eruption of Mount Fuji took place in December 1707.

How tall is Mt. Fuji?

Mount Fuji stands at an impressive 3,776.24 meters (12,389 feet) tall.

How long does it take to climb Mt. Fuji?

The time it takes to climb Mount Fuji depends on the chosen trail and your individual fitness level. Climbing times can range from 4 to 10 hours, with most routes taking between 5 and 9 hours to reach the summit.

What are the different sections of Mt. Fuji?

Mount Fuji can be broadly divided into two sections — the base and the summit cone. The base encompasses the lower slopes of the mountain, including the iconic Fuji Five Lakes and surrounding national parks. The summit is the upper volcanic portion of the mountain, starting from the fifth station on each trail and leading up to the crater rim.

What were the different phases of Mt. Fuji during its formation?

Geologists have identified four distinct phases of volcanic activity that contributed to Mount Fuji's formation. Firstly, the Sen-komitake, around 400,000 - 100,000 years ago, formed a hidden andesite core. Secondly, the Komitake-Fuji, which occurred around 300,000 - 100,000 years ago, added a layer of basalt, shaping the base. Then, the Ko-Fuji (Old Fuji) formed around 100,000 to 17,000 years ago, built the bulk of the mountain through alternating layers of lava and ash. Lastly, Shin-Fuji (New Fuji), the ongoing phase, that started 10,000 years ago, is responsible for the mountain's iconic symmetrical cone and the most recent eruption.

What's Mt. Fuji's prominence?

Mount Fuji boasts an exceptional topographic prominence of 3,776 meters (12,388 feet), signifying its complete independence from any surrounding mountains. This makes it a truly isolated and majestic peak.

How old is Mt. Fuji?

The formation of Mount Fuji is a complex process that began around 400,000 years ago. However, the present-day form, shaped primarily by the last two phases, is estimated to be around 10,000 years old.

What kind of volcano is Mt. Fuji?

Mount Fuji is classified as a stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano. These volcanoes are formed through the gradual accumulation of lava, ash, and volcanic debris from numerous eruptions over a long period.

Are there any other geographical features near Mt. Fuji?

The surrounding landscape of Mount Fuji is rich in diverse geographical features, including: Fuji Five Lakes, Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, and Hakone Caldera.

Are Mt. Fuji trails natural?

Yes, the four main trails leading up Mount Fuji – Yoshida, Subashiri, Fujinomiya, and Gotemba – are ancient natural routes used by pilgrims for centuries. While some minor modifications have been made for safety and accessibility, these trails retain their natural character.

What's the impact of tourism on Mt. Fuji's geography?

The immense popularity of Mount Fuji as a tourist destination has brought both positive and negative impacts on its geography. Increased foot traffic can lead to erosion, littering, and strain on the mountain's natural resources. However, tourism also raises awareness for conservation efforts and contributes to funding for maintaining and protecting the mountain.

What can I do to minimize my footprint at Mt. Fuji?

If you’re looking to be a responsible traveler, some ways through which you can help minimize your footprint on Mount Fuji are: Following designated trails and avoiding creating new paths, packing out all your trash and disposing of it properly, and using designated restrooms and respecting the natural environment. Be mindful of your noise levels and respect the tranquility of the mountain for fellow climbers and wildlife. By following these simple practices, you can help ensure the continued beauty and enjoyment of Mount Fuji for generations to come.