Sakuraco Logo
snack box
お菓子の箱について
subscription
pricing
about us
私たちについて
subscribe
購入する
account menu button
Sakuraco Logoaccount menu button
snack box
お菓子の箱について
subscription
pricing
about us
私たちについて
subscribe
購入する
Top StoriesNewsFood & Drink
Categories
Top Stories
News
Food & Drink
search

mt. fuji, mythology

Traditional Japanese Folktales from Fuji

Jenna Wilson

Jenna Wilson

Share:

Mount Fuji has been at the center of Japanese spiritual practice for thousands of years with countless individuals summiting the volcano in pilgrimage. Although the volcano is now considered dormant, in the past it was both a site of reverence and source of apprehension, much like the gods being worshipped in ancient times.

As a result of the immense impact this infamous volcano had on the lives of the people who lived within its wake, like many mysterious forces, folktales were created as a way to explain the natural phenomena. While many Japanese myths take place in imaginary or unnamed lands, there are quite a few that mention the mountain specifically. Let’s take a look at some of the most famous folktales that feature or take place around Mount Fuji.

The Birth of Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is still considered a sacred mountain in Japanese culture.

Although the exact origin of the name Fuji remains unknown, it is thought that it comes from either the Ainu fire goddess Fuchi or a possible kanji reading meaning “eternal”.

The story of how the mountain was created takes place on the barren plains of Suruga where there was once a woodsman called Visu. He lived there with his wife and children, but life was hard and every day a struggle. That evening, as Visu lay down to sleep, he was startled at the sound of an incredible crack coming from deep within the earth. Immediately panicked that an earthquake had begun and his family was in danger, he rushed his wife and children out the door of the hut where they were greeted by the most spectacular sight of Mt. Fuji, which had suddenly emerged from the soil. In awe, Visu called the mountain Fuji-yama, the never dying mountain. And thus, the lands surrounding the mountain were transformed into fertile ground where Visu and his family could live a comfortable life from then on.

Discover Japan’s rich culture via its regional culinary traditions from the Fuji area and beyond: Sakuraco sends traditional sweets & snacks from across Japan to your door.

sakuraco traditional japanese snack box

The Goddess of Mount Fuji

In the Shinto religion, the goddess of the mountain is called Sengen or Konohanasakuya-hime (often shortened to Kono-hana). The daughter of the god Ohoyamatsumi, and wife to the god Ninigi, she is also the goddess of blossoms with her symbol being the cherry blossom, representing the fragility of life on earth.

There is a Shinto Shrine at the summit of the mountain dedicated to Sengen, the Goddess of Mt. Fuji.

According to the mythology, the god Ninigi met Kono-hana along the shores of the sea and was enraptured by her beauty. He begged her father for her hand in marriage and eventually, seeing that Ninigi’s intentions were true, Ohoyamatsumi relented. Once married, Kono-hana soon fell pregnant which caused Ninigi to become suspicious. As a way to prove the child was his, Kono-hana ran into a burning hut declaring that any child of Ninigi would not be harmed. She gave birth to 3 sons: Hoderi, Hosuseri, and Hoori. Hoori is considered the grandfather of the first Emperor of Japan.

To this day, there is still a Shinto shrine dedicated to the goddess at the summit with ceremonies taking place throughout the year to appease her and to keep climbers safe.

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter

Mt. Fuji makes many appearances in Japanese art, including Katsushika Hokusai’s “Under the Wave off Kanagawa”.

Also known as “The Tale of Princess Kaguya”, this folktale is the earliest example of the monogatari (fictional prose narrative) and was written around the 8th century. It tells the story of Kaguya-hime, a princess who comes from the moon who is discovered as a tiny baby by happenstance inside a bamboo stalk. She grows into a beautiful woman and challenges her suitors for impossible tasks before returning to her celestial homeland.

Japanese postage stamp featuring an image from “The Bamboo Cutter” folktale.

One of the earliest versions of the story mentions smoke rising from Mount Fuji which implies the volcano was still active when it was first written. The mountain had stopped emitting smoke as of 905 CE, therefore scholars surmise that the tale was first recorded somewhere around the late 9th century.

Fuji Mythology in Edo Japan

Like many other cultures, myths in Japan are often a combination of moral lessons and explanations for natural phenomena. With Mt. Fuji having played such a large role in Japanese culture as well as an imposing part of the landscape that could wreak havoc at any time, it is of no surprise that the volcano figures into so many legends.

What is quite interesting, however, is that there was a real surge in legends, poems, and songs celebrating Mount Fuji in the Edo Period (1603-1868). This is most likely due to the fact that the Tokaido Road was built at this time between Kyoto and Edo (modern day Tokyo) to facilitate the movement of both people and goods into the new capital. It is along this road that many people were able to view the mountain with their own eyes for the first time.

Enjoy new Japanese sweets, snacks & tea every month

Discover authentic flavors with Sakuraco

Enjoy new Japanese sweets, snacks & tea every month $32.50 USD

Get Sakuraco package

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Articles

Lake Tama during the day.

Tama Region: Five Interesting Places to Visit!

The Tama Region is a beautiful mixture of nature and history located within western Tokyo. Enjoy your stay in Tama!

May 22, 2024
A festival at Fuchu City, which is home to a racecourse ground.

Racecourse Ground and More: Five Amazing Places in Fuchu City!

If you’re a fan of horse racing, then you surely can’t miss the world-famous racecourse ground in Fuchu. Let’s explore five notable locations of this charming city!

May 21, 2024
Someone playing a koto, one of many traditional Japanese instruments.

Traditional Japanese Instruments: Best Five Ones!

Each traditional Japanese instrument has a rich history and cultural significance, embodying the craftsmanship and artistic expression defining Japan’s musical heritage.

May 21, 2024
Waterfalls in Tokyo.

Waterfalls in Tokyo: Five Enchanting Ones to See! 

If you love nature and want to stay in the city to appreciate it, please check out these five waterfalls in and around Tokyo.

May 20, 2024
Footer background patternFooter background pattern
Sakuraco
Subscription & gifts
PricingUpcoming Month’s BoxPast Month’s Box
Today's Offer
Personal GiftCorporate Gift
Support & Information
FAQContact UsCompare to Bokksu

Be the first to know!

Join our newsletter and receive tasty news and deals

AnIchigo Logobrand.
Copyright © 2024 Sakuraco™. All Rights Reserved.

Accepted Payments

Visa payment availableMastercard payment availableAmerican Express payment availableDiscover payment availablePayPal payment available