Mount Fuji in Japan is at an altitude of 3,776 m making it the highest volcano, situated on the border of Yamanashi and Shizuoka, and Tokyo’s Southwestern direction. It is a dormant volcano, covered with snow at the peak during winter periods which extends until summer to melt and have 5 lakes around it, namely; Kawaguchi, Yamanaka, Sai, Motosu, Shoji and Ashi all coined Fuji lakes and a forest at the base; Aokigahara (Introduction to Mt. Fuji). There are also three small metropolises adjacent to it; Gotembe to the Eastern side, Fuji-Yoshida on the Northern side and on the South-western side is Fujinomiya. Mount Fuji is said to have taken its current form and structure approximately 3,200 years ago and has since had 7 major eruptions, the Hoei eruption of 1707 that occurred on its Southeastern flank being the most recent (Mt Fuji Eruption Scenario to Be Studied). Recent studies by Meteorological Agency of Japan indicates that there could be an impending volcanic eruption in the mountain, which has seen the government urging people to be careful. This paper discusses the geographical features of Mount Fuji and its surroundings.
Mount Fuji from the South is up above the Pacific coast and its summit projects at 2,900 meters above the flatlands around it. Its diameter is 50 kilometers, its base has a circumference of 153 kilometers, its body coverage area 960 square kilometers and volume 1,400 cubic kilometers. The crater at the summit is circular and is of approximately 500 meters in length and 250 meters deep beneath the highest position. The mountain has a dry upper slope and a water abundant lower slopes (Adhikari, 1). This is water conserved mainly during rainy seasons which then seeps into the ground through the numerous lava layers in the foot of Mount Fuji and springs to the ground at various points, and some flow to be the tributaries of various rivers around the mountain. Water from the lower slopes of the mountain drops to water-falls called Shiraito No Taki which has the capacity of sometimes even 1.5 tons of water falling per second. An approximate half a million people reside at the mountain’s foot, while its geographical magnificence of snow-capped and icy slopes has made it a tourist attraction site.
Mount Fuji is cone-shaped, formed over the phases of volcanic activity, called Komitake and has 500 meters-wide crater at the top with 8 peaks. It is a stratovolcano and has steady slopes and edges all around it. It lays in between three plates, from the East, the Northern American Plate, from western side lies the Eurasian Plate, Philippine Sea Plate lying on the southern side. Its volcanic activity is ascribed to subduction of two plates, the North American (Pacific) plate beneath the Philippine Sea plate. The stratovolcano structure from the various eruptions shaped a lava and volcano protrusions multilayers, composed of basaltic rocks. Lava flows and pyroclastic materials then form lava caves and trees (Adhikari, 1). Constant winds, snows, and rains have resulted in erosions along its surface covers, forming valleys, the prominent valley being Osawa valley which lies West of the mountain among many other gullies on the slopes.
Mount Fuji and its regions have three distinct climate zones; below 1,600 meters is humid temperatures, the middle section sub-alpine and the 2,500m has an alpine climate characterized by freezing low temperatures of -7 degrees Celsius except in periods of summer. During winter, snow covers the upper part completely leaving small patches of icy snows which on the slopes of the crater of the summit and are visible even in midsummer (Adhikari, 3). The summit of Mount Fuji experiences strong West-northerly and westerly winds throughout the year. Capping clouds formed when warm and humid airs pass the slopes of Mount Fuji covers its summit. There are also hanging clouds past the summit which local experts say portend rains.
The upper slopes of 3,000 meters are barren steep slopes covered with lava and ash deposits while slopes of 2,400 – 2,500-meters altitude of Mount Fuji have a characteristic alpine timberline ecotone and vegetation comprising of dwarf tree species. The lower slopes and Aokigahara forest at the base of the mountain is an evergreen dense forest that is dark even during daytime with common tree vegetation species like pine, rhododendron and majorly cypress and Japanese hemlock which are evergreen (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 8). The soil cover is quite shallow in some areas which force the roots to spread sideways forming humps and hollows sometimes over the ground.
Mount Fuji and its surrounding regions supports a vast community or organisms and animals including; reptiles such as fish in the lakes and water streams from the slopes, over 37 species of mammals like black bears, Japanese serow, squirrels and foxes, over 100 species of birds on the forest cover at the foot of the mountain, different kinds of insects on the altitudes of the mountain which support plant life and amphibians on its water covers on the slopes and the flatlands surrounding it (Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, 8).
As this paper has identified, Mount Fuji geographically serves as a vital element for understanding the process of eruption and formation of volcanic mountains. It is a geographically rich location and has since served as an attraction site both for locals and visitors. Its features have made it a revered and sacred place with a rich history not only for locals but also for Japan. It also plays a major ecological role as it harbors a vast number of species of plants and animals. Its groundwater serves as a livelihood for the local community living around it, and for the cities that surround the mountain. It now is one of the World Cultural Heritage sites.