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Journeys : Dec Jan 2010
It's 1.30 am. I'm sitting in a sleeping bag on top of a dor mant volcano, drinking lapsang souchong tea, waiting for the daw n and hiding from a freezing wind behind a bulldozer. It's not a very big bulldozer -- but what's it doing on the crater rim near the summit of Mt Fuji? When the sun comes up three hours later, I discover that the peak of this sacred mountain has a number of other unexpected features. Beer and cigarette vending machines, for example. Restaurants and a coffee shop, all held down by banks of boulders. Souvenir stalls and toilets. A post office. And about a thousand other people just like me, who have plodded up here in darkness, hoping to obser ve one symbol of Japan -- the rising sun of the national flag -- from the top of the country's other icon, Fuji-san itself. Sunrise with bulldozer Chris Viney stumbles in the dark up Japan's highest mountain It used to be easy to remember the height of Japan's tallest peak. Just think of the months and days in a year -- 12,365 feet. Even in metric measure, its height of 3776 metres is impressive -- more than half as high again as Mt Kosciusko and a few metres higher than Aoraki-Mt Cook. Fuji rears up from a broad sea-level plain, so it's a very significant mountain by any measure. The snowline changes with the seasons, descending through autumn until the mountain is blanketed in white by mid- winter, then creeping back up the slopes through spring, to disappear for a couple of months in summer. Destinations 15 December 09 / January 10
October November 2009
Feb March 2010