The day before climbing Mt. Fuji I visited the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha shrine to pray and to receive a special marching staff with sacred bells, the sound of which drives away evil spirits. It was a life saver, particularly during the descent. Great quantities of small rolling stones made the trip back down very slippery with many people finding it dangerous.
I stumbled and fell a number of times, once hurting my knee, but with nothing else to do but get up, I continued my descent. At times, the stony landscape made me feel as if I were on another planet, perhaps Mars as the main colour everywhere was red. I also came across stones of blue and grey in all manner of shapes and sizes. It was fortunate that there was no rain or strong wind, nonetheless, the descent was painful for my legs and stressful because of the fear of being hurt again.
Thinking back, it was presumptuous to think that I could make it in one day. A slower ascent in the daytime, staying overnight at the 8th or 9th station, then reaching the summit and descending on the next day would have been a better plan. Still, my choice was what it was and fortunately so as it rained the next day and a descent in that weather would have been very, very difficult for me!
On the way back I mistook the 6th Station for the 5th and so was missed the last bus. It was getting dark when I decided to rest at the 6th Station and eat for the first time that day. The onigiri rice balls and coffee gave me the energy to reach the 5th Station and then to Fujinomiya via taxi for a painful ￥9500...
Despite all this, I don’t feel disappointed that I wasn't able to reach the summit. On the contrary I am very grateful that the day of my climb was so warm and bright and that I could get so far on my own. There I was, standing there with the clouds as companions and enjoying the solemn silence of Mt. Fuji.
The physical effort cleared my mind from any and all fussy human thoughts and I am grateful for meeting all the kind people from different countries who were very friendly and helpful. One couple from the USA gave me some medicine that helped adjust my blood pressure for which I was very grateful. Many people greeted me, wished me well and seemed truly concerned about my welfare.
These are very precious memories in my life!
(Go back to Part 1)