Puslapio vaizdai

some than the climb. Sunny fields, full of summer scents and sounds, led us at length to Gotemba, a pretty village only five miles from Subashiri, and where at the tea-house we found watermelons so delicious that the memory of them haunts us yet. The road thereafter is level and fine, overarched most of the way with large trees. All the hotels in Subashiri, except one, refuse to entertain foreigners. So to the Yona-yama we repaired, well content to rest and be waited upon after our day's walk. Jiu-hei, as we understood the proprietor's name, saw that excellent rooms with chairs and a table were provided. Through a long passage where the wood shone from its repeated polishings, past the general bathing-tank, past a little garden where the sun could never penetrate to the mossy stone lanterns and luxuriant ferns, up four steps, and the rooms were reached. Through the long, low, sliding windows we

About three o'clock the following morning we had our breakfast by the feeble light of candles. The Japanese appear to be up all night under the best of circumstances, so it seemed perfectly natural that the smiling little maids should serve us apparently in the middle of the night. The moon was just setting behind Fuji, looming very near and black, when we set forth upon our walk of twenty-two miles to the summit. For seven miles we had the services of an obliging packhorse, through a level country, dreary and monotonous, partly wooded by scrub-pines. Volcanic remembrance already began to turn smiling, genial Japan into a sullen land, thinking of woe. In the midst of this desolate region, a hopeful brightening in the east soon became the oncoming glories of a superb sunrise, and soon after this we reached the first station of the real ascent. Uma-gayeshi (" horse-turn-back") is 4400 feet

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a slight refreshment, chiefly in the form of pale-yellow tea, we followed on. From here the ascent is divided into stages, each marked by small stations, or halting-places.

Devout pilgrims, to the number of fifteen or twenty thousand, with banners in hand bearing the name of their town, annually ascend Fujisan as a religious obligation, and to propitiate various deities. The prayer frequently made upon these occasions runs thus: "Purify me from my six roots of evil-the eyes, ears, nose, mouth, touch, and thoughts."

After leaving Uma-gayeshi, the walk for a long distance was thoroughly delightful. The sunshine sifted softly through greenest foliage to a mass of wild-flowers and ferns. The path -a sort of gully, sunk at least two feet below the general level of the wood-was fringed with ferns and delicate asters, while great roots protruded and overhung the edge like colossal petrified snakes. Airy white birches shook their fluttering leaves in the soft breeze, the Japa


nese maples, beeches, and ash joined the evergreens in making a shady canopy above; while maidenhair ferns, belated wild roses, yellow lilies, dwarf sunflowers, tall white serpentaria, and purple monk's-hood combined to hide the delicious wild strawberries lurking in the grass. At intervals through this lovely wood were temples and shrines,- many of them deserted for the year,- and an occasional intermediate station where tea and sweetmeats formed welcome greeting. The summer heat was slightly tempered with a brisk and cooler air, making the sunshine friendly; and flowers bloomed not only all about us, but even in the picturesque thatched roofs of the miniature temples: the whole was idyllic.

But suddenly, emerging from the trees, another world appeared. Before, above, around, lay miles of fire-baked lava, dull and hopeless in the sunshine-finished, dead. For a short distance now and then there were oases of verdure, where the hardiest of shrubs and flower

had gained a slight foothold; and here, again, the charming wild strawberries grew luxuriantly. But these wooded spots-smaller, fewer, farther apart-soon ceased altogether, and we were left alone with the wind and the sky, and a stupendous mountain-cone,- all but overhanging us,-cold, lifeless, pitiless. For a time the sweeping wind was welcome; but it increased with every step. Straight down into our faces it pelted, as if indeed some mighty guardian of the mountain resented the invasion of impious feet. The difficulties of the climb had begun, and Dr. Knipping's oft-repeated caution against a too-rapid pace became almost unnecessary. Sharp lava in enormous masses lay in the path, and, indeed, on every side; very soon there was no path at all. The coolies with their burdens could be seen far ahead, clambering up and over and around, each in his own way, with cat-like agility. The wind became a hurricane; it beat upon us, it pounded us; frequently we had to cling fast to the lava-ledge with both hands until some particularly fierce gust had passed. Verily, hard-hearted is the god who would not be propitiated to the bestowal of any favor by a climb like this! And yet when some luckless pilgrim dies upon the summit,- and this occasionally happens, he becomes, not, as might be expected, a martyr to his piety, but a being thereby proved too wicked to live any longer!

At one of the poor little stations-all of which, however, were inexpressibly welcome -soft rice-paper, India ink, and camel's-hair brushes were brought out for us to inscribe our names. The collecting of banners, kakimono, or scroll-pictures, and autographs seemed to have been a task dear to the heart of the proprietor, and he proudly exhibited his treasures. Among the hundreds of Japanese mementos were the names of a party of Europeans who had climbed Fuji two or three years before. The sudden sense of companionship on this lonely mountain, the instant leap of the heart at seeing the familiar letters, were sensations as agreeable as they were curiously new. We willingly painted our names for the old man, who, with all our coolies, watched us, deeply interested.

Farther than the sixth station, 9800 feet above sea-level, foreigners and women have not been allowed to ascend until recently. Since the dawn of wider intelligence, and a receptive opening of the national mind toward whatever is better in other countries, these restrictions have been removed. At five minutes after one o'clock in the afternoon we reached this station, and immediately upon sitting down the pulse was counted, and found to be 144 in the first minute. After a rest of fifteen minutes it retered 100.

Sweetmeats much more delicate and fresh than might have been expected were found at each station. But the most genuinely sustaining of our comforts was chocolate, of which Dr. Knipping had provided a generous supply. A mouthful or two, a bite now and then during some particularly hard pull, refreshed lagging energies and added greatly to our strength; while if angels are ever met in pith helmets and gray suits, Dr. Knipping was certainly one of that kindly fraternity when, having climbed ahead, he met us at one station with steaming cups of this same delightful chocolate ready for each nearly spent traveler.

And now, to add further novelty to the day, a soft white cloud drifted down and about, or perhaps we climbed into its embrace, and its moist caresses added immense discomfort to every motion. If it hid the steep dangers below, it also enveloped the mighty cone above, and removed even the questionable pleasure of seeing what remained to be done. So we climbed blindly onward, drenched and chilled, seeing only the next step ahead, knowing no path, but keeping instinctively upward. Each pilgrim is provided with several extra pairs of straw sandals to replace those constantly worn through by the sharp lava. If, as is said, fifteen thousand pilgrims ascend the mountain every summer, and each one discards half a dozen. pairs of this foot-gear during his climb, it is evident that there must be some straw sandals on the mountain-side. In the prevailing mist these cast-off waraji were now the only reliable indication of the trail. Occasionally the tiny tinkle of some pilgrim bell would steal softly through the thick white mist, growing louder as its owner came swiftly downward by another path than ours, then becoming fainter and yet more faint as the pilgrim, still unseen, strode quickly down toward the real world. Or perchance, looming through the cloud, a human form was barely discernible, a great, impalpable shadow, passing with its little bell in unknown nearness, to be speedily swallowed up in the encompassing gray.

Each station was poorer than the last.many of them were closed, the pilgrim season practically ending with August,- but despite the increasing barrenness of those yet open, we could hardly have dispensed with their rude shelter and rest. Patience now seemed the most desirable virtue to add to strength of limb. Perseverance was after a time rewarded, for we climbed out of the cloud, and reached sunshine once more, though in a barren world. But small ills were speedily forgotten as we reveled in the sunshine and blue sky. The huge summit seemed overhanging, the effect was startling,—while the path so lately traversed looked most precipitous. For an instant we seemed

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suspended in mid-air; the impression was irresistible and all-pervading. The black and red doleritic lava, dismal, fire-baked, monotonous, spread in countless acres around. Hundreds of feet below it was merged in the drifting fog through which we had made our laborious way to this bright and sunny but indescribably desolate region. The wind was still a hurricane, and directly above stood the eighth station, nearly eleven thousand feet from the sea-level, and the last available resting-place before the tenth, or summit-station. Straw sandals still lay thickly strewed upon the cinders, and after clambering with one great, final "spurt " over the steepest way we had yet come, the eighth station was reached about twelve hours after the early morning start.

"An angle of forty-five degrees" is an expression commonly used in conversation to indicate any sort of path somewhat out of level. As a matter of fact, a slope of even ten or fifteen degrees is far from easy. Applying the clinometer to the path now and then, its largest reading showed an incline of 35°.

The air by this time was too rare to breathe with entire ease, and the cold was intense. With no real window, and a sliding door generally closed against the tearing wind, the eighth station now held at least twenty-five persons; while a fire, smoldering in a hole in the floor and VOL. XLIV.-64.

without any chimney, bestowed its smoke impartially upon all. It would have been pleasanter, after resting awhile, to complete the climb and to sleep at the tenth station-Chodjo; but the majority of the party preferred to spend the night here--an impossible sort of thing, it seemed, with the circle of coolies crouched about the fire, the painfully smoke-laden atmosphere, and the absence of all comfort and convenience. But we unpacked the quilts and baskets, and tried to turn one corner into a series of attractive sleeping-apartments. This to a certain extent accomplished, we wrapped ourselves in cloaks, and stepped outside. Flecks of the great white cloud still hovered far below; but the sky was clear, and the sun had almost reached the vast mountain-shoulder behind us. The stupendous isolation of this vast peak now became fully apparent.

Rising from a level plain, undisturbed by lesser peaks to share the glory, its whole gigantic mass stands clearly cut, awful, unapproached. Far to the right was a shimmering, pale-blue sea with its curved beach; and northward, filling the distance, lay mountain-ranges and lakes in superb association: Hakone, the Otomi-toge, Nikko, and the rest, while Subashiri showed only as an elongated gray thatch. But the whole thing was too immense and impressive. Details vanished. As the sun sank

farther behind Fuji,-while yet the day was bright away from his dark influence,—an immense black triangle of shadow gradually crept outward and eastward from his base, until it covered leagues of smiling field and forest. The cold, the smoke, the strangeness of the air, mingle with all the grandeur in the memory of that night's passing. A shower of fine, wind-swept lava beat an incessant tattoo upon the roof, and when morning looked faintly in through the crevices of the hut, it was shrouded in another thick, wet, heavy cloud, which soaked even the lava to a sharper blackness than usual.

From the eighth station upward a toilsome climb of an hour over the slippery masses brought us to the artificial ledge, or narrow pathway along the front of the twelve huts constituting the tenth and final station. Testing the pulse at once, it was found to be 160 during the first minute, and must have greatly exceeded this during the actual exertion of climbing. After an hour's rest it was reduced to 100. Thoroughly drenched as we were, and hardly able to see a yard ahead for the fog, a warm room and dry garments seemed the acme of personal luxury. But it was found that a number of the houses had been closed for the winter, so that choice was even more limited than appeared at first. Each hut was a single room, each room too low to stand upright in, while lava blocks and rough boards proved small protection against the fierce wind and penetrating mist. Moreover, a strange heaviness of limb weighted every motion, and the rapidity of the pulse was most fatiguing.

It would almost seem that there must be something peculiar about this mountain. It is more than 12,400 feet high; but while travelers sometimes speak of entire absence of disagreeable sensation on other mountains of fifteen and even seventeen thousand feet of elevation, the usual testimony as to Fuji is of great discomfort. Of "mountain-sickness" proper, in its usual manifestations, we had none; neither any special lung-oppression, nor increase of respiration above the normal. But the heart beat tumultuously, and even slight muscular exertion sent the pulse well up to 120 or 130.

After much preliminary conversation the owner of the least repulsive hut agreed to let us have the use of it. Just why we should prefer to have it to ourselves, and what possible objection there could be to his allowing any number of stray pilgrims to sleep there also, he failed to see. But persuasion won the day, and he finally consented to our exclusive occupation, though in surprise and disapproval. His entire outfit for living was comprised in three or four plates and cups upon a shelf, a kettle making a feeble attempt to boil over the

oke in one corner, and a small skin upon

which crouched the proprietor of all this luxury. The time of our host was chiefly occupied in blowing his weak-minded fire through a bamboo tube, to keep in it even the semblance of life; in the intervals he smoked a tiny Japanese pipe. His stolidity and uninterested though persistent watching of our small efforts to promote order in our corners outwardly expressed our inner feeling. We ourselves were utterly stolid and heavy-dull, edgeless. We wanted to be warm, we wished for sunshine, to see one green, growing thing, to have the heart slow down its tempestuous beating; but everything was far away, and very much in general. The air seemed made of lead. In the afternoon the fog began to blow off, and we were soon in clear air, with the clouds dispersing in shreds far below. The same wide-reaching panorama which filled all the world from the eighth station now began slowly to unfold again. Here and there a distant mountain-top emerged from the whiteness; later, the cool green lakes were gradually uncovered, and the ocean, silvery in the soft atmosphere, began to shimmer in the east.

The summit shrine was at a point slightly above our hut, and we went to it, walking over lava literally covered with rusty rin1 left by the devout. An occasional pilgrim arrived while we stood there, deposited his rin, and made straight for the lower regions with enviable alacrity. From this point the immensity of the desolate region became appallingly apparent. To the west, straight down 500 feet, lay the mighty crater, cold and dead, whose gloomy recesses were shaped by a power too terrible to conceive. One must walk about two miles to encircle the crater. Tons of grimy snow-masses filled the ravines of its southern slope. The immensity of the mountain appears nowhere more impressive than when looking upward from the bottom of the crater. There is no trail down the interior walls, but the descent into the cavern may be made in less than an hour, and is well worth the making. In large part the walls are very steep, and bits of lava now and then rattle down the slopes. A pool of green snow-water stands here a considerable portion of the year.

Too grand for words, too strange and fearful for enjoyment, too desolate and dreary for endurance, night at last covered this solitary mountain-top, seemingly forgotten even by God. Through the chinks and crevices in the lava hut the wind howled with an indescribably bitter and hopeless moan. Colder and colder grew the night. Water standing in the room was covered nearly an inch thick with ice (which in the morning the proprietor calmly broke for us to wash our faces!), yet the exer

1 A small coin, worth about of a cent.

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