As mentioned before, women were prohibited from climbing Mt. Fuji in the past. There was a checkpoint at Okama, and women were forced to turn back. But the desire they held to be “closer to Mt. Fuji” couldn’t be suppressed so easily. The women would stray from the mountain trail and secretly climb an extra kilometer to gaze upon Mt. Fuji from there.

So what was the reasoning behind women not being allowed to climb? This is not a story limited to Mt. Fuji. At the time, it was believed that if an “impure woman” climbed a mountain, calamity would strike. It is said that the “impurity” was related to a women’s menstrual cycles, but this is not entirely accurate. If women were present in a place of ritual such as a mountain, the male practitioners would get distracted. Since the men could not control themselves, they wanted to get far away from the “obstructive” women. So, they spread the rumor that women are all corrupted beings.

Well, who was the first woman to climb a mountain? In 1832, there was a woman who broke the law and climbed. Tatsu Takayama, 25 years old. She was the daughter of a wealthy farmer. Tatsu felt an obligation to make Miroku’s teachings a reality, including his belief in the equality of men and women. So, 100 years after the death of Miroku, she went off on her secret mission. She cut her hair and dressed as a man. She was lead by five Fuji-kō men, and together the six of them reached the top.

Afterwards, the wife of an English diplomat stationed in Japan also climbed Mt. Fuji, but the women ban wasn’t officially lifted until the Meiji period (late 1800’s), which if you think about it, is actually quite recent.

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