"Who would’ve thought we would be Insta-worthy!”

A quick Google search for “Japan” will bring up the majestic scene of a five-story pagoda framed with luscious cherry blossoms or autumn foliage, towering over the townscape below with a striking backdrop of the one and only Mt. Fuji.

The beautiful vermilion tower "Chureito" is a war memorial tower for the citizens of Fujiyoshida who died in the Pacific War and the Sino-Japanese War, built in Arakurayama Sengen Park. The impressive 650 Yoshino cherry trees draw many tourists year after year to see the cherry blossoms blooming in the spring with Mt. Fuji in the background.

398 steps run from Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine to the Chureito Pagoda called the “Sakuya-hime Stairs”, named after the Japanese mythological goddess Sakuya-hime. Well, it was actually only 397 steps up until a few years ago, but it was allegedly increased by one step because the number 397 in Japanese can be read as “sakuna”, which means “ don’t blossom”. Surely such a glorious spot for cherry blossoms cannot be connected with such an idea.

Another interesting story is how they decided the location for Chureito Pagoda. The initial plans were to build the pagoda in Kobuneyama, Nagano, but mid-construction they realized that the ground was not stable enough to build such a tall tower, so they hastily changed their plans. And that is how Chureito Pagoda came to be here.

Before it became the famous tourist spot it is today, Arakurayama was a quiet and empty mountain until the pagoda came along. Back then this spot was nothing more than a place for the bad boys to meet in secret, and for the young lovers to rendezvous. No one could have imagined that such a spot would now host tens of thousands of visitors every year!

By the way, the Chureito Pagoda was built in April 1962. What kind of town was Shimoyoshida at that time?

ON THE TRIP Editorial Staff

Design: 志賀章人
Writer: ウィルソン麻菜
Photography: 本間寛

*This guide was created based on documents and interviews and includes some interpretation done by us at ON THE TRIP. Theories differ between experts, so try to find out what really happened on your travels!

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