Monday, July 19, 2010

Lucky 13

We reached the trailhead at 11:00 p.m. I was struck by the loud, large generators at the bottom. Later, I would learn they powered vending machines. I was ready to go to sleep. Groups of young hikers with flashlights encouraged each other with unison shouts of "gambatte!" before heading up the trail. Even at night, I was still broiling hot in my jeans and it didn't seem possible it would be cool anywhere, even on a mountain top. The sky was clear and I saw shooting stars. I picked up a brochure that I couldn't resist including in my novel.

From American Fuji, ch. 38: "The map was half in English, half in Japanese. Mount Fuji was divided into ten levels, or stations. The parking lot was at the fifth level; Alex had already accomplished half the ascent in the taxi. Only foot traffic could continue through the higher stations on the Fujinomiya Trails. The map included stations labeled "Station 9.5" and "New Checkpoint," that augmented the original stations, so the 3,776-meter summit was the 13th actual station, though it was called the tenth."* This makes sense when you're in Japan.

The 13 stations gave me the idea of doing 13 blogs about climbing Mt. Fuji. Anyway, 13 has always been a lucky number for me.

*Quoted with minor snips by permission from myself.


SapphireSavvy said...

13 is one of my "lucky" numbers as well--if any numbers are lucky. I love the idea of seeing shooting stars from Mt. Fuji.

So----why IS the 13th station called the 10th? Because 13 is unlucky?

Sara Backer said...

13 is not regarded as unlucky in Japan; 4 is the unlucky number, because the Chinese pronunciation of the kanji for four is "shi" which relates to death. Some hospitals don't have 4th floors due to this superstition.

I believe the numbering of the stations of Mt. Fuji is a matter of tradition. The traditional number of stations is 10, so 10 it must always be--no matter how many there actually are!

SapphireSavvy said...

Yeah, I would have been surprised if 13 was unlucky in Japan; I can't imagine they would care much about the fate of the Templars, lol.

I know about 4--in fact, I myself am rather paranoid about 4, having seen Japanese turn down perfectly beautiful, affordable houses because the street address has a "4" in it. If there's that strong an aversion (I figure), mightn't there be something to it?