The highest point in the US is McKinley at abour 6194 meters - But that's in Alaska so it doesn't really count. The highest point in the contiguous United States (anybody?) is Mt. Whitney in California measuring in at about 4,418 meters. Mt. Fuji, the highest point in Japan is about 3,776 meters and yesterday I climbed it with a friend from the JET program and his japanese girlfriend. On thursday we took local trains all the way to the base of Mt.Fuji (an 8 hour trip as opposed to the bullet train which will get you there in about 2.5 hours but will cost you about 6 times as much). We started climbing at about 9:40 pm from the Subashiri 5th Station located at 1980 meters. Armed with a Fuji-san walking stick, and a flashlight with dying batteries we reached the top, along with a huge japanese tour group, just as the sun was coming up at about 4:30 in the morning. It took about seven hours to climb almost 2000 meters and we were sore, tired, and cold by the end. The last 400 meters it was stop and go people traffic as a couple of huge tour groups of the superiorly equipped japanese were also braving the mountain. We spent about an hour and a half on the top, snapping pictures, resting, and huddling together to keep warm.
I didn't take as many pictures as I wanted to, but I did manage to snap some that I like. True be told, I was so tired and cold by the end, all I wanted to do was huddle up somewhere and sleep. We walked down a different path, coming down to about 2300 meters in about 4 hours and caught a bus back into one of the towns. I slept during most of the train ride back and this morning, while still I little sore, I got enough rest to feel normal. We've agreed that today would be the perfect day to visit the spas!
In other news I've been reading Democracy in America by Tocqueville and have to say it is one of the best things I have ever read. The writing style is to my liking, the quality of the analysis is superb, and the sense of living history really gives one a sense of the continuity between then and now.