Photo/IllutrationMount Fuji glistens with the season’s first full snow crown blanketing the area from its seventh station through the summit in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Oct. 15. (Hiroshi Kawai)

  • Photo/Illustraion

FUJIYOSHIDA, Yamanashi Prefecture--Early risers caught a glimpse of Mount Fuji sporting a white winter crown on Oct. 15, heralding the arrival of winter as the first snowfall blanketed the peak 11 days ahead of last year's equivalent date.

The city government of Fujiyoshida announced its “Hatsu-yukigesho” declaration, as the 3,776-meter-high peak, Japan's highest point, was covered with snow for the first time this season from its seventh station through the summit in the morning.

Temperatures at the foot of the iconic peak, which spans Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, dropped below 15 degrees in recent days, prompting many households to start turning on the heat.

The Kofu Local Meteorological Office in the prefecture said temperatures at the summit registered a bone-chilling 8.6 degrees below zero at 7 a.m. on Oct. 15 due to substantial snowfall caused by rain brought by a trough of low pressure passing through the area two days before.

The Kofu meteorological office on Sept. 26 confirmed the first seasonal dusting of snow around the summit of Mount Fuji with its “Hatsu-kansetsu” declaration, but it felt like summer was starting all over again as warm days continued on the mountain.

Although both declarations confirmed the first snow atop Mount Fuji, listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site in 2013, there is a clear difference between the one issued by the local meteorological office and the one by the city.

Hatsu-kansetsu is declared when the local meteorological office’s staff visually confirms snow blanketing the summit after it marked the highest temperature of the year.

After an observatory in Fuji-Kawaguchiko became unmanned in October 2003, Hatsu-kansetsu had not been officially recorded until the staff at the Kofu meteorological office visually observed the snow about 40 kilometers from the mountain despite the actual snowfall already confirmed at the foot of the peak.

Therefore, the Mount Fuji division of the city government of Fujiyoshida decided to resolve the paradox by announcing Hatsu-yukigesho when spotting Mount Fuji donning its first cap of snow from the foot of the peak.