Without a doubt Japan’s most recognizable landmark, majestic Mount Fuji (Fuji-san) is also the country’s highest mountain peak. Towering 3,776 meters over an otherwise largely flat landscape to the south and east, this majestic and fabled mountain is tall enough to be seen from Tokyo, more than 100 kilometers away.
Mount Fuji has for centuries been celebrated in art and literature and is now considered so important an icon that UNESCO recognized its world cultural significance in 2013. Part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Mount Fuji is climbed by more than a million people each summer as an act of pilgrimage, which culminates in watching the sunrise from its summit.
While some still choose to begin their climb from the base, the majority of climbers now start from above the halfway mark, at the 5th Station, resulting in a more manageable six-or-so-hour ascent. Those who do attempt the complete climb are advised to depart in the afternoon, breaking up the climb with an overnight stop at one of the “Mountain Huts” designed for this very purpose. An early start the next day gets you to the top for the sunrise.
Of course, for many, simply viewing the mountain from the distance, or from the comfort of a speeding train, is enough to say “been there, done that.”
What is Big Ben? The Houses of Parliament and Elizabeth Tower, commonly called Big Ben, are among London’s most iconic landmarks and must-see London attractions. Technically, Big Ben is the name given to the massive bell inside the clock tower, which weighs more than 13 tons (13,760 kg). The clock tower looks spectacular at night when the four clock faces are illuminated.
Big Ben facts Each dial is seven metres in diameter. The minute hands are 4.2 metres long (14ft) and weigh about 100kg (220lbs, including counterweights). The numbers are approximately 60cm (23in) long. There are 312 pieces of glass in each clock dial. A special light above the clock faces is illuminated when parliament is in session. Big Ben’s timekeeping is strictly regulated by a stack of coins placed on the huge pendulum. Big Ben has rarely stopped. Even after a bomb destroyed the Commons chamber during the Second World War, the clock tower survived and Big Ben continued to strike the hours. The chimes of Big Ben were first broadcast by the BBC on 31 December 1923, a tradition that continues to this day. The latin words under the clock face read DOMINE SALVAM FAC REGINAM NOSTRAM VICTORIAM PRIMAM, which means “O Lord, keep safe our Queen Victoria the First” In June 2012 the House of Commons announced that the clock tower was to be renamed the Elizabeth Tower in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee.
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