Under the Immortal Peak

Although, some of my novel takes place in Tokyo, the bulk of the action happens in the much smaller city of Kofu. It is straight west, and a little less than two hours by car from Chiyoda City, Tokyo, which is where my protagonists annoy each other at the water cooler. It takes three hours on the Tozai line, but my characters plan to drive.

They’ll get there in a little black Honda Logo, a supermini hatchback that was never sold in the U.S. It is the chosen car of heroes. In my novel anyway.

During the Sengoku Period (1467-1603), Kofu was ruled by the great daimyo, Takeda Shingen. If you choose to take the Tozai line instead of driving, a statue of this powerful warlord welcomes you at Kofu Station, glowering down from a high brick pedestal. The station is a featured area of the story. A scene of the crime, you might say.

The city sits directly under the watch of the looming Mount Fuji, whose peak is about 37 km (23 miles), as the tengu flies, from the center of the city.

Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan, and it is an active volcano. Yes, it could blow at any minute. And according to some recent studies, it just might. It’s been over 300 years since it last blew its top and the pressure is building.

My heroes have to journey to a little town called Fujikawaguchiko right at the base of this legendary volcano. Let’s pray it doesn’t pick that moment to spew lava. It might just wreck their chances of figuring out the mystery they’ve gotten tangled in.

Japan’s oldest recorded story (which happens to be sci-fi!), suggests that Mount Fuji claimed its name from the word for immortality (不死 fushi). An elixir of immortality was lit on fire at the peak of the mountain and never stopped burning. I love that this story is science-fiction. It has moon-men in it! And a cloak of forgetfulness. And it was written in the 10th century! It’s called The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter.

What secrets lie in this immortal mountain? Will it spew forth molten lava to decimate the surrounding area? Or will it expel something else from its fiery depths? Something more sinister?

Stay tuned, wily reader. The answers may soon present themselves. Or perhaps they will only lead to more mysteries.

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