What was once a gravel path leading up a slope near the suburban foothills of Mount Fuji is now infested with weeds; overgrown, heavily laden branches from the surrounding forests protrude into the road, obscuring the field of view.

Pulling out my smartphone, I check my map once more to see if I’m heading in the right direction. A middle-aged local I chatted with a few minutes earlier when negotiating whether I could park my rental car on his property said he’d never heard of my destination. “Oh, but I do think there are monuments of some sort up there,” he said.