Standing barely 10-feet tall, Hiyoriyama, or Mount Hiyori, is officially recognized by the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan as the country’s lowest mountain. However, there’s more to the story.
Artificially created by locals in 1909, Mount Hiyori originally stood about 20-feet tall. Mountain worship may have played a part in this, as it is quite traditional in Japanese culture. In fact, a small shrine was relocated to the foot of Mount Hiyori during the Shōwa period.
In 1992, the Geospatial Information Authority announced that the mountain was officially being recognized as the lowest in Japan. There was some controversy surrounding the designation, as there were claims that the 15-foot tall Mount Tenpo in Osaka was truly the lowest mountain. The latter’s name was erased from topographical maps in 1993, but was brought back three years later, making it the lowest in Japan.
In 2011, a large portion of Japan was heavily damaged by the Tōhoku earthquake. Mount Hiyori was swept away by a tsunami, along with the shrine. After locals piled heaps of dirt and pebbles onto the remains of the mountain, it now stands 10-feet tall, as reported in the Geospatial Information Authority’s 2014 survey. As a result, Mount Hiyori was re-designated as Japan’s lowest mountain.