The Beginner’s Guide To Climbing Mt. Fuji

Mountain Day here in Japan is in 2 days (Aug.11) and people are gearing up for the hike ahead.

My friends and I decided to go earlier in August to avoid the massive crowds that climb Japan’s many mountains.  Another reason was that we decided to climb Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan.  Some 300,000 people climb every year and the most dense months are during the climbing season (July 1- September 10 for Yoshida; July 10 – September 10 for the other trails).

First off, some quick stats about Mt. Fuji.  You have to know what you are climbing!

  • Mt. Fuji is a dormant volcano with its highest peak  at 3,776 m.
  • Mt. Fuji can be accessed from 2 prefectures: Yamashina and Shizuoka.
  • There are 4 trails in Mt. Fuji (in no order): Yoshida (most popular), Subashiri, Gotemba, Fujinomiya.

Second, the equipment I had:

  • 2 base layers, 1 heat-tech layer, 1 insulated windproof jacket
  • 1 pair of heat-tech leggings, 1 pair of fleece-lined joggers, 1 pair of knee-high socks
  • 1 pair of Adidas AX2 Hiking Shoes (trust me, you would want to invest in some good hiking shoes; wearing sneakers is fine if you’re okay with slipping and dealing with rocks in your shoes)
  • headlamp (you will also really need this)
  • sunglasses, cap, handkerchief to shield from dust (neck and foot gaiters also if you can)
  • 3L of drinks (wish I had more), a huge bag of peanuts and cookies
  • sunblock, cooling wet wipes (the descent will be very hot)

I will post our annotated itinerary here and what we did to get to the top.  We all hike for fun and do not regard ourselves as pros.  The trail we took is Yoshida. Hope you guys can pick up a few tips from this post!

July 30:

14: 45Bus to Fuji Subaru 5th Station from Kawaguchiko station (55 mins; 2100 yen roundtrip)

  • Better buy roundtrip tickets from Kawaguchiko station to avoid queueing on the way back

15:40 – Arrived at Fuji Subaru 5th Station

15:40-16:45 – Checked out stores and bought all food and drinks for the hike (everything is marked up 30% from retail)

  • Everything is still priced OK here so I suggest buying as much as you think you need for the hike
  • The comfort rooms here are good (and free) as well compared to the ones going up.  if you can, do everything here.  You’ll never regret it.

16:45 – 19:30 – Arrived at Fujisan 7th Station and booked a hut for 3 hours (5,400 yen)

  • The hike at this stage was relatively easy and could be done faster if you’re fit enough
  • For beginners, I suggest for you to book huts so that you can get some rest.  During the day, it costs 1,100/hr.  At night, it costs around 1,800 yen/hr.  you can try haggling if you know some Japanese.  The last huts are located 2 hours up at stations 8-9.  However, these get booked the earliest.
  • All comfort rooms going up will set you back 200 yen/use.  Do not expect motorized toilet seats and other pleasantries.

August 1:

20:30 – 4:00 – Resumed the ascent to the peak and waited for Goraiko (sunrise)

  • At this point, most of us exhausted our drinking supplies and had to buy.  Everything is marked up by at least 150%.  Coffee and Coke will cost you 500-700 yen.  A hot cup of instant noodles will cost you 700 yen.  Cash is king!
  • As you approach the peak, the pace will be significantly slower since people tend to take a lot of pictures.  Be patient.

4:00 – 8:00 – Watched Goraiko and went around the crater

  • It was around 2 degrees Celsius at the peak.  Good to wear your warm stuff once nighttime arrives.
  • Assuming you arrive there in time, Goraiko will take around 30 minutes total.

8:00 – 12:00 – Descent to Fuji Subaru 5th station

  • Make sure you at least have a handkerchief and sunglasses to cover your eyes, face, and neck.  The descent seems easy but the slope is quite steep and it is very dusty!
  • Expect to land on your butt going down.  Make sure to cover your lower extremeties to prevent injuries.
  • Bring lots of water! It will be very hot on the way down (if you did our itinerary) and they don’t sell anything during the descent as well (which I thought was cruel).

12:15 – 13 – Bus to Kawaguchiko station

That’s pretty much it for the climb.  Prior to the climb, we visited Churreito Pagoda which is the perfect place to capture Fuji from afar.  It is also where most of the postcards about Japan are shot.  We highly-recommend visiting this once before the climb.

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The team! Missing one ’cause she was taking the photo.

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It really looks like a painting from afar.  We also could not believe that we were to scale up that thing in a couple of hours!

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Told you it was like one of those postcards.

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From the other side of Kawaguchi (which is one of the five lakes which surround the mountain).  It is also home to vast fields of flowers (including lavender!).  Yes, it smells as good as it looks.

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The men striking a pose.

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I had to!

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The complete team at Fuji 6th station!

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You could literally the sun rising from the horizon.  It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen in my life.

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The entire slope during the last 50m to the peak was filled with spectators.

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The sun!

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Wow, just wow.

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The torii gate at the peak entrance.  I was spent, yo.

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My friend loves taking photos.

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Walking around the crater of Mt. Fuji.  The last explosion was some 300+ years ago.

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Come here I’m about to take you higher

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Group photie by the crater!

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And a solo.

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Spectators in awe because they made it.

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While waiting for the others to rejoin us at 5th station.

Thank you to my friend, Aizhana, for the wonderful photos!  More hikes to come!

And since I love making videos, here’s one for the entire trip.  Mountains, friends, and roller coasters!

 

Thanks!  If you have any comments or questions, just post them below.