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.

Kyoto: Daimonjiyama

My friends and I have started a travel group called DIY Travel Japan. We aim to share our DIY travel experiences in Japan to the world through blogging and vlogging.

Since I am co-contributing to the group, I’ll be sharing our content here in my blog as well.

If you have been following my blog, you know that I have been to Kyoto’s Daimonjiyama many times. Weekly, in fact.

This however is different because it shows group dynamics.  Real people, real events, and real interactions with Japan.

For the complete details on how to DIY this trip, check out Conquering Kyoto’s Mountains.

Please watch in HD and don’t forget to like our Facebook Page and subscribe to our Youtube channel for more.:)

Thank you and enjoy!

Kyoto Time Lapse! +GoT Ep. 3 Is Now Loading

You know that feeling when you’re so immersed into whatever you’re doing that you don’t realize a week just passed?  That was last week.  Whew.

First, nothing delights me more than speaking to my girlfriend properly.  Not just sending some random emoticons and late messages.  I’m talking about real conversations in real time.   Maybe I’ll do a piece on long-distance relationships some time in the future.

Second, as you might have suspected in this post’s title, I cannot wait for GoT to fully load.  Given Japan’s internet, it should be over before I finish writing this post.  And yes, *spoiler alert*, John Snow is alive!  Ep 2’s ending was something else and a total rebound from the always-dismal season opener.

Third, I am still dumbfounded with how the Spurs lost to the Thunder.  I know how damn good the Spurs are and losing the series in 6 games was really below expectations.  No wonder Pop’s interview was so dry.  But, it’s also exciting how the Thunder will size up against GSW.

This time lapse shows the Nishijin area of Kyoto where you the Golden Pavilion (Kinkakuji) is located.  This was shot for roughly 6 hours on a 5-second interval.

Should be a great week ahead!  Hope you have an awesome week, too!

 

Time Lapse: Kyoto Sunset

Found a way to break out of the apartment rooftop contraption.  All it took was opening one of the laundry room windows. *insert clever laugh*

Golden Week went by really quick. Too quick.  I’m still recovering from all the lost footage in Otsu but it is what it is.

Sunsets are always beautiful.  The transition from various degrees of yellow to various shades of orange is a sight to behold.  It is quite hard to use a negative word to describe a sunset.  It’s one of the main reasons I jog in the afternoon.  Lately, it’s been quite tricky to time them due to the longer daytime so I just tried to leave the camera shooting for a couple of hours while I went out for a jog.

E.M. Goldratt’s Critical Chain was a fantastic novel on business.  It was a lot about what runs in the minds of different levels of managers across different institutions.  Project management (and this does not only apply in business) is something that is dynamic.  Not unlike what most business textbooks say.

And this is what really is exciting about testing assumptions.  Assumptions make or break any mode of thinking.

Now I understand why one of my undergrad professors always nagged us about what our assumptions were.

Enjoy the sunset!

 

 

Time Lapse: Murakami and Kamogawa

My love for reading fiction is negatively correlated with my age.  When I was a kid, I would remember bringing home shortened versions of classic novels from the bookstore.  I had a ton of them.  You name it and I’ve probably read it.

As I grew up, things became very different.  Fiction became literally fiction to me.  It was too out there.  Too perfect.  It’s just one of those moments where you don’t know how it happened.

But then now, reality isn’t really that different from fiction.  There are only moments.  And most of my cherished moments in Kyoto are spent with nature.

Haruki Murakami is the only Japanese writer I know, which makes him my favorite by default.  I plant to read all his books while I’m here.  I didn’t even know he was born in Kyoto until I searched him on Google.  Anyway, I’ve just finished reading Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman about a couple of hours ago.  It was a fascinating collection of moments.  There’s still some beautiful weirdness in there, if you know what I mean.

Here’s this week’s time lapse.  I tried something new today by splitting one sequence into different vibes.

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Time Lapse: A New Take on Daimonjiyama

I think I may have taken too many subjects this quarter.  

I’m taking Finance, Business Research Methods, Statistics, E-Marketing, Nihonggo, zzzzzzz.  The curse of free education.  Why slack off, right?

This time lapse was taken two weeks ago.  I had no time this weekend to take a new one.  This one shows a different perspective and shows more of the mountain’s slope.

I hope I can take a new one next week!

 

Time Lapse: Uji and Mukaijima

Pink to green.

*This is quite a long post so if you just want to see the time lapse, scroll all the way down or click here.  Always in HD!

When you’ve been living in a city pocket for a reasonable amount of time, there’s always going to be this longing to go somewhere else.  Somewhere far.  This is what I have been feeling lately.

About a couple of weeks ago, my good friend Michael and his wife invited the group to his new place in Mukaijima.  However, we weren’t able to go last week due to unforeseen school events.  Yesterday was a fantastic day and we were all able to go.

Mukaijima is very accessible from the center of Kyoto.  From Karasuma-Imadegawa, we just took the subway and went all the way south and hopped off at Takeda to switch trains (Kintetsu).  From Kyoto station, you can just use the Karasuma line and head south (there are many alternate routes).  Ticket should set you back 500 Yen and about 45 minutes to get there.

Prior to heading there, I had trouble finding any bit of information about what to see and what to do.  Good thing I knew someone there!

My first impression upon going down the train station was the abundance of apartment buildings and the endless rows of fields.  It was very different from Kyoto (city center).  But this is still part of Kyoto nonetheless.

Roads were wider and cars dominated the streets.  Mukaijima Park was really nice and clean.  I found it hard to imagine that there was a cleaner place than central Kyoto.  Air quality is even better.  Another surprising thing about this place was children.  There were so many!  Maybe because this part of the city was more family-oriented.  Rent was a cheaper too, especially if you want to raise a family in a bigger place.  Supermarkets had better selection too.

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Mukaijima Park
We were able to go the Gakusei (Student) Center where my friend lived.  They made nabe (hot pot) for lunch and had some booze to spike the conversation.  For dinner, we made some freestyle sushi out of pickles, egg, sausage, and cucumber.  The combo was weird but it was delicious!

We got quite drunk due to the great bottle of sake that Michael had.  I think I got too drunk and lost my phone when we were chilling by Uji River.  BUT, we went back and found it (also chilling by the river).  Nothing gets lost here.  Except bikes and umbrellas!

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The spot where we found my phone.
It offers a different feel compared to the central Kyoto.  It is more laid-back and will nag you to sit outside, drink a beer or two, and feel the breeze.  Uji and Momoyama are also very accessible.  These are places famous for authentic Japanese tea and shrines.

WHEW!  I hope I didn’t bore you with that long post.

Thanks again, Michael and the wife for hosting!  Until next time!

*Nico Rosberg had a great race in China.  Things are looking good for Mercedes this season. 

 

Time Lapse: Sakura On High

I almost forgot to post a time lapse this week!  School started already last Friday so I’ll be very busy.  But I love doing this so I’ll try to find time and do my weekend posts.

This is a time lapse of the only sakura tree on top of Daimonjiyama.  Not the best of days, but the occassional cloud shifts intermittently allowed sunlight to pass through which looks kinda cool.

 

Time Lapse: Daimonjiyama

Hanami season has officially arrived.  So if you’re in Japan now, you are in-the-money!

I did my usual weekend things which is mostly reading, biking, and hiking.  But this weekend was something else!  The whole of Kamogawa was glittering with two things: cherry blossoms and people.  Therefore, I accomplished a substandard amount of vigorous physical activity.

The upside was I got to do more reading and shooting.  This week, I aim to finish Peter Bernstein’s Against The Gods: The Remarkable Story of Risk which tells the story of none other than risk.  Who would have thought to write a book about it?  Risk is an inherent part of our lives.  It’s what drives people to do or not to do.

Here’s what I got while reading the mammoth this morning:

 

I also redid my hiking video!  You can see it here in My Weekly Hike in Kyoto.

Time Lapse: Rooftops

I didn’t care that much for rooftops until I got here.  The only rooftop that I remembered enjoying back home was the one at my friend’s house in Project 4.

When you live in a city where condos are the norm, it seems that there’s more to it than a smoking spot.

The rooftop of my apartment building is exclusively for laundry.  But that won’t stop me from doing a time lapse on the scenic view from above!  Being on the floor beneath it has its perks after all.

It shows the horizon outlining Western Kyoto.  Captured from 4 to 6PM.

Here you go!