Climbing Mount Fuji 101
Mount Fuji, the iconic 3776 meter active volcano a stone’s throw from Tokyo, is arguably the most celebrated landmark in Japan. With over 300,000 people climbing her summit during the summer months, Mt Fuji thrives on the Japanese proverb “A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb Mt Fuji twice.” And with UNESCO’s recent designation of Mount Fuji as a World Heritage site, many wise men (and women!) are making the trek up Japan’s most iconic mountain.
When to Climb
An estimated 30% of climbers are foreign; you are not alone in wanting to climb this national icon. The official season is from July 1st to August 31st; the trails are most crowded on weekends and during the peak climbing season of August 5th to 15th. Furthermore, rainy weather and high winds can shut down entire trails, so pick your day carefully.
What to Bring
Sunscreen, Sunglasses, and a hat
Shell jacket, rain poncho, and other layers
1-2 liters of water, food, and snacks
Headlamp or flashlight
Money for toilet paper, food, bus tickets, and beverages
Even during the hot and humid summer months, nightly temperatures at the top of Mt Fuji hover can hit below freezing.
The most popular route for climbing Mt Fuji is the Yoshida Guchi trail, which stretches from the Kawaguchiko Gogome 5th station to the summit. This 15km trail takes about 6 hours to ascend and 3 hours to descend, with separate and clearly market ascending and descending trails. On weekends and national holidays, the Yoshida Guchi trail will be congested with travelers, making it difficult to climb at your own pace.
Most climbers use this route to watch the sunrise overt the summit. You can break the Yoshida Guchi trail into two sections, resting from the late afternoon to the early morning at one of the many mountain huts in the 7th or 8th station.
To get to the Kawaguchiko Gogome 5th station, take the Keio Express bus from Shinjuku. Busses depart from Shinjuku at 7:40am and 9:40am daily; busses depart from the 5th Station at 1:00pm and 3:00pm daily. To reserve a ticket, click here.
Mountain Huts and Lodging Options
The mountain huts on the 7th and 8th stations of Mt Fuji provide the most basic lodgings, which is often just a shared space on the floor. The mountain huts are far from luxurious and run between 5500yen and 8000yen for a night. Nonetheless, novice climbers should stay a couple hours in a mountain hut, to help their bodies adjust to the new altitude. Spaces sell out quickly, so make sure to book in advance. To browse prices or make a reservation, click here.
Tips for Novice Climbers
Climbing Mt Fuji is not easy. Luckily there are services along the way that make the climb more bearable. Seeing the sunrise from the summit is magical, but not necessary. Climbing during the daytime is much safer, warmer, and less crowded. Accidents often happen at night, when exhausted climbers are ascending or descending Mt Fuji.
Novice climbers often suffer from hypothermia, breathing difficulties, and altitude sickness. Remember, Mt Fuji is a 3776 meter mountain. To allow your body to adjust to the attitude, spend a night in one of the mountain huts and drink plenty of water.
Travel companies can be a great resource for novices that wish to climb Mt Fuji. Travel companies will pick you up from Shinjuku station, taking care of round-trip bus tickets, mountain hut reservations, guides, meals, and a hot springs package at the base of the mountain.
Photo Credit: kalleboo via Compfight cc