Climbing Mountain Fuji is a dream for mountain climbers and visitors alike. You can climb all the way up to the summit and watch the sunrise beside the spectacular caldera. What an amazing life experience! Here, I am going to tell you my story about climbing Mt. Fuji and let you in on all of the things you need to know before departure. So get ready with me! Here is all of the essential information to consider before your departure. So when you’re ready, double check your backpacks and head to the 5th station!
Why Should I Go?
Fuji-san is 3776 meters tall and it is the highest mountain in Japan. On clear days, Mount Fuji can be seen from as far away as Tokyo, Yokohama and Hakone. If you are visiting Tokyo at the right time of the year, there is no reason not to check out this breathtaking natural masterpiece. It does not matter whether you have determined to climb all the up to the summit, or just want to appreciate from a far view, or even chill around the lower levels, these are all amazing stories you can share with your families and friends.
When Is The Best Time to Climb Mount Fuji?
The official climbing season for Mount Fuji is from early July to mid September. During this period all the facilities and services are open, the weather is suitable for climbing, and the trails free of snow.
Different trails have different opening dates. It is highly recommended to climb during official season for your own safety. Below are the opening times for all trails in 2016:
- Yoshida Trail: July 1 to September 10 (The descending trail will remain open until September 11 morning)
- Subashiri, Gotemba, Fujinomiya Trails and Ohachi-Meguri Trail (The trail of crater rim): July 10 to September 10
I choose the Yoshida trail because it is the most popular and is accessible to new climbers. Most people start to climb from Subaru line 5th station, easily commute from Kawaguchiko (Fuji Five Lake Region). The ascent from 5th station to the summit will take approximately 5-7 hours, and the descent trail (a separate trail), is another 3-5 hours.
Many mountain huts line the Yoshida trail around 7th and 8th stations. Here you can get food, water, rest, or even an overnight stay (reservation required; average charges for mountain huts are 5300 yen without meal and 7400 yen with two meals). Prices getting higher as the altitude increases; if you forgot to bring it with you, make sure to buy it early!
I chose to start my journey in early July, when the weather is clear and the trails less crowded. August can get very crowded, as the school term over and the traveling season starts. During these times, you may even need to wait in the line to get through some of the more narrow paths.
Now I Want To Climb! How Do I Get To Mount Fuji?
Mount Fuji is located to the west of Tokyo on the main island Honshu, between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. There are couple of options to get there and I choose to go with the easiest and cheapest way – highway express bus! I purchased the round trip tickets from this site, which cost 3500 yen from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko (1750yen/way). It runs regularly from 6 am to 11 pm, please check the timetable. Tickets sell out fast during climbing season, so please purchase tickets in advance to ensure yourself a spot! It takes about 1 hour from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko if traffic is in good condition. However it took us more than 3 hours the way back from Kawaguchiko, so be ready to adjust your plan accordingly!
After you arrive at Kawaguchiko, go to the ticket office at the left side of the Kawaguchiko bus terminal station and get a bus ticket to the “Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station” bus. Don’t worry about getting lost; they know exactly why you are there. The tickets for this leg of the trip go for 1540 yen for one way or 2100 yen for round trip.
Caution: The first “Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station” bus runs from 6:40 am till 7:05 pm. If you plan to catch the first bus, be sure to purchase tickets a day before at the ticket counter (cannot be purchased online) because the ticket office is not open until 6:45am! Unfortunately this happened to us, and we had to wait to get on the second bus!
And while you are waiting for the bus to take you to Mount Fuji, take a few minutes to figure out your schedule. Be sure to check the arrival time of your return bus from Fuji to Kawaguchiko. This way, you can coordinate it with the bus you will need catch from Kawaguchiko back to Shinjuku. The return bus can get really crowded, so do not wait until last bus! You might not be able to squeeze in!
How Should I Prepare to Climb Mount Fuji?
Okay, finally we are heading to Mountain Fuji and start to get more serious! Keep in mind that Fuji-san is not a difficult climb, but it’s not a cakewalk, either. Do not even think about going all the way to summit without the following gear and enough energy–
- Good Climbing Boots. The most essential thing for this climb is a sturdy set of climbing boots. Some rocky and steep areas are hard to climb. Good hiking boots are necessary to support you and protect your ankles.
- Waterproof Jacket. Temperature and weather changes are unpredictable on the mountain. It can be cold, even in summer, and a strong wind will make it worse. A rain squall can also blow through, and you will want protection from the variances of the weather.
- Protective Accessories. Sunglasses, hats, gloves, and sunscreen. The ultraviolet rays is very strong above the cloud cover. You do not want to get sunburned, so be sure to bring all these protections.
- Hiking Stick. Due to lots of rocky and steep sections, you may need hiking sticks to aid you climb up all these tricky rocks. At Mount Fuji’s 5th station, you can get a wooden climbing stick that doubles as a souvenir of your trip! Some of them are decorated with colorful wraps, small bells and flags, and cost anywhere from 1300 to 2000 yen (depending on your decorations). Even better, you can get stamps burned into your stick at the huts along the trail. Each stamp cost around 300 yen, and turns it into your unique souvenir! Get all the way to the top for that special summit stamp and show it off to your friends back home!
- Flashlight. A flashlight is necessary for those of who are determined to climb overnight to see the sunrise. Even though the trail is illuminated during the peak season, for your own safety it is still highly recommended.
- Snacks and Water. You’ll need some snacks to support you and help you get your energy back. Especially closer to the top, when there are fewer huts and things get more expensive. Water and meals can be purchased with a correspondingly higher charge at higher altitudes. Water is definitely a must. I recommend at least four liters, more if you can carry it.
- Cash. Huts do not accept credit cards, and you need coins to use their toilets.
- Trashbag. Please do not litter on the mountain. If you take it up, bring it back down. Also, there are pretty heavy fines if you get caught.
Before you start your climb, visit the Tourist Information Center to get maps, ask questions, and get the emergency phone number. Please call 0555-72-1477 if you run into any trouble while climbing.
What A Climb! Now What Can I Do Around Kawaguchiko?
If you are not in the rush, there are so many things you can do around Kawaguchiko. You can explore it before your climb starts, or before you go home! The beautiful Kawaguchiko Lakes are a 20-minute walk from station and are definitely worth visiting. You can get some snacks, sit beside the lake, and enjoy a relaxing moment.
There are also several museums located in this small town. Kubota Itchiku Museum, The Museum of Art, The Music Forest, The Gem Museum and Herb Hall. They’re bound to have something you like! You can even go to Fuji-Q Highland, a popular amusement park with exciting roller coaster and haunted house. Fuji-Q Highland is only two train stops away, and is a good way to get a warm up before a second day of climbing!
As for dinner, you don’t want to miss out the traditional dish especially from Yamanashi prefecture – Houtou. There are several good restaurants in town, so be sure to check opening hours and get in before its last order! You deserve a good meal after a long day.
If you have enough time, there is another spot you do not want to miss. The Chureito Pagoda is a five-story pagoda on the mountainside, which you can climb in about 15 minutes. The breathtaking view overlooks the whole of Fujiyoshida city and Mountain Fuji, and the view from here (as well as a picture) at the right time is going to be a cherished memory of your trip. During the cherry blossom season, this is a fantastic photography spot for that classic Mountain Fuji photo shot. To get there, take the train from Kawaguchiko station to Shimo-Yoshida Station (3 stations away). Follow the signs after leaving the station and you can easily reach the Pagoda. I was lucky enough to arrive there at sunset, and the view of Mountain Fuji surrounded by a sunset glow and cotton candy clouds, with the whole city slowly lighting up, was an amazingly beautiful sight!
We hope you have enjoyed our guide to climbing Mount Fuji and what to do afterwards. Remember, hydrate, wear sunscreen, get a stick, and have fun!
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