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A guide for climbing Mt. Fuji and enjoying Mother Nature

Japan In-depth

Despite its steep slopes, Mt. Fuji can be climbed up quite easily even by beginners, for it has signboards and mountain huts. Having said so, however, you will of course be confronted by the harsh conditions of nature, so you should try to become acquainted with the features of Mt. Fuji well in advance, and make thorough plans before climbing up the mountain.

Climbing

Goraiko (The Sun-rise)
Goraiko (The Sun-rise)

Mt. Fuji is only open to hikers from 1 July to early September.
As the altitude is high, it often happens that the weather conditions are very much different between the point where you set off and the summit. Especially in the afternoon, the weather becomes quite unstable with quite a high possibility of thunder, and you are advised to draw up your plans so that you will be making your way down before the thunder starts.
The most popular plan is to take a break at the hut halfway up the mountain and to set off again during the night so that the summit can be reached in time for the sunrise. Please remember, however, that climbing up Mt. Fuji during the night can be dangerous, and you are kindly requested to make thorough preparations and arrangements in advance, especially as the mountain huts often turn out to be full during the crowded season.

As the air is thin, you should take care not to overexert yourself for there is the risk of suffering from symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS).
Beginners are recommended to plan out an itinerary setting off during the morning and spending the night at the mountain hut.

* Photo(C) Appare! Fuji Tozan

Best dates for climbing Mt. Fuji


The best time for climbing Mt. Fuji is from late July to late August when the weather conditions are stable. Please bear in mind that it would be wise to avoid the period between August 13th and 17th, which is the long holiday week (Bon holidays) in Japan when it becomes very packed with crowds of people.
Please also note that, even in mid-summer, the average temperature at the summit is between 5 deg C and 8 deg C. Depending on the wind conditions, you will feel the temperature dropping to near freezing point.

A choice of hiking courses

the Fifth Station ,Yoshida-guchi course
the Fifth Station ,Yoshida-guchi course
There are a total of 4 routes for climbing up Mt. Fuji. Here, we will introduce the Lake Kawaguchi--Yoshida-guchi course and the Fujinomiya course.

You can drive up as far as the Fifth Station (Go-gome) and the New Fifth Station (Shin-Go-gome) which correspond to an altitude of 1,400 to 2,400 meters.
When planning your schedule, please remember that the roads are often jammed during the tourist season.

Lake Kawaguchi-Yoshida-guchi course


This is the most popular course. Non-stop bus services are available from the center of Tokyo and Nagoya. It takes an average of 6 hours to climb up to the summit of Mt. Fuji. This course is recommended for it has many mountain huts on the way, but this also means that, during the peak season, it becomes so packed that you will have a hard time to even weave your way through the crowd.

Starting point: Fifth Station (2,305 m)
Time required: 6 hours for the ascent & 3 hours and 15 minutes for the descent

Departure from the Fifth Station where there is the rest house > From the gentle slopes to the rocky slopes > There are mountain huts at the Seventh Station and Eighth Station (2,700 m to 3,000 m). After passing the torii gate standing at the Ninth Station, you will be climbing up bare rocks. Ascending further, you will see a white torii gate, and going up the steps, you will finally be arriving at the summit.
At the mountain top, there stands the Kuzushi-jinja Shrine where you can have a stamp impressed as a token of having climbed up as far as the mountain top. You will find mountain huts as well as a mail box at the summit.

For the descent, you will be required to climb down a different path.

* Photo(C) Appare! Fuji Tozan

Fujinomiya course



This is the shortest course for reaching the highest point, but this also means that it consists of many steep areas. There is no special route for the descent, so you will need to climb down the same path that you used for the ascent.

Starting point: New Fifth Station (2,400 m)
Time required: 5 hours for the ascent & 2 hours and 40 minutes for the descent

You set off from the Mt. Fuji Guidance Center. Here, there stands a monument of Sir John Rutherford Alcock who was the first foreigner to succeed in reaching the summit of Mt. Fuji. You will be climbing up a winding path of sand and gravel. As you make your way up, you will be able to command a view of the crater of Mt. Hoei-zan below you.
From around an altitude of 3,000 meters, the path becomes all rocks. At the Eighth Station which lies at an altitude of 3,250 meters, there is the Mt. Fuji First-aid Center where you can consult the doctor if you are feeling unwell.
At the mountain top, there stands the Okunomiya inner shrine of the Sengen-taisha Grand Shrine, as well as mountain huts.

There is no special route for the descent, and you will be required to climb down the same path you used for the ascent. Please make sure to observe manners when passing those people climbing up as you make your way down.

[Access]

Train & Bus
JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line 'Kodama': Tokyo Station > Shin-Fuji Station (1 hour and 15 minutes) > 2 hours and 15 minutes on the Fuji Kyuko Bus
Other than the above two routes, there are the Subashiri Course and the Gotenba Course.

Preparations for climbing



Necessary Equipment

Shoes: Trekking shoes
Rainwear: Separate type
Outer wear: Winter clothes
Underwear: Quick-drying underwear
Light: Head lamp
Water: About 2 liters of water (available for purchase at mountain huts)
Snacks: Snacks easy to take
Trash Bags: Bags to bring trash back
Money: Small change, cash
Others: Cap/hat, map


The mountain huts
The mountain huts

As the mountain huts are very well-equipped with facilities, there is no need for you to carry heavy items such as a tent or a rice cooker.
However, in case of emergency, you should take with you minimum provisions of water, and light snacks such as candies, biscuits, etc., as well as some extra clothes. You are strongly advised to take with you sufficient amounts of water as water purchased in the mountain is very expensive. Other essential items include trekking shoes and a hat for shielding the sun. A walking stick or a trekking pole would also prove useful. In recent years, mobile phones can be used in the mountain.

Some mountain huts accept reservations in advance. Especially in the crowded seasons, you will be required to share one room with other guests, so if you wish to secure private space, it is best to place a reservation in advance. Please note that water is very precious, so there are generally neither showers nor bathroom-vanities available at the mountain huts.

Average accommodation charges (for weekdays) at a mountain hut are as follows.
Without meals: 5,250 yen
With dinner and breakfast: 7,350 yen

There are lavatories, but these are not flushing toilets.
Recently, with the trend for eco-consciousness, lavatories which dispose of human waste with the power of microbes are gradually being installed. When using the lavatory, you are obliged to pay a tip, so make sure you have plenty of loose coins with you. The average tip is between 50 yen and 200 yen.

Moreover, in order to preserve the environment, please make sure to take your litter home with you.
* Photo(C) Appare! Fuji Tozan

Ohachi-meguri: Another pleasure upon reaching the highest point in Japan

 'hachi'  the crater at the top
'hachi' the crater at the top
At the mountain top, there is the rim of a crater 600 meters in diameter and 200 meters deep. The course for making a tour of this crater includes the Kengamine peak which is 3,776 meters above sea level and is the highest peak in Japan. This course is called 'Ohachi-meguri' because the crater at the top of Mt. Fuji is shaped like a 'hachi' , or a bowl. At the summit, there are 8 peaks, and when connecting these peaks, it is shaped like the image of Sakyamuni seated in the form of a lotus flower, which makes this tour all the more significant and symbolic. The total distance is approximately 4 kilometers, and it takes an average of 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete the tour of Ohachi-meguri.

Please make sure not to walk in this area by the crater in bad weather, or after the sun has set, when it becomes very dangerous.

* Photo(C) Appare! Fuji Tozan