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A Guide to Climbing Mt Fuji

I climbed Mt Fuji back in July 2014. It has been one of those bucket list items for quite some time and I was so excited to finally be ticking it off.

At 3,776 m (12,388 feet) Mt Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan and is the most perfect volcano cone in existance. Visible from Tokyo 100km away on a clear day it is one of the main icons of Japan. Here is my guide to climbing the most sacred mountain in Japan.

When to climb

The official climbing season is from early July to mid September. The rest of the year Mt Fuji is covered in snow and climbing is prohibited, and trails and huts are closed.

Climbing Mt Fuji is very popular among the Japanese but also tourists, who make up around 1/3 of climbers. Peak time to climb is during school vacations from around July 20 to the end of August. It is best to avoid Obon week in mid August due to large numbers of climbers.

Trails

There are 4 main trails to choose from in different prefectures around the mountain, Yoshida, Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya. Each trail has a a 5th station, where cars can no longer ascend the mountain. The largest 5th station is the Fuji Subaru otherwise known as Kawaguchi-ko as the road is open most of the year, weather dependent and easily accessed from Tokyo. There are also separate ascending and descending trails which can be a bit confusing.

Yoshida Trail (Yamanshi Pref.)- Yellow trail

Open : July 1- September 10

5th station: Fuji Suburu Station 2,300 m

Ascent: 5-7 hours

Descent: 3-5 hours

This is the most popular base as it is the easiest to access from Tokyo and the Fuji Fave Lake region. There are lots of mountain huts around the 7th and 8th stations. This is your last chance to stock up on some supplies such as walking sticks, snacks, water at reasonable prices.

Subashiri Trail (Shizuoka Pref.)- Red trail

Open: July 10- September 10

5th Station: 2000 m

Ascent: 5-8 hours

Descent: 3-5 hours

The Subashiri trail meets with the Yoshida Trail at the 8th station.

Gotemba Trail (Shizuoka Pref.)- Green trail

Open: July 10- September 10

5th station: 1,400 m

Ascent: 7- 10 hours

Descent: 3 -6 hours

There are around 4 mountain huts around the 7th and 8th stations

Fujinomiya Trail (Shizuoka Pref.) Blue trail

Open: July 10- September 10

5th station: 2,400 m

Ascent: 4-7 hours

Descent: 2-4 hours

Fujinomiya 5th station is easily accessible from stations on the Tokaido Shinkansen and has around half a dozen mountain huts along the trail.

How to get there

Fuji Subaru 5th Station (Yoshida Trail)

The Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station is the only 5th Station with daily bus service during most of the year

From Shinjuku Station, Tokyo

Direct highway bus departs daily from Shinjuku station during Golden Week, July, August and most of September. During the off season the bus only departs on weekends from late April to early November. The trip takes around 140 minutes and costs ¥2,700, you will need to make a reservation. Timetable and route map

From Kawaguchiko Station

There are around 11-16 round trips per day during the climbing season and 5 during the off season. The trip takes around 50 minutes and costs ¥1,540 one way or ¥2,100 for a round trip. You would leave from Kawaguchiko Station if you are spending extra time in the Fuji area.

Where to stay

The mountain huts on Mt Fuji are pretty basic dormitories with Japanese tatami mats and sleeping bags, 10 in a row and 10 above, bunk bed style. I stayed at the Fujisan Hotel at the 8th station with dinner which was Japanese curry rice included for the cost of ¥7,200 per person in 2014.

Booking a mountain hut

Booking a mountain hut can be quite difficult with the language barrier. Fuji Mountain Guides have a reservation service which costs ¥1000 per person (definitely worth it) for either Fujisan Hotel (Yoshida/ Subashiri trail 3,400m) or Taishikan (Yoshida trail 3,100m). Reservations can be taken from April 1 each year. You can book here.

What to take

Day pack with waterproof cover

Head lamp & spare batteries

Hiking pole/s

2-3 Water bottles

Sunscreen

Lip balm

Snacks

¥100 coins for the toilets ( ¥200- ¥300 per use)

Money to get your Mt Fuji hiking pole branded at each station

Toiletries

Rubbish bag

Clothes

Hat

Sunglasses

Beanie

Gloves

Thermal underwear

T- Shirt

Light long sleeve top

Fleece jacket

Thermal underwear & leggings

Outer light layers- T-shirt (quick drying fabric)

Light weight insulating layer- Long sleeve wool top

Medium weight insulating layer

Waterproof jacket

Lightweight pants

Waterproof pants

Hiking boots with ankle support

Good socks

Gaiters (optional)

If you don’t want to carry all of this around Japan with you, you can rent gear from Kobe Outdoor.

Difficulty

Mt Fuji is known for rapidly changing extreme weather and steep inclines; it is not just a simple hike to do in your sneakers and a t-shirt. Be prepared for thunderstorms, rain, freezing wind and maybe snow even if it looks like nice weather from the base. At 3,776m the oxygen on the summit has two-thirds the density of normal oxygen at sea level which can cause altitude sickness. During my climb I saw several people suffering from altitude sickness. Some were making their way back down, others had portable oxygen tanks and some were wrapped up and lying on the ground. You never know if you are going to get altitude sickness but to help avoid it or minimize the affeccts make sure to set a slow, steady pace to help you acclimatize.


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Profile photo of Jess McGilvray

A fit foodie from Perth, Australia with a passion for travelling, adventure and keeping fit.



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