A journey to the top of the sacred Mount Fuji
Despite the steep slopes, Mt. Fuji can be climbed quite easily even by beginners, as it has many signposts and mountain huts along the course. However, you will naturally be confronted with natures harsh conditions on the way. Therefore, getting acquainted with the characteristics of Mt. Fuji in advance is a good idea, make solid plans before climbing the mountain to avoid undesirable surprises.If climbing the Fuji is your thing to do this summer, here are some points that will be worth knowing.
As the altitude is pretty high, often the climatic conditions are very different between the starting point and the top. Especially in the afternoon, the weather becomes quite unstable with a great possibility of thunderstorms, if so you will be advised to adapt your plans by present staff along the way, so that you make your way up before it bad weather starts or to a hut.
The most popular plan among visitors is to stop at a hut around midway up and resume the walk at night so that the top is reached in time for sunrise. Try to make full preparations in advance though, especially as mountain huts usually become full during peak season.
Best time to climb
The best time to climb Mt. Fuji is from the end of July to the end of August, when the weather conditions are fairly more stable. Keep in mind that it would be wise to avoid the period between August 13 and 17, which is the long week vacation of (Obon) in Japan becoming the peak of the high season with the highest movement and number of people.
Note also that even in the middle of summer, the average temperature at the top varies between 5 degrees and 8 degrees Celsius. Depending on the wind conditions, you will feel the temperature drop to 0 degrees.
Train and bus
JR Tokaido Shinkansen Line ‘Kodama’: Tokyo Station> Shin-Fuji Station (1 hour and 15 minutes)> 2 hours and 15 minutes by bus Fuji Kyuko
You can drive to the Fifth Station (Go-gome) or New Fifth Station (Shin-Go-gome) which correspond to an altitude of 1,400 to 2,400 meters.
When planning your schedule, keep in mind that the roads are often blocked during the tourist season.
1) Kawaguchi-Yoshida-Guchi Lake
This is the most popular course. Non-stop bus services to this location are available in the center of Tokyoand Nagoya. From here it takes an average of 6 hours to climb to the top of Mount Fuji. This route is recommended because it has many huts on the way but this also means that during peak season it becomes so busy that you will have a hard time making your way through the crowd.
Starting point: Fifth station (2,305 m)
Time required: 6 hours for the climb and 3 hours and 15 minutes for descent
This is the shortest course to reach 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 use the same path you used for the climb. Departing from Mount Fuji Guidance Center. You will see a monument of Sir John Rutherford Alcock, who was the first foreigner to reach the top of Mount Fuji. You will climb a winding path of sand and gravel. As you make your way, you will get a view of the Hoei-zan’s crater below you.
Around an altitude of 3,000 meters, the path becomes rocky. At the Eighth Station which stands at an altitude of 3,250 meters, there is a first aid center, where you can consult a doctor if something goes wrong.
At the top of the mountain I will find Okunomiya of the Great Shrine of Sengen-taisha, as well as mountain huts.
Starting point: New Station Fifth (2,400 m)
Time required: 5 hours for the climb and 2 hours and 40 minutes for descent
Shoes:hiking boots preferably.
Clothing:winter clothing; Rain gear, if necessary; Fast drying clothes.
Light:head-lamp keeping your hands free.
Water:about 2 liters of water (available to buy in mountain huts, however can be considerably expensive).
Snacks:Keep it light and convenient (“calorie mate” is always a strong recommendation), remembering that foods inside bags like chips can burst and swell in your bag because of the altitude.
Garbage bags:bags to bring the trash back.
Other:map, hat, sunglasses.
As the mountain cabins are very well equipped with facilities, you do not have to carry heavy items such as a tent or items to prepare your food. However, in case of an emergency, you should carry with you minimal water supplies and light snacks, such as sweets, cookies, etc., as well as some extra clothes.
Some mountain huts take reservations in advance. Especially at crowded stations, you will be required to share a room with other guests, so if you want to secure a private space, it is best to make a reservation in advance. Please note that water is fairly insufficient, so there are usually no showers or bathrooms available in the mountain huts.
The average lodging rates (during the week) in a mountain cabin are as follows:
No Meal: 5,250 yen
With dinner and breakfast: 7,350 yen
There are sinks, but no proper toilets.
Recently, with the trend of eco-friendly alternatives, there have gradually been installed chemical bathrooms that dispose of human waste through microbiological components. When using the toilet you’ll need to pay a fee, so try to carry some change with you, an average between 50 yen and 200 yen.
Also, to preserve the environment, make sure you always carry your thrash with you.¥
A very popular choice among foreigners is the Willer Tour. With options with departures from Tokyo including express bus transportation (round trip), 3 meals, stay in a mountain cabin, accompanied by an English speaking guide for 25,800 yen. For more options, details and plans, check out their website: http://willerexpress.com/en/fuji/
1) For information about cabins and toilets check out: http://www.fujisan-climb.jp/en/hospitality/mountain_huts_and_toilets.html
2) You can also print this map of bathrooms on Mount Fuji here: http://www.pref.shizuoka.jp/kankyou/ka-070/fujisanpage/otherlanguage/en/images/toiletmap.pdf
3) For a list (2016) of cabins, telephone numbers for reservations, seasons and altitudes, click on this link: http: //www.jnto.go.jp/eng/arrange/travel/practical/pdf/Mt.Hut_Mt.Fuji.pdf
4) Goraikoukan is a guesthouse quite close to the top – a good bet to predict your arrival at the top of the mountain in time to watch the sunrise. One night’s stay with two meals can be yours for ¥ 8,500 or just one night’s stay, it will cost you around ¥ 6,500. The site has an information page in English, but for booking, you must switch to the Japanese version: https://www.goraikoukan.jp/english/