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Ultimate Guide: Climbing Mt Fuji

 

The history of Mt Fuji

Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan, the peak measures 3,776 meters. It’s known to the Japanese as Fuji-san. It’s one of ‘the three holy mountains’ in Japan. The other two mountains are Mt Tate in Toyama-prefecture and Mt Hake located on the borders of Gifu, Fukui and Ishikawa-prefectures.

 

Mt Fuji is an active volcano, located between Shizuoka and Yamanashi-prefectures. Underneath the mountain three of the tectonic plates meet, making this area high-risk for earthquakes. Experts have been suggesting that the volcano is overdue an eruption for many years now. Still, over 200,000 people climb Mt Fuji, one of the world’s most admired mountains every year.

 

Mt Fuji seen from Fujinomiya

 

Mt Fuji became a protected cultural UNESCO site in 2013, this includes the Sengen Shrine at the foot of the mountain, The Fuji 5 lakes, the Shiraito Falls and Fujinomiya, a small town at the foot of the mountain.

Mt Fuji was always seen as a holy mountain, and it’s thought that Mt Fuji was first climbed by a monk in 663. The first foreigner to climb Fuji-san was Sir Rutherford Alcock, from the UK in 1868.

 

When can I climb Mt Fuji?

The climbing season of Mount Fuji is between early July to mid-September. I do not recommend attempting to climb the mountain outside of those dates due to safety issues.

 

Mt Fuji hiking trails are open between early July- end of September. Hiking trails are closed, can I climb anyway?

 

Many people have died while trying to ascend Mount Fuji in off-season or bad weather. They die of the cold or are simply blown straight off the mountain, winds can be incredibly powerful.

However, Mt Hoei, a peak on the side of Mt Fuji can be accessed all year around. The Hoei crater is a parasite volcano that was created by the eruption in 1707. The Hoei crater can be accessed from the Fujinomiya or Gotemba trail.

 

Where’s the best view of Mt Fuji?

If you are visiting Mount Fuji when the trails are closed, you can still go up to 5th station. It is the beginning of the hiking trails. However, the view is much more impressive from the foot of the mountain. I recommend visiting Fujinomiya or one of the Fuji 5 lakes in Yamanashi-prefecture.

 

What’s the best viewpoint for Mount Fuji?

 

I recommend finding one out of the many great viewpoints to gaze at Mount Fuji from and get your own postcard photographs. If you are visiting Fujinomiya I recommend Lake Tanuki where you can see the reflection of Fuji-san on the surface of the lake. If you are on other side of the mountain in Yamanashi Prefecture I recommend visiting one of the famous Fuji 5 lakes.

 

Reflection of Mt Fuji on Lake Tank

 

Climbing Mt Fuji – Dos and Don’ts

A lot of people seem to forget the difference in temperature between the foot of the mountain and the summit. In summer the temperature below the mountain is easily around 35 degrees Celsius, but the summit can get as cold as 0 degrees in summer, and -40 in winter.

 

You don’t have to be a professional climber, but be prepared!

 

Though you don’t have to be a professional climber to climb Mt Fuji, it’s recommended to be prepared so that you can enjoy the adventure.

 

Essentials

Headlight (If you hike at night)

Comfortable backpack (waterproof)

Warm gloves and hat

Comfortable shoes

Rain jacket and pants

Sunglasses

Sunscreen lotion

Cap

Energy bars or snacks

Bottle of water or sports drink

Camera

Money

Heat pack (Can be bought in drugstores in Japan and last for 6-8 hours)

Extra socks

Earplugs (if you are planning to stay at a mountain hut)

Pack light!

Dress is layers so you don’t overheat!

Grab a map at the start of your hike!

Huge amounts of water

Oxygen

Tent or sleeping bag (Not allowed to camp)

Don’t over pack, water, food and shelter is available!

 

Day climb vs night climb – Catching the sunrise

Many people who climb Mt Fuji wants to see the sunrise from the summit. This is an unforgettable sight if the weather is clear. Make sure you plan your ascent so that you don’t miss it!

 

Sunrise looking like a Phoenix bird at the summit

 

Climbing overnight

You can see the sunrise

No need to stay the night in one of the huts

Be extra careful if you climb in the dark

Crowded

It’s much colder at night than during the day

You can’t see the view as you’re ascending

 

When I climbed Fuji-san in 2015, I chose to climb overnight. I made sure to eat well during the day and took the last bus from Fujinomiya Station to the 5th Station of the Fujinomiya trail. There’s a souvenir shop and toilets, as well as vending machines so you can take your time and rest for a few hours before starting your climb.

I started my climb around 22:00 and kept up a fast pace as I ascended. The weather was very cold with a strong wind and rain. Even prepared with extra layers, hat and gloves I was freezing the whole time.

Because I kept up a good pace it allowed be around 30 minutes of rest at many of the rest stops along the way. Vending machines and small shops selling overpriced hot drinks and cup noodles can be found at the rest stops.

 

Climbing during the day

Starting early in the morning and arriving at the summit around lunch time is another option. This would mean that you are back at the foot of the mountain in the afternoon, while it’s still light outside.

 

View from 8th station on the Fujinomiya trail

 

This means that you’d spent the night at the foot of the mountain in a guesthouse or hotel before starting the hike the next morning. It would give you a full night’s sleep, however, you would be hiking Mt Fuji during the hottest hours of the day.

 

You get to see the view as you ascend

Well rested before starting

You miss the sunrise

Very hot

Chance of heatstroke

 

My recommendation for the optimal climb

If you want to make the most of your Mt Fuji climb, make sure you keep an eye on the weather forecast. Pick two days with clear skies.

 

I recommend starting in the morning hours, take your time to ascend. Make sure you keep hydrated and don’t overexert yourself. This also lessens your chances of suffering from altitude sickness.

 

Take either the Fujinomiya trail or Gotemba trail to ascend, and follow the side trail to get to Mt Hoei. You can buy a walking stick at the foot of Mt Fuji, and collect stamps at all the stops along the way to the top. The stamps are branded into the wooden walking stick, a large but fantastic souvenir to bring home.

 

Enjoy the view from Mt Hoei before making your way up to the summit. Take the Ohachimeguri trail around the crater rim at the summit. This takes approximately 1-1,5 hours. Catch the sunset from the summit before retiring for the night in one of the mountain huts at the summit. Make sure you book ahead of time!

Get an early night’s sleep, and be up in time to get to the summit to catch the sun rising over the horizon. If you collect ‘goshuin’, stamps from temples and shrines, don’t forget to pay a visit to the shrine at the summit. You can also take the chance to send off a post card from the small post-office at the top of Mt Fuji.

 

The crater at the summit of Mt Fuji

 

Ryan took the Ohachimeguri trail around the crater

 

You can then descent Mt Fuji on the opposite side of the mountain by using one of the other trails. This allows you to see the scenery on both sides of the mountain.

 

Sleeping in a mountain hut – What to expect

Truth be told, sleeping in a mountain hut does not provide you with the best night of sleep you’ve had. The huts along the Mt Fuji trails are cramped, noisy and expensive. You won’t get much sleep, a few hours at most unless you’re a solid sleeper.

 

However, staying the night at a hut allows you to catch both the sunset and the sunrise if you plan your climb properly. If you only want to see either the sunrise or sunset, I recommend against staying at a hut.

 

Mount Fuji Trails

There are a total of four trails to hike Mount Fuji. Three of them starts in Shizuoka Prefecture, and the last one starts in Yamanashi Prefecture. The start of each trail is called the “Head of trails” and is referred to as 5th station. Along the trails there are several stations with facilities such as toilets, huts and sometimes small shops.

 

Each one of the trails are marked with a different colour so that you won’t get lost or accidentally change trails partway through your climb.
Click on each trail below for further information.

 

Trails are colour marked, know your colour!

 

The opening dates for each of the trail also differs slightly, so please look at the trail you are planning on using. If the weather is bad, then the trails will close due to safety reasons.

 

Check the weather forecast in advance!

 

It is not uncommon for people to die while trying to climb Mount Fuji in the off-season or in bad weather. Weather changes rapidly in the mountains, don’t forget to check the weather beforehand. The mountain huts are only open during the climbing season, see each trail for exact dates.

 

 

Click here for the official Mt Fuji Climbing pamphlet

Change tabs below to view each trail and click the pictures to take you to the detailed post for each of the Mt Fuji trails.

Trail Colour: Blue
Open: July 10th – September 10th
Ascent: 5 hours
Descent: 3 hours

Many other sightseeing locations nearby
Side trail that leads to Mt Hoei
Shortest time to ascent and descent
Mountain huts at each of the stations
Parking available
Ascent and descent use the same trail
The toughest out of the trails
Very steep and rocky
Crowded

Mt Fuji Fujinomiya Trail
click the picture to take you to the Fujiyama trail

 

Trail colour: Green
Open: July 10th-September 10th
Ascent: 10 hours
Descent: 3 hours

One of the easier trails
Side trail that leads to Mt Hoei
Gentle slope of volcanic gravel until 6th station
Fewest amount of climbers
Ascent and Decent different trails
Few mountain huts along the way
No parking

Mt Fuji Gotemba Trail
Click the picture to take you to the Gotemba trail

 

 

Trail colour: Red
Open: July 10th-September 10th
Ascent: 6 hours
Descent: 3 hours

Fairly gentle slope with tree cover until 7th station
Ascent and Descent use different trails
No mountain huts up until 8th station
From 8th station trail is the same as Yoshida trail

Mt Fuji Subashiri Trail
Click the picture to take you to the Subashiri trail

 

Trail colour: Yellow
Open: July 1st-September 10th
Ascent: 6 hours
Descent: 4 hours

Relatively flat until 7th station
Many huts while ascending
Sunrise takes place on this side of the mountain
Ascent and descent use different trails
From 8th station trail is the same as Subashiri trail
Few huts while descending
The most climbers
Crowded

Mt Fuji Yoshida Subaru Trail
click the picture to take you to the Yoshida / Subaru trail

 

 

Trail: Crater rim
Open: July 10th-September 10th
Estimated time to complete trail: 60 – 90 mins

Mt Fuhi Ohachimeguri Trail
click the picture to take you to the Ohachimeguri trail

 

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