Written by: Zunita Ramli
A Japanese proverb says, A wise man climbs Fuji once. Only a fool climbs it twice.
Alhamdulillah, thanks to everyone’s prayers, I managed to conquer the summit of Mount Fuji solo in 2021.
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Why Mt Fuji?
Apart from being the highest peak in Japan with an altitude of 3,776 m above sea level, Fuji is very interesting – Mt Fuji is still classified as an active volcano, and climbing Mt Fuji means we can see craters with our own eyes. Once in a lifetime experience, right?
Apart from that, the area from 3,250 m to the top is also classified as private property which belongs to Japan’s highest shrine, Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha. That’s why if you go up to the top, there is a Buddha temple because they also believe that the higher the temple is, the closer it is to God. Hence, it is not surprising that Mount Fuji is also a sacred mountain for them.
Definitely Check The Climbing Season and The Weather!
It is important to check the climbing season on the Mt. Fuji Climbing Official Site because the schedule is different each year. The climbing season for Mt. Fuji usually starts from early July to early September. Climbing is prohibited during other periods and during the snow season.
The temperature fluctuates due to the large difference in altitude between the 5th station and the summit. At the summit, the temperature is low enough to have snowfall even in the summer. The difference in temperature between the foot of the mountain and the summit may exceed 20℃. Hence, it is important to bring the proper gear and prepare protection against the cold.
It is also important to note that during summer, dense fog or thunder/lightning occurs very often, increasing the risk of climbers losing their way or thunderbolt strikes. If you hear the sound of thunder, stop whatever you are doing and take shelter immediately.
So, how do we start climbing Mt Fuji?
Find The Best Trails
To get to the top of Mt Fuji, there are actually four trails that you can use. Each trail has different difficulties and different starting points. For beginners, I would suggest using Yoshida Trail starting from the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station.
Trailheads and Ascending Trails
Yoshida Trail Head: Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station
Subashiri Trail Head: Subashiri Trail 5th Station
Gotemba Trail Head: Gotemba Trail New 5th Station
Fujinomiya Trail Head: Fujinomiya Trail 5th Station
Prepare Your Gears
Knowing the fact that Mt Fuji is the highest peak in Japan, the weather up above is so unpredictable. Hence proper gears are very crucial to be prepared.
- Trekking shoes/boots
- Waterproof jacket and trousers
- Warm clothes: fleece, sweater, down jacket
- About 2 liters of water (available for purchase at mountain huts)
- Snacks that are easy to take
- Bags to bring trash back
- Money cash: credit card is not usually accepted at mountain huts
- Small change: contribution to using the toilet
- Others cap/hat, map, sunglasses, sunscreen, walking poles
- Portable oxygen
Also, Mt. Fuji is classified as an active volcano. Hikers are advised to bring the following items for an unexpected eruption.
- A hard hat/helmet to protect your head against damage in the case of a rock falling or falling over.
- Dust masks to fend off dust when you are trekking down the descent trails, which become dusty.
- Dust goggles to protect your eyes against dust on the descent trails.
From Fujisan Station (Fujikyu Railway) or Kawaguchiko Station (Fujikyu Railway), take the mountain bus to Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station.
From Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal / Yokohama Sta. or Hiyoshi Sta. / Center Kita sta. / Tama Plaza / Ichigao Sta., take the expressway bus to Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station.
Kawaguchiko Interchange on the Chuo Expressway or Fujiyoshida Interchange on the Higashi Fujigoko Toll Road to Fuji-Subaru Line (open 3 AM to 6 PM (3 AM-7:45 PM for descent), go on the toll road to Fuji-Subaru Line 5th station.
If you are planning to drive your own car, check the periods of passenger car traffic restriction. For Yoshida Trail, the restriction date is July 21, 3 am – August 31, 6 pm.
During the period in which restriction is in place, you need to take the shuttle bus to the 5th station from the parking area at the foot of the mountain. Hence, I really recommend going there by bus instead.
Be aware of mountain sickness! It has symptoms such as fatigue and listlessness, headache, dizziness, lack of appetite, nausea, vomiting, etc.
- Before departure, you should rest for one to two hours at the altitude of the 5th station so that you can adapt to a higher altitude.
- Use the oxygen from portable oxygen
- Walk slowly at a constant pace.
- Take rests at regular intervals but not too long, so as not to get cold.
- Drink water regularly.
- Take deep breaths.
- If your symptoms are serious, descend the mountain.
- Keep your body warm and take a rest.
- If your condition worsens, go to the first-aid center.
Quick Tips and Tricks
For me personally climbing Mt Fuji is fairly easy, even if you are a beginner. But since the total ascends will take about 6 hours from the 5th station of Fuji-Yoshida trailhead to the peak, I would suggest having some fitness before attempting to climb Mt. Fuji.
Also, it is a good idea to know your limit as well. Staying a night at the hut at Mt Fuji is also a good idea, giving your body a little rest and adapting to the high-altitude surrounding.
One important thing to note as well, you have to expect the zigzag path if you are taking the Yoshida Trail. This path is dusty and most accidents happen on the way down. So be careful!
A quick note that you will be requested to donate for the preservation of Mt. Fuji at 1,000 yen near the trail entrance but it is not an obligation.
Nonetheless, if you are an avid hiker, climbing Mt Fuji is on the must-do list if you are in Japan!