Japan has many fascinating sights around its beautiful country, but for true adventurers nothing compares to Mt. Fuji. I had a friend climb Mt. Fuji a few years ago, and his stories made me extremely jealous so I knew I had to do it as well. Mt. Fuji is not a crazy tough hike, but it still plays with your mind every step to the top. Mt. Fuji, which can be seen from Tokyo on a clear day, stands at 3,776 meters (12,389ft). I had been to Tokyo a couple times and still remember going to the observation deck at the top of Tokyo Tower and staring out into the distance looking at Mt. Fuji and knowing the next time I came to Japan I would be standing at the top.
So I did some quick research and spoke with past climbers and this is some of the information I picked up that helped me on my climb.
- Climbing season for Fuji is only two months of the year (July & August)
- If you fly into Tokyo Narita Airport (NRT):
Take the Narita Express train to Shinjuku (3,190 YEN = $30 / 1hr30min ride). Shinjuku is a very fun nightlife district of Tokyo. When you arrive in Tokyo, I would suggest to spend a couple days there just to acclimate to the time change and most importantly REST.
- For accommodations in Shinjuku I stayed at Hikari House Hostel. It was a 10minute walk from Shinjuku train station and cost roughly $40 a night which is a bit pricy for a hostel but they were all around that price and hotels were around $120.
- Leave everything you don’t need at the hostel to minimize carrying extra weight on Mt. Fuji. What to bring?: Hiking boots, thick wool socks, good base layer, fleece, and winter coat. RAIN GEAR, hat, gloves, blanket, external charger for your phone, headlamp, and an emergency first aid kit. Enough water. Snacks.
It gets colder the higher you go. Even though it was 90 degrees in Tokyo, it ended up being 40 degrees with 20mph winds at the top making it pretty cold. As you go up, the backpack gets lighter by putting on layers and eating and drinking. As you go down the backpack get a little heavier by taking off layers and putting them back in your backpack.
Getting to Mt.Fuji:
Take the Expressway Highway Bus from Shinjuku Bus Station to Mt. Fuji 5th Station. Make a roundtrip reservation for 5,400 YEN.
The two ways to hike to the summit: It is about 6-8hrs up and about 3-4hrs down.
1.) As you go up to the top, you will pass what are called stations. They are little rest/relief areas. Each station has a few huts you can pre-book to relax, eat, nap. What the majority of people do is prebook a hut at the 8th station. So they will plan to arrive at 5th Station with the bus (which is already 1/3rd of the way up) at noon and hike for about 5hrs to 8th station. Once there, they will check into their reserved hut have a dinner and sleep until about 1am. When they wake up, they’ll have a small breakfast and continue. From there it is about another hour and a half to the summit and you will reach it right before sunrise which is around 4:30am. After the sunrise, you can walk around the summit for a while and hang out or send a postcard from the post office located at the top!
5th station to 6th: easy
6th to 7th: easy
7th to 8th: moderate
8th to summit: difficult
2.) Another option is to not book the mountain hut and just power through overnight to the top and back. This is what I did, because I was late in getting a hut reservation in. I arrived the 5th station around 6pm and acclimated for two hours and started hiking at 8pm. It is VERY IMPORTANT to acclimate when you get to each station to avoid altitude sickness and major headaches. You must take care of yourself. Drink LOTS of water.
Honestly, one of the most beautiful sights you will ever see. Make sure to appreciate every second of it if you are lucky enough to witness it with a low cloud cover. Some people make it to the top and the clouds are still rolling through. I was lucky enough to arrive at the 5th station already above the cloud layer so the hike was incredible. Look to the left and just see pillows and pillows of clouds. Look up and see a thousand stars.
I wish you the best of luck on your attempt of climbing Fuji and remember to drink a lot of water, eat a lot of protein bars, and take lots of breaks!