Climbing Mount Fuji / by Saki

Hello ! Welcome to our blog 🙂

Here’s Saki, from Local Travel Partners !

Recently with the Rugby World Cup and the coming Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, Japan comes up a lot in sport news worldwide ! One image that comes up a lot is probably the image of the Mount Fuji.

The sacred mountain is a symbol of Japan and hold a special place in Japanese people’s heart. 

With my companion, it was one of our objectives to climb the Mount Fuji this year. Being in Shizuoka, we were in the best place to prepare for it. We could realize this dream, beginning of September ! Allow me to share here our experience 🙂

We’ve been looking at it from afar and have been visiting several places related to the World heritage : the Fuji san Hongu Sengen Shrine, the Mount Fuji World heritage center, the Miho‘s Pine tree grove. It was time for us to challenge the mountain itself !

 

The Mount Fuji is the highest peak in Japan standing at 3776 meters above sea level. Located about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, it is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains”. In 2013 it was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as a Cultural Site :”Fuji-san, Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration“. Thousands of people from all over the world come to climb the mountain every year, with hiking trails officially opening to the public.

 

First Day

The official climbing season is from the beginning of July to mid September. The opening day depends on the trail you will climb up from !

Here we are at the bus station in Fuji ! It is 10 o’clock.

 

There are 4 trails to climb Mount Fuji, from different side of the mountain :
1- the YOSHIDA trail, only road from Yamanashi prefecture from the north side. Most used trail. It is well deserved for climbers coming from Tokyo.
2- the SUBASHIRI trail, from the East side of the mountain. You go through a forest while climbing.
3- the GOTEMBA trail. The longest trail, for good walker. The quietest one as well, it is the less used trail for climbing.
4- the FUJINOMIYA trail. The second most used trail as it is the shortest. The road is steep and rocky.

Here is the map available to all, with all the mountain huts. You can also see the approximate time you may take to go up or down between each station ! 

 

We took the Fujinomiya trail for the ascension. It is also the nearest start from Shizuoka city. 

For each road, the climb is divided into 10 steps up to the peak. Those steps are called “Station” or . The starting point is the First station, the Fifth station is the middle, and the Tenth station is the top. In Fuji belief, the Fifth station is the human realm and the Sixth station is the heavenly realm; there lies the border between “heaven” and “earth.”
Most climbers aims for the summit from the Fifth station. You can reach it by car or bus and from there, we continue on our own 🙂

The Fujinomiya route departs as well from the Fifth station and heads to the summit from the south of Mount Fuji on the Shizuoka Prefecture side in Fujinomiya city. There, you are already above the cloud ! The clouds goes by at such a speed, it is impressive !

When you get there, you may want to stay on the spot for a while to acclimate yourself to the altitude and reduce the risk of altitude sickness. You can make your last check and see if you have everything you need !

At the Fifth station, you can also find information about the weather on the mountain or sunrise-sunset time that day.

 

So here we are at our starting point : The Fujinomiya trail – Fifth station at 2400 meters of altitude ! It is 12:30 !

After 15 minutes, we arrived at the first mountain hut : 2500 meters above sea level ! Probably the easiest part with not much rocks 🙂
At the Fifth station, you can get a wooden stick. It may help you during your ascension. At every hut, there is a place like on the right picture where you can get your stick engraved ! 

Those are the wooden sticks, with bells at the end and how they are engraved !

 

The weather change rapidly on the mountain ! It is unpredictable and can change from bright sunshine to heavy rain very quickly. It is better to check carefully the expected weather before departure. Even during summer, the temperature at the top of the mountain is between 5°C and 8°C ! Furthermore, warm clothes and rain coat should be prepared before beginning your climb ! 

It was nice climbing in September. It was not crowded and we could exchange with other climbers.  During holiday season (Obon week, mostly), at some place human traffic jam can be formed !

Magnificent view !! One feature of the Mount Fuji is its red soil  !
Despite its calm and serene appearance, Fuji-san is a volcano considered active. Its last eruption, however, took place almost 300 years ago. Its symmetry, which extends like a fan from the top to the bottom, has been shaped by the volcanic eruptions that have occurred throughout its history.

Some tough point… Thankfully, there are ropes most of the way !

Don’t forget to take some rest and adjust to the altitude ! Look around to the nature that made its way here 🙂

Previous to our trip, we called the mountain hut at the Ninth station to reserve for a night : the Mannen Yuki hut 萬年雪山荘 – the hut of eternal snow. At the same time you can ask directly to include dinner and morning breakfast,if you wish

We arrived at the hut at 16:40. The sunset being at 18:23 we had some time to enjoy the view !

Famous “unkai 雲海” or cloud sea !

Looking up to what is left to climb 🙂
The Ninth station is at 3460 meters above sea level. A bit more than 300 meters left !

The inside of the hut. The Mannen Yuki mountain hut can welcome up to 250 visitors per night to sleep. 5 peoples can sleep in each “room” ! Toilets are free for the customers, but if you’re passing by, a small contribution is asked to use the toilets (from 100¥ to 200¥). Don’t forget to prepare enough coins beforehand !

Curry was served for dinner. The hot meal really warms up your tired body from the inside. 

Behind the hut, we found a wooden torii gate. With the sunset behind, there was a mysterious feeling to stands there.
You will come across several torii gate during your ascension.

That was our first day on the Mount Fuji ! Lights out at 20:00 at the mountain hut.

 

Second Day

Many climbers will wake up at 2:00 to go to the summit. The sunrise was planned for around 5:10 that day. Headlamp is more than recommend if you wish to do so ! Some hut sells them. Unfortunately, we had none so we waited for the sunrise at the Mannen Yuki hut. 

We woke up at 3:00 and had breakfast. During that time, many night climbers were passing by !

All ready for the sunrise !
But weather is unpredictable, we’ve experienced it the day before. It was cloudy and we could only see the Sun rise through the cloud.

While climbing up, clouds have withdrawn and left us a beautiful view !

Approaching the summit ! We’re almost there !

It is 6:00 in the morning and we arrived in front of the Chôjô Sengen Taisha Okumiya 頂上浅間大社奥宮 – the highest shrine in Japan. Thankful to have arrived safe, we visited the shrine.

There were already a lot of people at the summit. A lot of them going down already.

Mount Fuji‘s crater, with clouds going down the crater.
You can go around it. It takes between 1 and 2 hours to do so.

At he highest point in Japan, this is the view of the Izu Peninsula. We can also see the pacific ocean. There are no words for what you feel in front of this landscape.

After staying at the top for some time, enjoying the view and eating some snacks, it was time to go down. 
We took the Gotemba trail to do so !

Is it easier to go down ? I’m not sure. You don’t use the same muscles you do for climbing and on your second day you don’t have muscle pain yet. The landscape makes you forget all that ! You see all the way down the mountain.

Making some stops at the stations down the trail.

From the Sixth station, you enter the section Osunabashiri, people calls it the “great sand run”. One particularity of the Gotemba trail while going down is this large sandy section where you can run down in a very short period of time. It is nice that you can go down quickly, I don’t recommend it if you usually have knees or legs problems. The burden might be too much.

Also, make sure to have spats or gaiters for this portion, as there’s a lot of fine dust. You may want to wear a mask or goggles for the same reason. Fog also is known to roll in quickly, so be careful to stay near the path markers or risk getting lost. We were actually in the fog most of the time, you don’t see further than 15 to 20 meters !

Finally arriving at our last stop : the Gotemba Fifth Station or Oishi chaya 大石茶屋 !
They have water bucket and duster at your disposal so you can get off all the sands from you way down. I assure you it is very welcomed : If you wear black clothes or shoes, when you arrived at the Oishi Chaya they’re light brown !

There are several bus a day to go the Gotemba station. We waited for the next one while reminiscing our trip.
The beautiful landscape, some difficult path. We will remember this unique time spend on the Mount Fuji.

 

 

Day prior to our departure

We took some time to prepare for the climbing : be it what you will bring with you, or the route you will take. 

The thing you want to prepare :

  • Backpack that can contain approximately 30L.
  • Trekking shoes, something you can wear for a long time and that maintain you ankle.
  • Long sleeve shirts and long pants. Choose some comfortable one.
  • Rain wear. If you can a jacket and pant, something separate.
  • Clothes against the cold : down jacket, or fleece.
  • Gloves and cap.
  • Garbage bag. Don’t forget to bring back with you everything !
  • Water : about 2 liters per person. Some snacks. I recommend protein bar or fruits.
  • First aid kit : your usual medications and band-aids.
  • Coins for toilets : 200¥ to 300¥ each times !
  • Headlamp if you are planning to climb by night.

Other things that are convenient to have :

  • Spats, to avoid the sands in your shoes.
  • Trekking poll.
  • Helmet.
  • Wet tissues. It might come in handy.
  • Sunglasses and sun screen.

Have a look at the map and decide based on your state which road you will take. Once decided, you can make a call to the hut you want to sleep in ! Unfortunately there is no online reservation.

Have a close look at the bus timetable or train you will take to your starting point and ending point so you can adjust ! Don’t hesitate to ask for confirmation if you are planning to go out of Japanese holiday. Even during the season the number of bus going from the train station to the fifth station may decrease from tenth a day to twice a day.

The official website for Mount Fuji climbing explains really clearly everything you must know or prepare for your ascension.

Thank you very much for going through this long post with us ! I hope you could find some answers to any questions you may have if you are considering climbing the Mount Fuji.

 

 

At Local Travel Partners, we can arrange your stay on the Mount Fuji in a mountain hut and in a Japanese hotel at the foot of Mount Fuji from Yamanashi prefecture side. The climbing will be from the Yoshida trail in that case. You may enjoy the sacred mountain view from the hotel bath and free transportation to your climbing starting point !

Please feel free to contact us 🙂

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