Article by: Muhammad Alif
For those people out there who are still haven’t climbed Fuji and wishing to do so, well this guide is made for you to read and comprehend. I am not an experienced hiker myself but yeah, for the experience I had during my 2 days ascending and descending Fuji, it won’t hurt to share some tips and tricks for the pleasure of your upcoming trip! (Disclaimer: The guide will be solely based on my experience climbing it, thus, you might find it incomplete though I will try my best to make it as useful as possible)
Therefore, shall we begin?
Introduction to Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji or also known as Fuji-san by the Japanese, is the tallest mountain and also an active volcano in Japan reaching the height of 3776.24m, where the temperature at the peak can go as low as 2⁰C (based on my experience) during the summer. The seasonal climb would be during the summer as the off-season climb would be the time other than summer. Lol. Well, during summer, the ice on the mountain melts away, so you can climb a bit easier. Or maybe much easier, depending on your body’s fitness.
Preparations to climb Mt. Fuji
So what should you bring to climb this tallest mountain in Japan? Well, here are some things that you can equip yourselves to help you out during your journey.
- A torchlight/ a headlight
- If you are climbing at night (to see the sunrise), or descending at night (after watching the sunset), this is a must. I mean, the trail to climb Fuji is not like a regular street road or something, it is dark at night, and there is no street lamp or something. If you are very stingy, just buy it from the Lawson or Daiso for a hundred yen.
- A jacket(s)
- I myself went for about 2 layers including my windbreaker on the outermost layer. It is not about the cold temperature. It is about the chilling-to-the-bone wind blowing stronger as you are getting closer to the top, especially at night.
- I went for the hike with my beanie. Well, I am weak to cold temperature, so it was very useful to cover my ears and protect it from the chilling wind.
- One reason is to help yourself go against the low temperature. And the other one is to protect your hand from the sharp rocks. Well, don’t we climb on our feet? Yeah you do, but on some stage, the road was roughly just some rocks, without gravels, and you might want to use your hands to grip as well.
- Hiking shoes
- To be honest, I went climbing Fuji with a Nike street shoes that I have used going back and forth to the university every day and I must admit that I regretted doing that. Yeah sure, as long as you have a shoes to protect your feet from the sharp rocks, it would be OK but, you might suffer on the inside. You might not feel anything much during climbing as the suffering starts during the descending part. Therefore, for the best Fuji climbing experience, get a proper hiking foot wear will ya!
- The climb to the top itself will take you at least 6 hours even for the shortest trail. You need some foods to help gain your energy back even during the descending part. So pack yourself some snacks (the more the better) to recharge yourself at every checkpoint, and some heavy foods, it can be home cooked rice or anything as long as it is able to fill your stomach like a regular meal. For the snacks, it can be anything that help your mouth chew something, such as junk foods, or maybe for a healthier option, some fruits maybe? I recommend bananas as they are sold almost everywhere and cheap as well.
- Dude you are going to need water! Whether it is a night climbing or a day climbing, both need you to always be hydrated. At least 2 liters. Or 2 bottles.
- Better safe than sorry, because the weather on the mountain changes easily and you don’t want to be dripping wet soaked in wet clothes during the chilling climb. Make sure to check the weather before climbing for an easier trip back and forth.
- Power bank
- This is actually quite optional if you are not into your phone that much considering that you have better equipments to take pictures etc. But, for your information, your phone’s battery will run out pretty quickly on the mountain, some says it is due to the low temperature, therefore, better turn it off, or put it into flight mode during the climb, or simply just bring your power banks along!
- Trekking pole
- Not really compulsory, but will help you a lot during the ascend and the descend. I decided not to buy it though. Not sure how effective it is but based on the comparison between my climbing speed with those with the poles, I am much slower, or probably because I was not in my fittest condition lol but then whatever! Get it if you feel like it!
Getting to Fuji
There are technically lots of ways to get yourself to the foot of Mt. Fuji, and this is where the guide is going to be a little bit incomplete. For those who are from Tokyo, or wanting to visit Fuji from the Kantou region, well, read this!
Do you have a car?
Yes? Then drive it straight up the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station and park your vehicles there!
Yes but there is a traffic restriction* Well then get yourself to the Kawaguchiko Station and park somewhere nearby and ride the bus up to the 5th Station!
*according to the website www.fujisan-climb.jp, there is a period of restriction where personal vehicles are not allowed to go up till the 5th Station. Probably to avoid road congestion.
For those not owning any personal vehicles such as myself, feel free to take a train ride to the Kawaguchiko Station, and then you can ride the bus up to the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station. As for me, I didn’t arrive in time and too late for the last bus trip (8pm), so I went with a cab instead. The price was, yeah, a cab, in a country called Japan, man, it is absolutely not cheap! It was around 12k yen. Thankfully, I shared it with another 3 passengers, one is my friend, and the other 2 were some tourists arriving late just like me wanting to climb Fuji as well. Such luck!
*make sure to check the bus schedule properly!
After reaching the 5th Station, pay a visit to the information centre to get a map and some briefing from the rangers there. Not sure if it is compulsory but, better safe than sorry! After all, we are the tourists! 🙂
There are 4 different trails available in order to reach the summit and the shortest trail would be the Fujinomiya Trail, will take you at least 5 hours to reach the top, while the longest trail, the Gotemba Trail will take you at least 7 hours. And for those who are from the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station will not use any of those mentioned trails and will instead use the Yoshida Trail that will at least take you 6 hours to reach the summit. Lol. But worry not as the Yoshida Trail is probably the easiest trail out of the 4 trails available (and also the most crowded!).
I took the Yoshida Trail and made it to the 9th Station which is the last station before the top and eventually made it to the top itself. You can rest at every station to help catch your breath before going onto the next climb. The last ascend, which is the climb after the 9th Station in order to reach the summit would probably be the hardest climb of all the climbs during the Fuji hike as the number of climbers increases dramatically because the climbers from another trail (Subashiri Trail) will merge together with those from the Yoshida Trail and the road will be surprisingly congested (probably during the peak of the climbing season). The last climb is also known as the summit attack. Well, you attack the summit. Eh hehe.
*the 9th Station is also known as the old 8th Station.
The 4 trails available to get to the top of Fuji.
Reaching the summit is one thing, and holding off against the strong wind and chilling temperature is another thing. If you have extra cash to spend on, you might want to try the restaurant situated on top of Fuji, not sure what the name of the restaurant was, but you can enjoy yourself some hot meals, and hot chocolate drinks! But remember! Only if you have some extra cash! Because the price is outrageous! Well of course! They probably climb Fuji every single day to restock supplies lol.
Descending on Yoshida Trail will take at least 4 hours, or 3 hours and a half if you are fast. This is where the road won’t be easy for those who wear sneakers or other improper foot wears. The road is slippery as it is made of gravel rocks, and every time you slide, you hurt your feet. You will be reminded a lot of times, to only follow the Yoshida Trail during the descend and not to turn into other trail, (supposedly Subashiri Trail) as it will lead you to Shizuoka, an absolutely different region, and the Kawaguchiko Station is not there and you will end up extremely far away from your starting point.
Train – 4000 yen (direct from home, back and forth)
Taxi – 12000 yen (to the 5th Station, shared by 4 person)
Bus – 1300 yen (from the 5th Station to Kawaguchiko Station)
I guess that is all what you need to know in order to climb Mt. Fuji. You might find a much better guide on the internet or somewhere else, but this one right here is written based on my own experience of climbing it. To be honest, the climb was very tiring, and the descend was very excruciating, but overall, being able to conquer Fuji is something worth hurting my feet for. Indeed. Have fun climbing!