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I have a bit of an issue with mountain climbing, in that I never quite seem to be prepared. It’s not for lack of trying. I mean, it’s not like I meant to forget my shoes on a train and end up having to do the two-day trek up Malaysia’s Mount Kinabalu in Crocs. Or spontaneously extend my hike through the Arizona desert, only to find myself caught in a dust storm without food or water. And those trekking fails followed me to Japan, where I took a last-minute day trip from sunny Tokyo to do the famous Mount Fuji climb without realizing how inclement the weather can be.
One of the most famous peaks in the world after Everest and Kilimanjaro, Mount Fuji is Japan’s crown jewel. At 3,776 metres high, it features nearly perfect symmetry and a white capped top, which looks absolutely stunning when accented by pink cherry blossoms. The mountain is actually an active volcano, which fortunately hasn’t erupted since 1708, and one thing many visitors don’t realize is the views at Mount Fuji can be hard to come by since the peak is frequently clouded in fog.
Climbing Mount Fuji
The climb is divided into 10 ‘stations’ and visitors usually start their Mount Fuji hike from the 5th Station, which is 2,300 metres up. Buses drop groups off here, and there are also places to grab food or souvenirs. This is also the perfect spot to pick up any rain gear you might have
not even bothered to pack forgotten, which is a must on wet days since it gets colder and windier the higher you climb. Click here to book
The beginning of the Mount Fuji trek is very easy, with large, paved trails winding up the side of the mountain. Chances are, your biggest obstacle at this point will be getting around all the other climbers. It’s really a lovely walk, with gorgeous views of the valley below, grassy hills and guest houses dotting the mountain.
Speaking of those guest houses, another way to tour Mount Fuji is to stay right on it. There are a number of mountain huts perched into the hill all the way up, which go for about 5500 yen per person, per night. The huts are made up of a communal sleeping area (no bathroom facilities) and provide simple meals for an extra charge. The huts are popular with those hoping to watch the sunrise and can book up fast, so be sure to reserve a spot well in advance if you’re interested in staying the night.
From 5th Station it takes about five more hours to reach the summit which you can do with a guide or without, and the trail gets significantly steeper the higher you climb. When we arrived to climb Mount Fuji we’d only planned on doing a bit of a hike to see what all the fuss was about, but ended making such good time that we soon found ourselves all the way up to the 8th station, high above the clouds. At which point we started to get some very strange looks from better-outfitted trekkers, who took one look at the flimsy poncho I’d picked up in the souvenir store paired with shorts and thin running shoes, and were clearly concerned for my
mental health. In my defence, yes the temperature was starting to drop, but being from Canada anything above 10 degrees celcius is considered summer in my books, so I was happy as a clam.
Despite loving the hike and being only a couple hours from the peak, we decided to turn back at that point so that we didn’t miss
the happy hour sake special our bus ride back to Tokyo…or catch hypothermia.
All in all, a day trip to Mount Fuji is a wonderful experience, both for the epic views and a memorable way to work off all that sushi you’re bound to consume during the rest of your time in Japan.
- Where is Mount Fuji? The mountain is located about a two-and-a-half hour drive southwest of Tokyo.
- When to visit Mount Fuji: The official climbing season is from early July to early September, when weather is mild and the mountain is free of snow. The mountain huts and trails close by mid-September, and climbing is not permitted after this time due to freezing temperatures and perilous conditions.
- How to get to Mount Fuji: If you happen to have a car you can easily drive there, otherwise take a bus from Tokyo. Trips leave from Shinjuku, Fujisan, Gotemba, Shin-Matsuda, Mishima, Shin-Fuji and Fujinomiya stations, and cost anywhere between 1080 and 3000 yen.
- Planning a Mount Fuji visit: Take the guesswork out of getting around, and book one of these Mount Fuji tour options:
Where to stay near Mount Fuji
Mizuno Hotel– This Mount Fuji hotel is worth the splurge for the mesmerizing views of Mount Fuji right from your balcony. The Sky Bar overlooks Lake Kawaguchiko, there are free bike rentals for those wanting to bike around it, and there are even on-site onsens to relax your sore muscles after your long Mount Fuji climb. Click here to book
Sawa Hotel– If you want to stay at one of the hotels near Mount Fuji without breaking the bank, then Sawa Hotel is a good option. While your room won’t provide a view of the mountain, it is walking distance from Lake Karawaguchi where you can bask in Mount Fuji’s glory. There are many Japanese restaurants in the neighbourhood, as well a as a hotel shuttle to the train station. Click here to book
Keio Plaza Hotel Tokyo– If you prefer to stay in the city, this hotel is conveniently located near Shunjuku bus station which goes straight from Tokyo to Mount Fuji. Oh, and it has a Hello Kitty themed room! Click here to book
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