You are currently viewing How to or not to climb Mt. Fuji in Japan

How to or not to climb Mt. Fuji in Japan

I was planning to climb a day before my birthday in August to enjoy the sunrise on the exact day but you cannot fight with the weather in the mountains. The forecast looked terrible for weeks.

But then there was an opening on Monday. It looked good to climb. I asked one of my friends I know from Osaka but he said no because of other plans on Monday. But the weather turned bad the day before and now looked too perfect to be true on Tuesday.

I told my friend the weather change and he said that’s good for him as well so I said let’s go then. The forecast still looked perfect during Monday so we finalized the Tuesday.

It was really early morning when I took the train to the center of Tokyo and from there we took a bus to Fujiyoshida, the closest city to the volcano. We arrived a bit earlier than 9 am and I said our climb starts from here.

For me, personally, going up to halfway on the mountain isn’t climbing. It starts from the bottom. So that’s how started from the middle of the city. There was only 21km ahead of us but we were going for the tallest mountain in Japan standing at 3776m so we were better to start walking.

From the streets, the view is already breathtaking with the mountain in the back. This time Fuji-san was shy and had his cloud hat over the top.

Fuji san wearing his usual clothing, a cloud hat
Fuji-san with his cloud hat

From the city, it was an almost straightforward walk towards the mountain with smaller turns but nothing special. It was good to be in nature once again, without a single noise from modern society.

At the point when we reached the starting point of the trail, we already walked about 10km slightly uphill. At the first checkpoint on the trail, I got my short walking stick with the first stamp on it.

With my new mini walking stick, we started our real ascending on the trail. It got into real climbing pretty soon.

Since most of the people go up with bus until they can there wasn’t almost a single people around until we reached about 2200m. Until then we were still climbing within the forest area but after 2000m it started to clear. Once we reached the first medical check station, that was the point where the other people joined the trail who came up with a bus or car.

Sunset while climbing mount Fuji
The terrain of Mt. Fuji

The terrain changed drastically. There weren’t trees anymore or anything else basically outside of volcanic rocks. Getting the stamps at every station possible was fun and a lifelong memory but definitely a complete ripoff I can tell you.

On the way up you should make bigger breaks about 15-20min at least to get used to the height and less oxygen to prevent high altitude sickness. You cannot take this easily. We saw a few people taken down with it. Even a child…

We took really small breaks but more often. I’m still not sure it was a clever idea at the end since I even have asthma to top it all. I could feel heavily the air getting less and less at the last few hundred meters.

Over 3000 meters everything was pain except the view and the thought we are getting closer. That was more than beautiful.

Other people got less by that time since almost everyone stopped at a lower safe house. We planned to summit before the sunset but we were only around 3300 meters at that point. We were about 1 or 2 hours late. But we were still able to see the perfect triangle-shaped shadow of Mt. Fuji.

Still, there were a few hundred meters more to go. It was way too hard. Not because of the rapidly coming darkness, more like because we were exhausted, we ate less than we should have, and of course the terrain. The summit seemed even farther with every step but we carried on. Failing wasn’t an option in any way.

Then we finally reached the summit after 12 hours of climbing but that wasn’t the end.

By that time it was dark, the temperature is cold around 5 degrees and the wind started to get stronger so we were looking for a place to hide. All we found is a restroom with a little rest area between the two sides.

Compared to where we were it looked really good and we were protected from the wind a bit from the cold too, so no room for complaining.

We couldn’t sleep at all. People started coming up at 11 pm. Since there were a lot of us “blocking” the restroom they asked us to leave and closed it then opened only the paid one so we started to freeze outside.

About 4 am they finally opened the houses. I ate my most expensive and okayish udon ever. I asked for the spicy one but the chili in japan is really weak, to be honest.

15 minutes later we were freezing outside once again. Walked up on the last few meters and picked a spot to watch the sunrise. I was freezing. The wind was so strong you couldn’t even stand no matter what.

It was dawn already, getting closer to the sunrise. For a while, I even forgot that I’m freezing. I enjoyed the moment on the top of Japan. I haven’t seen much chance to make it but in the end, everything worked out.

Though I couldn’t make it on my birthday just two days before I still did my plan. I’ve got a number 2 and 8 candle from a 100¥ shop and after we got off the bus at the start I bought a chocolate croissant at 7-11. LOL. It wasn’t the best idea. It completely melted on the way up, got frozen during the night, and became really hard. It couldn’t stop me to carry on with my plan anyway so I took another picture and enjoyed my rock-hard croissant.

Celebrating my 28th birthday on the top of mount Fuji in Japan while photographing the amazing sunrise
Birthday croissant

The view was beautiful. Surprisingly zero clouds on the top. The thick cloud layer was about 500-1000 meters below us with one opening in the distance where we could see other mountains lit up by the rising sun.

Before leaving the summit I stood in line for my last stamp on my Fuji stick and we started descending to the bus stop this time. The descending trail was different and way worse with the small smashed volcanic rocks all the way to the bottom. Not the best for the knees and in general as well. Took way less time though, maybe around 5 hours.

From the bus stop, it still took us more than 3 hours to get back to Tokyo and 1,5 more for me to my friend’s house.

It was a hard but unforgettable 24 hours spent conquering a volcano, the tallest mountain in Japan.

Leave a Reply