Translated by Takuya Erik Watanabe
Climbing Mount Fuji - Basic Information on Access, Season and Gear
Would you like to climb Mount Fuji? This article introduces all you need to know about the climbing season, how to reach the trails and what you need to bring when taking up the challenge of climbing Japan's highest mountain.
Written by Jumpei Kawashima
Mount Fuji is located on the border of Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, and with a height of 3,776 meters, it is known as the highest mountain in Japan. Its symmetrical beauty and white snow-covered peak has fascinated visitors over the years. It was registered as a World Heritage Site in 2013, and is a highly popular tourist attraction.
The mountain used to be worshipped as a sacred place by the Japanese people since long ago, and it has been climbed as a form of mountain pilgrimages. It can be said that Mount Fuji is important to the Japanese people, not only for its beauty, but also in a spiritual way.
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Access to Mount Fuji
You can reach Mount Fuji by train, bus, or car. Choose the best means that fits your traveling plans.
Shinkansen - Convenient from both Tokyo and Osaka
If you're coming from Tokyo or Osaka, we recommend using the shinkansen, or bullet train. You will be able to reach Mount Fuji without any transfers if you use the Tokaido Shinkansen. However, be careful as the only type that stops at the station nearest to Mount Fuji (Shin-Fuji Station) is the local Kodama. From Shin-Fuji station, you can use a bus to reach the starting point of the climbing trail.
Express Bus Available To 5th Station (Gogome)
If you're starting your trip from central Tokyo, you can make use of express buses. The Tomei Highway Bus and Fujikyuko Bus, as well as others, run to Kawaguchiko and Shin-Fuji stations at the foot of Mount Fuji.
During the climbing season in July and August, direct buses are available from Shinjuku to the 5th Station (Gogome) of Mount Fuji. Depending on which trail you plan on climbing, you might want to consider using these buses as well.
The Tomei Highway Bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko is 1750 yen (1 hour 45 minutes). The Fujikyuko Bus to the 5th Station of Mount Fuji is 2700 yen one way (2 hours 30 minutes).
Be Careful of Road Restrictions When Traveling by Car
If you're headed to Mount Fuji by car, you will be using the Chuodo from Tokyo, and the Tomei Expressway from Osaka. However, in order to conserve nature and prevent traffic during the climbing season, there are various restrictions on these routes. The nearest parking lot may be closed, as well as roads along the way.
During the regulatory period, the shuttle bus from parking lots may cost money as well. If you're planning on climbing Mount Fuji, we recommend getting there by train or bus.
When Can You Climb Mount Fuji?
Visitors can only climb to the top of Mount Fuji in the summer. Exact dates and time depend on the year and route, but the trails are generally opened for about 2 months from early July to early September.
The following are the opening and closing dates for 2016. Feel free to make use of the dates when planning your trip.
|Route||Opening Date||Closing Date|
What to Wear and What to Bring
Although Mount Fuji's climbing routes are well-maintained, there are still many roads with rocky surfaces. You should come in an easy-to-move-in outfit and proper climbing boots.
Also, the temperature lowers as you climb higher, and may even fall below 5 degrees Celsius in the early morning. So you should bring protection against the cold. Mountain weather changes easily, so it might also be a good idea to bring rainwear.
If you want to see the sunrise from the summit of Mount Fuji, you'll be climbing during the night. It's dangerous to climb with a light in your hand, so make sure you have a headlamp.
Four Climbing Routes
There are four climbing trails to reach the summit of Mount Fuji. There are routes for beginners as well as for experienced climbers, so you can choose the one that fits your abilities.
1. Yoshida Trail: Most Popular and Beginner-Friendly
The Yoshida Trail is the most popular route for climbing Mount Fuji. The starting point is the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station. Here you can find souvenir shops as well.
Along the way, visitors will find mountain huts and first-aid stations, making the climb easy to try even for beginners. The trail is wide and doesn't have many steps, so it's a recommended route for first-timers.
The round-trip distance of the Yoshida Trail is 14 kilometers, and will take you about 6 hours to climb and 3 and a half hours to descend.
2. Fujinomiya Trail: The Shortest Route
The Fujinomiya Trail is the shortest trail to Kengamine, the summit of Mount Fuji. The trail starts at the Fujinomiya 5th Station. The trail to climb and descend are the same, so there's no need to worry about getting lost.
However, the elevation of this trail rises quickly, so visitors should be careful of altitude sickness.
The round-trip distance of the Fujinomiya Trail is 8.5 kilometers. The climb will take 5 hours and 30 minutes, and the descent 3 hours and 30 minutes.
3. Subashiri Trail: Climb Quietly and Enjoy Nature
The Subashiri Trail is a nature-rich route. Visitors will be able to enjoy seeing alpine plants until the 6th station. Also, this trail is less crowded than the above 2 trails, so it is recommended for those who want to climb in peace.
The trail merges with the Yoshida Trail after the 8th station. If you want to take the Subashiri Trail for your descent as well, you should be careful not to take the wrong route on your way back.
The round-trip distance is 13 kilometers. Climbing the trail will take you 7 hours, and the descent will take you 3 hours and a half.
4. Gotemba Trail: Avoid the Crowd
The Gotemba Trail has the largest elevation difference, and is also the longest of the all the trails. The altitude rises slowly from the Gotembaguchi New 5th Station, so there is a low risk of getting altitude sickness. There are fewer people who use this route to climb the mountain, so you won't need to worry about crowds.
Another appeal of this trail is the Osunabashiri (Great Sand Run) on your way down the mountain. You will be able to descend along the gray surface while kicking up some nice sandy smoke.
The total round-trip distance of the Gotemba Trail is 17.5 kilometers. The route will take you 8 hours to climb and 4.5 hours to descend.
Manners When Climbing Mount Fuji
There are rules and manners that you must be aware of when climbing Mount Fuji. Be sure to read the following before you find yourself in any trouble.
Take Home Your Trash
Any trash that you might have from a meal or snack that you brought with you, remember to bring it with you on your way down. Just because there aren't any trash cans along the way doesn't mean you can litter.
Make sure you won't be having any unneeded trash before you start climbing.
Vandalism of Nature is Prohibited
The flowers, trees, and other plants along the trails, as well as lava, are all part of the natural environment of Mount Fuji. Taking things from the area, as well as graffiti on the rocks, or any vandalism is prohibited by law.
You shouldn't remove and take home pebbles as souvenirs either. Please be careful to respect the environment.
Let Climbers Pass First
At Mount Fuji, regardless of which trail you are using, the people who are climbing the trail are given priority of passing on the trail. When the trail is crowded, let the climbers pass by first.
Also, make sure not to leave the climbing trail to pass by any other people. It's dangerous, and may lead to falling rocks. Keep within the area designated as a climbing trail.
Mount Fuji is both an important natural symbol as well as a cultural one for the Japanese people. When climbing the mountain, be sure to be fully prepared, and have good manners, so that everyone can enjoy their climbing experience.