The Complete Guide to Climbing Mount Fuji (Yoshida Trail)
Climbing Mount Fuji can be a life-changing, marvelous experience. Read this article to find out how to prepare properly for this challenge. You will also get some glimpses of the things you will encounter on your way to the summit.
Mount Fuji was registered as a World Heritage Site in June 2013. By reading this article, which is written based on the writer's experience, you will find out how you can climb Mt. Fuji.
The Best Season to Climb
The hiking trails on Mt. Fuji are open for two months according to the following schedule:
- Yoshida Trail (the starting point is in the Yamanashi prefecture): July 1st - September 14th.
- Fujinomiya - Subashiri Trail (from the Shizuoka prefecture side): July 10th - September 10th.
The best season for climbing Mt.Fuji is right after the rainy season - from around July 20th up through the beginning of September. Please be aware that it is very crowded on weekends and during the Obon holidays in August.
If you would like to see the sunrise from the top, make sure you plan your climbing schedule on weekdays and not during the Obon festival, when the mountain will most likely be visited by crowds of people. The mountain cottages and other accommodation facilities in the area tend to be fully booked, so try to book as soon as they start taking in reservations on the internet (the schedule varies from one facility to another).
What to Prepare for Climbing
If you are aiming to reach the summit, you will be climbing at a pretty high altitude. In addition, you must be prepared for sudden and severe weather changes on your way to the top. To find out what you should take with you, we advise you to ask at a sports shop or rent a Mount Fuji climbing set using an online rental shop.
For reference, here is what I brought with me:
- Trekking shoes (high-top and waterproof)
- Backpack (30 l)
- Backpack cover (useful to prevent the contents from getting wet on a rainy weather)
- Headlamp (flashlights are less recommended, as you might need to use both your hands when climbing. A source of light will be needed even if you climb during daytime)
- Rain wear (jacket and trousers made of waterproof-breathable material)
- Drinking water (1 l)
- Energy bars (I brought energy food in jelly and powder form)
- Sunglasses, sun protection goods (the higher you climb, the stronger is the sun)
- Medicine (painkillers are important to ease the headache and toothache you might feel from mountain sickness)
- Plastic bags (for trash and spare clothes)
- Towels (for wiping your sweat and preventing clouds of dust)
- Coins (the toilets on the way up require a fee)
- Training wear
- Cold weather gear (fleece, down, sweaters, etc.)
- Shirts, pants and underwear (water absorbent and quick-drying, not cotton)
- Hat (to prevent sunlight and cold)
- Socks (thick and sturdy)
- Gloves (in some rocky areas you will need to climb using your hands; you will need gloves both for cold weather and to protect your hands)
Things That Might Be Useful
- Trekking Pole (will come in handy in rocky areas and on the way down)
- Spats (will prevent sand coming in your shoes on your way down)
- Athletic tights (they support your muscles in the case of moves that you don’t usually do)
- Heat retaining sheet (also called "emergency sheets", they can be used in cottages and while resting)
- Portable oxygen (helps in case of bad headaches)
- Disposable heating pack, also known as kairo (at the eighth station of Mt. Fuji, it is as cold as in winter even in July)
Things That May Be Useful at the Cottage
- Toothpaste sheets or gum (many cottages have no washrooms)
- Earplugs (you will share the room with many people at the cottage, so earplugs will help you have a better sleep)
- Wet tissues (there are no shower rooms in the cottages)
There are coin lockers near the fifth station of Yoshida trail. You can leave luggage that you don’t need to climb further.
To The Summit!
In my case, the schedule for climbing was as below. For each climber, the schedule might be slightly different, depending on the weather or health conditions.
10:00 - | Started climbing from the fifth station.
17:00 - | Arrived at the cottage from the eighth station. Had supper. Brief sleep.
2:00 - | Started climbing toward the summit.
4:30 | Arrives at the top. Visited the area around the crater.
5:00 | Sunrise
9:30 - | Started climbing down.
13:00 | Arrived at the fifth station.
There are four major trails for climbing Mt. Fuji: Yoshida, Fujinomiya, Subashiri and Gotenba. This time I chose the Yoshida trail, which is the most popular one.
This is how the summit looks from the fifth station. It looks so close as if you only had to run up and get there. But, in fact, you have to climb seven hours to get there.
The fifth station is an open area with many hikers buying souvenirs, having a snack, or preparing to climb up. Climbers with few equipment can enjoy the hiking trail only up to the sixth station.
From the Sixth to the Eighth Station
Prepare for serious climbing from the sixth station on. Try to concentrate on breathing in and out deeply, and climbing in your own pace. The path isn’t that safe, so be careful of falling rocks and slippery areas.
From the eight station, the path becomes partly rock climbing. There are only ropes or chains showing the way, so be careful to step only on secure rocks.
Staying at a Mountain Cottage
There are 20 cottages on the Yoshida trail (August 2014). I recommend making a detailed plan like “Sleep at the X cottage of X station, start at XX:00 AM, and see the sunrise from the top!”. You should move based on that plan, making sure you have enough time to go to the cottage you have in mind and rest there.
I arrived at “Taishi-kan”, the cottage on the eight station at 17:00, had supper there, got some sleep, and started climbing for the summit at 2:00 AM. At the cottage, the average price for a cup noodle soup is 700 yen, and 500 ml bottled drinks are 500 yen (depends on the altitude). To use the toilet you will be required to pay a 100 yen fee; some toilets require 200 yen.
Toilets are charged and they are either bio-toilets (decomposed by microorganism) or the simple sewage type. The picture above is the simple sewage type. You will have to wash the dispose using this flushing gun, but please try to use as little water as possible because water at high altitudes is precious.
When the cottage is crowded, there will be three people sleeping on two square meters. There is no place to put your luggage so you will have to hang it up. You will need to sleep and stay without using much space.
The blankets may be damp and the air will be fairly cold (2-3 degrees Celsius), so you may want to take disposable heating packs (kairo) and emergency sheets. At cottages, a one-night stay without meals will cost 5,000 - 6,000 yen, while a stay with two meals included will cost 7,000 – 8,500 yen. You should definitely book your stay, as there is the possibility for you to have no place to rest in when you will be really tired.
To the Summit
If you want to see the sunrise from the top of the mountain, starting from the eighth station at about 2:00 AM is probably just right. (If you’re climbing during the weekend, it might be better to start earlier, in order to avoid the crowd).
There are signs here and there showing the way and indicating the stations in four languages: Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean.
Some people feel mountain sick after sleeping in the cottage. If you get sick, try to relax, take deep breaths and rest for a while. If the mountain sickness is too bad for you to continue, don’t worry. Even from the area around the eighth station you will still be able to see the sunrise clearly, and you can move to the trail going downhill.
Rocks are lined with icicles around the ninth station, even in mid-summer. The temperature is between 2 and 5 degrees Celsius. People who didn't bring enough cold weather gear might become sick around here. Be sure to prepare plenty of cold weather gear. The road to the summit is generally not so rough. (It’s just a little hard to breathe).
Past the “Komainu” and the “Torii”, we are at the summit! There is a shrine called The Shrine on The Summit of Mount Fuji (Fujisan chōjō okumiya), and there are souvenir shops and restaurants nearby.
However, the real mountain summit is in a different place…
Fujisan Ohachi Meguri
“Fuji-san Ohachi Meguri” is the area around the crater of Mt. Fuji. The Mount Fuji Weather Station at the edge of the crater is said to be the highest spot on Mt. Fuji. If you’ve come this far, please do take a walk around the area of the crater.
There are basically no fences around the crater, so please pay the utmost attention and walk around slowly.
Here is the Mt. Fuji Weather Station. There is a stone monument that says “Here is the summit of Mt. Fuji”, so take a picture! There is also a post office in the area of the crater, so how about posting a letter to someone from the top of Mt. Fuji?
After enjoying the mountaintop, prepare to return to the base. If you climb up, you have to climb down - that’s mountain climbing.
The trail for climbing down doesn't have rocks or cliffs, and the same kind of road continues forever. Several people climb down while listening to music. The sand and dirt stirs up heavily, so you should wear a mask and use spats to cover up your shoes. You will reach the fifth station in approximately three hours and a half.
That has been an introduction to the Yoshida trail to climb Mt. Fuji. You will be able to experience much more that I could mention in the article.
Climbing Mount Fuji gives you the chance too meet people from all over the world, a feeling of self-accomplishment, as well as the chance to see landscapes you have never seen before. Why not challenge yourself to climb Mt. Fuji? It will be a marvelous experience that might change your life.
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Mount Fuji (富士山, Fuji-san)
Address: Fujisan, Fujimiya city, Shizuoka
Hours: 24 hours
- Yamanashi prefecture side (Yoshida Trail) July 1st - September 14th
- Shizuoka prefecture side (Fujinomiya, Subashiri Trail) July 10th - September 10th
No particular holidays during climbing season.
Credit Cards: Not Available
Language: English, Chinese, Korean
Other Language Menus: Available
Nearest Station: Kawaguchi-ko station
Access: Hiking Bus from Kawaguchi-ko station or Fujisan station up to fifth station.
Price: Mountain Climbing Fee 1000 yen (July 1st – Sep 14th, 2014)
Religious Information: None (However, traditionally Mt. Fuji has been regarded as a sacred mountain in Shintō beliefs)
Phone: Mt. Fuji General Information (Fujisan Shizuoka Navigation) 054-221-3776
Official HP: Fuji Climbing Official Site