Climbing Mt. Fuji


Perhaps one of the most exciting, yet least attempted things to do while visiting Japan is climbing Mt. Fuji. It is quite close to Tokyo and only takes about an hour and a half to the fifth station of Mt. Fuji by bus from Shinjuku Station.

I attempted the climb and succeded in the summer of 2003, and it is something I will never forget. We started the climb at 10pm and made it to the summit in six and a half hours but had gotten there too early and were exposed to the freezing winds at the top which we were totally unprepared for. I also caught the chills and couldn’t stop from shaking violently until we were half way down the mountain. Unfortunately, we were only able to catch about a minute of the sunrise before it clouded over for the rest of the morning (picture is not mine but of my cousin).

At the summit there are three areas of interest: the temple, the crater, and the vending machines. The vending machines sell hot coffee but the cost is a dollar fifty to four dollars for a very small can. The reason for this is that it must be transported on foot since no vehicles can reach the top. There is also a small restaurant which sells expensive, mediocre ramen but is really good for warming up.

Suprisingly, many of the climbers are older Japanese folk who see the climb as a religious experience since Fuji-San has played a deeply symbolic part in Japanese history. These seniors are pretty in shape but still must book one of the small hostels about midway up for a nap and then continue the rest of the way. There are also some young hung over tourists who make it about an hour into the climb before they give up and start heading back down.

In total, our trip took 6 and a half hours up and just over four back down. If your thinking about climbing the mountain, make sure to take plenty of cash, warm clothing (even if it’s hot down below, it will be freezing on top) a headlamp and a ton of stamina. Also, be sure to not leave any trash on the mountain to keep it beautiful.

3 Comments so far

  1. D.L.A. (unregistered) on July 29th, 2005 @ 12:30 am

    I often call my trip up Fuji, The Misadventure. My stomach went on strike halfway up and decided to deposit my guts, shoes, socks, and some partially eaten meals from my childhood on a small section of the trail. Perhaps you saw it?

    Anyway, those little ol’ seniors, which on my trip I passed earlier on in the climb, caught up to me and said, “Daijobu desu ka?” If I hadn’t been in such bad shape, I would have wrung those smug grins right off of their faces!

    Anyway, the guy I was with made it to the top and said he slept on a rock. My morning was spent on a comfortable padded bench with a blanket and a pillow. Maybe the whole trip wasn’t a complete bust.

    No, I will not be going back up that evil mound of ash again.

  2. Elmateo (unregistered) on July 30th, 2005 @ 6:43 pm

    Hey D.L.A.

    Sounds like your climb was a nightmare! I can imagine how bad you wanted to be off that mountain once you got sick, but still had many hours left ahead to climb down.

    When I mentioned I caught violent chills going through my body it was because of my own stupidity. When I got to the top I realized just how cold it was once my body had a chance to cool off from the climb. So I decided I needed an extra layer but the only other piece of clothing I had was an undershirt. So stupid me, I took off my coat and all my shirts so I could feel the fresh dry one on my skin. Very bad idea as once I did that the wind blew right through me and I couldn’t stop shaking even after two bowls of Ramen. I too don’t think I will be making that climb again.

  3. D.L.A. (unregistered) on August 1st, 2005 @ 5:06 pm

    Everyone take notes: Never disrobe on the top of Mt. Fuji to add a layer of clothing.

    I like how we can learn from each other.

    My trip down the mountain was great! The closer we got to the fifth station the better I felt. By the time we had reached the car, I was starving! Ate a big plate of curry rice.

    Go figure.

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