With a summit elevation of 12,388 feet (3776 meters), Mount Fuji (Fuji-san) is Japan’s highest mountain. To be more accurate, Mt. Fuji is a dormant volcano west of Tokyo, with its last eruption occurring in 1707. I have seen the mountain numerous times during my time in traveling in Japan, and its symmetry, power and beauty have amazed me each time. In my mind, it is clear why Fuji-san is so respected and honored throughout Japan and the world (there is even a book about the Microsoft interview process called How Would You Move Mount Fuji). In fact, I can clearly recall the jealousy I felt when one of my friends returned with his walking stick fully stamped from climbing Mt. Fuji. Although I have never set foot on the mountain, it is one of my personal life goals to watch the sun rise from the summit and experience first-hand the magic of that moment.
Read more and see additional Mount Fuji photos after the jump.
Climbing Mount Fuji
Fuji-san is officially open for climbing from July – August, although you can climb throughout the year if you like a challenge. More than 200,000 people climb Mount Fuji each year, and approximately 30% of them are foreigners. It can take anywhere from four to ten hours to ascend the slope, and two to six hours to descend. If you decide to go, you’ll have your choice of trails to the top. Mount Fuji is divided into ten stations, with station one at the foot of the mountain and station ten at the top. Paved roads reach up to the 5th station, and many decide to begin their hike from this point for the convenience. There are four 5th stations, on different sides of the mountain. The most popular of these is Kawaguchiko 5th station.
Most people time their climbs so they can view the sunrise from the top of Mt. Fuji. There are two ways to do this: climb at night, or sleep part way up the trail. If you plan on hiking at night, make sure you take a flashlight and extra batteries. You’ll likely leave the 5th station around 10:00pm, hike through the dark, and arrive at the summit in time to greet the sun. If the adventure of a night hike is too much for you, you could also hike to the 7th or 8th station and sleep in one of the huts. Then you could finish the walk early the next morning to reach the top for the sunrise. Don’t forget… sunrise comes pretty early up on the mountain, so you’ll want to be in place around 4:00-5:00am.
- Ensure you have enough water on you (1 or 2 liters per person).
- Take some light snacks to eat so you can keep up your energy.
- Take a flashlight and extra batteries for a night hike.
- Wear sturdy shoes or hiking boots.
- Carry 100-yen coins for the pay-per-use toilets.
- Wear your sunglasses and sunscreen during the day.
- Keep a slow pace and/or take frequent breaks to avoid altitude sickness.
- Don’t forget your camera!
If you’re interested in learning a little more about the Japanese language (it could help during your climb!), check out one of my earlier posts – click here.