So you wanna know how to climb Mount Fuji? Good choice! Here is a quick guide to climbing Mount Fuji:
When to Go
The official climbing season is July and August, mainly due to weather conditions. Climbing outside of these times is generally not recommended, but possible with some experience and hardiness (be prepared for adverse/cold weather). Usually the climb is done over 2 days or one overnight in order to reach the peak in time to catch the stunning sunrise.
How to Get There
Fuji is usually approached from the east (Tokyo) but can also be approached from the west. Though there are multiple options, the most commonly used is the JR line in Tokyo from either the Shinjuku or Tokyo stations. For tourists with a JR rail pass (which we highly recommend by the way!), this is probably the simplest method. There is also the option to purchase a tour from Tokyo if you like that kind of thing, and they’ll drive you there directly.
What to Bring
Bring warm clothes that can be layered, as temperatures will rarely reach above 10 degrees Celsius. Overnight temperatures can be below freezing. No need for full-out winter gear, but definitely dress warmly (learn from our mistakes!). Also it is advisable to bring a light if climbing overnight or early morning (we used headlamps which were great), sturdy footwear, and something to prevent rocks from going in your shoes as the volcanic ash and rocks are tiny and can easily wear through shoes and socks. Otherwise no technical gear is required.
Deciding a Route
There are 4 main trails to get to the summit of Fuji. Each has its pros and cons but in general, each trail has 10 “stations” or rest stops along the way. At each station there is a mountain hut where you have access to accommodations, food, and washrooms, should you need any of those facilities. Keep in mind that prices can be high: it may cost $1-5 to use the washroom, and most huts won’t let you sit there and steal their warmth for free. Expect to pay for a meal or overnight stay.
Most people start their ascent to Fuji at the 5th station. Picking which trail(s) you want to use is a personal preference but I have included a quick summary of each below:
a. Yoshida Trail (Kawaguchiko station): This is the most popular route up the Fuji meaning it will be the most crowded. However, it is most popular because at its base is the Fuji Five Lakes district which offers some beautiful views of the mountain to start your hike, as well as a variety of side trails you can explore once on the climb. It also has the advantage of being located on the east side of the mountain so if you happen to not reach the summit for sunrise you will still be able to appreciate it from the mountain face. Technically speaking it is not challenging and will require an altitude gain of 1500m taking approximately 5-7h to complete.
b. Subashiri Trail (Subashiri station): The Subashiri trail to the summit is unique in that it meanders through trees for the first third before popping up out of the tree line to join up with the Yoshida trail at the 8th station. Advantages of this trail are that it offers more variety and an option of a side hike to the secondary peak of Fuji (Kofuji, or “little fuji”). Being less developed there are fewer people on the trail but you also have fewer services due to this. However, since it joins up with the Yoshida trail it shares the advantage of the eastern approach. Slightly more technical than Yoshida, it requires an altitude gain of 1800m taking anywhere from 6-8h to complete.
c. Gotemba Trail (Gotemba station): This by far the most challenging and exposed ascent to the summit. The Gotemba trail requires you to hike up through a large ash field on an exposed face and has very few huts that are spaced quite far apart. If you are looking for a challenging climb this is the trail for you. Keep in mind that buses here are less frequent as it is a less commonly used route. However, a major advantage to this trail is that the descent is quick and FUN! The ash allows you to take bounding leaps and basically run down the hill making the descent only 2h whereas the ascent can easily take 8-10h. It also has the most significant altitude gain at 2400m.
d. Fujinomiya Trail (Fujinomiya station): This approach comes at the mountain from the opposite side as the other trails and is well developed. The main disadvantage is that by climbing the opposite side of the mountain you risk missing the sunrise. However, this side of Fuji offers unobstructed views of the valleys below. It is also the least physically demanding requiring a modest altitude gain of only 1400m taking 4-6h to complete.
- Base yourself out of Gotemba town; this JR station offers the most facilities (luggage lockers) and you have access to two trails from its base (Subashiri and Gotemba).
- Ascend via Subashiri: diverse views, few crowds, side hikes, and you won’t miss the sunrise with the eastern approach.
- Descend via Gotemba; drastically cuts time, extremely fun and adventurous ash run descent, easy access back to Gotemba town.
- Make it to the top for sunrise. This was AMAZING and one of the moments we will remember for the rest of my life.
We hope this helps! Feel free to ask any questions or post comments.