Of all the hikes I have done, the Mount Fuji hike is the most physically demanding and ultimately rewarding mountain climb.
Here’s how to get there from Tokyo.
Shinjuku Bus Station > Gotemba
Gotemba Train Station > Subashiriguchi Gogome (Station Level Five)
The most popular place to start the hike to the summit is from Station Five. However, there are several trails to choose from. For beginners and first time hikers, it is advised to take the Yoshiba Trail, starting from Station Five.
We started from Station Five of the Subashiri Trail (it means the sandy trail). This is a more difficult trail, but it is shorter due to the incline of the path at many points.
There is no fee to hike up the mountain, but it is encouraged to give a donation which goes to maintenance of the mountain trails etc. the recommended donation is a mere ¥1000, a fair price.
You’ll receive a pin badge showing your support of the mountain and a small booklet containing information about each station and some photos. You can even get stamps at each station and use the book to collect them.
The trail starts off flat and paved. This quickly changes to jagged igneous rock, often needing to use you hands to pull yourself up and over them.
The silence was deafening, literally no sound at all.
Ascent 1750m (accrued ascent not known)
Trail Head 3720m
At Station Five level, the summit is visible and you are still near enough to the bottom to see the surrounding lakes and towns with a degree of detail.
At station Six, the path becomes steeper, though we are still amongst the trees here.
There were some moments when the wind would stop completely. The silence was deafening, literally no sound at all. It was as if time had stopped around you and only you were conscious to the silence.
Toilets, fresh water, food and everything you need can be bought on the mountain trail. Each station on the Subashiri Trail is about an hour apart (for normal climbing pace).
The toilets are not free, you must donate ¥200 per use. As you climb higher, the water and other supplies cost more – so either carry more at a lower level, or be prepared to fork out the extra coin. It makes sense for higher prices because it is more difficult to cart supplies up the mountain at higher altitudes!
The climb is on the eastern side of the mountain. So when the sun begins to set, the famous triangular shadow is cast behind you on the valley below. A spectacular sight displaying the immensity of the mountain – its own shadow reaching many many kilometres beyond its base.
We spent the night at Station Seven II Miharashikan (the original Station Seven). Passing the first Station Seven was nearly the breaking point of my spirit – pain in my legs and now walking through the dark, I thought I would never reach the hut. This section, as you ascend between Station Seven I and Station Seven II (Original Station Seven), is a soft mixture of volcanic sand and volcanic rocks. Each step you take sinks into the sand and proves to be a difficult climb.
The wind was strong at night and the temperature dropped dramatically. Once I stepped inside the station hut, I shed the weight of my backpack, threw off my boots and rushed to the dinner table to be served our dinner.
The cost of the night’s accommodation is a hefty ¥6800, but again, the convenience of a hut mid-climb is very welcome. A dinner of curry rice and green tea is included. I made the most of the unlimited pots of tea, having nearly 3 full pots to myself.
A beautiful sight to behold, this really is the land of the rising sun.
The accommodation cost also includes free use of the toilets, which would otherwise cost a donation of ¥200 per use.
Station Seven II
3200m at Station Seven II
¥6800 inc. dinner and unlimited green tea
Bottled Water ¥450 for 500ml
Udon Noodles ¥1000
Breakfast bento ¥1000 inc. two onigiri
The beds were at least quite comfortable. In a pilgrim style accommodation, we all slept on mats snugly next to each other in a small hall.
Many climbers will start the hike the next day at 2AM to reach the summit by sunrise. We started at 3AM and watched the sunrise from Station Eight I.
A beautiful sight to behold, this really is the land of the rising sun. The low lying clouds in thick wisps covering the valley and lakes below.
The Tori Gate begins to grow as you take each step closer and closer.
At Station Eight II (original Station Eight), there’s a camera that films the sunrise every single morning. You can watch the live feed here: goraikoukan.jp/live
Once you reach Station Nine, you’ll be able to see the summit within reach. The Tori Gate begins to grow as you take each step closer and closer.
Here’s a photo of us coming through the gate as we approach the summit. The temperature here is the same as in the dead of winter! Wear thermals, gloves and keep warm.
Many climbers wedge a Japanese coing in the grain of the Tori Gate – I guess its done for good luck or good health.
Here we all are at the top.
A well-deserved rest for weary climbers, we feel the sense of elation that comes with such an accomplishment. We made it, we are so proud. We are so ready to descend and go home!