Mount Fuji is not only the tallest Mountain in Japan but also the holiest. Mount Fuji is a dormant volcano which has a magnetic charm about it, drawing people to it from all over the world. The raw beauty of Mount Fuji combined with the thrill of the hike, makes climbing Mount Fuji one of the most memorable travel experiences of a lifetime. I was privileged to take the Yoshida Trail up to Mount Fuji to witness the most beautiful Sun Rise ever.
There are 10 stations from the base to summit of Mount Fuji. Most people start the hike from the 5th station which is mid-way up the mountain. I took the Yoshida Trail from Kawaguchiko 5th Station. Kawaguchiko is well connected to Tokyo. I took a direct Bus from Shinjuku station in Tokyo to Kawaguchiko Base Station for Mount Fuji.
Jul-Aug is the best season to climb Mount Fuji. If you can manage a week day in first week of July, you will even be able to avoid the crowds. October to mid-June is to be strictly avoided due to extreme weather conditions including avalanches.
Taishi Kan on 8th station in the Kawaguchiko route can be contacted at 0555-24-6516. Fujisan is another hut where English is spoken and contact number is 0555-24-6512.
As soon as you land at the Kawaguchiko 5th station, you are enthralled with splendid views of the 5 great lakes of Fuji- Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko and Motosuko. Snacks, water and hiking gear are available here. It is better to buy these things at Kawaguchiko as the prices rise with every meter you climb!
I visited the Komitake Shrine prior to commencing the trek to Mount Fuji. . Komitake is an ancient mountain, much older than Fuji and worshipped by the local community for generations. Every year, in the early morning of July 1st, Kaizansai festival is held to celebrate opening Mount Fuji.
I was now ready and raring to climb Mount Fuji. It was a lovely day and i started the trek with gusto in the traditional way holding a Fuji flag!
Ochudo Trail is an interesting detour on the way to summit of Mount Fuji. This trail has not ascent and goes around the mountain and hence is a welcome relief to many people!
As we go past the 7th station you suddenly see many more fellow trekkers. You can also see several mountain huts all the way up to Mount Fuji. I could feel the air getting not thinner as I went past the 8th station. The climb was not perilous but steep enough to keep the excitement going.
I was keen to catch the sunrise the next morning. Since Sunrise was as early as 430AM I decided to take a break/ so I stayed overnight in a mountain cabin near 8th station. It was crowded but convenient. There seemed to be a dozen of these Huts between 7th and 8th Station.
I resumed the trek at 330am and managed to reach the summit of Mount Fuji by Sun Rise. The sight from top of Mount Fuji was surreal with floating clouds of all shapes and sizes. The Sunrise is so beautiful that it makes the entire effort of climbing up worth it!
I also did a breezy walk around the Mount Fuji crater to Kengamine the highest point in Japan. This is where the Mount Fuji Radar System used to be located before it got redundant by weather satellites in 1999. Mount Fuji is supposed to be a dormant volcano and luckily for me the last eruption was way back in 1707.
Mount Fuji is not a casual climb. A little bit of preparation will make the hike all the more enjoyable. I would strongly recommend proper hiking shoes. These are critical for the ankles. As the summit can get to 0 degrees, warm clothes are mandatory. Strong winds and rains can also be expected so rain coats and wind cheater will be useful. Flashlight is another crucial requirement. I personally found headlamps more convenient as they are hands free! Carry food and water although you might get some of it in the mountain huts at high prices.
Some people can get altitude sickness. The only preventive measure is to walk steadily and with reasonable breaks. Chewing gum and popcorn go a long way in providing relief during the climb.
Note that there are no dust bins on Mount Fuji and one needs to carry back all the garbage!
Suicide Point of Aokigahara
The forest on the north west of Mount Fuji is called Aokigahara and finds a prominent place in the folk tales of Japan. Legends claim that the main inhabitants of Aokigahara are demons, ghosts, and goblins! Today, Aokigahara is the world’s second most popular suicide location after San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge. More than 500 people have given up their lives here.
Mt. Fuji Radar Dome Museum is an interesting place to experience the conditions at the summit of the mountain. There is a simulation room which takes you to Mount Fuji. The museum was built as a tribute to the meteorologists who built a radar research facility at the summit of Mt. Fuji. It was the world's highest weather radar which could detect buildup of typhoons as far away as 800 KMs. But it got decommissioned in 1999 after being made redundant by weather satellites.
For my travelogues on other treks around the world, visit Great Trekking Ideas.