Beginner’s Guide to Climbing Mt. Fuji, the World Heritage Site
Mt. Fuji, which is the symbol of Japan, has long been revered as a sacred place. Many Japanese people would like to experience climbing this special mountain. This article introduces a guideline to climbing Mt. Fuji, which has been designated as a World Heritage Site.
Mt. Fuji is a stratovolcano nestled in-between Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture. With an elevation of 3,776m, Mt. Fuji is the highest volcano in Japan that formed thanks to volcanic activity that occurred about 10,000 years ago. Since it has long been an active volcano with a repetitive lava flow, it has been considered as a scary, but also spiritual place that houses a deity. After the Heian period (794 – 1185), which was when the eruptions started calming down, people began wanting to climb it to worship it instead of worshipping it from afar. The volcano has been served as inspiration for numerous artworks because of its beautiful conical structure. Mt. Fuji draws out the religious and artistic side of Japanese people’s outlook on nature and culture, which is why it was declared a World Heritage Site in 2013.
The climbing season for Mt. Fuji is from July to early September, which involves going uphill from the fifth station to the summit. Though the timing depends on the route, you will most likely see more climbers from mid-July onwards anyway. Depending on snowfall or other weather conditions, this might change, so please remember to check the official website prior to heading for Mt. Fuji.
There is something called the “Ohachi-Meguri”, which involves people circling around the volcano’s mouth at the summit. The beauty of the panorama that you can see from this altitude is sure to move you! If the weather permits, you might even be able to view the Northern Alps or Mt. Yarigatake! You will be able to experience how big the cavity is, as well as how large Mt. Fuji actually is, by walking around the area.
Since the ground at Mt. Fuji is gravel, it is not recommended to come wearing shoes with thin soles. You must come wearing sturdy mountaineering or hiking boots. It is best to pick a high-cut pair, so as to prevent the gravel from entering your shoes. Please remember to bring rain wear, as the weather easily changes. Your gear should be the separate and sturdy type, as the wind tends to be strong. Do not forget to wear warm clothes, since the temperature drops below 0°C (°F) at the summit before dawn, even during mid-summer. Other things you may need are fast-drying underwear, towels, a sunhat, and a head lamp. Pack some water for hydration and food that you can eat on the go, such as chocolates, cookies, and nuts, as well as a trash bag for you to bring home. A map of the hiking trail, as well as a compass, may come in handy to avoid getting lost. Make sure to have a helmet, mask, and goggles on hand in case of a sudden volcanic eruption.
There are four routes that you can choose from, each with different starting points and different colored logos. If you remember which color belongs to the one you chose, you will not get lost at the turning points. You can access each of the starting points from the main station at the foot of the mountain, which can be reached via the mountain climbing bus (local line).
The Yoshida Route has the largest number of climbers (151,969 people as of 2016), and is therefore the most crowded route. The route is flat up until the sixth station, but once you get to the seventh, the pathway starts turning into a zig-zag with moderate elevation. From here on, you will experience rocky paths. You may find a number of shops at the hiking entrance, as well as a couple of mountain huts on the path itself. A first-aid station is available. The color for this route is yellow.
Climbing Entrance: Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (Yamanashi Prefecture)
Estimated Time: Around 6 hours to climb, 4 hours to descend
The Subashiri Route shares the same track as the Yoshida Route – from the 8th station to the summit of the mountain. You will pass through a calming forest area up until the 7th station, which is when you’ll walk on a rather calming pathway. However, it starts becoming rocky from the 8th station. You may find mountain huts around each station. Expect some congestion at the 8th station, as this is shared with the Yoshida Route. No first-aid station is available. The color for this route is red.
Climbing Entrance: Subashiri 5th Station (Shizuoka Prefecture)
Estimated Time: Around 6 hours to climb, 3 hours to descend
You will experience a rough, gravelly path up until the 8th station. The Gotemba Route has the least number of climbers and does not experience congestion, but it has the longest distance. You must be careful of getting heat stroke, as you might not find any shade in this area. It is better to climb with an experienced climber if you are a beginner, as the fog tends to get heavy, which may result in you getting lost. You will not find any mountain huts from the new 5th station to the 7th station. No first-aid station is available. The color of this route is green.
Climbing Entrance: Gotemba New 5th Station (Shizuoka Prefecture)
Estimated Time: Around 7 hours to climb, 3 hours to descend
The Fujinomiya Route is the shortest in distance, and has an overall moderately rocky path. This route has less than half of the climbers who use the Yoshida Route, but still experiences some congestion near the summit. Depending on the station, you might be able to spot some mountain huts. First-aid stations are available. The color of this route is blue.
Climbing Entrance: Fujinomiya Entrance 5th Station (Shizuoka Prefecture)
Estimated Time: Around 5 hours to climb, 3 hours to descend
The mountain huts at Mt. Fuji serve as easy accommodation areas for those looking for a place to nap. You can order simple meals for breakfast or dinner, but there are a limited number of facilities available at these huts. For example, you will not find any water suitable for washing your face or hands, as water is scarce at this mountain. Most of these huts are shared by men and women. You need to make a reservation either online or through the phone, as you otherwise may not be able to find a place to lie down during the weekends due to the crowd.
There are several rules that you should abide by in order to have an enjoyable climb up the mountain. The number one rule that you must follow is to bring your trash with you. Furthermore, it is against the law to pluck any plants, take with you any lava rocks (or stones of any kind) from the trails, or graffiti on building walls, rocks, or stones. You are not allowed to put up tents or light a fire. Finally, it is considered good manners to contribute 1,000 JPY to the Mt. Fuji Visitor Center, which ensures that the beauty of Mt. Fuji will be preserved for future generations.
It is recommended to take advantage of the Mt. Fuji Pass, which allows unlimited access to local bus lines in Yamanashi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture, as well as express transport lines at Mt. Fuji. It can only be bought and used by foreigners. This pass can be used as an entrance ticket to certain sightseeing areas in the vicinity as well! Depending on your schedule, you can choose from a 1-day to a 3-day pass.
Adults: 5,500 JPY - 10,000 JPY
Children: 2,750 JPY - 5,000 JPY
Where to Buy: Otsuki Station, Kawaguchiko Station, Mt. Fuji Station, Asahigaoka Bus Terminal, Gotemba Station, Mishima Station, Shin-Fuji Station, Fujikyu Counter at Fujinomiya Station
※You must show your passport upon purchase.
Use the Handy Mt. Fuji Free Pass
Please use this article as reference for when you prepare to climb Mt. Fuji.
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.