Today, as we celebrate Mountain Day for the very first time in Japan, I think that it is only appropriate that I write about Japan's most famous mountain-- Mount Fuji!
Summer is the only time that Fuji san is open for hikers. Exact climbing dates vary every year but hiking season usually takes place from July to September. The hike is mostly rock and dirt but the view is FANTASTIC. I just have to say though... Climbing Fuji san is NOT an easy feat. There are many things to consider! I know some people who have taken the hike lightly before actually experiencing the climb (truthfully, that includes myself). Here are some tips if you plan to climb Mt. Fuji this summer and want to make it really worth your while:
- Do some training before the big day. Go to the gym or, even better, do some practice hikes around Japan.
- Monitor the weather. The weather on the mountain is erratic. Even if it is very sunny in Tokyo, it's possible for rain to occur on Mt. Fuji. Also note that if weather conditions are bad as you are climbing, you will be asked to turn around and go back down as it may be dangerous to continue.
- Have enough sleep, eat right and drink your vitamins before the hike. It would be best to keep your body in excellent condition.
- Wear hiking shoes. The trails vary and can get slippery. Bring a jacket as temperatures will drop; even if it is 38 degrees C in Tokyo, it can be 5 degrees C on Mt. Fuji. I also suggest to bring a pair of gloves as the rocks are sharp and you will need your hands to climb at some point.
- Once you reach 5th station make sure to acclimatize first for at least one hour to three hours. This means that you have to allow your body to adjust because you will obviously be above ground level and the climate is different as well. This is very important. Disregarding this point may lead you to altitude sickness, which will ruin your hike. Also, don't forget to stretch before the hike.
- You can opt to buy an oxygen can (like me). The air gets thinner as you ascend.
- In line with #5, pace yourself and don't go too fast. You will need to catch your breath and, at the same time, avoid altitude sickness.
- Prices for food and water become more expensive as you climb higher. Bring your own food and water to save up, but also remember to pack light as you wouldn't want your backpack to make the hike more difficult for you.
- There are no trash bins on the mountain, so I recommend having your own plastic bag for your personal trash and then just dispose it afterwards. Be responsible and keep the mountain clean!
- There are toilets on the mountain. You have to pay exactly 200 JPY, so make sure to have a lot of coins with you! Amazingly, they all have toilet paper.
- Lastly, be cautious of the wind! There may be times when it will try to knock you off.
I started my hike at around 8 to 9pm and reached the top in time for the most majestic sunrise of my life! The hike was tough but it was worth it. Here's a video of the sunrise on time lapse:
I have been told that it was a crazy plan to climb at night then reach the peak by morning. Some choose to hike during the day and just camp out at night and then hike again to reach the top for the sunrise; while some hike early morning to reach the top to see the sunset. It really depends on you. If you decide to camp out though, note that there are no rest houses on the summit.
Good luck and enjoy the view!