Bucket List: Mount Fuji
Welcome back to our bucket list blog posts! Where we often share epic experiences, places and things to do across the planet that should land on your bucket list one way or another. We tell you what it is, how to get there, when to go and why it should be on your list. Got a suggestion? Email it to us and we’ll blog about it!
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Now, this week, we have Mount Fuji atop our list. Let’s get to it!
MOUNT FUJI - WHAT IS IT?
Mount Fuji is the largest mountain in Japan 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft) and the 2nd highest volcanic mountain on an island in all of Asia. It is a dormant strato-volcano that last erupted in 1708 and is about 60 miles southwest of Tokyo. It can be clearly seen from Tokyo on a clear day and is snow-capped for about 5 months out of the year. It is also depicted often as a symbol of Japan through art, culture, photography, video, anime and more.
It was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List on June 22nd, 2013 and its first ascent was recorded in the year 663 by an anonymous monk, but even more interesting is that Mount Fuji was off limits to women until the 1860’s….tsk tsk Japan! Long before that, the base around Mount Fuji was used as training grounds for swordsmen and Samurai late through the early 1900’s. Today, the Japanese Self-Defense Force and the United States Marine Corps train there on a regular basis.
Today, Mount Fuji is an international destination for tourism and mountain climbing. In the early 20th century, populist educator Frederick Starr's Chautauqua lectures about his several ascents of Mount Fuji—1913, 1919, and 1923— which were widely known in America at the time. Although, A well-known Japanese saying suggests that a wise person will climb Mt. Fuji once in their lifetime, but only a fool would climb it twice.
HOW TO GET THERE
All trails can be accessed via a mountain bus, taking passengers from one of the five stations (although all are named 5th station, these are different stations), with the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, at Yoshida trail, being the most popular one. Either way, you are searching for the Gotemba station, which can be found via any train kiosk terminal. Note** train times to Gotemba vary around the year.
The most convenient way for those who want to climb the mountain (or just visit it) is a direct highway bus from the Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal. The bus takes you all the way to the Subaru Fifth Station, which is the start of the Yoshida Trail up Mount Fuji (the most popular route). The direct bus takes 2 hours and 30 minutes and costs Y2700. You can reserve buses online in English using the Highway Buses English Reservation Page. Note that seats sell out well in advance of the climbing season, so try to reserve well in advance.
Tokyo to Mount Fuji via Gotemba
Apart from the Yoshida trail, the Gotemba trail is one of the most popular routes among visitors, here is how to get to it (travel time by train should be a little over 2 hours from Tokyo):
Take JR Tokaido line for Kozu from Tokyo Station, using your JR Pass
Once at Kozu (Kanagawa), take the JR Gotemba Line for Numazu
Get off at Gotemba Station | final destination
Tokyo to Mt Fuji via Gotemba – Hyperdia screenshot
Note: The Hyperdia screenshot shows you a detailed description of a journey example with pre-selected departure time and date. Note that the train trip will be free of charge for all Japan Rail Pass holders. The displayed price is only valid for passengers with no JR pass.
Once at Gotemba station, take a bus to Subashiri 5th station, the gateway to climbing Mount Fuji. The bus operated by Fujikyu to reach the Gotemba climbing route. One-way bus journey is about an hour long, at the cost of 1.540 yen (round trips are 2.060 yen).
Please note that Fujikyu is not part of the Japan Rail Group, which means the Japan Rail Pass does not cover buses ran by this company, and no seat reservations are available.
Note: During the climbing season, buses operate differently in comparison to the off-season. For more detailed information and timetables, please check with the local operator.
Mount Fuji from the Shinkansen trains
Summer is also the time when Mount Fuji can be clearly seen from a Shinkansen train leaving Tokyo towards Nagoya – Osaka – Kyoto. The window view is impressive – make sure to reserve your D or E seat (C or D in Green Cars), which is the right side from Tokyo, left side from Kyoto.
The most popular way to climb Mount Fuji is to take a bus from Shinjuku to the Subaru Fifth Station and arrive in the early afternoon and then climb to one of the mountain huts on the route. You spend the night there and then wake very early before dawn to climb to the summit in time to see the sunrise. Note that if you want to sleep in a mountain hut, you'll have to reserve in advance. Here is an English-language list of the mountain huts and their phone numbers. Few huts have English speakers, so it's best to have a Japanese person call to reserve. Or, you can use the Fuji Mountain Guides hut booking service.
WHEN TO GO
All travelers eager to climb the top of Mount Fuji must bear in mind that the climbing season lasts from July until September. During summer all hiking trails are open. In any other period, trails and mountain huts will be closed, so it can be very dangerous for anyone to attempt climbing on their own.
To climb Mount Fuji, there are four Fuji trails, which will take you to the mountaintop:
Yoshida trail – 2,300m (altitude of head trail)
Subashiri trail – 2,000m
Gotemba trail – 1,450m
Fujinomiya trail – 2,400m
Either way, your best bets are to climb Mount Fuji from July through September, when it is warmest. People do go up in June and are totally fine, but please refer to the chart down below for accurate and estimated weather. As you can see, weather averages for Mount Fuji for June are still below freezing, which can obviously be dangerous if you are ill-equipped with water, food and other resources. Do not forget, Mount Fuji technically is still active and is snow-capped for a good 5 months out of the year, so be sure to bring proper supplies, equipment and layers!
And if you’re wondering how long it takes….Climbing Mount Fuji. It takes the average person between 5 and 7 hours to climb Mount Fuji from the Subaru Fifth Station to the summit via the Yoshida Trail. It takes another three to five hours to descend. The mountain does get very crowded on the weekends, but you can take a break at some of the huts along the way. If you are fit, you can do the hike in one day, if you are not, you may want to stop and plan your hut stay ahead of time. You can get more information on that in this excellent article here.
WHY YOU NEED TO DO IT
Look, Japan should be on everyone’s bucket list. It is an incredible country full of food, forests, people, technology, cities, markets and undiscovered gems that us Westerners as a whole simply do not get to enjoy all that often! Having been to Japan on my first ever trip back when I was only 17 was an absolute culture shock. I spent three weeks in Kyoto, Osaka & Tokyo and could not have been more awestruck during my time there. Everything, I mean EVERYTHING was mind-blowingly beautiful, clean, cordial and upbeat. It was very much like a utopia…..
Anyways, Mount . Fuji! Yes, Tokyo is awesome and the cities are a sight to behold themselves, but Mount Fuji is the mother of all treks! Right up there with Everest, K2 and Kilimanjaro! It is a magnificent mountain that nearly everyone in the world recognizes and is a bucket list item for sure. I mean, just imagine the 360 panoramic views from up there, right?
Add it to the bucket list and if you’ve been, leave me a comment as a guest down below! I’d love to know how it was and what you liked/disliked about it. P.S. What did you bring and how long did it take?
~ Cam OUT
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