Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest and most prominent mountain and is undoubtedly one of the worlds most picturesque mountains, appearing in everything from travel guides to online articles.
Sitting roughly 100 kilometres west of the capital city of Tokyo, Mount Fuji and its snow capped summit draw in hikers seeking to obtain breathtaking views atop its peak and the excitement of climbing a spiritual landmark.
Listed as a World Heritage site in 2013, Fuji is an active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1708 and is covered in snow for roughly five months of the year.
It is also considered one of three holy mountains by the Japanese, along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku. Fuji sits above the Aokigahara forest, which lies at its northwest base. Unfortunately this forest is notorious for suicides and is rife with folklore, so much so that Japanese police constantly monitor it.
If you’re in Japan and fancy a challenge but without taking on one of the major treks, Mount Fuji is the perfect day out.
Feel the excitement of climbing with hundreds of other like-minded people all seeking to obtain the same thing as you – stunning views and a sense of achievement. Climb during cherry blossom season and there is nothing like it anywhere in the world.
- The chance to summit Japan’s highest mountain
- Beautiful views of the surrounding landscape.
- Experience Japanese culture and the admiration shown by the locals for their holy mountain.
Most people will travel to Mount Fuji from the capital city of Tokyo, about a two to three hour drive, as it is a relatively short distance away. Fuji is divided into ten stations with station one being at the foot of the mountain, and the tenth station being the summit.
Paved roads go as far as the fifth stations which are located halfway up the mountain, therefore a lot of hikers choose to catch a bus up to these stations and continue to the summit on foot from there. Be aware that access roads are closed to regular cars for a portion of the climbing season; catching a bus is recommended.
A direct highway bus can be caught from Shinjuku Highway bus terminal and this takes you to the Subaru Fifth station, which is the start of the Yoshida trail leading to the summit (five to seven hour ascent).
Experienced and fit climbers can ascend and descend the mountain in a single day by arriving early, however most people choose to arrive in the early afternoon at one of the halfway stations and hike to one of the many mountain huts along the way to spend the night.
It is worth noting that to stay in one of these mountain huts you must reserve a place in advance.
Grade and difficulty of the walk
With the ability to drive halfway up, and no technical or mountaineering experience required, Mount Fuji is a relatively easy ascent and most individuals should face no issues reaching the summit.
However, at some points the terrain does become steeper and rocky with signs warning hikers about loose and falling rocks. It is recommended that in these areas extra caution is exercised.
There is also the altitude to consider and the length of the walk (five to seven hours) combined with this factor may be strenuous for some. Due to lack of technical difficulty, the average person will not require a guide.
Hikers with little to no experience should be able to summit Fuji without issue, though remember to take into consideration the length of the walk and preparation should still be well thought out.
With regards to altitude, be aware that many hikers do suffer from mild altitude sickness which may result in nausea or headaches, however most are able to cope with the effects. It is recommended hikers make their way up slowly so they can adjust to the thinner air.
No permit is required to climb Fuji. However, during the climbing season hikers are asked to make a donation of 1000 yen per person at collection stations at each trailhead.
This money will go towards maintaining trails and making sure the environment is adequately protected from the huge number of climbers visiting regularly.
Guided or self-guided
Ascending Mount Fuji is relatively simple and it is likely you will be following a general crowd moving toward the summit at any one time, therefore most people climbing do not need or want a guide.
If you feel uncomfortable without a guide or prefer to have someone plan things out for you, then there are companies offering group or private tours and information about these can be found online.
Early July to mid September is the official climbing season at Mount Fuji and is when mountain trails and facilities are open, as well as easy access by public transport.
People with little hiking experience are recommended to go at this time as weather is most favourable during this window.
Mid-July to the end of August is when school holidays run in Japan, so it’s recommended to avoid these dates if you want to skip large crowds. Though some people insist climbing as part of a large group like this can add to the excitement.
Experienced climbers may wish to climb in June or near the end of September however only a few trails are open at these times, transport access is severely reduced and temperatures can drop below freezing closer to the summit.
A suggested itinerary is as follows:
Arrive by bus from Tokyo around two or three in the afternoon.
From here (one of the fifth stations), hike to a hut near the seventh or eighth stations.
Spend the night at one of the many mountain huts.
Depart hut and hike remainder of journey to the summit.
Most choose to depart early morning as to catch the sunrise.
Depart summit and begin descent, this takes roughly three to five hours.
Return to Tokyo on afternoon bus.
Those wishing to spend the night on the mountain are able to do so by reserving a spot in one of the mountain huts.
These line the trails to the summit and are found roughly three quarters of the way up.
Expect huts to be very crowded during peak times.
Aside from climbing the mountain itself, there is plenty to do in the surrounding area and even more beauty to see.
One may wish to visit the Fuji Five Lakes and go walking, camping or even visit some of the museums there. A stunning backdrop of Mount Fuji means this attraction is best visited with camera in hand.
If the thrill of climbing Fuji hasn’t quite done it for you, or you’re travelling with younger ones, then be sure to visit Fuji Q Highland.
This amusement park is situated at the base of Fuji and offers several record-breaking rides. With child-friendly rides also on offer the entire family is sure to have a good time.
It is worth visiting Chureito Pagoda, one of the most photographed spots of Mount Fuji. The famous cherry blossoms surrounding it can usually be seen in early to mid April and it is part of the Arakurayama Sengen Shrine in Fujiyoshida City.
|Skills Required||Hiking, Walking|
|Starts at||Mount Fuji 1st Station, Fuji Subaru Line, Kamiyoshida, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi, Japan|
|Finishes at||Mount Fuji, Kitayama, Fujinomiya, Shizuoka, Japan|
|Length of route||1000 - 1500Km|
|Average time to complete||1 - 2 Days|
|Possible to complete sub-sections||No|
|Highest point||3776 metres|
|Equipment needed||Poles if preferred, Trekking gear, walking boots|