This hike is an excerpt of my travel to Japan.
Yesterday the weather was a little misty but today it is awesome. When I looked out of my hostel’s window I had a clear view to Fuji-San.
The Fuji-San hike is a traditional hike, that everyone who visits Japan normally does. I climbed the Mt. Fuji with my friend Tim during off-season.
My first impression in the morning was: Today will be a lovely day. The sun was greeting me with its warmth and light and illuminated our hostel room. We were totally lucky no clouds or mist were disturbing the view. We enjoyed our breakfast and readied ourself for the hike. Last evening we already looked at the maps and decided which route we would like to take. We decided to take the Yochida-Trail, the most classic trail to reach the top of the volcano. But our first stop was the bus station in Kawaguchi. In the early morning a bus was leaving from Kawaguchi to the 5th station, the highest station you could reach by bus. Afterwards the trail starts. The first bus was going off at 08.15 AM. In the summer seasons busses are going earlier in the morning, but because we did it in off-season there was no other possibility by public transport. If you are interested in a more detailed bus timetable please check here for summer season and here for winter season
Additionally you can find some more details in the at page 147.
Fuji-San Hike – The Map
Fuji-San Hike – The Ascent
The driver from the Hostel picked us up again and drove us to the Kawaguchi main station. We already purchased the bus tickets one day before, later we will notice that this was a great idea. At the central bus stop to Mt. Fuji a lot of people were already waiting to hop in to the bus and join us on our Fuji-San hike trip to the top of the mountain. The bus tour to the 5th station took around 90 minutes. There were a lot of curves on the route and it felt really uncomfortable since the bus was totally overcrowded with people, obviously the reason was the great weather.
As already mentioned, there are many routes up to Fuji-San. We took the most common one Yoshida-Trail. If you are interested in other routes, you can check here. We began our climb at 10.15 AM and we had a lot of meters in front of us. Another problem that we faced: During off-season everything is closed. Up to the mountains we crossed many other stations after the 5th but all these ones were closed. But off-season has advantages too, the bus that took us up was a little bit crowdy, but this is nothing compared with the standard situation during the season. We met around 30 other climbers during the hike. In summer season, around 10.000 people are getting to the top every day. So we were really lucky because we could walk as we liked.
In the beginning the ascent was pretty easy. There were serpentines but nothing really dangerous or hard. The toughest part was the ground. It was mostly made out of gravel. From time to time 2 steps forward was a half step backward because of the slipping. But we were happy that it was easy, we had no time to lose. Due to the off-season there were not so many buses going down from the 5th station back to Kawaguchi. The last bus was leaving at 05.40 PM. So we hurried up the mountain. After passing by the 7th station, the route changed to more rocky stairs. But still it was no climbing necessary, the trail was limited by ropes made out of steel. There were some cliffs to the left and right but the trail was mostly easy and secure. The biggest problem was the ground itself, it changed from gravel to volcano stones. There were a lot of sharp stones, that could damage the sole of one’s shoe.
After one more hour we achieved to reach the 8th Station. Something really nice was established here. A small Shinto-Shrine. We offered the gods 1 Yen and hoped for blessings and protection. Afterwards the route did not change: Volcano stones and ropes to climb. Because of the high-speed that we climbed up to the mountains, we needed to take some breaks. We managed to go up in 2h by more than 1000 m and we were already a top of 3000m and i had the feeling to get an altitude sickness. After a small break and a lot of breathing, we continued the hike. I will remember this, the next time, I will ascend more slowly.
We achieved the rest of the trail in another 1.5 hours, so we reached the top within 3 h and 25 min. This was pretty fast, because we were trespassing many other hikers. At the top of the mountain we took of course a lot of photos and enjoyed the view. Something that we took with us was a beer, to make sure that we honor german traditions: Prost! (cheers). Other hikers who arrived later, were totally jealous seeing our beer. We relaxed for some minutes and we prepared for our descent.
Fuji-San Hike successfully ended at: 1.00 PM and 3776m, highest mountain in Japan! We were happy. Yaaay!
Fuji-San Hike – The Descent
At 2 PM we started our way down. The descent was much more difficult and exhausting as the way up. The Yoshida-Trail was downwards not the same way as upwards. It was mostly gravel from the top and we slurped down. Our knees really hurt, but we managed to do it, because we had to: The last bus and we needed to catch it. We made the way down without facing anything interesting. As we arrived at the bus stations, we saw much more people waiting for the bus, as in the morning. Obviously people were just taking the bus up to the 5th station. The bus arrived and the bus driver let only people enter the bus who owned a ticket. Luckily as mentioned in the beginning we had a ticket and we could enter without any problems and had a comfortable seat. Other people who were not as lucky as us, needed to wait and were getting mostly places on the ground in the corridor or even worse. Some people were not able to get in, they could not take the public transportation down to the Kawaguchi station.
Back at the Kawaguchi station, we decided to leave the Mt. Fuji area early tomorrow morning. Our next stop in Japan will be Kyoto.