Getting Your Feet On Fuji

When to go

This depends on whether you like your nature “people packed” or cold and dangerous. The peak pounding period is from July 1 to August 27, when all of the huts and other facilities are open. Most people hike at night in hopes of reaching the summit at sunrise. Earlier or later in the season tends to be less crowded but also prone to inclement weather – typhoon, anyone? During a peak day you and several hundred other “Fuji Trekkers” can feel the very pulse of nature begging you to stop as your feet pulverize medium sized volcanic rocks into smaller sized volcanic rocks which invariably find their way into your shoes or clothing. Enjoy! Where is It?

Mt. Fuji is located between Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures in the center of Japan. It’s that big conical thing that blurs past on the Shinkansen between Tokyo and western Japan.

How do I get there?

You can go by bus, train or even private car – though public transport is much more hassle free. Be careful not to do too much “celebrating” on the way. Many a hung-over climber has experienced the wondrous joy of altitude sickness and alcohol poisoning, making their Fuji climb so much more to remember. (See below for more detail on access)

Preparation / What to take?

Sadly there are not many places you can practice sliding down knee-deep volcanic rock in freezing rain. Best bet is to pack light but prepare yourself for changing weather conditions, as the higher you go the colder it gets. Isn’t science fun! Additionally, you may want to bring your own refreshments, as the cost of anything on the mountain goes up the higher you get.

Where do I start my climb from?

Most people start from one of the 5th stage stations, though some incredibly masochistic people take one of another four routes from the base of the mountain itself.

From the 5th stations (four of them located at different heights around the mountain) you have your choice of the Fujiyomiya, Gotemba, Subashiri or Kawaguchiko routes. The 5th station at Fujinomiya starts the farthest up the mountain, but starting at Kawaguchiko is most popular due to easy access by bus.

How the hell do I get down?

Remember that Paul Simon song, Slip Sliding Away? This is the method preferred by those who have little need to maintain appearances by needlessly “climbing” down a path which, in some areas, is the volcanic equivalent of a snowdrift. The Gotemba and Subashiri routes are the most popular locations for this humiliating plunge of desperation.

How long does it take?

The trek can take anywhere from three to eight hours, or much longer should you encounter bad weather, get sick or die. You may only do this once but the memories (nightmares) will last for years.

Access Details: Getting to Fuji

Train: Take Shinkansen or local train to Mishima Stn. From there, buses run to Gotemba where you can catch another Fujikyu Bus to Fujiyoshida and Kawaguchiko. From April until November, buses also run from Shinfuji and Fujinomiya.

Bus: From July 7-September 2, buses run from Nagoya to Fujiyoshida and Kawaguchiko.

Car: From Gotemba, drivers can take two routes: Rt. 138 (which becomes Rt. 139 in Fujiyoshida) or the Expressway. When taking the express route, exit at the Kawaguchiko Interchange. Taking 138 will lead directly to Fujiyoshida. Along the way, it magically changes to Rt. 139. The Fuji Subaru Toll Road, which leads to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji, intersects Rt. 139 between Fujiyoshida and Kawaguchiko near the Kawaguchiko Interchange. During August, it is sometimes closed due to excessive traffic.

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