I am very proud to say, that this past weekend, my husband and I successfully climbed Mount Fuji! It was a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience! But holy smokes, I am here to tell you, I was a bit underprepared for this adventure.
Everything I had read about Mount Fuji, prior to climbing it, said it was a very easy mountain to climb. And it was great for beginners. You could easily get away without using a guide to climb it.
My husband and I fall very much in the beginners category. We walked up Mount Vesuvius (which had a paved path) and we hiked up Mount Tammany in New Jersey. I would classify both of those as “easy” mountains to hike. However, Mount Fuji most certainly does not fall in the “easy” category for me! Haha. Granted, I’m not in the greatest shape at the moment, and my legs are still sore!
So, being beginner hikers, my husband and I booked a tour through Willer Travel. This was great for us because it also included transportation from Shinjuku station in Tokyo to Mount Fuji. It also had the option for gear rental. I had been a bit worried that the gear rental would be a waste of money…but my goodness am I glad I invested in the gear rental! As you can see in the photo above, it was by no means warm. And the trails were very rocky, so good hiking boots were a must. The gear rental included the rain jacket, pants, hiking boots, sticks and a very nice hiking backpack, along with wool blend socks and headlamps (so we could climb at night). I can’t stress enough how glad I am that we had proper gear. It was below freezing by the time we were done hiking for the day on Saturday!
It was also incredibly windy, so I was really glad I had sunglasses! I’m pretty sure I’m still getting bits of dirt and rock out of my eyeballs.
Last weekend was actually the first weekend that the trails and mountain huts were open for Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji’s climbing season is only two months long. And I’m under the impression that August is the best month to hike it. Everyone we’ve talked to said the weather is just beautiful at that time (and not all windy and freezing like our adventure, haha).
Alright, now that I’m done stressing that climbing Mount Fuji is by no means easy, haha. I’ll explain how our journey worked!
First, we took a bus from Shinjuku station in Tokyo to Mount Fuji. We picked up our gear and had lunch (all included in our tour) before starting our climb at about noon. I was really happy with Willer Travel for every part of this journey. The guides were very kind and helpful and everything went so smoothly. Willer Travel was also a fraction of the cost for the exact same tour on Viator.
My husband and I also had packed plenty of snacks, as well as 2 liters of water between the two of us. You can buy snacks and water at the mountain huts (pictured above), but there can sometimes be long gaps between huts…so, be sure to stock up. Also, be sure to have a lot of 100 yen coins on you! You must pay on Mount Fuji to use the restrooms. It generally is between 100-200 yen each time you use the restroom.
We climbed until almost 8 at night. We stopped once we reached Mountain Hut 8.5, which used to be as high as you could go on Mount Fuji! We had dinner (pictured below and also included in the tour) and got ourselves ready for bed. The mountain hut stay was also included in our tour. You can book a stay at a mountain hut on your own, though. I believe it’s about 5,000 yen a night. And staying in the mountain hut was quite the experience! We made a lot of friends as it was very close quarters. Haha. And we were pretty much sharing beds with each other.
I also had a really hard time finding any info on what the mountain hut sleeping situation was. So, I was a bit surprised at just how close we all were! But it was still a great experience and everyone in our group was really nice!
And the reason we stayed in the hut, was so we could get up at 2 a.m. and hike in the dark to the summit and watch the sunrise. That was the plan. Unfortunately, we were getting about 50-60 mile per hour winds, and it was too dangerous to leave at 2 a.m. The climb was delayed until 3:30 am a.m. and it was still really windy. So, most of our group stayed at Mountain Hut 8.5 to watch the sunrise. (Those who went to the summit didn’t get to watch the sunrise and said visibility was very low because of the nasty weather).
I’m a little disappointed that we didn’t make it to the summit, but I’m also very happy with our decision to stay and watch the sunrise! I had honestly never seen anything quite so beautiful. And I took about a million photos, haha. Most of these photos I didn’t even feel the need to edit…there was just that much color in the sky! It was really incredible watching the sunrise in between the clouds. 🙂
After the sunrise, we had breakfast (included in the tour) and took a little nap. Just a warning, coffee is not included with breakfast and it’s 500 yen for a little tiny cup! I’m a caffeine addict, so that was a bit rough, haha. (I had two huge cups once I climbed back down the mountain, though!)
And climbing down Mount Fuji was very easy! I was worried we were going to have to climb down the way we came up…but the descent path had just opened up, and it was very easy to get down.
I am so happy we had this opportunity! I think the best part of Mount Fuji wasn’t the views or even watching the sunrise, it was meeting so many incredible people from so many different areas! Our climbing group was awesome! I am really, really happy we booked a tour…not only so we had proper gear, and knew what the heck we were doing, but so, we also had the opportunity to meet people as we climbed.
We celebrated with big bowls of ramen and cups of coffee once we made our way back down! Yum!
Once we finished our celebratory ramen and coffee, it was back to the bus to experience our first onsen! Being that it’s summer in Japan, I hadn’t tried an onsen until now. Onsens are essentially public bath houses, with hot springs. It’s really relaxing! And the one we went to had the most incredible view of Mount Fuji from the hot springs! (Sorry, you also are nude at onsens. So, I wasn’t going to whip my camera out and take photos! Haha.) But trust me, it was really cool! 😉
If anyone is interested in hiking Mount Fuji, I’m going to share a couple more random thoughts/facts from our trip here:
*At the bottom of Mount Fuji you can buy wooden walking sticks. At each Mountain Hut you can then pay to have them branded with that hut’s symbols. It’s a pretty neat souvenir!
*You’ll want gloves! At times, you’ll need to use your hands instead of your sticks to climb…and your blood doesn’t clot very well at that high of elevation. So, to avoid cuts, wear gloves! (It was also cold, so I was grateful to be wearing them anyways). If you don’t have gloves with you don’t panic, you can buy them at the mountain huts!
*DON’T buy oxygen cans. It’s better to get used to the elevation gradually by climbing at a slow pace. Oxygen cans will just be a false sense of security. I did not get much more than a little headache as the elevation increased, this was mainly because we were hiking at a slow enough pace.
*Consider bringing something to cover your face with, as flying rocks and dirt from the wind can get a little painful!
*There are no trash cans on Mount Fuji! You bring your trash back with you. So, be sure to pack plastic bags for this purpose.
*The building at the base of the mountain that has a souvenir shop and cafeteria, also has lockers for you to store stuff you might not want to bring with you on your climb.
*Another reminder, bring 100 yen coins with you! Lots of them! You pay to use the restrooms on Mount Fuji.
If anyone has any questions at all about our climb, ask away in the comments below! And you can click here to see the tour we booked through Willer Travel. And click here for the Mount Fuji official website. Phew! I’m off the Kyoto for a long weekend now – it’s supposed to be hotter than heck there this weekend, haha. That’ll be a bit of a shock after spending last weekend on the top of freezing Mount Fuji! 🙂