What to expect on the Fuji climb...
The cultural and spiritual significance of Mount Fuji draws thousands of visitors each year, many with their hearts set on trekking to the top. Though you don’t need previous mountain-climbing experience to tackle the ascent, you must be fit and well, as hiking uphill for 5-8 hours into thinner atmosphere is physically demanding for even the sportiest types.
The climbing season runs from early July to mid-September (to coincide with the mildest conditions); during this window, all four trails are open, there are plenty of guides on hand and the mountain huts are available for overnight stays and rest-breaks.
The Yoshida Trail, which winds towards the sunrise side of the summit, is the most popular climbing route. Starting midway along at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station, which has good transport links from Tokyo, the Yoshida climb is spread over a couple of days.
You’ll get to your chosen mountain hut near the 7th or 8th station (10th station being at the mountaintop) on Day 1, where you’ll rest before heading out very early on Day 2 to reach the summit by sunrise.
During the season the trails are always busy, and the companionship of struggling to the top with a wave of other climbers is all part of the Fuji magic. Though a guide is always beneficial, you aren’t required to be accompanied; as long as you prepare well, taking appropriate clothing, plenty of water and oxygen and making frequent stops to avoid altitude sickness, you’ll enjoy this enriching and memorable journey.
After the long build-up, all at once you are there; at the pinnacle of this active volcano in the crisp morning air, witnessing the pale sky turn amber and gold as the first sunlight spreads across the horizon. The indescribable sense of achievement as you watch the day break over Hakone’s parkland below might fire up a love of mountain hiking which will last a lifetime, but first you’ll have to psyche yourself up for the journey back down!
'Possibly the most recognisable icon of Japan, Fuju is a much loved mountain, and the climb is deeply rewarding.'