In a first glimmer of life and travel resuming in Japan, 2021 saw the reopening of the Mt. Fuji Climbing season. If you are here in Japan and want to climb be sure to read the below. If you have a Fuji climb on your bucket list, bookmark this post for your trip in 2022 or beyond. (we will be sure to update with any new information that comes along)
Standing at the border of Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, rising to 12,388 feet and located approximately 100km west of the Tokyo-Yokohama Metropolitan area, we have the tallest mountain in Japan. It is officially called Mt. Fuji but you may hear locals saying Fuji-san, Fujiyama or Fuji no Yama as well.
Mt. Fuji is known to be one of Japan’s Sanreizan (三霊山 – meaning “Three Holy Mountains”); the next two being Mt. Tate and Mt. Haku. Thus, with its graceful conical shape, it is considered a sacred symbol of the nation.
Just catching a glimpse of this will leave you wonderstruck. No wonder it’s a popular trend to find the perfect spot to capture a photo of Mt. Fuji’s peak. However, you will be lucky to even get a ‘PEAK’ of the summit since cloud cover can hinder this.
Surrounding this beauty are many activities waiting for you. How about heading to the Northern foot of the mountain to visit Fuji-five lakes or soaking your troubles away at a nearby hot spring in Hakone? But one thing that remains etched in our minds is “The Reopening of Mt. Fuji Climbing”.
This comes as exciting news due to this event being cancelled completely last year in light of the ongoing pandemic.
The Climbing Period
Mt. Fuji climbing has been a popular event for decades; not only for avid adventurers in Japan, but also for those from abroad. People travel from far and wide just to embark on this journey.
The official climbing season runs yearly from July to Mid-September. Trails remain open during this time since the weather conditions are suitable for the climbing experience. Also during this period, the mountain huts are in operation along each path. These provide temporary lodging and meals to climbers. This means public transportation also becomes readily available.
There are four different trails in total, all leading to the end goal; Fujisan’s Summit. One trail lies in Yamanashi Prefecture (Yoshida trail), while the other three are located within Shizuoka Prefecture (Subarashi, Gotemba and Fujinomiya Trails). The climb can take about 5-10 hours, but may vary depending on a climber’s pace and the duration of breaks they take to reduce injuries and illness.
Now, these trails may look very confusing at first, but they are actually quite simple. Each path is divided into 10 stations. At the foot of each trail is the first station, with paved roads going up to each 5th station. From here on, you will begin your ascent until you reach the 10th station, which is at Mt. Fuji’s Summit.
Do not be alarmed in learning that you might have to spend the night resting at a hut and stretching your journey by a day or two. Actually, it is highly encouraged since people run the risk of suffering from altitude sickness. So, resting will help your body acclimatize to the increasing elevation, thereby making you less susceptible to getting lightheaded or exhausted.
Make sure you stock up on food items and water. How about carrying this adorable Mt. Fuji cookie to munch on during your travels?
However, if you find a great guide and are up to a challenge, a lot of climbers pace their trip in a timely manner so they can catch a glimpse of the sunrise. Honestly speaking, pictures do some justice, but I am more of a “see it with my own eyes” kind of person, so this would be a thrilling experience.
Let’s keep in mind that we have only scratched the surface of the actual preparation you should do before embarking on such a journey. Check out Mt Fuji Climbing’s official website. It’s loaded with information for you eager climbers. They keep you updated on the open trails and weather, when huts and facilities are available as well as providing important information one may need before climbing.
Not in Japan right now but want to make this trip? I know the feeling. With the current pandemic and Japan’s borders closed, it is impossible to enter the country at the moment. But fear not! Mt Fuji is not going anywhere soon (we hope). So you should still keep it flagged on your bucket list. The reopening of the climbing season is already a great sign that in the midst of the pandemic things are getting better.
However, if you are in Japan right now and believe you can confront this challenge, why not take advantage of this opportunity? We totally recommend it to the locals and to foreigners. Why not make it a thrilling adventure? Plan, schedule, prepare and……climb your way up Mt. Fuji. Reach for the sky!
Featured image by Manuel Cosentino on Unsplash