Mount Fuji is the iconic symbol of Japan. The perfectly shaped mountain reaches a height of 3,776 meters (12,388 feet) making it the tallest in Japan. You can see the mountain as far as Tokyo on a clear day, but it is best viewed from the Fuji Five Lakes or Hakone.
The climbing season officially starts on July 1 and lasts until mid-September. For only two months of the year, the trails are clear of snow, the mountain huts and facilities are open, and transportation is frequent.
Fuji-san is not a difficult climb, but preparations should be taken seriously. Weather conditions on the mountain can be unpredictable and it is possible to get altitude sickness.
5 Tips for Climbing Mount Fuji in Japan
1. Go on a Weekday
Mt. Fuji is very crowded. Nearly 300,000 people hike the trails every year, and there could be as many as 10,000 people on any given day! To avoid the crowds, it is best to plan your trip on a weekday. Saturdays and holidays are the most crowded.
2. Pack Appropriately
It is important to pack a light backpack with everything you will need for the trip.
- Rain gear
- Hat and gloves
- Food and water
- Moist towelettes
- Plastic bag for garbage
The top of the mountain can get very cold and windy, even in the summer. Wear layers and have a rain jacket, hat, and gloves handy. Do not bring an umbrella because it will be useless in the high winds.
Wear sunscreen if you burn easily. Much of the mountain does not have any shelter, so you will be directly exposed to the sun.
The terrain is rocky and sandy, so it is best to wear hiking boots. The descent can be particularly dusty, so bring a mask and sunglasses to protect your face. Also, bring a towel for wiping dust and sweat.
There are mountain huts at the Stations that sell food and water, but they can be infrequent and also expensive. Be sure to bring enough water and snacks without having to rely on the mountain huts. Onigiri (rice balls) are an easy food to pack that are light and will fill you up.
Also think about water for washing. There is not any water on the mountain for washing or bathing. Moist towelettes may also come in handy.
Bring enough cash to pay for lodging, food, water, toilets, souvenirs, etc. It may not be possible to use credit cards on the mountain. The toilets accept 100 yen coins, so have plenty of these available before your hike.
All garbage should be taken with you and disposed of after you leave the mountain. There aren’t any public garbage cans on the mountain, so bring a plastic bag to collect your garbage.
3. Start at the 5th Station
The mountain is divided up into 10 stations with the 1st Station at the base and the 10th Station at the summit. There are four trails, each with a 5th Station accessible via road.
The most popular route is the Yoshida Trail (Fuji Subaru Line). The 5th Station is located at 2,300 meters and offers the most mountain huts. At the 5th Station there are restaurants, souvenir shops, and a viewing platform. The Yoshida Trail takes approximately 5 hours to reach the summit and 3 hours to descend.
Other trails include the Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya. The Subashiri Trail meets the Yoshida Trail at the 8th Station.
- Subashiri: The 5th Station is at 2,000 meters. It takes 5 hours up and 3 hours down.
- Gotemba: The 5th Station is at 1,400 meters. It takes 7 hours up and 3 hours down.
- Fujinomiya: The 5th Station is at 2,400 meters. It takes 4 hours up and 2 hours down.
4. Stay in a Mountain Hut
Mountain huts are available along the trails for resting and eating. If you plan on sleeping, you will need to make a reservation in advance. Because of the crowds, mountain huts can fill up quickly.
The best way to experience the summit is to be at the top when the sun rises. The air in the morning is the clearest, so it is possible to get a good view before the clouds set in.
In order to see the sunrise, it is recommended to start your hike in the afternoon and plan to stay in a mountain hut at the 7th or 8th Station. Then continue on your journey in the morning keeping in mind the sun typically rises around 4:30-5:00 am. Please note that camping on the mountain is prohibited.
5. Climb Slowly
Take your time and take frequent breaks to rest. Climbing too fast can bring on altitude sickness. The higher you go, the thinner the air gets. If you start to feel sick, take a break at a mountain hut.
“A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb Mt Fuji twice.” Japanese proverb
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Becki and Shawn
Japan Travel Specialists
Hi, we’re Becki and Shawn! We love Japan and are truly passionate about Japan and Japan travel.
We’ve lived, worked, and traveled in Japan for 20+ years, so we know where to go, what to see, and how to get there. Join us in Japan for an adventure of a lifetime!