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Climb the Fuji: the holiest mountain in Japan (Yoshida Trail)

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The worst time of the year for travel to Japan is in summer, especially in August: heat, humidity, flights at exorbitant prices ... However, it is precisely then that you can climb to the top of Mount Fuji. So, taking advantage of what I spent 15 days in Japan in August of 2018, I could not miss this opportunity. In this story I explain my experience of going up to the top of Mount Fuji, the highest and most sacred point in Japan.

When can you climb Fuji

The official season usually opens at the beginning of July and ends early September. Although it may vary a little depending on the path taken and the weather of each year. The start dates of the season and opening of the services are announced on the page official Web Fujisan climb. Climbing to the top of Mount Fuji is a very popular activity not only among the Japanese, but also among foreigners. According to statistics, in 2017 about 285,000 people climbed Mount Fuji. Obon week (August 15) is when it is usually more crowded with visitors. If you can travel in July, the first fortnight there are usually fewer people. Beginning July 20, school vacations begin.

What trails are there to climb the Fuji

There are four trails which start at the so-called "stations" located on different slopes of the Mount Fuji. These are: the path Yoshida which starts at the 5th Subaru line station (access from Fujisan St, Kawaguchiko and Shinjuku station in Tokyo) and the trails Subashiri, Drip and Fujinomiya. We chose to climb the Yoshida trail because it has more services and, in addition, it passes through the side where the sun rises. From the 5th station to the top of Mount Fuji it takes 6h and 15 minutes for the Yoshida trail. The descent is about 4 hours.

Go up and down the same day or spend a night in a shelter?

It can go up to Fuji and go down the same day. If you are very fit it is feasible starting early in the morning. However, many people start the ascent with the last bus that leaves for the fifth station and begins the ascent at night. But this option is the least recommended.

You have to keep in mind that in summer at seven in the afternoon it is already night in Japan and the sun does not rise until 4:30 a.m. The problem with this option is that at night you don't see anything, you have to go with a front and enjoy the landscape and the atmosphere, which is more beautiful during the day. In addition, for a few years at night you can not go to rest in the shelters if you do not have a reservation, and it is cold to climb the Fuji. Nor should the issue of height be laughed at. The top of Mount Fuji is 3776 meters and if a very rapid ascent is made, there is a risk of altitude sickness. In fact, they are trying to make the so-called «Fuji bullet climbers»(Those who go up at night without stopping to rest) abandon this practice since the night ascent without rest increases the risk of accidents and suffering from altitude sickness.

We chose to take it easy. We begin the ascent in the morning, spend the night in a shelter and continue the march a few hours before the sun rises.

How to book Mount Fuji shelters

All information for shelter reservations is collected on the official website Fuji climbing. They can be booked from April 1st. So if you want to have the shelter as close to the top, you have to book as soon as possible from that date. The page of the shelters is only in Japanese and will send you to the websites of each shelter to make the reservation (those who have a website, because some can only be booked by phone). Some of them have an English version. You have to look to click on the accommodations on the path you want to do. That it does not happen to you like us, that we were wrong and we reserved the refuge on the path that we were not going to climb! Luckily we realized in June and so we could still book one quite close to the top.

The shelters are very basic accommodations, in which you "sleep" crowded in sleeping bags. And I say sleep in quotes because you will sleep little. You have to take it as a place to rest and wait for the time to begin the final ascent. When making the reservation you can choose if you only sleep, include dinner or include dinner and breakfast. Dinner is usually a curry rice dish and breakfast a bento. In the shelters you can buy hot and cold drinks. But the cost is high, by Japan standards. A bottle of water costs 400 or 500 yen.

Then I leave the direct links to the shelters of the Yoshida trail in order of proximity to the top. In this link you can see the availability decade refuge (Only in Japanese and as of April 1 of each year), the closest to the top is at the end of the list.

Yoshida trail: 8.5th station

Goraikou-kan (3450 m)

Yoshida trail: 8th station

Tomoe-kan (3360 m)
Fuji-san hotel (3300 m)
Goose-wall (3250 m)
Haku-un-so (3200 m)
Horai-kan (3150 m)
Taishi-kan (3100 m)

Yoshida trail: 7th station

Toyo-kan (3000 m)
Torii-so (2900 m)
Fujiichi-kan (2800 m)
Kamaiwa-kan (2790 m)
Tomoe-kan (2740 m)
Hinode-kan (2720 m)
Hanagoya (2700 m)

The path of Yoshida starts at the 5th station of the Subaru line (2300 m). Since Shinjuku there is a direct bus (2700 yen / way) although we opted to go from Kawaguchiko (zone of the five lakes), area that we wanted to visit the day before.

How to get from Shibuya (Tokyo) to Kawaguchiko

There is a direct bus that connects Shibuya with Kawaguchiko. We take the one that leaves at 6: 45h. The price is 1800 ¥ one way and you can buy the ticket 30 days before in this web. This bus is taken at the bus station in the 5th floor from the mall Shibuya Mark City. When the mall is closed, the most direct access is by taking the elevator from the Excel Tokyu hotel.

What to take to climb Fuji

If your intention is watch the sun rise from the top Bring Warm clothing, since temperatures of -5 degrees are reached at the top of the morning. In addition, to this we must add that while climbing you sweat and once you get up you stand at very low temperatures. So you have to take everything many layers of thermal and warm clothes. If you do not want to take it from home, you can rent everything you need in Kawaguchiko. There are several stores, but the most assorted is Soranoshita. You also have to carry hiking shoes closed and goretex in case it rains. Keep in mind that you are going to climb a mountain of almost 4000 meters, so you have to go equipped accordingly.

Headlamp It is essential to be able to climb at night, otherwise nothing is seen.

Hiking poles, are highly recommended, at least one. Another option is to buy the wooden canes that they sell in the fifth season for 1000 yen. These wooden canes can be burned with seals in each shelter. Each stamp costs 500 yen and is a beautiful memory. We discarded it because it didn't fit us in the suitcase. So I took home hiking sticks.

During the day climb you have to take cap and high sun protection. You have to remember that you will be in height and the sun hits differently.

Water (all that you can load), it is advisable to carry at least two liters. It is best to buy it in Kawaguchiko. The two-liter bottle of water in the 7Eleven will cost you about 91 yen. In the 5th station and successive shelters it costs 500 yen. In Kawaguchiko, buy some sandwich snacks, onigiris, etc.

¥ 100 coins. You have to pay 200 yen to use the toilets in the Fuji. Normally there is no one watching, just a little box where you have to put the money, so it is better that you carry enough coins. You usually have to carry cash to pay everything you consume on the ascent to Mount Fuji. Some shelters agree to pay by night card, but small purchases are paid in cash.

Garbage bag. All the garbage you generate during the ascent and descent of Mount Fuji must be taken back to home or hotel. The management of waste on the trails is complicated and each mountaineer has to carry the garbage it generates. A bag to collect the garbage is essential. You have to be responsible.

A postcard and stamps. Incredible as it may seem, on top of Fuji there are a post office. We buy the postcard and the stamps in the Kawaguchiko post office, so we save the queue that is formed in the morning at the Fuji post office. In the 5th station there is also a post office and you can also buy the stamps there, although there are also many people.

Certificate of ascent to Mount Fuji

If you want to have a memory of climbing Fuji, the Japan Mt Fuji Association Issue a certificate. You can order online and to obtain it you must upload a photo that shows that you have reached the top and pay 1080 yen. You can order in this link.

Bus from Kawaguchiko to Subaru 5th Station

From bus number 7 of the Kawaguchiko train station, the bus leaves at the fifth station of the Subaru line, start of the Yoshida Trail. The round trip ticket costs ¥ 2,200 and is valid for the day purchased and the next. It can be purchased at the booth next to stop number 7 or at the bus booths of the station. The bus leaves every 30 minutes from 8: 50h and takes about 55 minutes to arrive. We take the one at 8:30 a.m. In principle the bus comes from Fujisan station and arrives at 8: 50h, but as there were many people in the queue at Kawaguchiko they put a large direct bus until the 5th station before. We arrived at 9:15 a.m.

Fuji Subaru Line 5th station

The 5th station is the epicenter of the Yoshida trail. In addition to being the access point at the beginning of the Yoshida trail it is the Service area where those who are about to climb the Fuji meet those who have just lowered it. The fifth station is located at 2300 m altitude and there are restaurants, souvenir shops, post office, left-luggage office, restrooms, tourist office, etc ... There is also the sanctuary Fujisan-Mitake the one we stopped to ask the kami To guide us along the way.

Uploading to Fuji is freeHowever, climbers are asked to 1000 yen donation for the maintenance of the trails. This contribution can be paid at the tourist office or at the sixth station. With the payment they will give you a booklet with information of the trails and a wood carving so that you hang from your backpack.

Here I take the opportunity to tell you about our personal experience of climbing the Fuji. 🙂

9: 15h Arrival at the 5th station of the Yoshida trail

After arriving at the fifth station we took the opportunity to slap the stores a bit. The fifth station is 2300 meters high and we wanted to spend at least an hour to begin acclimatization to the altitude. We took several photos on the signs we saw and visited the sanctuary. In addition, we take the opportunity to put stamps (stamps) in our travel diary. In Japan there is rage with stamps and you will find them everywhere. In the tourist office we paid the 1000 yen of the donation and hung the wooden carving on the backpacks that put "2018 Fujisan" on the backpacks.

10: 30h start of the Yoshida trail

At 10:30 we leave the fifth station and start the trail. The trail is quite flat at the beginning and that day was a bit cloudy. We had a temperature of about 20 degrees, which was ideal to start walking. A kilometer later we arrive at Izumigataki, really the point where the climb begins. There were six kilometers ahead until reaching the top of Mount Fuji.

10: 45h Izumigataki: ascent point towards the 6th station

From that point, the rise really began, although it was still not very pronounced. The road was sandy and still two-way, so you meet those who come down. Little by little the road is steeper, passing through some wooded areas.

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