What comes to your mind first when you plan to travel around Japan? For me, it is definitely Mount Fuji (Fujisan in Japanese), the highest mountain (3,776m) in Japan. Mount Fuji is one of the most popular destinations to sightseeing in Japan throughout the year, where you can enjoy different scenery in different seasons.
(Photo: Mount Fuji with Shibazakura in late April)
During most time of the year, Mount Fuji is snow-capped and not fully open to visitors; but when summer comes, mountain trails and facilities (from the 5th station to the summit) are open to climbing enthusiasts worldwide. If you want to enjoy the unique view from the peak of Mount Fuji, don’t miss the official climbing season during the summer time—the only time you can climb up to the top of Mount Fuji!
When to Climb Mount Fuji?
The official climbing season of Mount Fuji starts from July tomid-September, with the opening of the Yoshida Trail on July 1. The Fujinomiya Trail, the Subashiri Trail and the Gotemba Trail will open to public from July 10 this year. Usually, all the trails close around September 10 when weather is getting terrible for mountain climbing again.
Which Trail to Choose?
There are four trails leading to the summit of Mount Fuji. Each trail starts at different locations and is distinguished with different colors of signs. It is important to remember and follow the color of your trail all the time when you climb Mount Fuji.
Yellow: Yoshida Trail
Starting location: Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station
Starting altitude: 2,300m
Estimated time to climb up/down: 6h/4h
Estimated distance to climb up/down: 6.8km/under measurement
The Yoshida Trail is the most popular trail for Mount Fuji climbers, and also the first choice of the beginners of mountain climbing. If it is the first time for you to climb Mount Fuji, you’d better choose the Yoshida Trail, because the facilities, such as mountain huts, public toilets, shops and rescue centers, on this route are sufficient. These facilities will make your climbing easier and safer. Nevertheless, as the most popular trail, the Yoshida Trail is always very crowded, especially on weekends. 172,657 climbers chose this trial last summer. If you want to have an “not-so-crowded” memory of climbing Mount Fuji, come and use the Yoshida Trail on weekdays.
Blue: Fujinomiya Trail
Starting location: Fujinomiya Trail 5th Station
Starting altitude: 2,400m
Estimated time to climb up/down: 5h/3h
Estimated distance to climb up/down: 4.3km/4.3km
The Fujinomiya Trail is the shortest route to the top of Mount Fuji with the highest starting altitude. It is also very popular among climbers as it takes the least time to climb up and down. Mountain huts, public toilets, shops and rescue centers can be found on this trail, though not as many as those on the Yoshida Trail. However, the Fujinomiya Trail is very steep and rocky, and the trail for climbing up is the same as that for climbing down. Be careful about both your and other climbers’ safety when using this trail.
Red: Subashiri Trail
Starting location: Subashiri Trail 5th Station
Starting altitude: 2,000m
Estimated time to climb up/down: 6h/3h
Estimated distance to climb up/down: 10.5km/8.4km
The Subashiri Trail is composed of relatively gentle slopes and covered with a lot of trees up to the 7th station. It joins the Yoshida Trail from the 8th station to the peak where it gets crowded; but before the 7th station, the Subashiri Trail is tranquil and can prevent climbers from the strong sunlight during daytime. Besides, the trail is the best to see sunrise as it faces east. However, the facilities on this route are limited and there is no rescue center there. It is difficult to get first aid if you get injured on this trail.
Green: Gotemba Trail
Starting location: Gotemba Trail New 5th Station
Starting altitude: 1,450m
Estimated time to climb up/down: 7h/3h
Estimated distance to climb up/down: 6.9km/6.2km
The Gotemba Trail is the longest trail to the top of Mount Fuji, starting at the lowest altitude among the four trails. You should be very confident in your physical capacity and have a good time management if you choose this trail. Therefore, if it is the first time for you to climb Mount Fuji, I will definitely not recommend you take the Gotemba Trail. Compared to other three trails, facilities on this trail are the least, and no first aid center can be found there. But, on the other hand, you can climb on your own pace because this trail is not crowded at all even on weekends.
(source: Japan Rail Pass Now)
Be Careful About…
The temperature at the top of Mount Fuji is largely different from what you feel on the ground due to the rise of altitude. The temperature is very low at the summit even in summer, and you may feel very chilly when the wind is blowing. Make sure to bring enough clothes to protect you from coldness.
You also need to be very careful about the sudden weather change, such as fog, thunder, heavy showers, etc., and the occurrence of any emergency including volcanic eruption, landslide, earthquake, etc. Be sure to check the weather report around Mount Fuji from time to time when you plan to climb Mount Fuji.
2. Mountain Sickness
Mountain sickness will bring you great trouble when you are climbing Mount Fuji. You may feel very tired and suffer strong headache, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, etc. The Fujinomiya Trail has the highest risk for mountain sickness.
To prevent mountain sickness, you should take good rests before departure, climb slowly at a constant pace, drink water regularly, take rests on the way, keep your body warm and take deep breaths. You’d better buy some mountain sickness drugs as well as enough food and water before you start climbing. If you feel your mountain sickness becomes serious and even worsens, climb down the mountain or go to the first-aid center as soon as possible.
Ready to take the challenge to climb Mount Fuji this summer? Read this article carefully and make full preparation for it!