I am happy to have fulfilled a dream once again. On my fourth trip to Japan, I properly organized to climb Mount Fuji, which I had been eyeing for years. Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan at the altitude of 3,776m. If you are thinking of climbing Mount Fuji during your next trip to Japan, I will tell you everything you need to know to do so.
First of all, I want to say that it is not a walk in the city, which I always say when I talk about trekking and climbing mountains. You have to enjoy nature and be in good physical shape to do it. Although you can climb Mount Fuji in one day and it is not a technical climb, I do recommend having some hiking experience and have climbed some mountains with a cumulative drop of at least 2,000m.
Trails to climb Mount Fuji
These are the several routes available to climb Mount Fuji:
This is the most popular trail to climb Mount Fuji, with over 170,000 people using it each year. We can expect to find quite a few people and traffic, especially after the eighth station to the top.
- How to get there: Bus from Kawaguchiko to Fuji 5th Station.
- The route to ascent and descent is different.
- Numerous mountain huts on the way up.
- First aid at the 5th, 7th, and 8th station.
- Elevation gained: 2.300m
- Ascent: 6h
- Descent: 4h
This is one of the most technical routes and, therefore, the one that least people try. 19,000 mountaineers do not visit it a year. It is recommended for people with experience, good physical shape and technical skills.
- How to get there: Bus from the train station in the town of Gotemba.
- Part of the route is shared on the ascent and descent.
- Very few mountain shelters. There are none from the 5th station to the 7th.
- There are no first aid centers.
- Elevation gained: 1.450m
- Ascent: 7h
- Descent: 3h
This route is the second most popular. If the first receives more than 170,000 people a year, it is about 70,000. We can expect to find people but not as many as in Yoshida’s. The route is quite steep and rocky.
- How to get there: Bus from Fuji, Shin-Fuji, Mishima and Fujinomiya Station.
- The same route to go up and down.
- There are shelters at each station.
- There is a first aid center at the 8th station.
- Elevation gained: 2.400m
- Ascent: 5h
- Descent: 3h
Finally, the Subashiri Trail is the one I used to climb Mount Fuji and is the second least crowded trail. You will find other mountaineers, but nowhere as crowded at the other trails. I liked it since it was the one that offered more varied landscapes along the trail. You start by crossing a lush forest with a not very steep but constant slope. From the 7th station, the landscape changes to the typical volcano, being more of an arid, sandy, and slippery terrain.
- How to get there: Bus from Gotemba or Shinmatsuda. There is a shuttle bus from Subashiri during the peak season.
- Different ascent and descent route, although the last section is shared.
- There are shelters in almost every station, especially the ones higher up.
- There are no first aid centers.
- Elevation gained: 2.000m
- Ascent: 6h
- Descent: 3h
Here is the track of my ascent to Mount Fuji where you can see the route in detail, as well as some extra information:
When to Climb Mount Fuji
Theoretically, you can climb Mount Fuji only during the summer. The four routes with bus service, mountain huts, and shops are usually open from July to September. Many agencies offer a tour to climb Mount Fuji during these months so you have the option to do it either plan it by yourself or through an agency.
You can check the status of each route as well as on what specific dates it is open on the official website. Part of a trail could be cut due to trail maintenance. The website is English and has all the information you need to get to get to the summit of Fuji.
However, the shelters as well as the rest of the services are closed during the off-season BUT you can still climb Mount Fuji at your own risk. At the end of the day, it is a national park, so you can freely access it.
Although it may not seem like it due to its altitude of 3,776m, Mount Fuji becomes a very dangerous mountain outside of summer. All the snow accumulates on the mountain and it becomes necessary to use crampons and ice axes to climb the mountain during autumn and winter. You should not climb outside of the summer months if you do not have experience in mountaineering. If you want to avoid the crowd, you can climb Mount Fuji just a week before or after the climbing season starts. This option does not have too many risks and you would climb the mountain without running into too many people.
How much does it cost to climb Mount Fuji
Climbing Mount Fuji can have a very variable price that will depend on whether you decide to plan your climb your self or with a mountain agency.
Some expenses to take into account are the equipment & clothes that you will take. Keep in mind that it is cold on the climb to the Fuji even in summer. You will start the climb with summer clothes but you will have to put on more layers. You should carry several layers of clothing as well as snacks for the route in your hiking backpack,. As for snacks, you can buy them at the mountain stations that are on the trail, although at higher prices. It is highly recommended to carry mountain poles, especially for the descent.
It is possible to make the ascent to Fuji in a group and with a guide. If this is your case, the expense will be higher.
Let me tell you a little more about climbing
Climb Mount Fuji with a guide
Several agencies offer the excursion to Mount Fuji with a guide. In my case, I opted for this option since I was making the trip alone and I planned it just a week or two in advance. I honestly didn’t have much time to look at the information so I opted to do the route with Fuji Mountain Guides. It was the only agency I found that had international and/or English speaking guides.
I recommend this agency if you are thinking of climbing Mount Fuji in a group. The experience personally was great. The team is young, super friendly, and professional. Furthermore, most are not Japanese but have lived in the country for years so there were guides who spoke other languages like Italian, Brazilian, & Spanish, apart from English. They have all climbed Mount Fuji dozens of times and have even done it out of season, in the middle of winter. They know the mountain on the palm of their hands.
The way they organize the group ensures everyone’s safety regardless of their level. There were five guides distributed among all of us in my group. So each person kept their pace without rushing and trying too hard or slowing down the rest of the group. I have always done mountaineering alone, with friends or family so this was my first experience with hiring an agency and I have no regrets.
The price is almost € 400 and includes:
- Pick up in Tokyo or Gotemba
- Bus transportation from Tokyo or Gotemba to 5th Subashiri Station
- Tea in the 5th Station
- Clothing, footwear, and equipment rental service * to be paid according to what is rented *
- Night in the mountain refuge
- Dinner and breakfast
- Guides who accompany you throughout the tour
- Transportation back to Tokyo or Gotemba
- Basic kit
If you are looking to climb Mount Fuji with a guide, I recommend this option. Personally, I had a very good experience.
Climb Mount Fuji without a guide
Of course, another option is to climb Mount Fuji on your own. In this case, you will have to think about organizing transportation, accommodation, and meals:
How to get to Mount Fuji
As mentioned earlier, there are four different trails to reach the summit. You will have to start on one side of the mountain or the other depending on which trail you choose. I have specified from where you can take the bus to start its ascent above in the section about the different trails.
It is almost impossible to detail all the modes of ascents. There are people who climb from the beach to the summit. The 5th station parking lots are usually closed for private vehicles during the peak season, only buses can arrive. They announce on the official site when they open the parking lot to passenger cars, so hiring a rental car could also be an option.
Reserve a bed in the shelter
The shelters are usually quite full. Personally, I think they have the necessary comforts to spend the night. Do not forget that it is a mountain hut and not a hotel.
The price per night is about 5,000 yen. This goes up to 7,000 yen with dinner and breakfast included. You can check the list of shelters and their websites by clicking here. It is a bit confusing since a lot of the information is only in Japanese.
You will also have to pay 1,000 yen to access the natural park.
Thus ends the guide to climb Mount Fuji. I have detailed all the information that I personally looked for before climbing the mountain and that I think will be useful to you. I hope that this helps you prepare to climb Mount Fuji during your trip to Japan.