Climbing Mt. Fuji – what to bring, where to stay
You have seen it on a cover of many guidebooks and travel magazines. Fuji is the most recognizable japanese natural wonder. This active volcano and the tallest mountain in Japan is also climbed by over 300,000 tourists and mountaineers every year. That is a lot if you also consider the fact that you can climb Mount Fuji only from the start of July and until mid-September (Yoshida trail 01.07-10.09; Subashiri, Gotemba, Fujinomiya trails 10.07-10.09). If you are planning to climb this 3,776 metres high mountain, here are some tips, tricks and advice from me to you.
The most popular trail is the Yoshida trail, easily accessible from Tokyo. Only few people start their hike from the foot of the mountain, because this would add additional 3 hours of walk to an already very long climb. Instead hikers start their climb from Fuji Subaru 5th Station (富士スバルライン五合目 Fuji Subaru Line Gogoume) located 2,300 meters above sea level. There you can change into more appropriate clothes for climbing, have lunch or make last-minute shopping for a reasonable price, buy souvenirs. There are also three hotels and a shrine.
From Fuji Subaru 5th Station you depart for a 6-7 hours long hike to the Fuji Summit, where the 10th Station is located. Many people start climbing around 5PM or 6PM. By doing that most off the way up will be after the sun sets, in almost complete darkness. It is not very dangerous as long as you have right equipment with you. Along the way there are 4 more stations and several places to rest, buy food or drinks, use the bathroom or stay in and sleep. None of these things come cheap though, bottle of water can cost up to 400 yen, cup of noodles is usually 500 or 700 yen. To use the bathroom you will have to pay 200 yen (300 yen on the summit). Hostels on Mount Fuji are more expensive than most standard hostels in Japan, but you may want to rest for few hours, because of how long the climb is. If you start at 5 or 6 in the afternoon and have few hours of rest in one of the huts, you should arrive just in time for the sunrise.
Here is a list of places you can stay at on the Yoshida Trail. It is advised to make reservations approximately one week before your climb, but if you are planning to climb during the Obon holidays I advise you to book a place two weeks before. Those places have some strict money return policies, so do not book anything unless you are completely sure of the place. Also, since Fuji is usually climbed in late afternoon / evening hours, check-in times usually begin at 3 PM and end around 7, 8 or 9 PM.
- Seikanso (星観荘) 5,400 yen for a stay / 7,000 yen for staying with dinner. Located on 2,325 metres. Phone number: 0555-24-6524
- Hanagoya (花小屋) [Only Japanese website] 5,800 yen for a stay (6,300 yen on Saturdays) / 1,000 yen for one meal. Located on 2,700 metres. Phone number: 0555-28-2208
- Hinodekan (日の出館) 5,800 yen for a stay (6,300 on Fridays and Saturdays) / 1,000 yen for one meal. Located on 2,720 metres. Phone number: 0555-24-6522
- Nanangome Tomoekan (七合目トモエ館) 5,800 yen for a stay (8,300 on Saturdays) for stay / 8,800 yen for stay in a private room with two meals (9,300 on Saturdays). There is also 300 yen discount for people making reservations on-line. Located on 2,740 metres. Phone number: 0555-24-6521 / 0555-73-8704 for on-line reservation inquiries.
- Kamawaikan (鎌岩館) 6,500 yen for a stay / plan with a meal is 7,800 yen on Mon-Thu; 8,300 yen on Fridays, Sundays and holidays; 8,800 yen on Saturdays. 500 yen discount for all on-line reservations. Located on 2,790 metres. Phone number: 080-1299-0223
- Fujichikan (富士一館) 6,000 yen for a stay (9,000 for Saturdays) / 1,000 yen for a meal. Located on 2,800 metres. Phone number: 080-1036-6691
- Toriiso (鳥居荘) [Only Japanese website] 5,000 yen for a stay (6,000 for Fridays / 7,000 for Saturdays) / 1,000 yen for a meal. Located on 2,900 metres. Phone number: 0555-84-2050
- Toyokan (東洋館) 8,500 yen on Mon-Thu; 9,000 yen on Fridays, Sundays and holidays; 10,000 yen on Saturdays. There are also semi-private rooms from 10,000 yen. Located on 3,000 metres. Phone number: 0555-22-1040
- Taishikan (太子館) Stay with 2 meals will cost 8,500 yen on Mon-Thu; 10,000 yen on Fridays; 11,000 yen on Saturdays. Located on 3,100 meters. Phone number: 0555-22-1947
- Horaikan (蓬莱館) [Only Japanese website] 1 meal plan is 7,500 yen on Mon-Thu; 9,000 yen on Fridays; 10,000 yen on Saturdays. Another meal ups the price by 1,000 yen. Located on 3,150 metres. Phone number: 0555-24-6515
- Hakuunso (白雲荘) [Reservations made via telephone; Japanese language ability is required] 5,800 yen on Mon-Thu; 6,800 yen on Fridays; 7,800 on Saturdays. Located on 3,200 metres. Phone number: 0555-22-1322
- Gansomuro (元祖室) 6,000 yen for a night on Sun-Thu; 7,000 yen on Fridays; 9,500 on Saturdays and July 14th and August 11th. Check in until 9PM. Located on 3,250 metres. Phone number: 090-4549-3250 or 0555-24-6513
- Honhachigome Tomoekan (本八合目トモエ館) The original Tomoekan, located a bit above the 8th Station. It is located on the crossing of upward and downward way of Yoshida Trail and this hut also offers a luggage keeping service. It is approximately 1,5h to the top from here and 1h from the top back to Tomoekan. 5,800 yen for a night on Mon-Thu; 6,500 yen for Fridays and Sundays; 9,300 yen for Saturdays and pre-holidays. There is also 300 yen discount for people making reservations on-line. Located on 3,400 metres. Phone number: 0555-24-6511 / 0555-73-8704 for on-line reservations inquiries.
- Fujisan Hotel (富士山ホテル) 5,950 yen on Mon-Thu; 7,100 on Fridays; 7,600 on Saturdays; 6,500 on Sundays. This hut is working together with Fuji Mountain Guides (FMG for short) and can make reservations for you for a fee of 1,000 yen. This does not however change the price of accomodation which is to be paid upon arrival. Located on 3,400 metres. Phone number: 0555-22-0237
- Goraikokan (御来光館) 6,500 yen for a night or 8,500 yen for a night with two meals. Located on 3,450 metres (last hut on Yoshida Trail). Phone number: 0555-73-8815 / 0555-73-8987
If you got your reservation, you can get your equipment ready for the trip. Bringing your own climbing equipment (assuming you have one) will save you a lot of time and, most importantly, money. Climbing boots and jackets with goretex are quite expensive in Japan, often cost 30,000 yen for a piece of clothing. Some cheap options to keep your body warm during the climb you can find in Uniqlo. They have warm jackets and tall boots available for a price ranging from 5,000 to 10,000 yen. Do not by any clothing at 100 yen stores, because they are not suit for Mt. Fuji’s weather.
What you must take with you:
- Good grip tall boots, preferably for rock climbing or hiking. Snickers and sandals are a no-no.
- Warm jacket, preferably with goretex and a long sleeve blouse.
- Money, in cash and a lot of 100 yen coins. Money will be necessary to pay for your reservation at the hut upon the arrival. Most of huts do not accept credit cards. You will also need 100 yen coins to use bathrooms on Mt. Fuji. There is no free bathroom all the way to the top. You can only use the bathroom of the hut you are sleeping at for free. For one person travelling it is wise to take around 25,000 yen and from 10 to 20 100-yen coins.
- Flashlight or headlight. Either of these work, but make sure they are also waterproof in case rain falls. Additional batteries for those are useful too.
- Sunglasses. Way down will be difficult if you constantly get blinded by the sunlight. Also, sun cream and a hat are good in case you do not tan well.
- Gloves. Temperatures on the top often go below 0 degrees Celsius. You will freeze your hands off otherwise.
What you should consider taking:
- Toiletries. There is barely any running water available at Mt. Fuji huts and bathrooms. Keep some antibacterial gel and/or tissues to get your face and body clean of volcanic dirt, which from my experience can get just about everywhere. It will be also more comfortable using a mouthwash to freshen your breath, rather than using toothbrush and a toothpaste.
- Candy and protein snacks. Quick boost of carbohydrates will make you feel better during long climb. Protein will also help your muscles recover, so you might want to take some protein bars. There are however shops located outside the huts climbers can use while climbing Mt. Fuji. They sell some quick grabs and soft drinks.
- Water and soft drinks. You will get dehydrated unless you drink during your climb. I recommend having 1 litre of water with you starting the climb. If more will be necessary, you can buy some at a shop outside of huts for an unreasonable price of around 400 yen.
- At least one pair of additional socks and underwear. You can change your clothes in bathrooms along the way.
- Oxygen bottle. Some people climbing Mt Fuji experience problems with breathing after reaching a certain altitude. Oxygen in a bottle will help you get over this problem. They are available to buy in the city of Kawaguchiko, which serves as a starting point for many mountaineers going to Fuji. You can also buy them at the 5th Station’s stores, but they cost 1,000 yen for a bottle.
- Poach for garbage. There are no trashcans in Mt. Fuji stores and huts. I recommend using a smaller pocket in your backpack to keep your garbage inside there. Some people buy small poaches in mountaineering equipment stores and put their garbage inside them.
Lastly, what to take back from Mt. Fuji:
- An epic photo of the rising sun taken from the peek of the mountain.
- Climbing stick (available even in Kawaguchiko city) with stamps from every station and hut.
- Chiffon Fuji cookies. They are just super tasty.
- Your garbage. Let’s keep this awesome mountain clean and beautiful.