Japan Summer Bucketlist: Climbing Mt Fuji is Something You Definitely Should Do

Japan Summer Bucketlist: Climbing Mt Fuji is Something You Definitely Should Do

Climbing Mt. Fuji definitely deserves a spot in your Japan Summer Bucket List!

The iconic Mt Fuji stands tall and proud at 3,778m. It’s the tallest peak in Japan and the subject of many works of Japanese art. It was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 2013. Affectionately termed ‘Fuji-san’ by the people, it’s a destination popular not just with tourists but with locals as well. Summer time is the ONLY period in the year that you’re allowed to attempt to hike the mountain, transforming Mt Fuji into a bustling tourism hub. Visiting Mt Fuji in the summer? This amazing climb definitely deserves a spot in your itinerary!

Also read: 13 Experiences Every Traveller Must Have in Japan

mt fuji climb
Image credit: Wikimedia

Many people take the bus to Mt Fuji. You can do so from Tokyo’s Shinjuku station. The Mt Fuji adventure usually takes only a day or two, so you can choose to stow your luggage away in the lockers at the Shinjuku station and come back and get it when you’re back from the hiking. That way you have less baggage to have to be accountable for on the mountain! There are many bus services that take you out to the mountain and you can book them in advance online here. Do note that because Mt Fuji is a popular destination, it’s safest if you book them early.

mt fuji climbImage credit: mcgarrett88

The bus takes you to the 5th station of Mt Fuji; there are many stations all the way up the mountain and the 5th station is the highest you can get by bus. The 5th station is where everyone gets off and is geared towards tourists – the area is full of  food vendors, restaurants, souvenir shops, etc. That’s not all there is to offer at the 5th station; there is also Lake Kawaguchi, forests and Japanese shrines to explore! If you just want to check out Mt Fuji without climbing it, this is definitely the place to go to sightsee.

The best way to see Mt Fuji from the bottom is by walking through Okuniwa. Okuniwa is called “The Tengus’ Garden” and there’s a nice walking path inside that takes you through the entire garden. There are many picturesque spots along the path where you can see the mountain through beautiful Japanese foliage, allowing you to take many stunning shots that look too beautiful to be true!

mt fuji japanImage credit: skyseeker

Mt Fuji is free for all to climb, but there is a maintenance fee you need to pay before you start. What people usually do is to climb from the 5th stop to the 8th, and take a rest in a mountain hut there. Along the way, the 6th, 7th and 8th stops all have food and drinks on sale for the climbers, so you don’t have to worry about bringing lots of water in a heavy bag! Just remember to bring enough money. The toilets at these rest stops cost money too, so bring enough.

Also read: 9 Places in Japan That are Totally Instagram-Worthy

Image credit: Banzai Hiroaki

Remember to pack warm clothing! Even though it’s summertime, with every 100m that you ascend, the temperature drops about 0.6 degree Celsius. Also, pack rain gear just to be safe! And as always, make sure you check the weather forecast before you start your ascent! You wouldn’t want to be caught in a spot of bad weather whilst descending the mighty mountain.  

climbing mt fujiImage credit: kazuhiro kimura

At the 8th station, you can rest at Goraikoukan, a mountain hut 3,450m above sea level. It’s the rest stop nearest to the peak. People often spend the night here so that they can get up early in the morning after some sleep to reach the summit at the crack of dawn. Looking up at the night sky from midway atop the mountain also presents a lovely starry night sky and shouldn’t be missed! You can, and should make reservations ahead of time here. (If you know how to read Japanese, I’ve heard that booking from the Japanese site will be cheaper!)

Image credit: Banzai Hiroaki

Goraikoukan isn’t a 5 star hotel, and is essentially tatami style sleeping with a bunch of other strangers squeezed into the same room with you – it’s not the most comfortable, but it’s the only option up the mountain. You know what they say: Beggars can’t be choosers! Sleeping bags are provided, and a room can be filled with up to 20 people. Food is provided within the cost you pay, because there is nowhere else you can get food anyway. Most people reach Goraikoukan in the afternoon and sleep until 1am or so, and continue the ascent from then.

climbing mt fujiImage credit: nombiri22

From Goraikoukan, the remaining climb up will be considerably tougher than from the 5th stop to the 8th. Because you’re that much closer to the peak, the trail is going to be very steep, so prepare yourself mentally. Don’t give up! Rest assured though, the sunrise seen from the mountaintop will justify all your efforts. Trust me when we say it will definitely be worth it! The peak is about 5 degree Celsius in daytime and even colder at dawn.

climbing mt fujiImage credit: Rocky T

If you’re a mountain junkie like me, you’ll understand the exhilaration of both the climb and the summiting. Sitting among the clouds makes you feel like you’re in another world, and you might as well be.

climbing mt fujiImage credit: hoge asdf

You descend down a different route and there are no vendors this time, but it will take way less time than it took to ascend. Be careful though, you’re probably going to slip and fall a couple times because of the sandy steepness. You climb all the way down back to the 5th station and from there, hop on your bus to wherever your next destination is.

climbing mt fujiImage credit: Utagawa Hiroshige – Online Collection of Brooklyn Museum

It is easy to see the aesthetic appeal of the mountain and be able to appreciate the numerous works of Japanese art that feature the peak. There is Hokusai’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji and One Hundred Views of Mount Fuji (which look exactly like they sound), as well as Utagawa Hiroshige’s 36 Views of Mount Fuji. The mountain is also mentioned in Japanese literature and poetry. In Japanese popular culture, it is very prevalent as well, resulting in movie appearances and memes. You get serious bragging rights as well – how many people can actually say they climbed Mt Fuji?

Also read: 7 Absolutely Breathtaking Sites in Japan You Never Knew Existed

All in all, Mt Fuji isn’t just a land formation – it is an experience that you’ll remember for life, and there’s no better way to experience it than to climb it. So hike away!

About Author

Ashleigh Goh
Ashleigh Goh

Ash is a self-identified feminist hippie filmmaker and loves the mountains and trees. She has travelled extensively through the US and has spent some time working/living/studying in Montana and Austin. She is constantly on the pursuit of personal growth, and travel gives her exactly that.