We travel to the city of Fuji Yoshida to start our ascent of this iconic mountain. It’s estimated
that 200,000 people climb the mountain every year but almost all of them begin at the fifth
station after taking a bus half way up the mountain. Instead we take the Fuji Yoshida route,
the oldest pilgrimage route up the sacred mountain and have the lower slopes of the
mountain almost to ourselves. The climb starts from Sengen Jinja, a Shinto shrine founded
in 788 and dedicated to the gods of the mountain before passing through lush forests.
Pilgrims used to come to the shrine to pray for their safe return and make offerings to
placate the gods and avoid eruptions. There are many of these shrines surrounding the
mountain but this one is the most important due to its age. The main shrine building dates
to a 1615 rebuilding of the structures and has been designated as important cultural
property. Nearby are several pilgrims’ inns, lodging houses where the faithful used to stay
before climbing the mountain.
Our walk today takes us from an altitude of 550m to 3,200 and will take about 6 - 7 hours
depending on walking speeds. In the past there were rest houses and places serving food
along this route but now everything is boarded up as there are not enough customers.
At 3776 metres high Mt Fuji is Japan's tallest mountain and a national symbol. Snow-
capped throughout most of the year, views of its majestic volcanic cone are breath-taking.
Often shrouded by clouds, you are most likely to get a clear view outside of climbing
season in the late autumn, winter and early spring when the air is fairly clear.
We sleep in one of the mountain huts that are dotted around the path to the summit. The
accommodation is very simple, with mattresses arranged on the floor, at times there could
be very little personal space but it is a great way to meet the many Japanese climbing the
famous moutain. Communal sleeping and a hearty meal (usually curry and rice) await us
as we spend an evening relaxing with the other climbers before an early night. Sleeping at
a higher altitude will help your body acclimatise to the thinner air at high altitudes.
Starting very early we get up and continue the climb toward the summit. Our aim is to be at
the summit by sunrise and witness the sun rising over a sea of clouds. This is also the
best time for a clear view because during the early morning it is least likely to be shrouded
in cloud. Weather permitting, you have time to hike the crater for an hour or two and check
out the spectacular views of Mt Fuji's different sides. You also have the opportunity to send
some post cards to your friends and family from the post office on the summit!
After a leisurely descent to the 5th station we catch a bus back to Tokyo for a hot shower
and maybe a shiatsu massage!
Departs daily (private tour)