“He who climbs Mt. Fuji is a wise man; he who climbs twice is a fool.”
In the Land of the Rising Sun, the volcano by the towns of Hakone and Kawaguchiko is one of the unmissable sights. It’s the most visited mountain in the world with 3 million visitors and 300,000 climbers every year. It last erupted in 1707 and women were banned until 1872.
So for your trip to Japan, have you planned a trip to the highest mountain in the country or even a climb to the top?
You should plan!
How Long Should You Spend at Mount Fuji?
You’re not obliged to climb to the top of Japan’s highest mountain. After all, at 3,776.24 metres above sea level, it's quite a climb and altitude sickness is a real possibility.
There are plenty of things you can do around Mount Fuji. For one, there are plenty of lakes. This isn’t called the Fuji Five Lakes region for nothing!
You can also walk around Mount Fuji all year round.
Climbing Mount Fuji at Night
Choose when the weather’s at its best. If there are clouds, you won’t be able to enjoy the views of the sunset. When it’s raining or cloudy, you’ll never get to enjoy most of the mountain.
There are two options available to you if this is the case.
The first option is to start your climb at the end of the day before the sunset. You can enjoy the sunset where you are or continue the climb and stop in one of the huts on the way up for the night. The huts only have a few futons on them so don’t expect any privacy for the night. You can pay for the night or just a few hours. After all, you’re going to have to get up early if you want to see the sunrise over Mount Fuji.
Your second option is to start the climb at 21:00 or 22:00 and climb through the night to enjoy the sunrise in the morning. There’s a ceremony in the morning, making the experience even more special. You’ll hear the Japanese anthem and be able to see the flag flown over the peak. However, you won’t be alone on these paths. You can find a torii at the summit.
During the day, the climb isn’t as interesting but there are fewer climbers and it’s warmer. You can enjoy some of the viewpoints on your way up if the weather permits.
The Fuji Five Lakes Region
Japan is home to many marvels including the Fuji Five Lakes. You can easily spend 5 days there. Enough time to visit each lake, go on hikes, camp, fish, or go for a bike ride.
Here are the 5 lakes to visit around Mount Fuji:
- Lake Kawaguchi. Don’t hesitate to take the cable car up to Mount Tenjo.
- Lake Sai is the smallest of the lakes.
- Lake Shoji is a great place to spend a night in one of the many hotels on its banks.
- Lake Motosu appears on the 1,000 yen note.
- Lake Yamanaka, the largest of the five lakes in the region.
Make the most of the onsen, visit the temples in the region, and enjoy some sushi away from the bigger Japanese cities. If you’re there during the cherry blossom bloom, you can enjoy some incredible views of Mount Fuji in the background.
When Is Mount Fuji Open?
Mount Fuji doesn’t have specific opening hours. It’s a volcano which is open, though a donation of 1,000 yen is welcome but not obligatory.
You can spend all day there even though it’s recommended that you get there for sunrise or sunset.
The climb to Mount Fuji is open from 1st July to 10th September. Outside of these dates, it’s not forbidden but it’s not recommended. Temperatures swing between -18°C and 8°C and the average temperature is -6.5°C. The rest of the year, you can still visit the areas around Mount Fuji without having to do the climb.
Since 2013, Mount Fuji has been a UNESCO World Heritage site. The climb, while difficult, can be done by all ages as long as you’re in good physical condition.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Mount Fuji?
To avoid the crowds, avoid weekends in summer. Go during the week and make sure you avoid school holidays.
The best time to go is still in July and August. In June and September, temperatures can drop quite drastically. After all, June is the rainy season and September is typhoon season.
It’s even better for enjoying the views when the weather is good. You might be disappointed if you get there and can’t see anything.
You didn’t climb all that way for fog, did you?
It wouldn’t be a great end to the day.
Getting to Mount Fuji from Tokyo
There are two main ways to get to Mount Fuji from Tokyo.
You can go by train with the Japan Rail Pass. You can take the JR Tokaido line to Kozu and change onto the JR Gotemba to Gotemba. You can then get the bus to the foot of the climb.
You can also get the JR Limited Express Azusa or Kaiji from Shinjuku to Otsuki. You then just have to take a train from Fujikyuko to Kawaguchiko. This will take you around 2 hours and 20 minutes.
You can also get the bus from Tokyo Shinjuku station in around 2 and a half hours to Kawaguchiko. This is the simplest way as you won’t need to change, unlike the train. It’ll cost you between 2,000 and 2,500 yen. Try to book your tickets ahead of time.
Once at the Kawaguchiko station, you can take the bus to the 5th Station of Mount Fuji.
Learn more about the history of Mount Fuji.
Should You Visit Mount Fuji Alone or in a Group?
You don’t need to visit Mount Fuji as part of a group. However, the climb is difficult and you’ll need to plan and be in good physical condition.
Plan the climb before you start it. If you have problems with your knees, the climb could be difficult. After all, there is a lot of loose volcanic rock.
It’s a long hike which can take between 4 and 8 hours depending on your physical fitness. The summit is 3,700m up so make sure you take it easy so you don’t get altitude sickness. It’s better to take your time and get to top rather than take unnecessary risks.
The Yoshida route is the easiest. This is also the busiest one. You can also take the Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya routes (check the opening dates).
Avoid mid-September and instead opt for July or August if you can. There are huts on the way up to the summit where you can stay if the weather changes.
Make sure you have the right gear: warm clothes, waterproofs, hiking boots, and walking poles will all be greatly appreciated on the way up and down. Don’t forget about the descent, which is hard work on your thighs and knees. You should bring 2 to 3 litres of water or energy drink. There are places to pick stuff up but they’re quite expensive.
Don’t forget a head torch and bring money to use the toilets.
So are you ready to head up Mount Fuji?
Learn more about budgeting for Mount Fuji.
If you're interested in learning Japanese, there are plenty of great resources online to help you. Similarly, you can also get help with your Japanese from one of the many talented tutors on Superprof.
There are three main types of tutorial available for Japanese: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials. Each has its pros and cons and you'll have to choose the type that's right for you and your budget.
Generally, it's a good idea to start a new hobby with group tutorials as they're less of an investment. Once you get serious about it, you can always start working with a face-to-face or online tutor and learning exactly what you want to learn.
Before you make your decision, remember that many of the tutors on Superprof will offer free tuition for the first hour. This means you can try a few tutors, see if you like their teaching style, and see if you get along with them. After all, it's useless paying for a tutor that you don't enjoy spending time with!