Japan: Mission to Climb Fuji

After spending the last couple of days exploring Tokyo it was finally time to set off to Fuji. As this was our main reason for wanting to travel to Japan, we were very excited. During our trip in Thailand, we had decided that we would walk from station 0 instead of taking the bus up to 5th station like most of the “Fuji Climbers” do. Leaving Tokyo by its central station we took a bus to Fujikawaguchiko which cost around 2,300 Japanese Yen. After spending around 2 hours on the bus, we arrived in Fuji and headed to our hostel. This is where we came into a bit of trouble as none of us had any internet to google map our hostel. We decided that we should get a map from the bus station, thinking that this would make it easier for us to locate our hostel. However, we couldn’t be more wrong, as when we asked the locals for help they didn’t speak a word of English meaning we ended up walking what was only a 10 minute walk, about 1.5 hours. Nevertheless, when we got to our hostel we decided to chill and check the area of Fuji out.

One thing we would really recommend is making sure you get a good hostel or guest house in Fuji as it will help you for your climb. Many guest houses advertise tours, where your host will also take you up Fuji. Personally, we don’t recommend that you book a tour, as you follow thousands of people doing the same route. The hostel we stayed at was called ‘K’s Hostel’ and we could not recommend this enough. The hostel is relatively cheap, very nice and also the hostel was very helpful. Another thing that we liked is the fact it had its own kitchen as we were starting to run out of money, as Japan is so expensive. This allowed us to make our own food and save money that way. A useful tip is to check the weather so you know whether you will see a good sunset/sunrise, depending on the time you choose to climb Fuji. Another great thing about K’s Hostel was that they had a computer that you could use to check the weather or anything else you would like to know. The hostel was also the most chill place, with hammocks everywhere, a suntop terrace and was close to many authentic Japanese restaurants.

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During our first proper day in Fuji we really didn’t do much apart from extend our stay at K’s Hostel as we really felt welcome and enjoyed our stay. Additionally, as we were told by the reception the weather was going to be bad the next day we chose to not climb Fuji. After chilling at the hostel during the day we decided to go and eat authentic Japanese food at an authentic Japanese restaurant. After asking the hostel where they would recommend, we decided to go to an authentic Japanese restaurant where the owner spoke no English and it was almost like you was entering someone’s home. With the menu being in Japanese we had no idea what the price was for anything that we may order. However, we thought this just added to the experience. We decided to order some ramen noodles and we have to say that these were amazing. It’s one place that if you want to eat good Japanese food, then this is the place to go.

As we decided against climbing Fuji on our second day we chose to explore the lakes and parks around Fuji. Walking around Lake Kawaguchi for about 4 hours we saw some spectacular sights and mountain ranges. Sometimes you forgot that you was in Japan, as it’s not something you expect to see. If hiking is an activity that you are interested in then walking around the lakes is something that might interest you. On our way back we stopped at a museum cafe, which was about the history of Fuji and had a beer. Also we stopped by at a local temple in Fuji which was just in a random location along the lakes pathway. The temple didn’t really have much to see but we just thought as were we already here, we may as well check it out. When we got back to the hostel, we met a traveller called Andy who also wanted to climb Fuji and was looking for someone to tag along with. Obviously, we asked if he wanted to climb with us as we didn’t want him to climb nearly 4000m by himself.

Day three in Fuji was the big day for us. Finally we were going to climb Fuji as we had made sure that the weather was going to be good for us to climb, and also for the sunset the next morning. What we would recommend is to take a small bag, probably a 20L bag, so you can put in extra layers, food and drink. This is because food and drink are ridiculously overpriced, and at the bottom of the mountain it’s too warm to wear all your layers. After choosing to start from station 0, we went even further and decided to start from our hostel. The four of us all agreed that if we were going to do it, we wanted to do it right. The walk from the hostel to station 0 was around 1.5 hours to begin with. In hindsight this probably wasn’t a good idea as the full trip to the top and then back down to the hostel took over 24 hours. Nevertheless, we were told that no one had ever attempted to start from the hostel and then walk the entire way. This only spurred us on to try this!

After finally reaching station 0 we were now on the main trail for the ascent. Most people who choose to climb Fuji get a bus to first station that costs 1,900 Yen. However, we didn’t see the point paying for a bus, which is expensive, and seemed to go against the point of coming to Japan to climb Fuji. The beginning of the climb from station 0-5 seemed pretty easy, and we were making good time in order to see the sunset. One memory of Fuji I won’t forget, is when we saw the view for the first time above the clouds. Being around 1840m in the air, allowed us to see some amazing views above the clouds.

After reaching station 5, we decided to take a bit of rest as we had been walking for about 5 hours straight from the hostel. The good thing about setting off so early, meant that we were at 5th station for sunset. After spending around 20 mins watching the sunset, we decided to start climbing again. After station 5, the climb gets progressively harder as you are climbing on ice, snow and through the dark. As darkness was approaching, there was a sudden drop in temperature so make sure you bring plenty of layers in your backpack. After layering up at station 6, we continued to head up the mountain. As its pitch dark by the time you make station 6, there’s not really much to see. However, at this point your main is aim to keep going so you keep warm. We found that stopping at some stations made you really cold and it took awhile for you to get warm again. Unless you need a break from the climb, then try to stop as little as possible. If you really want to, you can hire a bed and a room at the different stations, but these were ridiculously expensive, and really not worth it. We managed to climb Fuji, with no previous climbing experience, and although it took us ages, and we were in pain and so tired at the end, we are glad we didn’t waste money on these rooms.

By the time we had reached the summit, we had been walking for around 14 hours and now we were waiting for the sunrise. We initially, laid down on a bench and fell to sleep as we were so tired. However, our bodies were shaking so much from the cold we soon woke up and realised that there was a line to get inside a food cafe. Although we knew we would have to buy something, at this point we were so cold, and so hungry, that we wanted to buy something anyway. If you are going to do this, make sure you’re first in line when you reach the summit, and then eat your food really slowly so you can stay in the warm. The food as you can imagine is a rip-off, but when you’re hungry and so cold you have little choice but to pay the price.

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After spending an hour in the warmth, we decided to head outside to see the beginning of the sunrise. Seeing this sunrise made the entire climb worth while! The sunrise was genuinely one of the best sunrises that we have ever seen, and it made the pain of climbing all worthwhile. If you ever get the chance to climb Fuji and see the sunrise you will appreciate just how amazing nature can be.

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Many people start the climb by getting a bus from the town to 5th station. And although this is a lot easier, it is so rewarding actually climbing from the bottom to the top! Just keep in mind that at the top it is so cold and that you need to make sure you have adequate clothes. I remember one conversation I had with max, that is shown on the video below, saying wow it must be so cold, before coming across some of the biggest icicles we have ever come across. Also what you need to keep in mind is that when you finally get to the top you have to get back down. You could either do what Max and I did, and walk down all the way, or what Haydn and Andrew did, and walk to 5th station and get a bus back. In the end, the bus only saved them 2 hours, but obviously it meant that they could get home sooner.

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All in all, if you’re thinking you wanna climb a mountain but don’t wanna pay a lot of money to climb one, then Fuji is a great opportunity and experience to see whether you like climbing them. If you don’t end up paying for the busses there and back then climbing Fuji is free, and it is something to knock off your bucket list. Something we all agree on is that Fuji was one of the most rewarding activities that we have ever completed.

View the rest of our Fuji pictures here

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67 thoughts on “Japan: Mission to Climb Fuji

  1. Ha ha ! A great account and it certainly brings back a few painful memories for me !! Ours was a summer climb (August) so no snow but certainly cold and very windy above the tree line and deffo at the top. For us it was an after work thing, clocked off about 6.00pm and train to Gotemba, couple of beers then hit the trail and off we went. Got the top and saw the sunrise, very nice, to savour our “Go-raiko” (honourable light) moment. Came down straightaway and got the bus home, knackered but still met up in an izakaya that night to celebrate with a huge bottle off sake – well you have to don’t you agree ? Not sure I’d do it again, would you ? Read somewhere that it’s like climbing an ashtray, lots of dust and volcanic debris – they’re right ! And of course there’s that wise Japanese maxim: He who climbs Mt Fuji is a wise man, he who climbs twice is a fool…

  2. Great photos! After reading, I’m not sure this is a must-do for me. Hahahaha! Love-hate relationship with cold and pain. Seems like a great experience though.

  3. Japan is such a beautiful country and the people are so respectful. I wish I could go there some day. And climbing Fuji is definitely in my bucket list now (if I ever visit Japan haha). Loved this post!

  4. Gosh, that was quite a climb! I’d love to try hiking there someday. You guys were really strong for doing it all the way from the hostel! It’s also good to know that there’s a bus in one of the stations if something happens.

    1. It was such a great relief to have finally finished it! The walk home was tough as everything started to hurt badly. I have a bad knee so it didn’t really help that 😂

  5. One of the things on my bucket list is exactly to climb a Fuji and now you’re making me to go there like tomorrow haha 😀
    I’m glad that you had a great time guys! It was funny to read about your love and hate relationship with cold and pain 🙂

  6. It’s so cool that you started from your hostel and did it for cheap ! That sunset as well as the sunrise must have been so stunning!!

  7. How amazing is this?! I’d be terrified to do that climb but I absolutely love reading your adventures. And now I want to visit my local Ramen shop for some ramen soup and mochi ice cream!

  8. This post is excellent!! I have had climbing Mt. Fuji on my bucketlist!! Lake Kawaguchi area looks beautiful! It’s so great that you took someone with you so he didn’t have to walk alone.

    I think you guys are CRAZY for walking all the way from the bottom. I plan on starting at station 5! 🙂

    Just a tip to download your google maps ahead of time so you can find your way around even if you don’t have service! 😉

    1. Thank you for kind words! You should totally climb Fuji! Many people have told us how crazy we are but we thought if we want to climb it we might as well do it right haha! We tried doing that but because we had replacement phones as our old ones either broke or we lost, it didn’t work very well haha

  9. Oh nice. I have always dreamt of hiking Mt. Fuji. So far I’ve hiked minor mountains in Japan. The highest being Mt. Kongo.

  10. I really enjoyed reading your article and seeing the pictures and your experience but I’m afraid of heights so I don’t think that I could ever climb a mountain 😅

  11. I loved this post! The pictures were truly amazing to see, and it was really fun to read through your story of the trip and all the obstacles that were between you and climbing Fuji, and how it actually felt when you made it!

  12. Sounds like an awfully long process, but it’s so worth it. I’d love to see the view from the top, but I doubt my illness will ever allow me to do so. If I get better, it will definitely go on my bucket list.

  13. So what I am getting here is, it’s a great and fulfilling experience,and I would guess the cafes and beds are more expensive the higher you climb up, but that is what it is, when people are desperate they don’t ask for price they just pay, great that you managed to climb the mountain it was by far a no easy task, but now you can say that you did it, and I can imagine the sunrise is magnificent, can’t wait to get that off my bucket list.

  14. accounts of your trek to the summit is truly an adventure…..I mean trekking thru the dark is something reserve for someone ready enough to face the unknown…..seriously you guys inspired me to climb an icon as Mt. Fuji….

  15. I loved reading your account of Mount Fuji as it brought back memories for me too. We took the bus to the 5th Station and the weather turned nasty. We made the best of it and I loved our trip there. No regrets.

  16. Such a good read! Impressive and seemingly fun photos as well. My friends, they have climbed Mt. Fuji in the late autumn of last year and it sure was memorable according to them. I guess you guys also had a blast. I have been on the road for 3 years + now and of no intentions to stop, Japan is in my 2019. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I had such a fun time when I climbed Fuji and it was soooo rewarding when I finally finished! I am so jealous that you’ve been on the road for 3+ years now! Hope you’re having such a great time! 2019 is going to be a big year so watch out for more!

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