Fuji_kim_toshiMt. Fuji seen from above | photo by Flickr user Toshi_KMR

Surrounded by blue sky, topped with white snow and standing at 3776 meters, Mt. Fuji is perhaps the single most revered national landmark of Japan. Over 300K people climb Japan’s highest peak each year. I did it with my Mom many years ago and will adhere to the oft-quoted saying – a wise man climbs Mount Fuji once in his life; only a fool climbs it twice.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t continue to look. The many faces of Mt. Fuji have not only inspired climbers, but photographers, painters, sculptors and musicians. There are even Mt. Fuji otaku who hastily snap their cameras at the sight of the mountain out of train windows.

And now the United Nations cultural organization UNESCO is set to approve Mt. Fuji as a World Heritage site when it meets in June. To commemorate this official global recognition, we’re running a week-long series of posts JUST on Mt. Fuji! Here are a few Mt. Fuji basics to get us in the mood.

Fuji - the great wave at kanagawa katsushika hokusaiKatsushika Hokusai’s iconic woodblock print “The Great Wave at Kanagawa” (1830 -33)

Q&A

Q: Can I make a day trip out of climbing Mt. Fuji?
A: Absolutely. There are several different routes with varying difficulties/lengths but each should get you to the top and back in a single day. The shortest Fujinomiya Route will get you from station 5 to the summit in roughly 5 hours. But beware – during peak season this is also the most crowded route.

Q: When can I make the climb
A: Any day of the year you wish. However, official climbing season is July and August. This means that weather will be more favorable but congestion will not.

Q: What do I need to bring?
A: There can be dramatic swings in temperature so be sure to dress in layers. A waterproof windbreaker on top is also a good idea. If you’re going to be climbing in the dark to see the sunrise you’ll want a head lamp so you can keep both hands free. Hat, backpack, gloves and shoes that offer plenty of support are also a given. Most supplies like water will be available as you climb but be prepared to pay a hefty premium.

Q: So what’s the deal with the huts?
A: Huts along the way (mostly between station 5 -8) provide meals and lodging for those looking to stay overnight and then continue to the summit early in the morning for the sunrise. Some huts take walk-ins but to play it safe you’ll want to make a reservation. Rates are between 7000 – 9000 yen and include meals. Here is a list of huts and their phone numbers.

The Routes

Subashira Route
- Distance: 14km
- Time: 6 hours going up, 3 hours coming down
- Perhaps the least crowded route and the only route to take you through the forested areas of Mt. Fuji.

Yoshida Route
- Distance: 15.1km
- Time: 5.5 hours going up, 3 hours coming down
- The most popular of routes. A large parking lot accommodates tour buses and people arriving by car.

Fujinomiya Route
- Distance: 10km
- Time: 5 hours going up, 2.5 hours coming down
- If you’re not planning on spending the night, this is the route for you. It’s the fastest route but you also take the same path down (most route have alternate descending routes) so you may have to play a little dodge ball.

Gotenba Route
- Distance: 19.5km
- Time: 7.5 hours going up, 3 hours coming down
- The most difficult and time-consuming of all routes. It requires more planning as there are no huts or supply stores for a large part of the hike.

This is a series of posts on Mt. Fuji. All posts can be found HERE