How to climb Mount Fuji: A comprehensive guide
Japan Times -- Jun 01
Mount Fuji. At 3,776 meters high, it’s Japan’s tallest mountain: standalone, vast and beautiful. A little over 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo, and well connected by public transport to the capital, it is also one of the world’s most popular climbs — in 2018 alone, almost 300,000 people attempted the climb in the summer season.

Despite the numbers, and the infrastructure that has been built to serve them, the mountain is not without its challenges. Altitude is one of the most significant; there is little chance to acclimatize on the hike and, approaching 4,000 meters in height, the mountain is easily tall enough to induce altitude sickness in even the fittest of climbers. Another is exposure: Above the treeline there is very little shelter, Fuji is so prominent that nothing blocks incoming weather, and conditions can change very quickly.

However, to summit Mount Fuji is a great challenge, one that should be relished. The view of Japan from the top is unparalleled, especially when sunrise is thrown into the mix. With this guide, you should have an idea of what to expect from the mountain, and what is needed to make a successful summit.

When to climb

The climbing window for Mount Fuji begins July 1 each year, when the Yoshida Trail opens, and lasts till Sept. 10. The other three trails open July 10. During this time, all trails are well serviced by public transport, mountain huts are open and emergency services and first aid are more readily available. Bear in mind that weekends are much busier than weekdays, with Saturdays the most crowded.

It is possible to do an off-season climb of Mount Fuji — and even ski the mountain during the snowy months — but that requires specialist equipment and knowledge that is beyond the scope of this guide. In the off-season, huts are closed and there is no available public transport. Multiple fatalities occur each year among people trying to summit the mountain in the off-season.

Climbing strategy

Many people aim to summit for sunrise. This means climbing throughout the night — or at least a portion of the night — depending on your strategy.

The most direct way to climb is known as the bullet ascent — beginning your climb before midnight and climbing nonstop to the summit for sunrise. While this has many advantages, speed and low cost among them (and is my preferred method of ascent), it is not recommended by the prefectural governments that manage the mountain as it increases the chances of altitude sickness.

Each trail has a number of mountain huts, and a second strategy is to climb a portion of the mountain in the early evening, have supper and sleep at a hut, and then wake before sunrise to complete the ascent. This gives the body greater time to adjust to the altitude. A night at a hut with meals included will set you back around ¥10,000, depending on the day you climb, with weekends more expensive than weekdays. Huts are basic and often crowded; most offer little more than a futon on a tatami floor. Advance reservation is necessary if you hope to stay at a hut.

If you climb overnight, time your arrival at the summit to mere minutes before sunrise. Take it from experience that it becomes very cold, very quickly if you’re hanging around for hours waiting for the sun to rise.

News source: Japan Times
Jul 17
School-related matters led to more suicides last year among youth aged between 10 and 19 than any other issue, the government said Tuesday in its annual paper on the topic. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
Over two weeks of cloudy and rainy days in Tokyo and nearby areas has resulted in higher vegetable prices and sluggish sales of summer clothing. (Japan Times)
Jul 17
Former Emperor Akihito briefly suffered from cerebral anemia last week, forcing him to postpone his regular health checkup, the Imperial Household Agency said Tuesday. (Japan Today)
Jul 17
Toyota Motor Corp. and Japan's space exploration agency said Tuesday they have signed a three-year agreement to jointly research and develop a rover to be sent to the Moon in 2029. (Kyodo)
Jul 17
U.S. investment firm Blackstone Group will spend over 100 billion yen ($926 million) to buy distribution centers in Japan, seeing room for growth in the country's relatively small e-commerce market, Nikkei has learned. (Nikkei)
Jul 16
The Tokyo metropolitan region experienced another cloudy and rainy day on Monday, marking the 18th straight day in which the country’s capital has seen less than three hours of sunshine per day. (Japan Today)
Jul 16
The sounds of chanting men carrying huge, decorated floats signaled the climax of the Hakata Gion Yamakasa festival. Each float weighs more than one ton. (NHK)
Jul 16
A couple in Tokyo was arrested Monday on suspicion of pouring scalding water four years ago over an 11-year-old boy who was living with them at the time, police said. (Japan Today)
Jul 15
Five years ago, residents of Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture, believed that the registration of a local historical landmark as a World Heritage site would reinvigorate the typical Japanese regional city facing a constant decline in population. (Japan Times)
Jul 15
A supermarket has opened in the town of Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, which was devastated by the nuclear disaster in 2011. It is the first supermarket to operate in the town since the accident. Evacuation orders were partially lifted two years ago. (NHK)