Instead, I was told to wait until sunrise as by then I would be fine, that the doctor was busy (even though they didn’t check), and to buy an expensive canister of oxygen to make myself better. I wasn’t even given a hot drink, and I was told I would have to pay insane prices if I wanted anything, including more water.
You then must wait to receive permission to climb Mount Fuji.
A mountain hut for one night will cost around 5,500 Yen () without food and 7,000 Yen () including two meals (dinner and breakfast).
Climbing Mt Fuji Hike Guide FAQ
Zigzag trails and rocky climbs on the Fuji hike.
What to expect on Fuji’s Yoshida trail.
Only then did I begin to appreciate the crowds, whose hues of yellow, green, pink and blue added saturation to an otherwise muted mountain canvas.
How much does it cost to climb Mt Fuji?
Visible even from the Tokyo city skyline on a clear day, Fuji lures trekkers with her attractive symmetrical, snow-capped frame and promises of a glorious fiery-sky sunrise. Known to be not too difficult to hike, the small entry fee, and the fact you don’t need a guide, Fuji remains a popular commercial climb.
There is an option to start your trek at 9 pm or 10 pm and climb through the night, reaching the summit for sunrise and making your way back down. This is known as Bullet Climbing and is not advised due to the dangers from exhaustion and falling rocks and trail accidents in the dark. You will notice signs at the 5th station advising against this method and doing so at your own risk.
The Fuji climbing experience isn’t too complicated – here’s where to start, what trail to choose, and what to expect from Japan’s famed pilgrimage hike.
How long does it take to summit Fuji?
It is recommended to make reservations for mountain huts in advance of your trek.
Is Mount Fuji a volcano?
One of the sections of very steep incline on the Mt Fuji hike.
How difficult is the Mt Fuji hike?
Take the mountain bus from Gotemba or Shinmatsuda train stations to the Subashiri Trail 5th Station at 2000 metres.
When is the best time to climb Fuji?
Is Mount Fuji just one of the many destinations on your Japan itinerary? From city-hopping to overall planning, check out my Japan articles for more inspiration.
Can you climb Mount Fuji without a guide?
The altitude hit me, and it hit me hard. Importantly, I didn’t succumb to buying a canister of oxygen and relying on it in an obsessive way like many Japanese were doing, which can dangerously mask the effects of altitude.
Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest and most photographed mountain, with an elevation of 3,776 metres. It’s also known as Fuji-san or Fujiyama.
Preparing to Climb Mount Fuji
There’s a third option, which is to traverse a much harder route that’s barely trodden, although it isn’t advised unless you are a more experienced hiker.
Where to stay before and after the hike
Another relatively easy Fuji path is the Subashiri Trail, which starts at the 5th Station. People often choose this route as it is less crowded than the Yoshida Trail, especially in peak seasons, and is considered to have a more beautiful approach on sloping paths. However, once you reach the 8th Station on the Subashiri Trail, the path to the 10th station summit is the same as that on the Yoshida trail.
There are four main trails for climbing Mount Fuji: the Yoshida Trail, the Subashiri Trail, the Gotemba Trail, and the Fujinomiya Trail. Each has a varying level of difficulty regarding steepness and the type of terrain, and the trails are identifiable by their particular signage colour.
So to that, I say be prepared. If you know you suffer from altitude sickness easily, take Diamox. Make sure you have painkillers. It seems it requires a lot to be able to get help getting down the mountain.
I expected to be treated with the same immediacy – my mountain house was between the 8th and 9th Stations at 3250 metres – but that was not the case.
What to pack for Hiking Mt. Fuji
- Sturdy, already worn-in hiking boots or walking shoes with good grip for the volcanic, rocky and gravel terrain.
- Layers. Wear what you need and pack more to layer up for when it gets colder at altitude. A thermal base layer, a moisture-wicking t-shirt or long-sleeve top, a warm jacket or fleece and a windbreaker or down jacket.
- Pack waterproofs – pants and a waterproof jacket, because Fuji weather is unpredictable.
- Sunscreen and sunglasses. It may get foggy but don’t be fooled by the sun’s power on the Fuji climb.
- Headlamp for the early hours of the summit climb and use in the mountain hut.
- Minimal toiletries for the overnight stay.
- Medications – take your regular medications and get some Diamox in case of altitude sickness.
- Snacks like nuts and protein bars to last for approximately 10 hours of hiking time.
- Cash for extra snacks, drinks and meals. Credit cards are not accepted in most mountain huts.
Mt. Fuji Trails – Which One to Choose
There’s always a steep and arduous path on every mountain, and Fujinomiya is just that. It may be the shortest of all Mt. Fuji trails, but it is a sharp and tough incline to the summit on challenging and rocky terrain. Despite being a busy route, it is not advisable for general everyday climbers to take this approach.
Taking it slow on the rocky paths.
Yellow: Yoshida Trail – Easiest and most popular
The Mount Fuji hike isn’t considered difficult – it’s more a matter of stamina and how you react to altitude. There are no technical aspects to climbing Fuji, just long, zig-zagging pathways on rocky trails, many of which have safety barriers and paved ledges. Also, you do not hike Fuji starting at the foot of the mountain – the start of the trails at the 5th station reduces the overall length of the hike.
- Ascent: 6 hours
- Decent: 4 hours (on a different path to the ascent trail)
Red: The Subashiri Trail – Relatively easy and less crowded
Each trail begins at the 5th Station of Fuji mountain. However, each trail has its own 5th Station location, so you must plan your arrival accordingly.
- Ascent: 6 hours
- Decent: 4 hours (on a different path to the ascent trail)
Green: The Gotemba Trail – Longest and least trodden
The number one rule here is: you are responsible for your safety.
- Ascent: 7 hours
- Decent: 3 hours (path of descent rejoins the path of ascent midway)
Blue: The Fujinomiya Trail – Steepest and most challenging
A one-hour mountain bus ride from Fujisan or Kawaguchiko train stations will bring you to the most well-known of Mount Fuji’s four 5th Station Fuji Subaru Line, standing at 2300 metres.
- Ascent: 5 hours
- Decent: 3 hours (on the same path of ascent)
Bullet Climbing – Fuji in One Day
Approaching the mighty Mount Fuji on the way to the start point.
The 5th Station Starting Point
Yoshida Trail 5th Station: Yamanashi Prefecture side
“I’ll be back again one day”, I replied. “I’m not finished with it yet.”
The climb is steep and strenuous in parts, and it’s only when you look down that you understand how sharp an incline you are on.
Luckily, I had someone looking out for me – the Japanese lady wasn’t just my translator in a time of struggle, she became my friend. She promised me that she would summit Fuji and detour back to the mountain hut on the way down to pick me up.
Many people come directly from Tokyo, but I was advised to travel a day or two beforehand and stay in the area, limiting the added exhaustion of an extra travel journey right before the hike.
The colourful Fuji climber line.
Rite of passage Fuji 5th Station sign photo.
Depending on your trail, there are various routes to your designated 5th Station start point.
The volcanic terrain of Mt. Fuji, Japan.
Hiking the Yoshida Trail
Mount Fuji’s signposed trails, with climbers following the Yoshida Trail.
So while I spent the day leisurely climbing Mount Fuji, I was left for six hours in a dizzy haze, depleted of all energy and vomiting into a plastic bag.
Nonetheless, the Mt Fuji hike and standing upon Japan’s famed peak and biggest natural wonders was a highlight of my trip. Here’s how you can experience climbing Fuji and successfully summit Japan’s highest peak.
Buses from Kawaguchiko train station to the 5th Station cost 1,500 Yen one-way (Around ).
Safety on Mount Fuji
Unable to walk very far and close to passing out after any strenuous movement, I requested my mountain house staff to get me down the mountain fast – the pain only worsened. When you’re an avid trekker, you learn to listen to your body and take the correct measures to protect yourself. This was that moment.
Altitude Sickness – What Do You Do?
View over the Fuji Mountain Stations.
The climb up Mt. Fuji, passing station hut, rest points and lookouts. Which trail will you choose?
Something that wasn’t around when I climbed that has been implemented since is the compulsory Climbing Plan Form. This must be filled out and submitted before you ascend the mountain – it states the route you plan to take, who you are with and an emergency contact in case of search and rescue.
Climbing Mt. Fuji Hiking Guide – Top Tips For a Successful Summit
The longest path up Fuji is the Gotemba Trail, which undoubtedly has the lowest footfall of all the trails as it winds up the mountain in a different direction. Due to its length and more rugged volcanic terrain, Gotemba is more difficult than the Yoshida and Subashiri trails. However, experienced hikers take this route because it has more scenic views at higher elevations.
Fujinomia Trail 5th Station: Shizuoka Prefecture side
Climbing Plan Form
Mount Fuji was once free to climb. The donation-based entrance has since turned into a mandatory fee, helping to protect and maintain the trails. The climbing pass now costs around ¥1,000 – less than .
Summiting Mount Fuji and Getting Down
Yes, you can. The majority of people climbing Fuji are without a guide. You will never feel alone as the trail is always full. Just remember to pack everything you need, including layers, plenty of water, snacks, money and medications.
The easiest and most commercial path is the Yoshida Trail, with a zigzag mechanism of maintained paths, plenty of rest stops, and access to toilets and mountain huts. Ideally, start around midday at the 5th Station to reach the mountain house on the 8th Station after 3 PM for the overnight stay. You then sleep until it is time to begin the ascent to the summit (the 10th Station) in the early hours of the morning for sunrise after 4.30 AM.
I like to be fully prepared when I climb a mountain, and the opinions of other climbers, not just locals, is crucial in getting things right. It’s not a situation where I am willing to take risks.
I saw the sunrise over Mount Fuji through her photos as we ate ice cream – it was incredibly beautiful watching the sky change from dark blue to fiery red and then to clear blue sky above intense crowds of people.
The first aid medical centre was on the 8th Station – not far. Yet not one member of staff would contact a doctor to see if I either needed help or if there was any way that I could be taken down (I saw cars). I managed to find a Japanese lady who spoke English, and she, too, tried to reason with them to no avail.
Travelling in Japan
Subashiri Trail 5th Station: Shizuoka Prefecture side
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Then she said to me: “I will never climb a mountain like this again. It was hard, and I didn’t enjoy it.”
The steep inclines of the Yoshida Trail.