Everything you always wanted to know about Fuji

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There is a Japanese Proverb that goes something like this… A wise man climbs Mount Fuji once, a fool climbs it twice

At the moment, I belong to the first category… I climbed Fuji overnight to see the sunrise from the top of Japan, something you shouldn’t miss when you live in the country of the rising sun! But the climb wasn’t a great deal of fun, involving a very tough hike to 3776m on slippery volcanic stone with a light strapped to my forehead to guide me through the hiker traffic jam.  Also, it can be VERY COLD at the top before the sunrise and VERY HOT when you go back down.  It’s a tough one but you are rewarded with an amazing sunrise (weather permitting!) and a special atmosphere. 

If you want to make it even harder on yourself you can always do Fuji the way my kiwi did it and enter the Fuji Mountain Race: a half marathon up Fuji (which I think automatically elevates you to the second proverbial category!). We had a memorable experiences on Fuji but we won’t be back in a hurry like most people!

Fujisan has special meaning on a variety of levels, and now that it is listed as a world heritage site more and more people are going to want to hike it – a fee might soon be charged for hikers.  Also, you need to know that the hiking season is limited (july and august), that you better have some proper equipment, and you need to be fairly fit to last the distance…. and remember from the top of Fuji you won’t see this iconic volcano so here are some options to view the mighty Fuji:

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Option Hiking

Mitsutogeyama is a easier, nicer and a more convenient hike to access than Fuji. You can find the detailed itinerary in the guide “Hiking in Japan”: you are going to enjoy many amazing views and end up at the Kachi Kachi ropeway, well known as being an incredible spot to gaze on Fuji. You might even have some interesting encounters: a sign warned us of the possibility of bears in the area… thankfully the only one we saw was on the sign! From Tokyo you can do the hike as a day trip but I recommend to sleep in Kawaguchiko at the end of the day.

Option Make the Most of your Time

 If you are planning to go to Hakone to have an onsen you can see Fuji from Lake Hashinoko, on a trip to Kamakura to see the temples you can look across to Fuji from the beach, and if you go for a stroll on Enoshima you can see Fuji. If you want to increase your chances to have clear views be there early in the morning and in winter…however, a word of warning, I lived a long time in Japan and still didn’t manage to get many clear pictures of Fuji from those locations.

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Option Relax 

The Fuji lake region is perfect to enjoy a ryokan-onsen experience. We spent a night on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi (following our Mitsutogeyama hike), which is where I took the photos at the top of the article. Book a hotel on the side of the lake opposite the station so that you can look across the lake to Fuji. We stayed at the Sunnide Resort but there are many to choose from

Option Express

During winter, I very often saw Fuji from my office in downtown Tokyo. But you don’t need to be a salary(wo)man to get the same views as I had, you can see it very well from the top of the tall Shinjuku Metropolitan Government offices for free!

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Option Seated

 If you take the shinkansen from Tokyo towards Kyoto, choose a window seat on the right side and if the weather is fine be ready to take pictures, Fuji is going to be your close companion for part of the trip! I have also seen Fuji from the plane on domestic flights from Tokyo heading towards the west of Japan. Peel your eyes after take off!

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 Voyagista’s tips

  •  Check the weather forecast before hiking Fuji: no point going if the weather is bad unless you want to punish yourself for little reward.

  • Most people hike the Yoshida trail because it’s easily reached by direct bus from Shinjuku station. However, there are many routes that are less busy. More info here or here. You can check the hut price here, the bus schedule here and the official information here.

  • Your chances to see Fuji increase if you climb in winter as Fuji is often hidden in the clouds in summer.

  • Hakone by this pass is a relatively expensive option. Most guides recommend it as a daytrip but this makes it a very busy day spent mostly on transportation. Better to take your time enjoying the area and spend a night in a ryokan

Are you keen to See Fuji? What option are you going to choose?

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