This is about a trip (about a year old now) to Mt. Fuji.
In September 2015, I had a short trip to Tokyo for business. I thought it would be a great opportunity to combine it with a short weekend hike to Mt. Fuji.
The weather forecast for good and it was one of the last weekends that the hiking trails were still open.
The stations and trails close pretty early (usually mid of Sept depending on the trail) due to potential snowfalls.
I took possibly the most popular trail (Yoshida):
Make some preparation
Unfortunately I didn’t do enough preparation in advance (booking a bus from Tokyo to one of the starting points), but at least I managed to book a ‘bed’ in one of the huts (8.5th station – Goraiko-kan at some 3450m). These 2 day hikes are very common. The reason is that people get to the hut in the afternoon, take a nap and wake up at about 2am to finish the hike to the top just to see the sunrise. You could possibly do the opposite (sunset approach). It is just as not common as the first version.
Getting to the start of the train from Tokyo was pretty bad. I woke up at some 4am and had to change the trains and buses for 5 or 6 times. I do really recommend to try to book one of the bus companies that leave from a central location in Tokyo in the mornings (at least I was lucky to get this one on the way back next day – without booking).
The ascend is pretty boring, starting at Subaru 5th station at some (2262m – as per my GPS watch) going all the way to 3740m. The official top is 3776m (so my watch did not pick it up perfectly). As I mentioned I settled down for the 1st day on this 8.5th stations (3450m).
The landscape in all the respect is rather boring (well, it is a dusty volcano without much vegetation or scenic views). The main fun comes from observing the locals with their oxygen masks 🙂 inhaling more O2 at altitudes of 2500m. It is basically a zig-zag snake ascend.
Yoshida trail is popular and yes, you can see that. It is crowded. Maybe also because if was one of the last weekends when the trail was open (Sept 5-6th, 2015). The views from the mountain during the hike were also not so spectacular. Unless you get some nice moments above the clouds.
I guess the beauty of this hike is because it is a sacred mountain and of course the biggest in Japan. What will though remain in my memory is the sleeping at this hut (typical mountain accommodation in large shared rooms, dining some ramen) and then the morning!
The morning and the crowds
I woke up before 2am. When I stepped out from the hut, I just could not believe what I saw. The people from below stations (e.g. st. 7 and 8) but also from all the way down formed a never ending snake of light (headlamps). This must have been kilometers long. The bad part was that the same was also above my hut to the top.
Even if I had about 300 elevation meters to do, it took at least 2 hours thanks to the extremely slow pace that the snake was moving at. It was really more standing at a place waiting for the crows than moving. This 2nd day was sadly pretty cloudy and cold. Once I reached the top, there were tons of people waiting for the sunrise.
When the sun rose up, I managed to get at least some (not exactly spectacular) photographs. The next mission was to reach some warm food, circle around the crater and get to the very top of Japan.
In the meanwhile, the visibility got really bad, basically turning into a milky fog. After a second or third bowl of instant ramen soup, there was not that much left to do so I started my ‘run’ down.
Luckily on the Yoshida trail you have a way for ascend and the descent, so you won’t jump into people going the opposite direction. The run down was super fast. It was literally a small jog in the super soft volcanic sand. According to my watch it was less then 1.5 hours. With a normal hiking pace, please count with some 3 hours. The only stops I had to do was when I started removing all the extra layers of clothing (it was about freezing on the top, and for sure some 15 celsius at 2000m).
I managed to get a seat at the bus to get me directly to Tokyo (first we had to see if all the people with reservations show up (luckily some didn’t).
Next day… work and office.