There wasn’t a really specific reason why I picked Japan as my pre-uni trip (I went on skyscanner, looked at the tickets to different countries, and went with Japan). So after I booked my flights in and out of Tokyo it just came to my mind that I could climb Mt Fuji. Those who know me will soon understand that I have a thing for mountains. The feeling of satisfaction after conquering a peak and the victory march down the slopes are just part of their appeal. So I started looking at guides, videos, and blogs for planning purposes and found out that it is a relatively easy climb (i.e. no heavy gear needed). The only preparation I had before the trip is to book a mountain hut. I booked Goraikoukan. It is the one that is nearest the summit. I figured that tackling most of the climbing early is a good idea, so I went with Goraikoukan. They also have a website in English through which you can book so it is very convenient. Click here for their website.
There are 4 trails for those who want to climb Mt Fuji. They are the Yoshida trail, Gotemba trail, the Subashiri trail and Fujinomiya trail. What people usually do is go to the 5th Station on a trail by buses and then continue on foot all the way up. (The summit is the 10th Station, so the 5th Station is about half the vertical distance)
More detailed info about the routes can be found here. I chose the Yoshida trail, since it is the nearest to Tokyo, where I was before the climb.
6 September 2016, 0500hrs
I had breakfast at Sushi Dai at Shinjuku Fish Market. After queuing since 3am, it was a scrumptious start to the day ahead. I then made my way to Shinjuku Bus Terminal and asked for the 7:45 bus to Fuji Subaru 5th Station, but they were already sold out for the entire day. Shit. I then asked what are my options, and the attendant recommended going to Kawaguchiko first and then take another bus to Fuji Subaru 5th Station. So I paid the JPY1750 and got on the bus to Kawaguchiko. It was about 3 hours. I slept through most of it since I woke up at 2:45am that morning. Upon reaching Kawaguchiko Station, I had small meal of Onigiris at 7/11 and stocked up with 2L of water and a few canned tuna and salmon. I need my proteins, okay. The view of Mt. Fuji from the town is really mesmerising, with passing clouds occasionally blocking the summit.
After cramming my bag with the huge water bottle and those canned goodies, I took a bus to Fuji Subaru 5th Station. The journey through the mountain roads took an hour.
I reached the 5th Station, which was 2300m above sea level. It was extremely crowded with people of all ages and nationality. I was psyched. I looked back and saw the amazing Mt Fuji.
There were a bunch of souvenir shops and restaurants at the 5th Station. This was the last stop where things, in general, were sold before climbing. Things sold along the climb were expensive and the price increases with altitude. Any last minute purchases should be made here before you realised you messed up while you’re halfway up the mountain. I was kind of glad that I didn’t manage to get the bus to the 5th Station from Shinjuku. Everything here is a little more expensive than in Kawaguchiko.
I also went to the shops to take a look. I saw some equipments that I might need for the climb. A waterproof cover for my bag and a flashlight. Now why didn’t I think of getting them beforehand? Haha
After doing some final checks on my attire and the contents of my backpack, I left 5th Station. I chanced upon this American couple, Luke and Dre, just before leaving the 5th Station, so we headed up together. It is a relatively gentle climb. Good. Start slow and easy.
I reached the 6th Station. Didn’t expect to reach the first checkpoint so fast. I was elated.
We took a short break, took some pictures, drank some water and soon we were on our way again.
After the 6th Station, stairs start to come out. Each step became more vertical than horizontal. Our quads started to ache. But thanks to the crowd, we manage to stop once in a while.
7th Station. The approximated time from the 6th to the 7th Station is 1 hour, but we managed it in 35 minutes. We were making good time.
We took our first real break at this station. Found a bench and just let our quads rest. After about 15 minutes, we were on our way again.
Mountain huts start appearing after the 7th Station. Every one started treating the railings as a support to lean their tired butts on. The climb from 7th to 8th is the longest. It is estimated to take approximately 100 minutes.
Bathrooms are available along the climb and they have a box outside for you to “pay”/donate JPY200 (I could get two gyozas for that) I didn’t go since I have a mountain hut booked at the top.
The thin air starts to affect your breathing during this portion. You take larger breaths, stop more often and just feel tired more. Not muscle ache though
8th Station. Finally! We managed to climb from 7th to 8th Station in 90 minutes. Still ahead of schedule. Perfect.
After passing the 8th Station, Luke and Dre reached their mountain hut so I continued up alone. This part is the worst. Every step seemed so heavy. Every breath feels so empty. Just keep climbing, just keep climbing, just keep climbing, I told myself mimicing Dory from Finding Nemo.
2 long hours after passing the 8th Station, I made it to Goraikoukan. The feeling of excitement when you can finally sit down and enjoy the rest of the night.
I had dinner of fish and rice at 1830hrs. It actually tasted pretty damn good. Can you imagine how they had to carry all the ingredients up the mountain? Every. Single. Day. Wow.
Met a group of Japanese dudes who climbs Mt Fuji every year. I met up with them when I went to Tokyo a few days after the climb. A really fun bunch of people.
I went to bed at about 1900hrs, after dinner. Mountain huts are not meant to be comfortable. You get a bed of 2mX0.5m. Not even enough room to roll to the side.
I set my alarm to 0230hrs and went to bed.
When I woke up, I had a bloody bad migraine. Checked my phone and it was only 2130hrs. You know those kind that makes you feel like “Kill me now pls”. It hurts so bad when I don’t move. It hurt more when I tried to close my eyes or move. I went to the toilet, looked in the mirror. Yep my head didn’t get bashed in while I was asleep. I tried to go back to sleep.
Basically I woke up twice every hour. It was about midnight when I tried to look up for the symptoms of altitude sickness. Looked at the list, and yep that was it. I might have climbed too fast, considering my mountain hut is the highest and I took 5.5 hours instead of the approximated 7 to reach it.
Every time I woke up, I hoped that it was already 0230hrs so I didn’t have to force myself to sleep more.
7 September 2016, 0230hrs
My alarm finally rang. Yes! I had breakfast, which was also provided by the mountain hut, and left for the summit. There was no natural illumination. All the light were from other people’s head lamps. Since I only had a JPY500 torchlight which only lasts 45 minutes, according to the manual, I didn’t use a torch. I kinda just leeched of the light shone by others. But I kept overtaking people and there was a point where there was no one in front or behind me, so I had to use my own torch. But, if you don’t wanna get a torch, you could get by by leeching off others HAHAHA.
The summit. Oh my gosh I finally reached it! The sheer satisfaction is just amazing. My migraine was still there, but I think my endorphin countered it quite a bit. Either that, or my body is acclimatising slowly. Probably both.
Sunrise was at 0510hrs that morning. So I waited, and waited. Didn’t have gloves and it was freezing as heck. The winds were vicious. Shouldn’t have come too early. I went to a corner to get some warmth, and just happened to chat with Russel, an American dude who lived in Russia for a period of time. We tried to chat while shivering. Didn’t go too well but at least the conversation eased the feeling of coldness.
And where is the sun? It was extremely foggy. I think visibility was less than 50m. No kidding. Instead of sunrise, I only managed to witnessed the sky just brighten up slowly. Small disappointment. But I am on top of Mt Fuji WOW.
We figured there was no point staying longer since visibility is so restricted, so Russell and I sprinted down. Well not really. The estimated time for going back to 5th Station was 3 hours, but we did it in 1.
After parting ways with Russell, I went to Kawaguchiko Onsen to recover my muscles.
Mountain Hut = JPY8500 for a night with breakfast and dinner (JPY6500 without meals)
Bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko = JPY 1750
Bus from Kawaguchiko to Fuji Subaru and back = JPY1050
Bus from Shinjuku to Fuji Subaru = JPY2700
Click here for bus schedule.
So I think it was beneficial that I didn’t get the bus from Shinjuku to Fuji Subaru because I only paid JPY2800 total if I went pass Kawaguchiko.