Mount Fuji (富士山, Fujisan) is with 3776 meters Japan’s highest mountain. It is not surprising that the nearly perfectly shaped volcano has been worshiped as a sacred mountain and experienced big popularity among artists and common people throughout the centuries.
About Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji is an active volcano, which most recently erupted in 1707. It stands on the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures and can be seen from Tokyo and Yokohama on clear days.
Another easy way to view Mount Fuji is from the train on a trip between Tokyo and Osaka. If you take the shinkansen from Tokyo in direction of Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, the best view of the mountain can be enjoyed from around Shin-Fuji Station on the right hand side of the train, about 40-45 minutes into the journey.
Note however, that clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji, and you have to consider yourself lucky if you get a clear view of the mountain. Visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer, and in the early morning and late evening hours than during the middle of the day.
If you want to enjoy Mount Fuji at a more leisurely pace and from a nice natural surrounding, you should head to the Fuji Five Lake (Fujigoko) region at the northern foot of the mountain, or to Hakone, a nearby hot spring resort. Mount Fuji is officially open for climbing during July and August via several routes.
When to climb?
Official Climbing Season
Early July to mid September is the official climbing season when the trails and mountain facilities are open. During this period the mountain is usually free of snow, the weather is relatively mild, access by public transportation is easy, and the mountain huts are operating. Anyone without much hiking experience is advised to tackle the mountain during the official climbing season. The specific dates depend on the year and trail. In 2017 they are set as follows:
- Yoshida Trail: July 1 to September 10, 2017
- Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya Trails: July 10 to September 10, 2017
Climbing Mount Fuji is very popular not only among Japanese but also foreign tourists, who seem to make up more than a third of all hikers. The peak season for climbing Mount Fuji is during the school vacations which last from around July 20 to the end of August. The peak of the peak is reached during the Obon Week in mid August, when climbers literally have to stand in queues at some passages.
While you may want to avoid the Obon Week, we believe that by avoiding the crowds in general, you would miss out one of the most interesting aspects of climbing Mount Fuji, which is the camaraderie and unique experience of ascending the mountain among hundreds of equally minded people from across the world.
In order to encounter neither too large nor too small crowds, we recommend to climb Mount Fuji on a weekday in the first half of July before the start of the school vacations. The downside of a climb in early July is the weather, which tends to be somewhat more unstable than later in the season.
Some mountain huts open a few days before the start of the official climbing season and/or remain open until around mid September. Public transportation, is considerably less frequent or non-existent outside of the official climbing season.
While there is usually no snow on Mount Fuji from late June until October, temperatures at the summit can drop to far below zero in the shoulder seasons. Only experienced hikers should consider the ascent in late June or September. If there is snow on the mountain, appropriate mountaineering equipment and experience is required.
From October to around mid June, climbing to the summit is highly perilous due to extreme wind and weather conditions, snow, ice and a risk of avalanches.
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