Climbing to the top of Mount Fuji is easily one of the highlights of my time living in Japan. I get a lot of questions about the climb and wanted to do this post to point people to whenever I am asked for tips. Consider climbing Mount Fuji even if you are not the hiking-type, do so with friends and enjoy yourself – but before your go – here are 7 tips for climbing Mount Fuji.
Climbing Mount Fuji is not easy – even if you are an experienced hiker PLEASE be prepared. Wear proper shoes, protection for the cold and rain, water and easily digestible high energy food. The weather seemingly changed every few hundred metres and get more and more erratic as we got closer to the top after breaking through the clouds. We had rain, light hail, strong winds and penetrating sunlight that had us adding and subtracting our layers as we climbed.
Get the walking stick and the stamps
Starting out at the 5th station there are areas where you buy a wooden walking stick of different sizes. Get one as you make your way up the mountain their will be different huts that you can get stamps at for 200 to 300 yen a piece that chronicles your journey. Some of these branded stamps change depending on when you climb and are a great way to chronicle your journey and to have a keepsake afterwards. I got the longest stick and it’s now covered in stamps and its a prized possession.
Don’t lose to the elderly
There are people who have climbed Mount Fuji every year for many years. I know this because I met a few on my way up. Some are elderly and seem frail but will teach you the lesson you should have learned when you read about the turtle and the hare. I met a friendly 70+ year elderly Japanese man on my way up, had a small chat in English and skipped past him. Many hours later guess who made it to the top before me?
Know your body
Climbing Mount Fuji doesn’t start when you are at the mountain. Start from weeks in advance by assessing your fitness level, experience and any existing issues you may have with your body. ALTITUDE SICKNESS IS REAL. For me physically I was alright but hiking a 3776-meter mountain is not an everyday occurrence so I started light training in the weeks leading up by jogging, stretching, walking, light weightlifting and getting used to carrying around my fully kitted backpack with all my supplies.
Climb with a group
What’s better than climbing a mountain alone? Climbing a mountain with friends! I wouldn’t have been able to do it without my pals. Having a team or even just a partner to climb with makes a huge difference – lord knows at different points in the wet and cold darkness I was ready to call it a day/night but my friends were there to support me and I was there for them when they needed me. The result? Wonderful memories and a shared experience that will stay with us forever.
Don’t give up
There will be times along the path when the heart will be willing but the body will be weak. While climbing I took heart from seeing hundreds of people of all ages and nationalities climbing together. I met elementary school groups with hikers as young as eight to elderly couples in their eighties. I heard many languages being spoken from Spanish to Tagalog to Russian. One step at a time, minute after minute, hour after hour and soon you will make it to the top and there will be no regrets (giggle).
Coming down is hard
Climbing up to the top is not the end. Nobody ever talks about the descending part when it comes to hiking giant mountains. Want the truth? Coming down was the HARDEST part of my hike. It was hot, my knees were busted, my toes were screaming and everything hurt. I sound of my feet trudging through the loose pebbles remain with me to this day and is easily my least memorable part of the journey.
Bonus: Visit nearby attractions
My group made a whole multi-day adventure out of our trip with Mount Fuji being the centrepiece. There are many other places nearby to visit such as Mishima Skywalk and the beautiful Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine. Grab a Goshuincho (temple stamp book) and collect stamps anytime you visit a temple/shrine in Japan.
If you do end up climbing Mount Fuji after this or you have already done so please leave a comment below or tweet me at @Jamaipanese. Thank you for reading.