This was by far the most memorable experience in Japan. During July and August, it is climbing season. That means, there is no snow on the peak und Mount Fuji is officially open. This was one thing I was really excited to do. I read loads of blog posts about climbing Mount Fuji: What to wear, when to go and how to get there. I shouldn’t have read them. I feel like I had a totally different experience than 90% of people who wrote about it. I loved the climb. That is what motivated me to write my own blog post about climbing Mount Fuji. It is a great climb and you absolutely don’t have to freak out about it. It is Mount Fuji und not Mount Everest!
Here is my advice for you to have a wonderful experience. If you are in Japan and have the chance to climb Mount Fuji, please do it.
Choosing the right day
Obviously, I hoped for good weather (without rain) and for an amazing sunrise (without clouds). Whoop whoop – we had both, which obviously influenced our climb positively. But it was no coincidence. We stayed in Tokyo at the beginning of our trip for five nights in an AirBnB. So, we had four full days in Tokyo (Tuesday to Friday). We planned to do Mount Fuji during these few days. I checked the weather regularly and then decided it would be best to go Thursday evening. We left all of our stuff at our AirBnB and only took our daypacks (28L and 30L). We packed clothes, food and water.
How to get there
Well, that is pretty straight forward. We took a bus from Shinjuku bus terminal and bought the ticket one day in advance. The bus goes directly from Shinjuku to Mt. Fuji 5th station and takes about 2.5 hours.
We went in the afternoon at around 4.30 pm and arrived at 5th station at 7 pm. We then had enough time to change into warmer clothes and have dinner in the restaurant there. In Shinjuku we had 35°C, at 5th station it felt more like 15°C. We started our climb at around 9 pm.
Sleeping or bullet climbing?
Well, on this point you can get thousands of opinions. It made me freak out at some point but then I just relied on my common sense. You know yourself and what you are capable of. Just do what you feel comfortable with. We are at the beginning of our 30s, are active year around and chose to do the “bullet climb”. That means start late in the evening, climb at night, enjoy the sunrise and climb back down again to catch the bus in the morning. Best decision ever – it worked for us.
So many people are worrying about altitude sickness and buy oxygen on their way up. 3,776 meters is high but it isn’t a life-threatening altitude. We have been in the Alps often for skiing and hiking so this wasn’t an altitude for us to worry about. Of course, the climb isn’t a piece of cake, its demanding but absolutely doable. It took us about 5h 20 min to reach the summit. We arrived at 2.20 am and could have even made it up earlier. Sunrise was at 4.52 am. We slowed down a little to avoid spending too much time on the summit (where it was freezing cold), but we couldn’t go too slow because of the groups which were climbing up. I don’t like walking behind someone and having to adapt to their slower speed. That was also a reason we did the hike on our own. I need to do a hike or a climb at a speed I feel comfortable with to enjoy it.
For me the worst part was waiting at the top in the cold. I get cold easily, I hate being cold and I was just shivering the whole time. At about 3 am they started to sell hot drinks (cans boiled in hot water). I used them as a hot water bottle. Also some people had rescue foil with them which seemed quite a good idea to me. Long story short: I survived. The sunrise was amazing and with every ray of sunlight it got warmer. Yay.
What to wear
I wore sports clothes and my hiking boots. That was perfect. The next time I would bring an extra layer for the summit J. I wore a T-Shirt and a pair of tights on the bus. At 5th station I put my hiking trousers on top, two long sleeve shirts plus a rain coat. Also, I had gloves, a beanie and sunglasses with me. I then adjusted to the temperature putting layers off and on.
I love my hiking boots. They were perfect for the lava rocks and especially on the way down in the lava sand. I would really choose boots that protect your ankles. I didn’t have one single blister – which was great, also for the rest of the trip.
I was really looking forward to this climb and didn’t prepare anything special for it. I do sports on a regular basis -3-5 times a week (mainly running and fitness videos as well as the occasional biking and climbing tours). After the climb, I did my stretching routine and we walked around in Tokyo in the afternoon to loosen those muscles, which worked quite well. I didn’t really have any sore muscles the next days (loads of stretching is the key!) and could thoroughly enjoy the rest of our trip.
All I want to say is: I didn’t have the feeling I would die either way. It was a challenging climb but also such a rewarding feeling to see the sunrise. I can only encourage anyone to do.