Mt. Fuji, the world heritage holy mountain

Mayo Harry | Live the World

November 23, 2022

Mt. Fuji is a beautiful mountain located almost in the center of Japan. Mt. Fuji is believed to be holy and auspicious. It has been a symbol of Japanese culture and spirit for a long time. Mt. Fuji is a world heritage listed site and has been an inspirational source for many paintings, literature, poetry, and theaters not only in Japan but also overseas.

©iStock / jiratto

Throughout the history of Japanese people, Mt. Fuji was believed to be a holy mountain. Mt. Fuji has been a popular spiritual tradition for centuries. Evidently, in the Muromachi period (1336-1573), the “Kinnomoto's Colored Fuji Mandala Map” had Mt. Fuji towering in the middle of the moon, the Asama Shrine under the mountain trail, and the river for a spiritual purification ceremony underneath. Fuji Asama Shrine is the main Asama shrine, which is the top of 1,300 existed Asama shrine branches nationwide. It is a symbol of a faith whose main god is Asama Okami, who apparently stopped the Mt. Fuji eruption. At the summit of Mt. Fuji, the summit brunch, you can find the Asama Taisha Okumiya.

©iStock / andrzej_mazur

Mt. Fuji has been a very popular destination for Japanese people as well as for overseas travelers. Although it is the tallest mountain in Japan, a beginner climber can climb Mt. Fuji to the top. However, preparations are undoubtedly necessary. It's recommended to get a guided climbing trip with a certified local for you to get the best and most authentic adventure. And to get you started, here is the minimum but essential information for climbing Mt. Fuji.

Planning route and timing

Did you know that you cannot climb Mt. Fuji anytime? The opening and closing dates for climbing routes are officially announced on the Mt. Fuji official site each year. It usually opens from early July till early September.

The most popular route for beginners is the Yoshida route on the Yamanashi side. In addition to the Yoshida route, Mt. Fuji has a total of four routes: the Fujinomiya route, the Subashiri route, and the Gotemba route on the Shizuoka side. Depending on the route, the difficulty level, the total walking distance, the total time, congestion, etc. vary, but if you prepare well, you can climb any route. If you are not keen to walk all the way from the bottom, it is possible to walk from the 5th station which can be reached by car.

©iStock / NonChanon

The total walking time is around 12 hours. It is best to prepare climbing from the starting point to the 8th station, from the 8th station to the summit, and from the summit to the 5th station - climbing down for about 4 hours. Even if you start climbing early in the morning, it could be stressful to descend by sunset, so it is not recommended for beginners to go on a day trip. I strongly recommend that you make a plan which allows you to spare night in the hut on the 8th station. Looking at the sunrise from the summit is very worthy, but if you want to do that, make sure you depart at noon on the first day and arrive at the mountain hut by the evening. Then, leave the hut in the middle of the night to arrive at the summit around dawn.

Necessary equipment for climbing Mt. Fuji

To enjoy climbing Mt. Fuji, make sure you are geared up for it. Rain gear, which is separated into upper and lower parts, is highly recommended. The mountain weather changes unexpectedly, and it is often rainy in Mt. Fuji. Temperature differs a lot from the bottom of the mountain to the summit. Even in the summer season, you will need a thick jacket. Also, in August, the hottest month in Japan, it can be 2 ° C or 3 ° C at the top of the mountain before sunrise. Mt. Fuji’s trail is well known for its high level of maintenance. However, there are also rocky areas and slippery sand paths. Wearing mountain-climbing shoes is a must to avoid unnecessary injuries.

©iStock / electravk

In summary, here is what I would take: mountain-climbing shoes up to the ankle, thick socks, rain gear top and bottom, thick jacket, headlamp, hat, quick-drying clothes, food, water, map, and a compass. Travel light; you can rent all the necessary equipment at rental shops near the mountain. Proper preparation and equipment are key to a successful Mt. Fuji experience.

©iStock / T-Tadanobu

The Mt. Fuji climbing season takes only two months every year. Due to its historical and cultural value and convenient location, which is only 2-3 hours from Tokyo, weekends are usually extremely busy. Also, during the Obon festival season (13th to 16th August), all routes will be congested. So it is best to visit Mt. Fuji on a weekday. Climbing Mt. Fuji and seeing the sunrise from the summit will be an unforgettable memory of your Japan visit. Be well prepared and enjoy the Japanese spiritual symbol, Mt. Fuji.  

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