In search of sunrise? Mount Fuji beckons
JAPAN’S MOUNT FUJI is officially open for climbers, explorers and sightseers.
Between July and September, the 3,776-meter-high peak is expected to attract an estimated 300,000 adventurers looking to scale the island nation’s highest mountain.
Located around 100-kilometers southwest of Tokyo, Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical volcanic cone makes it a stunning sight from afar.
Mount Fuji is even depicted in Japan’s most iconic piece of art, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, while snaps of the stratovolcano, humbling in its raw power, have graced many feeds on Instagram, having been uploaded over a million times.
Fortunately, Mount Fuji hasn’t erupted since 1708, making it a safe bet for mountaineers to put their walking boots to good use.
The best time to climb Mount Fuji is now. All the mountain facilities such as huts and public transportation are open and the tracks are generally free of snow.
The routes to the top of Mount Fuji are divided into 10 stations which begin at the foot of the mountain. Paved roads weave up to station five, which is where most people start their ascent on foot.
From there the climb can take five to 10 hours, depending on which trail hikers use.
The most popular route is the Yoshida Trail starting at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station. The station doubles up as a popular sightseeing spot all year round.
Hikers can purchase equipment such as snacks, climbing polls and oxygen from the few shops here before setting off.
During the hiking season there are plenty of other climbers journeying up the mountain, so hiring a guide isn’t necessary.
However, if you prefer leaving all the planning to someone else, or intend to climb up Mount Fuji in the dark to catch the sunrise, a guide is recommended.
On these trips you needn’t walk through the night to witness the sunrise. Instead, clamber out of a prebooked hut to see the glowing sun light up the horizon, just as these hikers did.
Here are a few things to remember when hiking Mount Fuji, or any mountain for that matter.
- Proper and supportive shoes
- Sensible and durable clothing
- Energizing foods
- Respect – don’t pick flowers or take home souvenirs
Durning hiking season, climbers are asked to contribute JPY1,000 (US$9) at each station. The money goes towards trail maintenance and safety measures.
Staving off altitude sickness
Altitude sickness occurs when air thins and hikers over-exert themselves.
To avoid getting ill on the mountain, carry little canisters of oxygen with you, take regular breaks and keep hydrated.
If symptoms get worse, get off the mountain.