“If you come to Japan and don’t climb Mt. Fuji, you’re a fool; but if you climb it more than once, you’re an even bigger fool.”
On 6 September 2016, I embarked on a journey to the land of the rising sun, Japan. My goal? Climb to the summit of Mt. Fuji.
Honestly, I wasn’t prepared for this at all. About a month prior a coworker mentioned he was going to Japan to climb Mt. Fuji and asked if I wanted to come along. I never really thought about climbing Mt. Fuji before, but when I was younger I had always wanted to visit Japan. I grew up playing video games and watching anime so of course I used to dream of going to Tokyo one day. My interest in anime died off for the most part as I got older, and I don’t play video games as often as I’d like to these days, but my opportunity to visit Japan finally came along, so off I went.
The plan was to start the hike the same night that we got there, because who needs to be well rested before climbing Mt. Fuji? We left from Daegu, South Korea to Narita International Airport, Tokyo, Japan. Once we arrived we took the next bus to Shinjuku, followed by a bus to Kawaguchiko Station. It was here that we’d leave all of our luggage in a couple of coin lockers before heading off to 5th Station on Mt. Fuji.
We grabbed a few snacks before hopping on the bus to 5th Station that night. The bus was full of other foreigners that came to climb as well. I grabbed a seat in the back and tried to get a little bit of rest on the way, but I was too anxious to manage getting any sleep. We arrived at 5th Station and headed inside to purchase our hiking sticks and a warm meal before we started the climb.
We started climbing the Mt. Fuji Yoshida Trail at 2030. It was a clear night and the weather was nice and cool. I would be totally ok if the weather was like this all the way up! The trail up to 6th station was a cake walk, surely it couldn’t be this easy all the way. We made it in about 45min and stopped to take some pictures and eat a snack. From 6th Station we could see all the way back to the Kawaguchiko area that was now lit up at night. It looked really beautiful, but my phone’s camera wouldn’t do it any justice. Onward to 7th station!
The hike was still pretty easy up to 7th Station. It took a little longer, but there were also a bunch of huts along the way up to buy snacks, rest, or get your hiking stick stamped(branded) for about 200-400Yen ($2-4).
About half way up to 8th Station is when things started to get a bit more difficult. Lot’s of climbing and tripping over rocks. I was very glad to have purchased a headlamp, as those with regular flashlights were having issues climbing and holding on to their flashlights. The rest of the climb was just a blur. I was exhausted, the air was thin, and the weather was starting to get bad. From 8th Station to the top we dealt with lots of cold wind and rain. Unfortunately I didn’t get too many pictures from this point on because of all the rain. Also my Galaxy S6 broke at some point here because it got wet! Great! We reached the top just as the sun was rising, but it was too cloudy to see anything. The station was packed with other climbers. There was no place to sleep, and the line to get a $9 Cup of Noodles was about an hour long wait. With all the rain and how cold it was up top, we had no choice but to continue on the downward trail without any rest.
There were some incredible views going down the mountain…but I was too exhausted to really enjoy it. My clothes were soaked, I was cold, and I had so many blisters on my feet. God I would have killed for a nice warm shower and a dry set of clothes right now.
We finally made it back down to 5th Station after 3-4 hrs. I bought a milk vanilla ice cream from a vendor and it was the greatest thing in the world at that point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m so glad that I made it to the top of Mt. Fuji. Not many people get to say they climbed Mt. Fuji. But boy did I just hate everything about that mountain at this point. We saw other people just getting there, ready to start their climb. I was cackling inside…they’re in for a world of hurt. Got a ticket for the next bus and got the hell out of there, it’s time to go to Tokyo! (^-^)