There’s an old Japanese proverb which goes like this: “He who climbs Mt. Fuji is a wise man; he who climbs twice is a fool.” The Japanese considered climbing Mt. Fuji as a spiritual adventure and strive to do it at least once during their lifetime. At 3,776m (12,388 ft.), it is the highest mountain in Japan. Numerous tourists scale Yoshida trail along this peak each year.
Organised by Hiking, Trekking and Travelling Buddies meetup group, there were some suggestions on how the route should be approached prior to the actual event. Some suggested that we should skip resting in the mountain lodges and instead take the last bus for a non-rest climb to the summit. Taking into consideration the unfamiliar route and not sure of what to expect, plus what the toll the climb might have on each participants’ fitness, we decided to take the 2 day/1 night approach.
Based at Fifth Station of the Fuji-Subaru Line, Yoshida trail boasts a lot of huts and two first-aid stations, making it an ideal trail suitable even for amateur hikers. Fifth Station is also serves as the Kawaguchiko 5th Station and runs from Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine (base) to Mount Fuji (summit). It is well developed and the most popular of all stations and can be accessed by public transportation from Tokyo.
Many climbers prefer seeing the sunrise and queue up along the trail. It is believed that the wishes of those who pray here around sunrise are fulfilled! There are four different trails for scaling Mt. Fuji: namely the Yoshida, Fujinomiya, Subashiri, and Gotemba courses. At least 300,000 hikers scale Mt. Fuji through the Yoshida trail and it is one of the most climbed summits around the world.
Mt. Fuji is actually a deep-cratered volcano and many can see the peak right from their homes if it isn’t shrouded in haze or clouds. During the winter season, snow safety and mountaineering gears are a must for those who hike Yoshida trail.
The Japanese used to believe that Mt. Fuji was the center of the universe. Did you know the precursor of Mt. Fuji was called Mt. Komitake? This historical volcano used to exist before Mt.Fuji was born.
From Tokyo, it can be reached via Subaru Line, which is a lush road along Mount Fuji’s slopes. It is a toll road and they charge 2060 yen, though it can be closed during peak winter due to snow. This road is usually closed to public vehicles during climbing season. During the official climbing season, it is quite easy to get separated from your team mates along this trail, as it is quite popular and crowded.
One can also choose guided tours or hired vehicles to reach the trail. It takes about 5 hours during ascend and 3 hours during descend, if you’re of reasonable fitness. The trail can also be closed due to rain or snow, so choose your hiking days carefully.
SUGGESTED PACKING CHECKLIST
When you are hiking along Yoshida trail, there are a few items you must consider packing. Hiking boots, sunscreen, gloves, sunglasses, hat, water, snacks, food. Jacket, flashlight, and cash for tickets or other basic expenses are important. Overall, this trail is popular as a tourist attraction, religious shrine and also as a hiking enthusiast’s dream. It is an ideal destination for nature lovers and offers relaxation and rejuvenation.
You don’t have to start at Fifth Station to climb Mount Fuji, but paved roads exist between the first 5 available trail stations. Many hikers just choose to do so because it allows them to complete the summit in a shorter amount of time. If you wish to climb from the very bottom of this majestic masterpiece to its summit, then start at First Station, which is called UmaGaeshi. Translated into English, it literally means “Horse Return.”
This is the true pilgrim’s path.
It can take up to 10 hours to hike to the summit from First Station for an experienced hiker, so more time is typically required for the longest journey that Mount Fuji. Those who begin hiking at First Station often choose to spend the night at Fifth Station. This seems like the perfect way to fully immerse oneself in all that Mount Fuji has to offer.
For some trekkers, the goal is to simply reach the summit of the mountain because it is a life goal. The spiritual significance comes not in the journey upward, but the accomplishment of arrival. Each adventure provides its own reward, but in the rush toward a crowded summit, there is no time to pause for a breath to enjoy the gentle caress of this mighty volcano. My fear is that in the rush to achieve something great, far too many trekkers miss something even greater along the way.
The beauty of Mount Fuji is unique and special. Maybe it is foolish to climb Mount Fuji twice, but I might just be that kind of fool. Maybe the saying doesn’t count if you start your climb from a different station. One day soon I might have an answer for you.