A few months ago, when I was in Japan, I decided to clim the Mount Fiji. It was one of my best adventures in life so far.
Yadhu, one of my coworkers from India, was the only one willing to climb the mountain with me. Everyone else was "busy", tired or they just didn't like going out to nature.
One of the things I enjoy the most, is going out for a nice hike. I've been hiking in Mexico and the USA, but only small and medium mountains, nothing like Fuji.
Preparing for the trip
We were so excited about this trip, but unfortunately I didn't have any gear in Japan, mainly because I was on a business trip and I usually don't take my hiking gear in these kind of trips. Long story short, we had to buy boots, jacket, raincoats and backpacks.
From Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko (one of the closest towns to Mount Fuji) is usually 1.5 hours. Unfortunately that was the last weekend the stations and shelters were open, therefore a lot of people were on the way to the mountain. We spent about 3 hours getting to Kawaguchiko because of the traffic.
There's not much to do in Kawaguchiko, I wouldn't recommend staying there more than 2 hours. The only thing interesting in the town is the lake, it's a nice lake but unless you like to lie down and talk (that's what we did) you might find this place boring.
The beginning of the adventure
We were told that the sunrise is amazing in the morning and we needed to start at night in order to get to the top before the sunrise. We left Kawaguchiko around 5:30pm, there's a bus that can take you to the 5th station, that's a good place to start.
We arrived at the 5th station around 6:20pm, it was a little bit chilly and rainy but that didn't stop us. We started climbing around 7pm, it was already dark but the way to the top is easy to follow, in addition there were more people going to the top.
After a few hours, it started raining a lot more than before and as we continue getting higher and higher the temperature dropped more and more. Originally we planed to get to the top without stoping at any of the shelters, however my raincoat didn't resist and start ripping apart, mainly because of the rocks.
After 2 more hours walking under the rain and with the temperature getting close to 3º C (37º F) we couldn't resist and decided to rest for the night. When we got inside the shelter, the person in charge immediately said:
Takai desu, koko wa takai desu!
I asked how much was for the night (in my poor Japanese), he said ¥7000, which is about $70 dollars. At first, I hesitated because that was not part of the plan, we didn't wanted to stay at these places, we felt defeated and in addition to that it was $70 just to sleep on the floor in a sleeping bag. After a few minutes of discussing with Yadhu, we decided to stay and it was absolutely worth it.
I was completely wet, my backpack was wet and everything inside. Yadhu was also wet but not as much as I was.
Getting to the top
The shelters allow you to stay for the night, but they kick you out at at 5am in the morning. Literally kick you out at 5am sharp, in a way that's good because otherwise you will not be able to see the sunrise.
This was the most amazing moment on the entire trip. It was still cold, but at least it was not raining anymore and with sun coming up, things will be better.
One of the things I enjoyed the most it was the fact that I was able to practice my Japanese, on the way up we found friendly people and we talked about several things. There were people from many places, mostly Japanese of course, but we even found someone from Mexico.
We spent almost 18 hours on the entire trip, including the 6 hours in the shelter. The way up is really exciting and interesting but the way down is not because you are already tired and the trail is too boring. It's actually the trail for the trucks that go to the shelters to provide supplies.
Overall, I loved going there! It's one of those experiences you have to do in life. I look forward to my next adventure that involves climbing a 3700 meters (2.2 miles) mountain again, is definitely challenging but really rewarding once you get to the top.