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How I climbed Mount Fuji in Japan (Gotemba trail)

Hardly anything can surpass my feelings from the day I stood on top of Mt.Fuji. I will never forget how difficult the journey to this mountain was, the beautiful view of the surrounding area from it, but also the friendly behavior and determination of the people I met along the way.

I have wanted to climb Mount Fuji for a very long time. The mountain has always fascinated and attracted me. But it wasn’t until I decided to go to Japan again this spring that I could start planning the trip itself. There are many websites and discussion forums where you can get information about climbing Mt.Fuji, but I found almost everything on the website
My first recommendation for others planning to climb Mt.Fuji is to start planning months in advance. Mt.Fuji is currently very popular and I personally had a hard time finding a free place to stay in one of the mountain huts in July, which is essential. Conquering Mt.Fuji in one day, in the “bullet climbing” way, is, in my opinion, very risky and only top athletes who are used to such hikes can really handle it. The Japanese authorities also consider this method extremely dangerous and do not recommend it. It is therefore advisable to book accommodation in April or May. It should also be added that the season when it is possible to climb Mt.Fuji is only from 1.7. (Yoshida trail) or 10.7. until 10.9. every year.

Thanks to the fact that the only free place to spend the night was in the mountain hut Warazikan – , which is located on the Gotemba trail, it was clear where my journey would lead. Gotemba trail is the longest route by the way :).
Very clear information about individual routes, including difficulty and number of visits, can be found in this table:

I started the journey to the top itself on Sunday, August 27. at 5 in the morning. Since I was staying in Tokyo, I first had to travel to the town of Gotemba, buy a ticket for the bus that goes regularly to the 5th station and back. Be careful – the bus only runs a few times a day and waiting for a ride to the fifth station can cost you valuable time! Therefore, it is necessary to get to the city of Gotemba so that you can catch the best morning connections.

After getting off the bus at the 5th station, everything important begins. From here, everything is up to you, your strength, your equipment, your will and determination.

Some information and observations about the equipment. I am not an experienced mountaineer, but I am very glad that I was well equipped for this trip. Trail shoes (Hoka) were the basis, which are light but strong at the same time and I was really excited to get them before the trip.
On the day of my ascent, it was 33 degrees Celsius at Gotemba Eki station, so I started the journey in just shorts and a t-shirt. I then had a light sweatshirt and hiking pants in my backpack. I recommend buying clothes made of modern functional materials. I recommend a T-shirt and a spare one. I also carried a warm winter jacket, which I only used in the evening at the mountain hut, where it was cold (the hut is located at an altitude of approx. 3200m). However, I recommend keeping a warm jacket in reserve. The weather at the top can be tricky. A raincoat in your backpack is a matter of course, as well as a hat and sunglasses. It is common to have hiking poles for hiking, which can also be rented at the cottage, but of course it cannot be 100% guaranteed that they will always be available.
I also highly recommend getting hiking leg warmers! I don’t know what the other trails are like, but on the way back via the Gotemba trail, I walked almost the whole way through a deep layer of lava sand, gravel and pebbles that kept getting into my shoes, which was very uncomfortable…

Of course, it is also necessary to have food and drink in your backpack. I recommend equipping yourself mainly with protein bars and gels, it’s light and will perfectly replenish your energy. The lodges where you can stay also offer dinner and breakfast, which saves you energy, because you don’t have to take so much food in your backpack, and believe me, every gram counts on a trip like this. It is also possible to refill water at the cottage. I carried three types of drinks: 1 liter of water, 0.5 l of Coca cola and 1.5 l of Pocari Sweat ion drink, but overall I had too many drinks. It must be added, however, that if the days of ascent and descent were cloudless and hot, sunny weather, I would most likely use up everything.

It took me 5 hours to reach the Warazikan hut. I reached my destination at 16:12 and I was really glad that I didn’t have to go any further. Accommodation in this cottage is very modest, you can’t really expect any comfort. I think it’s the same in other cottages. But there is everything you need on such a trip – food and drink, a place to sleep, a toilet. And also the friendly staff of the cottage and a beautiful view of the surroundings. You will also meet many other travelers here.
I personally had a problem falling asleep at the cottage, even though I was very exhausted, I just couldn’t sleep. Probably due to the adrenaline and excitement, as I kept thinking that I was spending the night on Mt.Fuji! Just something so special!

So somehow I spent the night half asleep and rested at least physically and was able to get up with the sunrise in the morning. Unfortunately, on Monday 28.8. it was slightly cloudy and the sun was hidden, which I was very sorry for. I was very much looking forward to these moments. Tourists who set off for the summit sometime around 1 a.m. were certainly more disappointed…

According to the indicators, the journey to the destination should have taken me only about 2 hours, which somehow ended up being the case. Even though the height difference between the Warazikan hut and the top of Fuji is only a few hundred meters, the journey is incredibly slow. The slope of the mountain is really steep, the path very stony, the lack of oxygen also causes problems. Of course, tiredness from the previous day also plays a role.
Even though I had been preparing for this trip by training for several weeks, the mountain gave me a lot of work. I felt even more happy when I passed through the Torii gate around 9am and entered the top of the volcano.

The crater of the volcano can be easily walked around, which I recommend, the mountain will give you a view in all directions and it is also an ideal place for photos. I stayed at the top for about 2 hours, after which I had to make my way back to catch all the connections to Tokyo. But the way down is also extremely strenuous! I even met a group of people who had to walk backwards because their leg muscles could no longer handle the pressure…

I must also mention an encounter I had on the way down. I met an older lady here, a Japanese woman, who was also returning from climbing. I started talking to her and when I mentioned the Czech Republic and our former gymnast, the legendary Věra Čáslavská, the lady clapped with joy because she remembered the Olympics in Tokyo in 1964, where Věra Čáslavská won three gold medals and was extremely popular in Japan. Then we talked the whole way on the bus. I learned that this lady is now 72 years old and has climbed Mount Fuji 14 times in her life. This is really amazing. It was a very nice meeting.

I am glad that I decided to climb Mt.Fuji. And I’m very happy that I did. It was an unforgettable experience.

Thanks for visiting my blog about Japan!

I am a WordPress website developer . My job gives me a lot of freedom as I can work from anywhere. I am a great admirer of Japan and Japanese culture, so the articles on this website are mainly about my travels to this beautiful country.

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Petr Sycha

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