Reaching the top of the legendary Mount Fuji is a challenge for your mind and also for your feet, but the payoff of a new sunrise viewed from above is well worth the effort. Every year, thousands of people travel to Japan to ascend the 12,338 feet rite of passage to witness the colorful palette of dawn, the attempt of which is usually performed at night. This is not as easy as it sounds, but worry not! We’ve put together a few tips to make the climb a breeze:
- Try to be at least in moderately good shape before you commence the ascent.
Of course, even kids and the elderly calmly sip tea at the top of the volcano every year, but don’t let that fool you, climbing Fuji involves six intense hours of walking from the bus stop to the very top. And once you’re up there, you still will have to face four more hours of descent with the added bonus of sleepiness, heat (it will be daytime) and potential foot soreness.
It’s not necessary for you to be in top cross-fit shape, but we recommend that your cardio is on point before you travel to Japan, you’ll definitely thank us.
- Carry with you sunblock and a hat.
Officially, the ascent should be undertaken only in July and August so taking into consideration the altitude and the depressing lack of shade throughout the trek, you’ll be exposed to intense sun rays for many hours. Even if you climb at night, you’ll still have to descend under the punishing sunrays for several more hours. Make sure that you’re well protected if you want to avoid mutating into a human sized red lobster.
- Buy enough water and calorie-rich snacks before you go.
When your knees are aching, you’re tired and start getting thirsty; the overpriced water bottles sold at certain stops along the way will offend you deeply. Save money and headaches by gearing up before the climb and carrying it all in your backpack.
- Dress in layers.
It will be cold. And then suddenly it will be hot. The high altitude ensures that most likely temperatures will drop below freezing levels during the night, but will hit 90ºF once the sun starts shining. You’re not going skiing so don’t go overboard, but take these temperature changes into account and wear layers which you can steadily peel off. We saw a Japanese man jokingly climb the mountain wearing only a bathing suit, but an hour later not surprisingly we saw him shivering.
- Make hotel reservations in advance.
After completing the descent of Fuji San, (probably ending a bit before noon), you will be sleep deprived and will not feel like searching for a place to take a nap. Remember than many youth hostels and hotels in the nearby city of Fuji Yoshida will most likely not accept guests until 4pm, so the best way to ensure that you can shower and rest immediately after the climb and not have to wait around is to have a reservation in place for both the current night and the previous one as well.
- Don’t forget to pack a flashlight!