Rising straight from sea level to 3,776 metres (12,389 feet) in elevation, Mount Fuji is the preeminent symbol of Japan and one of the country's most popular tourist destinations.
Each year, roughly 200,000 visitors climb up to the active stratovolcano’s summit to take in the incredible views and learn a bit about the mountain’s historical and spiritual importance to the Japanese people.
While the vast majority of people visit from June to September, when the weather is warmest and the climbing is easiest, many guides recommend more experienced hikers and mountaineers to climb in the spring. This ensures less crowding at the top, but a tougher climb to get there.
Quick Facts about Mount Fuji
- At 3,776 metres (12,389 feet) high, Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and seventh highest mountain that sits on an island in the world.
- One of the main attractions for climbers heading to Fuji is experiencing Goraiko, the moment that the sun begins to rise over the Pacific Ocean, from the summit.
- Mount Fuji was added to the UNESCO World Heritage site in 2013. In making its decision, UNESCO cited the mountain as an inspiration for poets and artists as well as a destination for pilgrims.
History of Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji has been an ever-present subject of Japanese culture as far as records go back. However, references to the mountain became increasingly prevalent in 1600 when the nation's capital was moved to Edo (present day Tokyo).
The first recorded ascent of Mount Fuji was made in 663 by a local monk. The summit has long held spiritual importance for both the Shinto and Buddhist religions.
Sir Rutherford Alcock was the first foreigner to climb the peak in September 1860 and his description of the climb was the first widely disseminated information about Fuji that was read in the West.
Experience Required for Climbing Mount Fuji
During the summer, climbing Mount Fuji is physically challenging but requires no technical ability. Regardless of the route, the climb is quite long and steep.
Each route has about 10 stations from the bottom to the top of the peak. Most climbs will begin from the fifth station, so roughly halfway up Mount Fuji. Even so, hikers will need to climb about 1,900 vertical metres (6,000 feet) to the summit.
For climbers heading to Mount Fuji in the shoulder season, there is generally snow on the top of the mountain beginning from the seventh station (so about three-quarters of the way up the mountain).
At this time of year, climbers will have to ascend over snow and ice to get to the summit and guides recommend some previous experience in order to do so successfully.
Main Routes up Mount Fuji
There are four main routes that lead up to the summit of Mount Fuji. Each of these routes is divided into 10 stations, where vendors sell snacks and souvenirs. Most treks begin from the fifth station. For climbers who want the whole experience, however, it is possible to start from the first one.
The Yoshida trail is the most popular one up Mount Fuji due to its accessibility. It is also the best one to see the famed Goreiko. In order to do so, climbers will need to get to the mountain hut at the eighth station on the first day in order to reach the summit in time for the sunrise the following day.
Aside from this main one, many climbers opt to head to the Subashiri Trail, which takes a more remote route to the summit. In the summer, this trail is generally less crowded than the Yoshida trail.
The Gotemba trail approaches the mountain from the east and is the longest of the trails that lead to the summit. It is also less crowded and perfect for hikers who want to go from the foot of the peak all the way to its summit.
The shortest trail, on the other hand, is the Fujinomiya Trail. Most climbers will begin from the fifth station in order to get to the top of the peak by afternoon and be back down in time to catch a train back to Tokyo.