Mt Fuji on a clear day.
We headed out early on our second day in Tokyo for the buses to Mt Fuji. We grabbed some food before getting on the bus and settled in for the 2 1/2 hour drive. We didn't hit much traffic and got up there pretty fast.
We bought a walking stick to take up the mountain and get stamped at the stations. I definitely recommend you take off the bell and ribbons/flag and store them before you start. The bell will drive you nuts by the time you are done and the ribbons will bleed all over your hands and the stick from using it. I had been told to do this and am grateful that I remembered when we purchased our stick.
Our bus dropped us off at the 5th station so we were starting a fair ways up the mountain. There are stores at this location as well as bathrooms, and showers (if you want to pay for them). We headed off around 2pm in the afternoon. The climbing is not really that tough. The trail is very well marked and maintained. The only drawback is that when you go to the mountain during the climbing season, you are only one of thousands of people that climb the mountain. Sometimes the trails are quite narrow and you can only move up one at a time. This causes quite a few delays even if you wanted to go faster. We moved as quickly as we could in the areas that were wide enough to travel around folks, and then waited our turns when we had to. At each station, we got a burned stamp on our stick to mark our progress and as a keepsake.
Unfortunately for us, as we approached the 8th station, we were hit with a huge hail storm. The temperature dropped quite quickly, and the hail came down so much so that the water was running down the mountain between our feet. All the other climbers came to stand still and we could go anywhere, so we just hunkered down and waited it out. After the majority of the rain/hail passed, we moved up towards the 8th station. We grabbed a bit of soup to try to warm up, but J didn't have a rain coat and with the temperature drop and the wetness, we were worried about hypothermia.
We were only about 600 meters from the top but didn't want to stay the night at the 8th station and the weather was preventing anyone from summitting. We couldn't wait where we were out in the elements with J getting colder by the second so we opted to descend without summitting. When I think about it now, we should have insisted that E continue up to the summit so that he wouldn't have been held back by us but at the time we didn't know any better.
The trip down was an adventure in itself. You do not travel down the mountain the same way you come up. The trail is loose volcanic rock, which made for a slippery hike. It started to get dark during our decent, but we had flashlights with us (at least we were prepared for that, huh?)...haha. We decended pretty quickly and stopped at the markets at the bottom so we can get our clothes changed and get some warm food in us. We caught the next bus down to the train station and boarded the train towards Tokyo. Unfortunately, when we got to the next stop, the trains had stopped running for the night and would not be running again until the morning. We didn't want to stay the night when we had already paid for rooms in Tokyo so we opted to pay an enormous amount to get back to the city by taxi. Since we saved so much money in all other aspects of the trip, we wrote it off to a lack of information. We were thrilled to be back in the city by 11:30pm.
We stopped at Yoshinoya for some food and headed to our rooms for the night. Big note on Mt Fuji:
Most people climb the mountain throughout the night so they can see the sunrise on the summit. We didn't want to do this (staying on the mountain overnight is as much as our hotel rooms in Tokyo for which we had already paid). We wanted to get up the mountain and back down in the same day. This is possible to do if you either take the earliest bus or train out and are back off the mountain before 6pm. The train from one of the outlying towns stops running at 10:30pm so if you get off the mountain too late, you will get stuck staying out of Tokyo until the next day, unless you pay for a taxi back in (which can run around 300 USDs). We found out this note the hard way.
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Wow. I didn't know you could just hike up to the top of Mt. Fuji! I bet it is amazing. Although I would imagine it must be a difficult hike. When you came back down, did you stop at the stations you had previously missed? I'm the obsessive type and would want ALL the stamps. :) Although it sounds like such a cool keepsake to bring back.
The Planet We Live On
Mt Fuji Climbing
Yeah, you can hike all the way up there. It takes anywhere from 4 1/2 hours to 8 hours depending on how fast you go and where you start. Most people start at Station 5 and go up from there. I have stamps from all the stations we went through, just not the ones above where we ended up turning around. When you come down you are on a completely different trail, and you don't go through any of the stations. I think that is to keep up traffic moving without having to worry about down traffic.