Most people climb Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, from Station 5. This is a great hike for the casual climber but some folks want a little more action. This is a complete guide for how to climb Mt. Fuji from the true base (Station 0).
I am writing this guide after spending almost 5 hours scouring the internet for the little information available for how to climb Mt. Fuji from the base in English.
*before reading on make sure this is for you as there are other great guides*
Ways to climb Mt. Fuji in a single day*, **, ***
- Easy Climb: Station 5 to Top (5 hrs. 3.5 hiking, 1.5 acclimatizing/breaks. 4 miles up). Great guide here.
- Moderate Climb: Station 0 to Top (11 hrs. 6.5 hiking, 4.5 acclimatizing/breaks. 14 miles up). This guide.
- Hard Climb: Sea to Summit guide here (2 days+)
*lots of other options if you prefer to stay overnight in a hut
**leave 2 hours to climb down to Station 5 where you can catch a bus back
***if you’re hiking to see the sunrise (recommended!) maybe add an hour if you think night climbing will slow you down
Final disclaimer before reading on: I climbed Mt Fuji on September 10, 2017 (last day of the season) with my friend Henry. We night climbed to see sunrise and were lucky not to come upon *much* bad weather. We were not jet lagged, and were in pretty good shape as recent college grads and had some climbing experience in the past. I say all this so you hedge your bets if you’re climbing in June, are 99 years old or hit a brutal hailstorm.
Without further ado- How To Climb Mt. Fuji From The Actual Base (Station 0)
Part 1: Getting to Fuji Base (Station 0) from Tokyo
The true base of Mt Fuji starts at a Sengen Shrine called Kitaguchihongufujisengen Shrine which is a ridiculously long name. There are many Sengen Shrine’s so make sure to go this one. You can just GoogleMap “Hongufuji Sengen Shrine” and you’ll see it.
To get here you want to get to Fujisan Station from Tokyo. This station is also known as Mt. Fuji Station but is *not* Fuji-Q Highland bus station. You can use trains to get here but we used highwaybus.com (https://highway-buses.jp/course/kawaguchiko.php — click “reservation and scroll down and change “arriving at” to Fujisan station) which was a great direct bus to Fujisan train station from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Train station. The bus leaves from Tokyo on Floor 4 of Shinjuku station which can be confusing so get there 15 minutes early. I *highly* recommend booking your bus tickets in advance, online as other climbers will book out these buses in advance. It is ~$25 one way (later I’ll talk about booking your return bus, which you should also bookin advance). They have a great mobile ticket system and you can get a refund for your ticket up to 30 minutes before you leave if you chicken out.
The bus takes about 2 hours. We took the 12:45pm bus which we felt was pretty great timing wise (~3:30pm start time). Get off at the stop after Fuji-Q Highland. That stop is the Fujisan station stop but once on the bus the TV screen will read “Mt. Fuji Station” (which was the same thing). The bus driver did not speak great english so being armed with GoogleMaps is nice here. It turns out it this is the second to last stop — the last stop goes to Kawaguchiko Lake where most folks take an hour long bus from there to get direct to Station 5.
Once here my friend and I filled our water bottles, bought a sandwich and went to the bathroom at the nice diner across the street from the station. Then as you can see below it is a 26 min walk or 10 min taxi ride to the true base. Treat yourself to a cab! You’re going to be doing a lot of walking — we cabbed.
Congrats you made it to the start!
Part 2: Getting to Station 5 from Fuji Base (Station 0) (3–4 hrs of hiking no breaks)
This paper map is amazing. No idea why it isn’t online. You can get everything you need to from here (but full explanation below).
Picture close ups:
Okay so despite the lack of information online about getting from 0 to 5 is really straightforward with only a few places for mistakes. You’ll see this nice map at the shrine.
You’re the red “i” and you’re just going to follow straight up to where the little mountain image is on the map. For the zen believers out there go put a coin in the coinbox at the shrine and say your prayers! Then facing towards the shrine and large torii gate go to your right. One helpful hint I found online said:
But you can even Google Map Station 1!
From the shrine there might look to be a few different roads and trails to turn on but you’re basically just going to go straight for maybe 3 minutes walking on the road or path (you can follow the road all the way up from here but the footpath is nicer) until you take a slight right to start the footpath. As shown here
For the worried among you the geocoordinates are:
If you want to throw that into Google Maps you can walk to the trail start.
You’ll be walking on the “Yoshida Recreational Footpath” to Station 1. You hit the right start when you see this sign!
And the nice path looks like this (in September at least).
There are really great signs that you can follow from here until Station 1. As per the other guy’s hint about making sure to go right of the Cafe (which happens before you hit Station 1) I didn’t even realize we were passing the cafe since it was closed or looked shut down when we passed. Not an issue just keep going until you see Station 1.
The horizontal line means “1” in Japanese. This is a good time to point out that Stations 1–5 are just buildings and, unlike later stations, you can’t stop for food/water etc.
Here are stations 2,3 and 4:
To plan your times please refer to this screenshot for altitude changes and suggested hiking times (the bottom “Nakanochaya” is halfway between Station 0 and Station 1):
Station 5 is a bit weird since this is where you join up with the rest of the pack. It comes about 30 mins after Station 4. You’ll come across a few different sets of buildings but no sign. Then one like this:
Then you’ll come to a road. Just follow on the road up for about 10 minutes and you’ll see a restaurant/Station 5.
**It got dark (in September) at about 6:15pm right as we pulled into Station 5 for dinner. Station’s 0–5 are all below the treeline in the forest and would be kind of scary in the dark. So be cautious timing wise.
Here are our times at each station (and remember we hiked fast):
Part 3: Getting To Top from Station 5
The restaurant that you run into from the Station 0–5 hike is just one of the ones at Station 5. You can ask them where to walk to get the main place where most people bus to. But they have pretty good ramen so I would recommend just eating here before setting off!
Use this Great Notes of Nomads Guide to choose which Station 5 to top trail you want (we did Yoshida).
Here was our times
A few extra helpful tips -
- Summiting too early sucks because you’ll be so cold (we wanted to push ourselves hiking so we summited at 1am for a 5:15am sunrise) so spend a long time at each station. Most stations will have an open late night cafe to grab noodles and hang out. You can see how long we rested at each stop in the screenshot above (at Station 5 for example we rested from 620pm to 815pm)
- Summiting too late sucks too *definitely* get there at least an hour before sunrise because if there are a ton of sunrise hikers the last 300 meters to the top can get clogged with people and you’ll be stuck and unable to summit since everyone stops moving for sunrise and the trail at the end is real narrow.
- Careful about getting altitude sickness. Another reason to rest for a long time. You can buy oxygen bottles at some of the stops (we got one but couldn’t tell if it was helpful)
- Definitely buy handwarmers (2 for hands 2 for feet) at one of the stations (I think “Original 8th station” had them for us) as you’ll freeze up top
- You definitely need gloves for some of the steep rocky parts
Part 4: Surviving the long night
We summited 4 hours before sunrise. But because you don’t really want to hike 0–5 in the dark (I suppose you could) I’m not sure a better way to cut down on the time spent up top except to spend longer resting along the way. One advantage to this early summit though was we summited before most people so we got a good shelter spot. We ended up truly truly frozen and huddling/cuddling/freezing here with a bunch of random people for hours -
To make matters worse it snowed an inch! Don’t bother trying to light a fire or use a stove up top since at that altitude lighters didn’t work. Bring lots of layers, extra socks, hand/foot warmers. Many people had heatsheets which seemed great — portable and warm, get those!
Luckily we had a beautiful sunrise a few hours later. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see sunrise right at the beginning. Wait an hour and the mist might blow over like it did for us and you’ll get pics like this!
Part 5: Moon bouncing down Mt. Fuji! (and returning)
After you’ve seen a lovely Fuji sunrise if you’re up for it I would recommend hiking around the rim of the Volcano (40 mins) and getting to the true Fuji highest point.
Now that it is time to head down the mountain you could just hike down the regular way (NOTE: this isn’t the same way you came but you’ll see all the other hikers heading down an easier path that goes from the peak down to Station 8) but we tried something much more fun (maybe a bit dangerous but not really — you might just scrape a knee or something) — we moon bounced down Mt. Fuji!
If you head down the normal train about 10 minutes you’ll see the path curve left but right below there is a large face of the mountain covered in lava rock.
So instead of going on the path take a leap and you can run/hop/moon bounce down the mountain. You’ll just slide into the lava rock. We descended 5,000 feet in 45 minutes!
Part 6: Getting back home
Definitely reserve your bus home the same way as before but leaving from Fuji Station 5. You can use trains to get here but we used highwaybus.com (https://highway-buses.jp/course/kawaguchiko.php — click “reservation”, click “reverse direction”, change “Departing from” to “Mt. Fuji 5th Station”). Do so in advance because the sunrise hikers will certainly fill up many of the return buses. I’d recommend something around 10am which will give you time to explore the rim and head down. We accidentally overshot the 7th station turn for 5th station with our moon bouncing and ended up at the Fuji Azami Line 5th station on the right side of this picture (the Highway Bus leaves from the normal 5th station as you can see next to that road “702” below). You won’t do this if only Moon Bounce for 20–25 minutes down but we couldn’t stop! We just cancelled our bus online and left from Fuji Azami Line which you can morning of just buy a 12 dollar bus ticket (1 hr) and then 25 dollars of metro tickets (2.5 hrs) back to Shinjuku station it just takes longer.
Part 7: Packing List
I liked this infographic I found on itsyourjapan’s website:
Questions? Email me at email@example.com and if I can get to it I’ll send you some answers.
Resources I used: