This post was last updated on February 1st, 2020 at 06:22 pm
Mount Fuji is the most photographed highlight of Japan. This volcano is located on the island of Honshu and is the highest point in Japan at 3,776 meters. Mount Fuji is, fortunately, a dormant volcano. The chance of eruption is therefore very small during your visit!
On this page we will tell you the following about this much-visited volcano;
The Sacred Mount Fuji
What is immediately noticeable is the symmetry of the volcano. Together with Mount Tate (Tateyama) and Mount Haku, these mountains form the “Three Holy Mountains”. Many Japanese people climb Mount Fuji as a result.
Mount Fuji is approximately 100 kilometers from Tokyo and can be seen on a clear day from the capital of Japan. For part of the year, the top is covered with snow, which makes it a perfect “Kodak moment”.
Our Experiences on Mount Fuji
We have visited Mount Fuji twice. Once as a day trip from Tokyo and we have stayed several days in the region. Fuji is the symbol of the country and indispensable when you travel to Japan. You must have some luck with the weather if you want to see the mountain clearly.
We have been there twice and unfortunately, the weather has let us down twice. Yet it is a unique experience to walk around and experience nature. We recommend staying here for several days because a one-day trip from Tokyo to Mt Fuji is a bit too short to get the full experience.
Tips for Climbing Mount Fuji
Since Mount Fuji is one of the three sacred mountains in Japan, it is extremely popular to climb the mountain. Keep in mind that you are not the only one in high season. You are also not the first, this was a (unfortunately unnamed) monk in the year 663. Do you want to climb Mount Fuji? Here are some of our tips.
Nowadays, around 200,000 people come to climb Mount Fuji every year! To somewhat anticipate the climbers there are 10 resting places on the mountain where you can relax during your climb.
Climbing Mount Fuji is not an easy task. Don’t compare it to climbing the Bromo in Indonesia. Fuji is really a lot spicier and requires you to be in great condition. If you do, take these tips with you.
Official Climbing Season
Beginning of July to mid-September is the official climbing season in which the trails and facilities are open. During this period, the mountain is usually free of snow, the weather is relatively mild, public transportation to Fuji is more frequent, and the mountain huts are open.
Anyone without a lot of walking experience is advised to climb the mountain during the official climbing season. The specific dates depend on the year and the route. They are set as follows:
- Yoshida Trail: July 1 to September 10
- Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya Trails: July 10 to September 10
Watching the Sunrise
Of course you have to take the most beautiful picture of Mount Fuji; the summit with a sunrise in the background. Most tourists and Japanese therefore climb to the 7th or 8th resting place. Here you can spend the night in huts and climb to the top the next morning to fill your SD card with beautiful pictures!
Climbing Mount Fuji Out of Season
We do not recommend climbing Fuji out of season. Many mountain huts are closed and public transport is considerably less frequent or does not even go outside of the official climbing season.
While there is usually no snow on Mount Fuji, temperatures at the top can drop below zero in the low season. Only experienced hikers should consider climbing this volcano between the end of June or September. If there is snow on the mountain, appropriate equipment and experience is needed.
TIP – From October to mid-June it is very dangerous to climb to the top due to extreme winds and weather conditions, snow, ice, and avalanche risks.
The Best Mount Fuji Climbing Routes
Mount Fuji is divided into ten stations with the first station at the foot of the mountain and the tenth station at the top. Slightly passable paths lie until the fifth station halfway up the mountain. The routes that you can walk are the following;
- Fuji Subaru Line 5 Station – Yoshida Trail. Time to the top: 5-7 hours – Time to get down: 3-5 hours. This is the most popular route for the climb to the top and is most easily reached from the 5th station of the Fuji Five Lake area.
- Subashiri 5th Station – Subashiri Trail. Time to the top: 5-8 hours – Time to get down: 3-5 hours.
- Gotemba 5th Station – Gotemba Trail. Time to the top: 7-10 hours – Time to get down: 3-6 hours. This is the lowest of the four 5th Station, and the road to the top is therefore much longer than the other 5 stations.
- Fujinomiya 5th Station – Fujinomiya Trail. Time to the top: 4-7 hours – Time to get down: 2-4 hours. This 5th station is closest to the top. It is easily accessible from stations along the Tokaido Shinkansen.
Do You Need a Guide to Climb Mount Fuji?
Because the walk is technically not difficult (physically it is) and there are many other walkers during the climbing season, you actually do not need a guide. However, inexperienced hikers or people who would rather leave the planning to someone else might consider renting a guide.
There are various companies that offer group or private trips. Almost all of them have English-speaking guides. They can even be booked from Tokyo.
What Time Should You Start Climbing Mount Fuji?
Most people try to see the sunrise from the top. Another reason people go early in the morning is that the mountain is usually cloudless early in the morning.
The best way to see the sunrise without clouds is to climb to a mountain hut around the 7th or 8th station on the first day and sleep there for a few hours. Then you can climb up to the top early on the 2nd day. The sunrise is usually around 4:30 am to 5:00 am in the summer.
Another way is to climb late in the evening to the 5th station and walk all night to the top. This is a tiring way to climb the mountain and is not recommended by the local authorities because it causes an increased risk of altitude sickness and injury.
TIP – You will find many volcanoes in Japan (and throughout Asia). One of the nicest climbs we did, however, was the Acatenango in Guatemala.
Where Can I sleep on Mount Fuji?
There are a number of resting points on the mountain, which you can use while climbing. For the night it depends a bit on which route you choose. Most people sleep in the Toyokan Lodge on the Yoshida Trail. However, don’t expect much in terms of luxury.
They have bunk beds where you can rest/sleep next to each other for a few hours until you continue before sunrise. If you choose Subashiri Trail you can sleep in the Miharashikan or Fujisan Hotel.
Highlights Around Mount Fuji
90% of travelers come to Fuji to see the mountain, not to climb. But there is much more to see in the region than just Mount Fuji. You can easily stay here for a week, if that fits in your schedule, without being bored for a day.
We have listed the most important sights around Mount Fuji.
1. Fuji Five Lake
The Fuji Five Lake region is located on the northern side of Mount Fuji at around 1000 meters above sea level. The five lakes are Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko, and Motosuko. It is one of the best places to view Fuji up close and a good base to climb the mountain.
The area is known for hiking, camping, fishing, and winter sports. There are also numerous hot springs and museums in the area.
Out of all the lakes, Kawaguchiko Lake is the easiest to reach and offers the most things to see and do for travelers. The viewpoint, in particular, is very popular here. In addition, Kawagushiko Station is the most important station near Mount Fuji.
TIP – A ticket to use the Cable Car to the viewpoint costs 800 yen.
The Yamanakako lake is the largest of the five lakes. The lake offers good views of Mount Fuji, especially from the north coast. There are small towns on both sides of the lake and it is popular for various outdoor activities on the water and on the lake, such as windsurfing.
Lake Saiko is only one kilometer west of Lake Kawaguchiko, but it is hardly developed due to the fact that the view of Fuji is blocked by other mountains, except at the western tip of the lake.
Shojiko is the smallest lake and is located five kilometers west of the Saiko. You will only find a few hotels along the north bank. It offers a nice view of Mount Fuji and many outdoor activities.
Motosuko lake is the westernmost point of the five lakes and offers a good view of Fuji. The photo on the 1,000 yen bill was taken here. You will find some campsites on the shores of the lake. Outdoor activities and water sports such as windsurfing, boating, and fishing are popular around the lake.
2. Lake Ashi
Lake Ashi, also called Ashinoko, is the largest lake near Fuji. The lake is known as the symbol of the Hakone region. The shores of the lake are largely covered with forests, with the exception of small towns in the east and north and a number of hotels on the lake.
The best-known cities are Hakone Machi and Moto Hakone, where you can also spend the night.
The best view of the lake in combination with Mount Fuji is from Moto-Hakone where the sightseeing boats dock. It must be said that the clouds often block the view of Mount Fuji and you have to praise yourself if you get a clear view of the mountain.
Visibility is usually better during the colder seasons of the year than in the summer and in the early morning and late afternoon.
Boat Trip on the Lake
From Gora, you can travel by the Hakone Ropeway, or Cable Car, to Togendai where you can board the boat to the other side of the lake (Hakone Machi or Moto Hakone). A nice trip, with a good view if you are lucky!
TIP – A boat trip from one end of the lake to the other takes about 30 minutes and costs 1,000 yen per person. The Hakone Free Pass is valid on Hakone Sightseeing Boats, but not on boats operated by Izuhakone.
3. The Mishima SkyWalk
Mishima Skywalk is the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in Japan with a length of 400 meters. It is located in Mishima. With a height of over 70 meters, it’s best if you don’t have a fear of heights because the view of Mt. Fuji and the bay of Suruga are really spectacular.
The bridge is relatively new and is surrounded by beautiful forests. It is a great alternative to the busier viewpoints at the lakes. You get there by taking the bus from Moto Hakone. That takes around 30 minutes.
It is a nice follow-up to the boat trip on Lake Ashi.
TIP – It is open 365 days of the year from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and costs 1,000 yen p.p.
4. Hakone Ropeway
The Hakone Ropeway is part of the Hakone Round Course, a popular way to visit Hakone. It connects Sounzan Station with Togendai Station (on the shores of Lake Ashi) and stops en route at Owakudani and Ubako. The cable car is fully covered by the Hakone Free Pass.
The cable cars leave every minute and the full duration of the cable car is around 30 minutes. During the journey, passengers can enjoy the view of the active, sulfur-containing hot springs of the Owakudani valley between Sounzan and Owakudani and of Lake Ashi and Mount Fuji if visibility permits it.
TIP – A single ticket costs 1,370 yen per person. If you have a Japan Rail Pass, it is free.
Hakone Free Pass
The Hakone Free Pass is an unlimited pass that allows you to use trains, cable cars, boats and buses in the Hakone and Lake Fuji region. With such a pass you can therefore easily travel in the Hakone area and receive a discount on selected tourist attractions. There are passes for two or three consecutive days.
Salespoint and price of a Hakone Free Pass
If you want to explore the region without a pass, it will be considerably more expensive. Count on a minimum of 7,000 yen if you have to buy all tickets separately. If you are planning to see a lot of the area, a Hakone Free Pass is certainly a good investment. For example, if you go from Shinjuku to Lake Ashinoko (Moto-Hakone) and back, you will have to pay around 4,200 yen.
Where to Stay at Mount Fuji?
It can be difficult to figure out where you can spend the night at Mount Fuji because there are so many places. In addition, it depends on how long you want to stay. You can also book a day trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo.
If you want to stay longer than 1 day these are the best places to spend the night.
What you need to know is that the Hakone region is the region to discover Mount Fuji. This is where, besides Mount Fuji, all other famous sights are such as the Fuji Five Lakes, Lake Ashi, Mishima SkyWalk, Hakone Park, Hakone Ropeway, Owakudani crater, and much more!
We, therefore, recommend spending the night in this region. You will then first have to travel to Odawara (see chapter – How do you get to Mount Fuji?).
Where to Stay in the Hakone region
There are a number of places in the Hakone region where you can spend the night. They each have their pros and cons. Wherever you spend the night if you stay longer than 2 days we recommend buying a Hakone Free Pass.
This saves a lot of money because single tickets are more expensive and your Japan Rail Pass is not valid here.
Where to Stay in Odawara
Odawara is the gateway to the Hakone region. This is where the train leaves for this region. We found it easier to travel further because you are closer to the sights.
Odawara is farthest from Mount Fuji. It is the place where you will find a lot of accommodations and restaurants.
Where to Stay in Hakone Yumoto
From Odawara, you can travel to Hakone Yumoto by train. So this is a bit closer to the volcano. It is a bit quieter here than in Odawara. An important reason for travelers to stay here are the many Hot Springs that you will find here.
Where to Stay in Gora
We stayed in Gora in 2017. This is no more than a tiny town in the mountains. You will find almost nothing besides some hotels and a few souvenir shops. The reason we chose Gora was that the Hakone Ropeway starts (and ends) here.
This cable car takes you to Lake Ashi where you can take boat trips with a view of Mount Fuji. In addition, you can travel to the Fuji Five Lake region fairly easily from here (takes a few hours).
Where to Stay in Kawaguchiko (Fuji Five Lake)
If you want to climb Mount Fuji or at least come close, this is the place to be. Here, you are closest to Mount Fuji. You are also in the middle of the famous Fuji Five Lake area and you can take beautiful day trips.
Kawaguchiko is located on Kawaguchi Lake. In addition, you have one of the best viewpoints for Mount Fuji, which means that many people come here. Many day-trippers from Tokyo arrive here.
How to Get to Mount Fuji
The Japan Rail Pass does not cover the entire route to Fuji. The JRP takes you to Odawara. There are different ways to get to the mountain. The easiest and most common is a tour.
A trip to this sacred mountain can be booked almost everywhere in Tokyo. If you want to stay longer than a day this is no problem. In Tokyo, you can book multi-day trips to Fuji.
From Odawara to Mount Fuji
If you go to Fuji yourself to view the mountain, it’s best to travel to Odawara. Odawara is the gateway to the Hakone region where you will find Mount Fuji. From here you can travel on to different places at Mount Fuji.
Shinjuku Highway Bus station
From here buses run directly to Kawaguchi-ko and Fuji-Yoshida. Costs are 1,750 yen and the ride takes almost 2 hours. From here you must take the bus to Mount Fuji itself.
You can also go directly to Mount Fuji by bus. The Keio Dentetsu Bus Company has direct buses from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Highway Bus Station. A ticket costs 2,700 Yen and the journey takes 2.5 hours. These buses do not run in the winter!