With its symmetrical cone and peaks covered with snow, it is one of the most popular subject of Japanese art, whether using traditional color painting or by modern digital images. Consider as one of the holy mountain, climbing Mt. Fuji is a sort of a pilgrim for most Japanese, secondary to the pride of conquering the summit and usually a family affair. Known as Japan’s highest mountain (12,389 ft), Mt. Fuji is actually a “stratovolcano” which can be seen as far as Yokohama and Tokyo on a clear day. So when my Aunt invited me for a visit, I couldn’t pass up a chance to see the famous cone myself.
Whether you are planning to climb or just wanted to have a picture of Mt. Fuji on the background, more likely your visit will end up at Kawaguchiko, 5th station. It is a popular starting point for climbers since it can easily be access by car, there are plenty of buses from Tokyo to take you there and most importantly, you are halfway point of the popular Yoshida trail. Peak season is during the summer months of July to August, no private cars are allowed and like us, you have to take the designated bus to reach the station (1,900 Yen each).
Once you are at the 5th station, I bet that you will forget about Mt. Fuji and instead be caught up with all the movements around you- climbers in group waiting for their guides, smell of grilled corn, souvenir shops, and a nearby temple. I am not sure how hard or steep the climb will be but it seems to me that it will be considerably easy based on the age ranges of people who are about to ascent. I am not sure if the trail is wide enough to handle loads of people- I mean buses of people arriving every minute wearing complete mountaineering gear hunger to conquer the summit.
If you are looking for a hike that will allow you to contemplate about your life, the decisions you have made or about to make, I don’t think that this one will offer the serenity you’re looking for. Consider skipping this one, maybe go during workdays or maybe come back on some other months (which I will if I have the willingness to do so).
A small shrine is located at the 5th station area, mostly toured by non-hiking day visitors like us.
Completing the day trip, we headed back down and once again, view the mountain from afar at one of the Fuji Five Lakes- Lake Saiko.
One of my colleague decided to take the hike a few weeks after my visit and he told me that it is fairly easy as the trail is already there but of course right shoes is a must. One of his observation though is that the price of a bottled water is going higher and higher as you reach the topmost part. There is a shop or a vending machine at the peak? Hmm… definitely not for those who are planning to build a tent or eat canned goods for dinner. But still, best journeyed with your closest friend.