Getting there

From here you can get a single or round trip bus ticket (¥1540||¥2060) to the Gotemba Trail 5th station or Subashiri Trail 5th station. They also have coin lockers. If you plan on hiking at night to make the sunrise at the summit, leave your things in a Gotemba Station coin locker (¥300/day) and save yourself a night of room accommodations. This probably only works well if you travel with a single carry-on backpack/suitcase. Leaving it at the train station also makes it easier to get to in case you take a different descent route and end up on the other side of the mountain. Take your JR Rail Pass with you.

The Journey

Buy a wooden walking stick at the 5th station (¥800-¥1200). They are not necessarily needed, but if you have one they do help. Especially on the way down. Even if souvenirs are not your thing, collecting the station stamps and the Sunrise Stamp ends up being a special token from Fujisan. (It can be shipped home from any Post Office, the Shinjuku Post Office is very helpful with free tape and will graciously not shy away from communicating in English. [¥2100 EMS airmail to USA arrived in 4 days/2 business days])

The Subashiri Trail is gorgeous & very peaceful; perfect for a solo hike. It starts out heading through a forest and meets up with the Yoshida Trail at the 8th station above most of the clouds. The huts along the way are pretty quiet, as is the trail, and they have space to stay the night (¥4500-¥6500). Drinks, noodles & walking stick stamps are also available for a few hundred yen. Honestly not sure why anyone stays the night, the hike is only 5-6 hours to the summit. Its much more fun to be at the top/10th station and watch a horde of headlamps slowly make their way to the top at 2-3am.

Supplies

  • Liquids. Bring a couple bottles of water if you don’t want to spend ¥500 at the huts. There is no Gatorade that I could find, instead, the sports drink at the vending machines is Pocari Sweat…after you get past the name, it serves its purpose.

  • Food. Bring a couple of protein/energy bars if you are not that into noodles. The 7th station had some very tasty egg drop soup and it was a really great way to warm up as the temperature drops when the sun goes down; the wind seems to pick up around there as well.

  • Warm Clothes. Unless you live in temperatures that average 20-30(°F), a hoodie and beanie will NOT provide sufficient warmth. Particularly at the summit…with crazy wind gust…in the middle of the night. If fortune is on your side, one of the other 4-5 people at the top will have brought a blanket and generously share w/ the unprepared. If you want to keep your carry-on light and skip the jackets in the middle of summer, it is possible to rent winter clothing as the summit friend with the blanket had done. And gloves are probably a good idea too.

  • Footwear. Hiking boots may be useful for warmth; trail running shoes work just as well terrain wise. (Again, it’s all about the cost-benefit of efficient luggage). Besides, the lack of shoe warmth is not much of a concern after awhile; once your toes go numb from the cold.

The Summit

Highly recommend getting to the summit for the sunrise. Starting at 5pm and going slowly will get you there around 10-11pm. The last 200-300m is probably the most “challenging” - go slow, enjoy it - you’re almost there. By this time, most people are asleep in the huts, with a few hanging out at the top. Around 2am, the people that stayed in the huts start to stream out and up the trail; you really do not want to get caught in that traffic jam. Watching the headlamp light show from the top seemed much more enjoyable than being in the middle of it.

Plus, the stars - so many stars - to stare at for hours. If you mostly live in a city (or back-woods country near to cities) and are confused about how anyone could ever see star constellations, seeing the night sky from the summit brings complete enlightenment on how our ancestors made the connections.

Around 3:30-4am, the 10th station hut opens up and sets up shop selling trinkets, drinks & hot noodles. That ¥500 6oz cup of coffee’s real value is in being able to hangout in the hut to warm up.

Stamps. There is a 10th station stamp that is imprinted into the walking stick with ink, stamp and hammer - very different from the burned-in stamps from the other stations. If you are at the top for the sunrise, there is also a special Sunrise Stamp to get in English and/or Japanese. ¥600 for both English & Japanese.

The Descent

The Subashiri Trail descent is mostly wide switchbacks comprised of loose lava gravel. Here is where the walking stick comes in handy; use it to gauge the gravel depth. Packed gravel is easier to walk on - looser gravel is good for jogging down. People will look at you like you have lost your mind as you jog past - while they take small defensive steps and end up sliding down on their back-side. Seriously, jogging down is far more stable than trying to walk. Plus, you can make the descent in 2-3 hours. Don’t forget to get descent stamps on the way down.

Other Fujisan Trails to the Summit