A New Plan for Fuji-san

My approach to climbing the mountain

By Elena Lisina    - 4 min read

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From my experience, I've come to realise just how important good planning is for a successful trip. In July 2019, I climbed Fuji-san. Despite the fine weather, I was unable to reach the summit for several reasons, but the main reason was that my climbing plan was based on the wrong route.

The Fujinomiya Trail, which I chose as the shortest route, is actually the steepest and therefore the most difficult. A rapid ascent can be dangerous for the not so young and so it is a much better approach to climb gradually, resting and replenishing energy with food as appropriate. It seemed to me that I only wanted to drink, and for this reason I had no energy at all by the evening. Taking into account the experience of that first ascent, I made a new plan that I was going to implement for the summer of 2020.

The steep and stony Fujinomiya Trail
The steep and stony Fujinomiya Trail

A new approach

My new plan was a two-day ascent along the Gotemba Trail from the station of the same name. You can reach Gotemba Station from Tokyo by bus (a 2 hour trip for JPY2000) or by train (2.5 hours). Once there, it is much more convenient to reserve a hotel for 3-4 days. This way, you can choose a day with the best weather conditions for climbing. A two day reservation means that if there is any difficult weather, the chance to climb becomes impossible.

In the area surrounding Gotemba station, you can visit Shinbashiasama Shrine and the shopping street Gotemba Premium Outlets. You can also take the train to Yamakita Station. That area has beautiful nature, including views of the Shasui waterfall.

Now, from Gotemba Station, you can reach the Gotemba Trail's 5th station by bus (40 minutes, JPY1400). The Gotemba Trail starts at an altitude of 1400 metres, which is 1000 metres lower than the Fujinomiya Trail, though the entire lower part runs through the forest. This trail doesn't seem to be as popular as there are no crowds of tourists on it. There are fewer rest stations on the trail, though of course you can bring your own refreshments with you.

Torii gate after the 8th station of Fujinomiya Trail
Torii gate after the 8th station of Fujinomiya Trail

Enjoying the view

On the way to the summit, there are good views of Hoeizan, Fuji-san's second crater. Based on my first climbing attempt, I planned to take a long break during the late afternoon for this second trip. If there are no beds in the cabins, you can always sit and enjoy a hot meal. After a fairly long rest, you can continue climbing by the light of a lantern. Many people want to see the sunrise while standing on top of Fuji-san, but that really is a matter of luck with the weather! The descent from the summit along the Gotemba Trail is much gentler, a stark contrast to the steep and very difficult Fujinomiya Trail.

Another option to consider is the Subashiri Trail, which starts at an altitude of 1950 metres and its 5th station can also be reach from Gotemba Station by bus. In anycase, I’d hoped to implement my Gotemba Trail plan during the summer, but alas, the Covid-19 pandemic stopped that. I hope that one day I will be able to implement it!

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Elena Lisina

Elena Lisina @shiroi.tenshi

I love Japan very much! I like small towns of Japan where I can watch people doing their business and talk to them carefully. They're always friendly. I like Japanese gardens where I can just sit or walk and take my time. Also I like Shinto Jinja as being there I feel in peace. I like to watch sunsets and then to dine in some small local places. I like to soak into onsen after a long day of wandering. I like Japanese crafts very much as all items are made with great taste and skill. Nihon wo daisuki desuyo!

Join the discussion

Kim a month ago
This is really helpful to know for those of us like myself who haven't yet climbed Mt. Fuji! I didn't know there was such a big difference between the difficulty of the trails.
Elena Lisina Author a month ago
Yes, the trails are different and there is also one hat starts from the very foot! As camping isn't allowed at Fuji-san, that trail is difficult to overcome - maybe for skilled sportsmen!
Sleiman Azizi a month ago