By Nicole Bauer
When hiking mountains is an unmissable activity during your vacation, you might want to add spending the night to that list. Near the top of Mount Mitsutouge in the foothills of Mount Fuji, you'll find an authentic old mountain lodge that offers accommodation, meals, and a beautiful view of Fuji and dozens of other mountains. It is an adventure never to forget.
Before enjoying your time at the lodge, you'll experience a beautiful climb which will get you in the mood for this mountain experience. The closest public transport is more than a 2.5 hour walk away, which actually is a good thing, since a mountain lodge would not be one without a mountain hike. But the climb is one of the most beautiful walks I have done so far, and I would recommend the route starting at Mitsutouge station.
The lodge was built in 1945 and has since been rebuilt and extended through the years. It offers eight traditional Japanese rooms with tatami on the floor and kotatsu tables to warm your feet, and the rooms vary in size from 2 to even 21 guests. One night costs ¥5000 per person, or ¥8500 with dinner and breakfast included (and from October to March, staying overnight costs ¥300 extra). The rooms are very clean, and some even have balconies with views of Mount Fuji. Nothing is better than waking up, opening your curtains and actually realizing where you just slept.
The lodge is home to two wolf dogs who are very popular and will give a warm welcome to guests. Also the owners of the lodge will take care of you as if you are family, answering any questions you have about the lodge and its surroundings. In the evenings you can enjoy the many paintings hanging all over the place or just sit beside the petrol heater with a warm sake or beer, amazing yourself with one of the photo books.
Even though the view will keep you amazed, there is more to do around the mountain, such as the 20-minute walk to the top. For more adrenaline you can climb the rocks up or down. There are several mountain-climbing courses starting in the nearby town Nishi Katsura, and I would also recommend a walk down to the other side of the mountain. It is a different kind of hike and it will bring you to a nice restaurant to have lunch. This walk takes around an hour and a half, and is easily followed by taking the right-hand path whenever you come to a fork or junction. It can't be missed.
I recommend bringing warm clothes, since the nights can get pretty cold. One shower costs ¥500 and you need to bring your own towel. You can fill your water-bottle without limit at the yellow water tank in the communal area. Reserve at least one day in advance by telephone or email; since it is Japan, Wi-Fi is available for free and phone reception is perfect even up this mountain. Don't forget to ask what time the sun will rise, since it's worth getting up early to enjoy this natural wonder.
I would recommend staying at the lodge for more than one night, since after spending your first you'll start to feel at home, and actually start to realize you don't want to leave this wonderful place called Mount Mitsutouge.
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