Mt. Fuji Hike

20-21 Jul 2002 - by Derek Koonce

This hike was instigated due to the (write-up by Bob Pease ).

This was an enjoyable night hike that started from 2142 meters and ended up at the top of Mt. Fuji, Japan, at 3776.5 meters. Warm clothing is strongly recommended, for if there is foul weather, or even a clear night, the wind can make for a cold chill factor. Weather was clear above the tree line with a 2/3 full moon to start the hike with. There were hundreds of people that I passed during the night.

Bob Pease has done a wonderful write-up and I basically took the same route. Starting with a bus trip from Shinjuku station for 2600 Yen, I departed at 16:50. Arriving at the Kawaguchi Trail 5th station (N 35.39430 E138.73253) before 20:00 hours. This is on the north side of Mt. Fuji.

A short walk around the commercial area, then off to the hike. It started out basically level heading east along a dirt road. There was then a trail splitting off and heading up to the right.

The difficulty of the hike came about the last 1/4 way up the mountain. This was due to the fact that it was like climbing a set of tall-stepped stairs and that I was tired, since I was up at 06:00 hours that day. I took several stops in protected parts of the trail, to stay out of the wind and rested about 10 to 15 minutes each time.

I arrived at the top of the Kawaguchi trail around 02:00 hours on Sunday. The sky above was clear and one can see the lights of Tokyo trying to peak out from under the clouds off to the east.

The sun was not scheduled to rise until 04:47, but the first glimpse was around 04:30. My two hours of shivering was rewarded with a grand sight of sunrise. One can feel the sun's warmth as soon as it was up - a truly thankful feeling after a cold night.

I hiked around the crater once. And then 1/3 more time to get to the top of the Gotemba trail.

I started down the Gotemba trail around 08:00. Sign at the top says it is about 3 hours to the bottom. The longest stretch was the last 4km, cross-contour, through the ash debris field. It is strongly recommended to be wearing sturdy boots and gaiters. If you get in the right step you can double your stride as you sink into the ash rocks (about 1cm to 3cm in diameter). This eventually got very monotonous and made the last 1km stretch difficult.

At the Gotemba 5th station, it was a 1020-Yen bus ride to the train station then a 2920-Yen Rapid Express train back to Shinjuku.

Detailed maps

I received a very good set of topographic maps from a colleague in Japan, which I have put together and calibrated. I have the 1:24000 topographic map (in UTM and lat-long formats) and hiking path in a set of PDF files for reference.

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