One of the perks of being stationed in Japan is the opportunity to climb Mt. Fuji. When the weather is clear, we are incredibly fortunate to have daily views of Mt. Fuji from our apartment on base. Seeing it daily has made the desire to climb it even more of a “must do/bucket list”.  Besides how many people do you know who can say they’ve climbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

view of Mt. Fuji from our apartment in December 2012

view of Mt. Fuji from our apartment in December 2012

snowy Mt. Fuji on 3.10.2014

snowy Mt. Fuji on 3.10.2014

Climbing season is from July – to the end of August/beginning of September. When you decide you want to climb Mt. Fuji my first advice is to plan. Plan for everything you will need to buy, borrow, etc. The official Fuji climbing site has information about the trails, weather updates, other important information. I highly recommend looking over this to determine what trail you want to hike, find driving directions to each trail head, etc. 

The first thing is to decide the date you want to climb. For us this was determined by my husband’s busy schedule. Unfortunately the day we climbed was during the Bon Odori holiday so the mountain was more crowded than normal. On a positive note we didn’t have any traffic driving towards Fuji as it was going the opposite direction toward Tokyo.

Next you will need to decide if you want to do a day climb or a night climb. Keep in mind that if you do a day climb you will be descending the mountain that night. If you climb at night you will be descending the next morning. Our decision was simply based around childcare for our 2 small circus members. We felt that a night climb would be the easiest for a sitter since our kids would be asleep for 10 of those hours. Plus we wanted the experience of seeing the sunrise from the top of majestic Fuji-San. We decided to begin our climb at 9 pm Friday night and allotted 8 hours to reach the summit. 

I have heard from people who did a day climb that they had to leave at 3 am to drive to Fuji. I felt that leaving at this hour would have been very unfair to a sitter and confusing for our kids in the morning. I also heard countless stories about the blazing sun & how frustrating it is to look up to the summit & feel you are nearly there.  In my experience a night climb has it’s own frustrations as you look up at the lit zig zag of huts and the summit which appear closer than it is. 

There are 4 climbing trails on Fuji and my husband and I decided on the Yoshida Trail. Since this is one of the most popular trails we knew there would be many huts, which meant more stamps for our hiking stick.

You can purchase the hiking stick [known in Japanese as Kongouzue| at many shops at the 5th station. The short stick is 1,000¥ and the large stick is 1,500¥. We purchased one long hiking stick so we had more room for stamps. The stamps vary in price but the average is 300¥. It is a wonderful memento of our journey in attempting to conquer Mt. Fuji. 

While we didn’t anticipate needing to visit the First Aid Station we felt that choosing a trail with 2 stations [at the 7th & 8th station] was a wise choice, because anything can happen. We never visited the First Aid Station & I hope you don’t need to either. 

In preparation for our hike I printed the trail map & laminated it so in the event of bad weather we could still use it. Can you tell I enjoy any opportunity to use my laminator?

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As with most things in the Navy schedules always change, but my husband and planned what time we would leave, driving time, allotted a certain amount of time to climb and when we anticipated to be back home. We decided to leave at 5:30 pm on Friday night, however the mister walked through the door at 5:10 pm after a long day at work in the heat.  Twenty minutes later he was dressed to go & I had shoved a few more things in our backpacks and we kissed the kids & ran out the door.

Did I mention this was our first date in 21 months? That’s 21 months we haven’t left the house without the kids in tow. We really needed this quiet time.  As we were driving off base we looked at each other and said, “It’s so quiet without the kids. This feels weird.” We quickly reassured ourselves that the kids were happy & safe with the sitter in our home.

quick selfie at the longest stop light in town

quick selfie at the longest stop light in town

If you’re on Atsugi base stop by the MWR Tour office to pick up a map with directions to Mt. Fuji. We took the Tomei Expressway and despite reading the map carefully, highlighting it, asking a friend for reassurance that we were going the correct way and pulling up GPS on my iPhone there were several times we had to pull over in the striped area before getting off the exit.

If you have ever been to Fujikyu Highland [the amusement park]

981699_10100476495925453_534811082_oor Thomas Land {aka the Holy Land}

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& have a pin to either of those locations you will know that it’s about a 90 minute to 2 hour drive. Friday night our drive was an hour & 45 minutes. We did make a quick pit stop at 7/11 for some car snacks! 

You’ll spend about 30 miles on the Tomei expressway [1st toll, 1,460¥] and then take the Gotemba IC [Interchange], exit 7. Also good to note that the premium shopping outlets are at this exit.

You’ll then take the Higashi Fuji Goko Toll Road [2nd toll, 530¥] and enter a long tunnel. Keep in mind to follow signs towards Lake Yamanaka.

You will take exit 3 to the Fuji Yoshida IC [3rd toll, 530¥]. Make a right turn at the traffic light, go straight and you will see a sign on the right hand side for the Fuji Hokuroku Parking area.

So a quick recap on tolls: 

1st toll  1,460¥

2nd toll  530¥

3rd toll  530¥

For the first toll you will be greeted by a person in a booth but the last 2 tolls are deposited into machines and it will show you what denomination bills and coins are accepted. We used 5,000¥ on for one of the toll machines to get smaller bills.

If you take the same route back to Atsugi the tolls are the same as above, so round trip is 5,040¥.  

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