The obon vacation was approaching and we were yet to decide where to go on this vacation. Suddenly we thought – why not to the top of mount Fuji?! Then we started our online research and the result were so discouraging. From Tokyo, the tour group would take people to the top of mount Fuji and it was very expensive. Afterwards, we decided to contact different people who went to the top of Fujisan and found out that anyone can go there without a guide. Thus, the decision was made, and the planning startedn.
The main obstacle was that we had a very low budget for this trip. We decided to take Juhachi kippu train for the tour. We started on the 1st day of obon from Kumamoto railway station with 5.45 am train and after changing about 20 trains we reached Nagoya at night. Next day we relaxed at Nagoya and with friends from Nagoya on the 3rd day’s morning we headed for Kawaguchiko station. From there we took the bus to the 5th base of Fujisan and it was already evening! We were already exhausted; however, we had to go to the top on that night and see the sun rise; thus, there was no time to rest.
Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08. We took Yoshida Trail, the most popular trail to the summit. At the beginning it looked like this is going to be a very easy trekking. It was night and it was very dark. There was no light, the only light source was the torch attached to the headband. Some people around us were more prepared; whereas, some did not even bring the headlamp and were depending on other people (it’s very dangerous).
After a few hours it seemed like we could see the top and it was very exciting, however, at some point it looked like no matter how much we travelled to the summit, it remained in a constant distance. So, we slowed down, took some rest and kept moving.
The bulk of the hike is like an endless trek: with the trail zigzagging left and right endlessly, and the hike just gets steeper and steeper with the time. Actual rock climbing is not required, but in some cases we had to use our hands. The trail is well marked (even at night) and thousands of people were trekking, so it was impossible to get lost!!
We crossed the last base camp and wanted to reach the top before the sun came up. Then we realized that it was not possible, stopped at a clearing and waited for the sun. Sun was coming up and the Kawaguchiko lake was visible!
At the top there were some places to take a rest at and also vending machines. We had our own supplies; however, if something is needed, it’s there on the top! It was august but it was freezing on the top. So you’d better get well prepared for the cold.
There is a separate path for descending down the mountain back to Kawaguchiko; there are many branches, so it’s necessary to be sure you take the right one! The descending path is easier; the small rocks and friction might destroy your shoes though! Anyway, it’s better to wear some good trekking shoes; it’s would not be wise to have a ruined shoe while coming down. It took us around 4.5 hours to come down.
We were very lucky to have a chance to hike to the top of the volcano. It was tiring; but at the same time, it was very refreshing.