Climbing Mt. Fuji - once in a lifetime experience
Yokota Air Base, Japan -- When one hears the words “active volcano” one of the last things that may come to mind is hiking... But, every year thousands of people from around the world make the trek to the peak of Mount Fuji from early July to mid-September.
Mt. Fuji is Japan’s tallest peak standing at 3,776 meters and located about 100 kilometers southwest of Tokyo. During the hiking season the mountain is usually free of snow, the weather is relatively mild and the mountain huts are operating.
There are several trails to hike; the Yoshida, Subashiri, Gotemba and Fujinomiya Trails. Each hiking trail will take anywhere from 4 to 10 hours to ascend to the top and 3 to 7 hours to descend, both depending on how quickly the hiker moves.
The hike to the top can be challenging due to how strenuous it can be and the air gets notably thinner as you gain altitude. There are numerous mountain huts throughout the trails that provide food, drinks, bathrooms, a place for hikers to sleep or sit and stamps for hiking sticks. Using the bathroom costs about 200 yen each use, the food and drinks vary in price and the stamps cost between 300 and 500 yen.
Once hikers reach the top of the mountain, there are several restaurants, souvenir shops and a bathroom to help people relax prior to descending.
The path down the mountain is much smoother than the trek up, but is still challenging due to amount of pressure that is put on the hiker’s knees.
In order to enjoy a safe hike to the summit of Mount Fuji, it’s crucial to bring the proper equipment. Some of the more important things to bring are proper shoes and clothes, food, money, flashlight (if hiking at night), and a hiking stick is optional.
It’s also recommended to bring oxygen tanks due to the lack of oxygen at the high altitude, be well rested, climb at a steady pace, don’t over pack and bring durable rain gear.
It is also mandatory for all participants from Yokota Air Base to watch the safety briefing on www.YokotaFSS.com. For suggested items and other important information, reference the Mount Fuji pamphlet on the FSS website or pick one up at the Outdoor Recreation office.
If you plan on hiking Mt. Fuji this year or in the years to come, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to get the chance to climb up an active volcano.