This post is a hiking guide from the Scott family whose adult kids met in Haneda Japan before climbing Mount Fuji for the first time. It covers traveling and sightseeing as well as booking and preparing for the climb.
You can only climb Mount Fuji, in Japan from the beginning of July to the beginning of September. During this time about 300,000 people climb to the top of the holy mountain, which is an average of 4000 people a day. There are 10 stations on Mt Fuji. The Scott family did what many people do… rather than hike from the very bottom, they took a bus to Station 5, hiked up to Station 8, then spent one night to acclimatize before summiting in time for sunrise the next day.
It takes around 6-7 hours to climb Mount Fuji from Station 5 and another 3-4 hours to descend. The weather can be fickle and change at a moment’s notice, and the rise in elevation from Station 5 to the summit is a staggering 4,900 feet (1,500 m).
Because of these factors, mental and physical preparation are necessary for your trip. You should be physically fit and be prepared with the correct gear no matter the weather. Studying up and knowing what you are doing is very important before climbing Mount Fuji for the first time. But with all that said, it can (and will) be extremely rewarding! The adult children of the Scott family flew into from the USA to meet their dad at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel in Tokyo.
To keep the trip simple the Scott family hiked with hired guides. The price of guides includes everything like bus tickets, overnight accommodation at Mountain House, plus dinner and breakfast. There are many hiking companies that cater to tourists with all-inclusive packages.
Day 1: Arrival and preparation
Arrive at Haneda International Terminal, clear immigration, and claim luggage (if any). In the arrival hall, look for the orange and white “Limousine Bus” stand straight ahead at the far end of the hall. Get a ticket to the Shinagawa Prince Hotel. They will sell you a ticket for 720JY ($7USD) and tell you which bus stop to wait at and the departure time. They’ll accept a credit card for the bus tickets. The bus to the hotel will take about 40 minutes and will drop you at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel main lobby.
If you have time, locate an ATM and use your bank card to withdraw about 20,000JY ($200USD). Be sure to notify your bank before you leave so you don’t run into problems using your card. If you don’t have time at the airport, they have an ATM at the hotel (also look for a 7-11 that has international bank account access).
Once you are settled into the hotel, there are several places nearby for dinner. Out the front of the hotel, turn left and there is a great ramen+gyoza shop (they are cash only I believe), plus you’ll see a McDonald’s and a shopping center with several places inside.
If you want to buy hiking snacks or supplies, cross the street at the McDonald’s and the first building on the corner on the right (Takanawa Wing) has a grocery store in the basement. They also take credit cards and have everything you might want to buy.
Next day, you need to be at the west entrance of Shinjuku Station at 7:45 in the morning to board the bus to the mountain. That means you need to leave the hotel packed with all of your Mt. Fuji supplies by 06:45 to be safe. Since you might be battling jet lag, set an alarm (or two) so you don’t miss the bus as there is not a second bus you can catch in time.
Sightseeing in and around Haneda:
There are many interesting things you can do if you want to spend more time in Haneda before climbing Mount Fuji. These are some of the recommendations from the hotel:
Kamakura Area (Big Buddha and other Temples):
- Across the street from the hotel is Shinagawa Station. You can buy a Japan Rail Pass at the automated machines or the ticket office. Purchase a ticket on the Tokaido line to Fujisawa (about 45 minutes, 760JY). From Fujisawa station, follow the signs for the Enoden train. Once there, buy a ticket from the machine to Kamakura (about 35 minutes, 300JY). Once you get to Kamakura Station, there are buses leaving from the front of the station from roof covered bus-stops. Go to the #6 bus stop to Kotoku-In, the stop right in front of the entrance to the Daibutsu Big Buddha statue park. When you enter the bus take a paper ticket and then pay when you get off (no change available, so give exact coins).
- After the Great Buddha of Kamakura statue, follow the crowds and walk to Hase-Dera shrine (15 minute walk down the street and over one block to the right). Once done you can walk (20 minutes) or again catch the #6 or #7 bus back to Kamakura Station. There is a Mister Donuts nearby, or other shops/places to eat.
- Also from the station you can walk to the Hachimangu Temple and see other sights close by. To get back to Shinagawa from Kamakura Station, buy tickets from the machine for the Japan Rail Yokosuka line back to Shinagawa station, about 50 minutes, 720JY. Depending on your propensity to explore, this can be a 6-8 hour day trip.
- Click here for discount tickets for a shrine and temples walking tour from our affiliate partner.
- Shinjuku or Shibuya areas or Akihabara (electric town): Each of these are all on the Yamanote line (the train line that makes a circle around central Tokyo). You can catch it going either way from Shinagawa. Tokyo also has a samurai museum you can check out if you want to combine it with other Tokyo activities.
- Odawara (Samurai Castle): This castle is farther afield at 70 km from Shinagawa. This can be a long and expensive day trip, but interesting if you are into Samurai legends and culture. If you want to do this, plan accordingly so you don’t spend too much of your energy before your big climb.
Day 2 and 3: Hiking Mt Fuji
The weather on the mountain changes frequently. You can keep an eye on the forecast leading up to the climb by app or the internet.
It is wise to monitor the weather at the summit as well. This graph tells you the temperatures at different altitudes. At Station 5 you will start hiking around 7800 feet elevation, the top is 12,000 ft. The temperatures will fluctuate (ranges from 60 degrees F to 40 degrees F,) so bring layered clothing that you can put on or shed as you hike.
For those who want more exercise once at the summit, you can hike another 2 hours around the rim of the volcanic crater.
Lastly, check out this site. It has great information on the different trailheads and how to stay safe. You can rent everything you need for the hike at basecamp, including backpacks. Or use this packing list to help you get started in your own preparations for climbing Mount Fuji for the first time.
A quick breakdown of the hiking itinerary:
- Catch a bus to Station 5. Have lunch and acclimatize.
- Leave at 2:30 pm to hike to Station 8. Arrive at about 6pm.
- Go to bed at 8:30 pm, for 2 am alarm the next morning.
- Wake at 2 am, leave at 2:30 am to get to the summit for sunrise around 5am.
- Hike down at 6:15am (on a different trail) to get to the bus that leaves at 11am from Station 5.
- Near the bottom of the mountain, there is a city called Fujiyoshida. Take an onsen (public bath) to relax tired muscles and have a nice lunch.
- Get back to Shinjuku at 6pm.
Mt Fuji First Time Packing List:
Take to Japan:
- boots/high-top shoes (well broken-in)
- 2-pairs of socks (a thin/slippery pair under wool hiking socks)
- zip-off hiking pants/shorts
- layered clothing; long-sleeve t-shirt, hoodie sweatshirt, water-resistant jacket/pants
- hat/beanie, neck scarf, sweat rag
- extra pairs of:
- underwear, t-shirt, socks (pack in gallon zip-lock bag to keep dry)
- optional: tennis shoes (for changing into once off the mountain)
- toilet tissue
- wet wipes (for refreshing bath)
- alcohol swabs (to clean blisters)
- dust masks (volcanic dust can get bad, especially on the way down)
- duct tape (2 yards, because you never know!)
- gloves (for grip and warmth)
- 2-gallon zip lock bags (to ensure a dry pair of clothes for day 2 and anything else you want to keep dry)
- camelback / 1-1.5 litres of water (water can be bought along the trail at $4 per 8oz. bottle)
- small band-aids (for blisters)
- medications, Advil & Tylenol (for pain and inflammation, to alternate)
- trash bag (there are no trash bins anywhere, anything you bring and/or buy you have to carry out)
- headlamp or flashlight with fresh/extra batteries
- phone/camera with portable charger/cords (no electrical outlets, bring your own electricity)
- walking stick(s)/flag (these can be rented at the base before we go up)
Buy in Japan the night before:
- Yen cash
- trail snacks (salty and sweet/jerky etc)
- 15 X 100Y coins each person
Trip taken August 2019.