With the official climbing season just around the corner (Jul 1-Aug 31), is this your year to conquer the iconic Mt. Fuji?

The sacred mountain is reportedly close to attaining UNESCO World Heritage status—meaning many more like-minded hikers from near and far will want to hit the 3,776m summit.

Come prepared, whether you decide to hike during the week when it’s least crowded, or on the weekend when it’s bumper-to-bumper up the chain-railed rocky mountain.

There’s a Japanese proverb: “The person that never climbs Mt. Fuji is a fool, and the person who climbs it twice is a bigger fool.”

So, technically this writer is a fool—as is her 16-year old son who even climbed it three times.

Photo by Jessica A Page
But my reason for going twice was a failure to reach the summit the first time. The reasons were as follows:

  • I stuffed my backpack with too much water, and other stuff, adding unnecessary weight.
  • I stopped to take way too many photos.
  • I stood in lines to get a stamp at every station hut.
  • Rain and wind.
  • I just didn’t make the 11am cut-off time at the Fujisan hotel (Original 8th Station) to reach the summit by 1pm and descend in time for the chartered bus by 5pm.

But my spirit was broken and in the back of my mind I kept replaying the mistakes. I was determined to try again the following year.

With more stair-climber time on the books, a lighter backpack, fewer stamps and amazing weather, I made it to the summit in 2012.

The day trip began again at 5:30am from the Subaru 5th Station, and trekking all the way up the Yoshidaguchi Trail. The descent felt like a never-ending zig-zag on loose volcanic gravel toward the Fuji-Subaru Line. It really doesn’t get any easier here. Be sure to trim those toe nails prior to your trip and make a mental note that toilets are few and far between on the way down.

With the walking stick to show and a story to tell, climbing Mt Fuji will always hold a special place in my heart. Imagine contentedly enjoying the breathtaking views of Fuji-san from a distance and saying, “I once stood on the top of that mountain!”

by Jessica A. Page is a contributor for JapanTourist.jp.

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