A close-up to Mount Fuji
Mt. Fuji is Japan's highest mountain, with 3776 m. And, it becomes UNESCO World Heritage in June, 2013. Before coming to Japan, I have watched many travelling tv program introducing the beauty of Mt.Fuji and also the mystery about Mt.Fuji, where Aokigahara Forest at the foot of Mt. Fuji is deemed as "Suicide Forest", one of the most popular place to go to commit suicide in Japan.
Forget about the mysterious side, from a distance, Mt.Fuji looks beautiful and amazing in different seasons and there many spots surrounding Mt.Fuji for tourist to enjoy the views of this sacred mountain from different angles.
(Photo taken from http://G.NEWS.JP/fujisan)
How about the closest view of Mt.Fuji? This only could be seen if you climb the mountain. That's why I decided to hit the trail two years ago though I don't really like hiking for a long day. The climbing season is around July and August. There are few hiking routes for climbing up Mt.Fuji. The one I went was from the 5th station, Yoshida-guchi.
(Photo taken from http://jnto.go.jp)So this is the Yoshida-guchi 5th station. Bus from Shinjuku to Mt.Fuji 5th station took about 2.5 hours. Here, there are souvenir shops, restaturant, post office, coin lockers, toilet etc.and you'll see many people resting on the ground after climbing the mountain.
I signed up a Mt.Fuji climbing tour package online,which included bus trip (to and fro) from Shinjuku to Mt.Fuji 5th station (Yoshida-guchi station), tour guide, one night accommodation, 3 meals and onsen. The package costs around 11000++yen. It is convenient for the first-time climber to follow a climbing tour like this.
Our guide was briefing about the schedule and tips for smooth climbing.
Setting out to hike
A thick carpet of white cloud blanketed the sky, feeling like we were floating on the cloud.
Around 1.15 pm we reached level 7, it took about 2.30 ~ 3 hours, including frequent breaks.
There are some food selling at some mountain hut, the price is like 3-4 times higher than the normal price. Also, if you happen to go to the toilet, you gotta pay 200-300 yen for that too.
A peak into one of the mountain hut.
As Japan's school summer vacation falls in August and the beginning of September, you may see many children climbing Mt.Fuji as well.
The layers of cloud surrouding the mountain is like the view we see from the airplane flying aboves the cloud.
It's about 4:20 pm, we hit the rest station at level 8. Started to feel a bit more breathless and it became colder. Most of the people began to put on their thick jacket.
We're taking more short break as we went up higher and higher to catch our breaths. Actually we're sweating a lot, but when we're taking a break, it just cooled down really fast at higher altitude.
Finally. we arrived at our hut around 5:15 pm, the hut is at level 8.5.
We're served with dinner not long after we put our backpack in our "room".
We're like lining up with other climbers on a long bed. After the dinner, all the climbers went to around 8:00pm and we had to wake up at 1:30 am and resume our journey to the peak.
Able to wake up before the alarm rang in the early of the night, it was so hard to get up at first because I felt the onset of muscle soreness and muscle fatigue.Our group departed at 2 am sharp. It was so dark,the wind blowing strongly and freezing. Our guide advised to wear raincoat before setting out to climb to the summit. The trail was steep incline, but we could see a line of head torches moving up. Though it's early night, the trail was so crowded and busy as every climber want to arrive at the summit for sunrise.
Sorry for not taking enough night shots. The altitude took its toll here. I was thinking nothing but to inhale as much as possible, it became more breathless. Around 3.30 am we arrived at the summit ! It was so crowded already and waiting for the sun to come out.
The magical moment began.
The view was incredible that made me temporarily forgot about the sore legs and muscle pain.
Every climber on the top cheered, clapped and shouted " banzai!" as the sun rose. People will never see such a breath-taking sunrise view without climbing to the top of Mt.Fuji. Worth all the effort and pain.
After the sunrise, we're walking around here and there and saw a huge crater. There's still snow remained.
Here at the top of Mt.Fuji, you can send your friends and families a postcard. How great it is to receive a postcard from the highest post office in Japan.
This is my second climbing experience, learning from the first one, I knew that the hardest part wasn't over yet. Descending is definitely harder than ascending, though it took shorter time. It needs more control plus muscle pain, sore thigh and leg tends to be the limiting factor to descend the mountain. There were several people slided down while descending, so did I, as you see the trail was so steep.
I didn't really prepare for the climb, I just did some running, stair climbing and squats exercise two weeks before the trip. Overall the climb is a wonderful experience, and gave me a sense of accomplishment.