Climbing Mount Fuji: Duration, Cost, When To Go And What To Wear

There’s a Japanese proverb that goes:

“A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb Mt Fuji twice.”

And after climbing Fuji last August, I can wholeheartedly agree with that proverb.  

After all, Mount Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. The snowcapped peak is the symbol of Japan. The climb itself is not too challenging. You can even complete it in a day.

It’s just something you have to do when you are in Japan!

And that’s probably why Mount Fuji is one of the most climbed mountains in the world.

Every year, there are about 200,000 to 300,000 climbers heading to the summit. What is even more amazing is that the official climbing season lasts only about 2 months in summer. So, on average, that’s about 3,500 people climbing Mount Fuji every day!

Would I climb it again?

Probably not.

The trail on the mountain is pretty monotonous. The crowds are intense. It felt less like mountain climbing, and more like a grueling workout session in a crowded gym. It’s the least enjoyable climb I have been on.

Yup, it’s pretty much like this all the way to the top

But it’s probably due to a couple of rookie mistakes. I was climbing on the most popular trail on Mount Fuji. And I was climbing during one of the most popular weeks in Japan. And I was on an overnight non-stop climb from base to summit. The lack of sleep and freezing winds certainly brought my crankiness up a notch.

Some of my friends climbed Mount Fuji a few years back with a guide. They took a less crowded trail and spent a night in a mountain hut. Their experience was quite different from mine, and they enjoyed their time.

So would I recommend someone else to climb it?

If you are already making a trip to Japan, then I would say yes. (I wouldn’t make a special trip to Japan to climb Mount Fuji).

Mount Fuji is a non technical climb that you can enjoy doing with family and friends on your holidays.

And to help make your climb more enjoyable, I’ve put together this guide to answer all your questions.  

Want to bag more peaks in the country? Check out the other high peaks in Japan.

Ultimate Guide To Climbing Mount Fuji

When Can You Climb Mount Fuji?

The official climbing season lasts only about 2 months, from 1st July to 10th September.

The popular Yoshida Trail is opened on 1st July.

The other 3 trails are only opened on 10th July.

When Is The Best Time To Climb Mount Fuji?

As mentioned earlier, you can imagine how crowded the mountain will be during those 2 months.

To enjoy Mount Fuji at a slightly quieter time, the best time would be either the first 3 weeks of July or in September.

The school vacations in Japan start from the 3rd weekend of July to end of August. And in the middle of August is one of Japan’s major holiday, Obon, which lasts for a week.

By some strange circumstances, I ended up climbing Mount Fuji during the Obon week, and it wasn’t fun. The Yoshida Trail was practically like a queue on Black Friday!

Can You Climb Mount Fuji During The Off-Season?

Generally, there is no snow on Mount Fuji from the end of June to the middle of October. You can climb it anytime during this period.

If you are an experienced climber comfortable with climbing in icy or snowy terrains, you can even consider climbing Mount Fuji in winter.

For off-season climbs, you will need to submit your climbing plan to the Yamanashi Police Department. You can download the form here. You can mail or email the completed form to the address stated at the bottom of the form.

It is also important to keep these things in mind:

  • The weather is a lot harsher outside the official climbing season. July and August are the hottest summer months in Japan with temperatures going from 27 to 32 C (80 to 90 F). And yet, the temperatures at the summit of Mount Fuji is about 4 to 6 C (40 to 43 F).
  • Most, if not all, of the mountain huts are closed outside the official climbing season. This means you can’t buy any food or drinks along the trail.
  • Buses to Mount Fuji are very infrequent outside the official climbing season. You can check the off-season bus schedule here. You can consider driving since the roads are open to the public during the off-season.

How Long Does It Take To Climb Mount Fuji?

You can climb Mount Fuji in a day.

Taking the most popular Yoshida Trail from the 5th Station to the summit will take you about 5 to 7 hours. Coming down will using the same trail will take you about 3 to 5 hours. Assuming you spend an hour on the summit enjoying the views, the total time you need is about 9 to 13 hours.

But this is assuming you have a packed itinerary and cannot afford to spend another moment on Mount Fuji.

You may need additional time for:

  • Long breaks: some people stop for a long meal break in one of the huts. Even if you don’t, you are still likely to take a couple of 15 to 30 minutes breaks during the ascent.
  • Taking photos: this can easily add another hour or two into your climb.
  • Waiting around: especially on the Yoshida Trail, the crowds can slow down your climb significantly. From the 8th station to the summit, the trail becomes narrow. Overtaking other climbers is difficult. Even toilet breaks might take up some time due to the long lines.
  • Summit walk: there is a trail on the summit where you can walk around the cater of Mount Fuji. It is a loop that takes about 90 minutes.

*It took me about 8 to 9 hours to reach the summit via the Yoshida Trail during the Obon week in the peak season. The estimated time was supposed to be between 5 to 7 hours.

Why Start Climbing At The 5th Station?

There are actually 10 stations from the foot of Mount Fuji to its summit. But the 5th station is the highest point that can be reached by cars and buses. It has since become the most common starting point.

There are a few reasons why people skip the earlier stations:

  • The area from the 5th station to the summit is “more developed”. There are huts, food, and water found throughout the trail. This is not the case in the areas below the 5th station.
  • It saves half your time and energy. The elevation of the 5th station is about 6,500 feet (2,000 meters). This is more than halfway to the summit of 12,388 feet (3,776 meters).

How Many Trails Are There? How Do I Choose Which Trail To Take?

There are 4 trails to the summit of Mount Fuji from 4 different 5th stations.

The table below highlights the key differences between the trails:

Yoshida Trail Subashiri Trail Gotemba Trail
Fujinomiya Trail
Starting elevation: about 2,300 meters (7,500 feet)Starting elevation: about 2,000 meters (6,500 feet)Starting elevation: about 1,400 meters (4,600 feet)
Starting elevation: about 2,400 meters (7,800 feet)
Ascent: 5-7 hours

Descent: 3-5 hours
Ascent: 5-8 hours

Descent: 3-5 hours
Ascent: 7-10 hours

Descent: 3-6 hours
Ascent: 4-7 hours

Descent: 2-4 hours
Starts from Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station in Yamanashi Prefecture.Starts from Subashiri 5th Station in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Starts from Gotemba 5th Station in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Starts from Fujinomiya 5th Station in Shizuoka Prefecture.
The most popular trail.

It is easily accessible by public transportation from the Fuji Five Lake area and Tokyo.
The second easiest to access by public transportation from Tokyo.
The longest trail with the lowest starting point.
The second most popular trail.

It is easily accessible by public transportation from western Japan.

The shortest trail with the highest starting point.
The trail is usually very crowded.

150,000 to 170,000 climbers per year.
The trail is usually not crowded. But it does join up with the popular Yoshida Trail at the 8th Station.

20,000 to 25,000 climbers per year.
Not crowded.

15,000 to 18,000 climbers per year.
Crowded. The only trail which uses the same route for ascent and descent.

50,000 to 70,000 climbers per year.
The start of the trail is most developed among the 4 trails:
– Many shops and restaurants
– Information center
– Toilets
– Coin lockers
Not as developed as the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station:
– 2 small shops and restaurants
– Toilets
– No coin lockers
The least developed 5th station
– 1 small shop
– Temporary information center
– Toilets
The second most developed 5th station:
– 1 shop and restaurant
– Information center
– Toilets
Gentle terrains from 5th to 7th station. Rocky and steeper after 7th station.
Gentle terrains from 5th to 7th station.
Sheltered by trees from 5th to 7th station.
Gentle terrains from 5th to 8th station.

Rocky and steep terrains.
The largest number of huts.

There are many huts at every station on the ascent.

There are no huts on the descent.
There are 9 mountain huts on the ascent.

There is one hut on the descent.
Least number of huts.

There are only huts around the 7th and 8th stations.
There are huts at every station.
First-aid centers at 5th, 7th and 8th stations.No first-aid centers.
No first-aid centers.
First-aid centers at the 8th station.

How To Get To The 5th Stations On Mount Fuji?

By highway buses

You can find more information about the buses and their schedules to the various trails here.

Here are some information about the buses:

Yoshida Trail Subashiri Trail Gotemba Trail Fujinomiya Trail
Buses depart from Shinjuku and Kawaguchiko Stations
Buses depart from Gotemba Station
Buses depart from Gotemba StationBuses depart from Mishima, Shin-Fuji, Fuji, and Fujinomiya Stations
Shinjuku Station:
150 minutes
2700 yen round trip

Kawaguchiko Station:
50 minutes
2100 yen round trip
Gotemba Station:
60 minutes
2060 yen round trip

Tokyo to Gotemba:
1 to 2 hour journey.
Gotemba Station:
40 minutes
1540 yen round trip

Tokyo to Gotemba:
1 to 2 hour journey
Mishima Station:
120 minutes
3100 yen round trip

Shin-Fuji Station
150 minutes  
3100 yen round trip (passes through Fuji and Fujinomiya Stations)

By car

Private cars are not allowed on the 5th station during most of the climbing season (10 July to 10 September).

Taxis are allowed but are costly. An hour taxi ride will cost about 12,000 yen.

Climbing Itineraries (Yoshida Trail)

It is quite common for people to spend 2 days climbing Mount Fuji. Here are a few possible itineraries based on the Yoshida Trail:

Itinerary 1:

  • Suitable for: people with more time and budget.
  • Total duration: about 18 to 19 hours.
  • Pro: You get to rest and nap for a few hours during your climb.  
  • Con: Spending a night at the hut is expensive and not the most comfortable experience.
4.20 pm Bus arrives from Shinjuku Station.
4.30 pmClimb from 5th station to the huts at 7th station.
6.30 pmCheck in at the hut.Have dinner and rest or sleep for a few hours.
11 pm Check out of the hut.Climb from 7th or 8th station to the summit
4 am Arrive at the summit for the sunrise.
The sun rises between 4.30 am to 5 am but it is good to arrive earlier to secure a good spot.
5 amGo for the summit walk.
6.30 amPrepare to descend.
10.30 amArrive at 5th station
11 am Bus departs for Shinjuku Station.

Itinerary 2:

  • Suitable for: people in a rush or on a tight budget.
  • Total duration: about 12 hours.
  • Pro: You save time and money on a night’s accommodation.
  • Cons:
    • You won’t have any time to sleep till the next morning.
    • You have less time to acclimatize to the high altitudes. This increases your risk of getting altitude sickness.
10 pmLast bus arrives from Shinjuku Station.
10.10pmClimb from 5th station to the summit.
4 am Arrive at summit for the sunrise.The sun rises between 4.30am to 5am but it is good to arrive earlier to secure a good spot.
5 amGo for the summit walk OR prepare to descend.
9 am — 10.30 amArrive at 5th station.
10 am — 11 amFirst bus departs for Shinjuku Station at 10 am and it departs hourly.

Itinerary 3:

  • Suitable for: people who want to avoid climbing in the dark but still want to catch the sunrise.
  • Total duration: about 25 to 26 hours.
  • Pros:
    • You get to rest and nap for a few hours during your climb.  
    • You don’t have to climb in the dark. This is safer if you are climbing with children.
  • Con: Spending a night at the hut is expensive and not the most comfortable experience.
3.10 pm Bus arrives from Shinjuku Station.
3.30 pmClimb from the 5th station to the huts at the 7th station.
5.30 pmCheck in at the hut.Have dinner and spend the night.
4 amCheck out of the hut.Catch the sunrise on the trail.Climb from 7th or 8th station to the summit.
9 amArrive at the summit.Go for the summit walk.
11 amPrepare to descend.
3 pmArrive at the 5th station
4 pmBus departs for Shinjuku Station.

Itinerary 4:

  • Suitable for: people who want to complete climbing in one day.
  • Total duration: about 12 hours
  • However, the first bus from Shinjuku will only arrive at 9.20 am and the last bus departs at 5 pm. You can either take a taxi or spend one night at the accommodations at the 5th station.
  • Pro: Your sleeping cycle is not disrupted.
  • Con: You don’t get to catch the sunrise on the summit.
7.30 amClimb from 5th station to the summit.
1.30 pm Arrive at the summit.Go for the summit walk.
3 pmPrepare to descend.
7 pmArrive at the 5th station

These are the estimated time it takes between stations on the Yoshida Trail.

5th to 6th 6th to 7th7th to 8th8th to original 8th Original 8th to summit
40 min60 min100 min80 min80 min

This is an overview of the Yoshida Trail.

How Much Does Climbing Mount Fuji Cost?

At the minimum, climbing Mount Fuji will cost you about 3,500 to 5,000 yen, with the following breakdown:

Item Estimated CostTo Note
Bus transport from the train station to the 5th station 2,000 to 3,000 yen for a round tripThis excludes the train rides you might need to get to the relevant bus stops.
Admission fee1,000 yen per person Only applies during the climbing season.
Visits to the washrooms200 to 300 yen per useIt costs more the higher you go.

But depending on your plans and budget, you could also end up spending a lot more than that.

Here are some possible additional expenses:

Item Estimated CostTo Note
Equipment rental 10,000 to 40,000 yen for 2 day rental You should make a reservation and get your rental equipment delivered to you before the climb.
Helemt rental 2,000 yen per helmetYou can rent helmets to protect against falling rocks. I didn’t see anyone renting it while I was there.
Coin lockers 300 to 600 yen per lockerTo store any pieces of luggage and belongings you don’t need for the climb.
Meals at the 5th station Meals from 1,000 to 2,000 yenIf you did not pack any food, this is the place to fuel up before your climb.
Wooden hiking stick1,500 to 2,000 yen per stickIt is basically a plain wooden stick. You can get it branded by the huts along the trail for a fee.  
Branding of the wooden hiking stick300 yen to 1,000 yen per brandAlmost every mountain hut has its own unique brand. This can add up to a huge amount if you want to collect them all!
Food and drinks at the hutsBottled water: ~500 yen
Drinks: ~200 to 600 yen
Snacks: ~300 yen
Meals: ~500 to 1,200 yen
You can get hot drinks and even meals like curry rice and ramen at the huts.
Resting in the huts 1,000 to 2,000 yen per person per hourOnly offered at some huts.
Overnight stay in the huts 5,000 to 7,000 yen per person (depending on whether meals are included) You should make a reservation beforehand. Popular huts fill up quickly during peak season.
Guide 35,000 to 45,000 yen per person (including an overnight stay in the hut)A guide is not a requirement to climb Mount Fuji.
Supplemental oxygen 1,000 to 1,500 yen per cylinder People use it to combat altitude sickness.

Can You Climb Mount Fuji Without A Guide?

You can climb Mount Fuji without a guide.

All 4 trails have clear paths with signs marking the way all along the routes. For the more popular routes, there will be people at every single point along the way so you can never get lost.

A guide will be useful if you would like someone to plan the itinerary and arrange for transport and accommodation. A 2 day, 1 night tour with a night spent at the hut will cost about 35,000 to 45,000 yen per person.

What To Wear To Climb Mount Fuji?

The temperatures may drop more than 20 C (68 F) from the 5th station to the summit.

The temperatures at the 5th station will be about 20 to 27 C (68 to 80 F). The temperatures at the summit of Mount Fuji is about 4 to 6 C (40 to 43 F).

And if you are waiting in the dark before sunrise, the strong winds are going to make it feel a lot colder than that.

Here’s a full set of clothes you need:

Head gear:

Cap or hat– A must have since there’s hardly any shade on Mount Fuji.
Beanie – Recommended for when it gets colder near the summit.
– If you have a jacket with a hoodie, you can do without a beanie.
Face mask– If you are sensitive to dust, it will be a good idea to bring along a face mask.
– There are sections in the trails where a lot of volcanic sand might get kicked up by other climbers.
Scarf – Keeps your neck nice and warm.

Upper body

Base layer
– A shirt made with breathable or wicking materials to keep you dry and comfortable.
– Typical materials include synthetics like polyester and nylon, or natural fibers like merino wool and silk.
– Avoid cotton and itchy fabrics! They don’t dry easily from your sweat or the rain.
– Long sleeved shirts are better for sun protection.
Middle layer– An insulating layer.
– Depending on the individual, you may need 1 or 2 insulating layers.
– This can be your long johns, jackets, sweaters, pullovers etc.
– Typical materials are down, fleece or synthetics.
– I would recommend going with 2 thinner layers (e.g. one fleece pullover and one light down jacket) instead of one thick jacket. This allows you to easily add on or remove layers as you ascend and descend the mountain.
Outer layer – A windproof and waterproof layer.
– Wear one with a hoodie in case of rain.
– Avoid using those disposable raincoats or ponchos. They are very inconvenient for climbing and tear easily.
Gloves – Useful to keep your hands warm AND protect them from cuts.
– Get a water resistant one in case of rain.

Lower body

Base layer
– A pair of pants that you can climb comfortably in.
– This can be your shorts, leggings, yoga pants, tights, hiking pants, zip-off pants etc.
– Avoid denim! You are going to drown in those when it rains.
Middle layer– An insulating layer.
– Typical materials are fleece or synthetics
Outer layer – A windproof and waterproof layer.
– Make sure your outer layer is slightly baggier to accommodate the extra layers.
Knee brace– Coming down Mount Fuji can be brutal on your knees.
– Read: How To Climb And Descend A Mountain With Bad Knees
Socks– A pair of thick warm socks.
Gaitors – These help to keep out small rocks and sand. You will need this during the descent.
Shoes/ Boots– A pair of ankle height water resistant/ waterproof hiking shoes.
– You can certainly climb Mount Fuji in your trainers but it might not be very comfortable. You can feel the rocks beneath the soles and there is less ankle support.
– Since there’s a high chance of rain, your shoes should be at least water resistant. There are sprays that you can apply to your shoes to give them a water-resistant layer.

What To Bring To Climb Mount Fuji?

Headlamp (with spare batteries) – If you planning to catch the sunrise on the summit, you will need to climb parts of the trail in the dark.
– Other than areas where the huts and washroom are, there is no lighting throughout the trail.
– A headlamp is preferred over a torch. You may need to use your hands to get over big rocks so you should keep your hands free.
Water bottle – Depending on the duration of your climb, you will need about 1.5 to 2 liters per person.
– If you don’t want the extra weight, you can also buy bottled water at the huts for about 500 yen.
Food – If you don’t want to buy food on the trail, be sure to pack enough food and snacks!
– Read: What Food To Eat When Mountain Climbing: Ultimate List Of Food Ideas
Camera – Watch out for rain!
Cash – Bring a bunch of 100 yen coins. You need these to use the washrooms.
Sunglasses– Good to have since there’s hardly any shade on Mount Fuji.
Sunscreen – Good to have since there’s hardly any shade on Mount Fuji.
Backpack (with rain cover)– You will need a 25 to 30 liter backpack to keep all your stuff. Especially the bulky insulating layers which you may not be wearing at the start.
– Keep your insulating layers and outer layers at the top of your backpack for easy access. Heavy rain can come very suddenly.
– Keep all your stuff in a huge garbage bag or pack them in ziplocks. This will keep them dry when there’s rain.
Plastic bags– To keep your wet clothes if there’s rain.
– To keep your trash since there are no trash bins on Mount Fuji.
Hiking stick – Useful to have.
– You can also buy a wooden walking stick at the 5th station which you can then get branded along the trail for a fee.
First aid kit– Plasters
– Paracetamol or ibuprofen for headaches (a common symptom of altitude sickness)
– Eyedrops in case sand or dust get into your eyes.
Space blanket– A lightweight blanket to keep warm at the summit.

Clothes And Equipment Rental

If you do not have any of the items above, you can consider renting them.

There are many companies offering equipment rental. Here are some of them:

You can make your reservations online. After that, you can pick them up in person. Or arrange for delivery to your accommodation (in Japan) 3 days before the climb.

Some shops also have a store at the 5th station so you can even pick it up just before the climb.

Hut Accommodation On Mount Fuji

All 4 trails have mountains huts where climbers can spend the night.

On a related note, camping is not allowed on Mount Fuji from the 5th station to the summit.

A few key things to note about the huts on Mount Fuji:

  • You do not get a private room or even a private bed. The sleeping area is basically an empty room. Everyone is allocated a sleeping bag and a space on the floor to sleep. You will be sleeping shoulder to shoulder with your neighbor.
  • There are specific times for check-ins and check-outs. The timing differs depending on the locations of the huts.
  • Most huts also have a timing for lights out. Due to the sleeping arrangement, you need to be considerate. You should avoid arriving or departing during the lights out period.

How to make a booking:

  • Some of the huts take walk-ins. But it is advisable to make a prior reservation as many of the huts might be full during the peak season.
  • Some huts have an English website and you can book them online. There are other huts which can only be reserved over the phone and you may need to be able to speak Japanese. If you need help, there are some companies who provide a reservation service for a fee.
  • For most huts, you can only make payment in cash upon arrival. You cannot make payment online or pay via credit card.

You can find a list of the huts available for each of the trails here.

How Easy Or Difficult Is It To Climb Mount Fuji?

Depending on who you speak to, climbing Mount Fuji can either be a walk in the park or a march to the freezing pits of hell.

Why it is easy:

  • The climb is essentially a very long hike to the summit. There are only some small sections where you might need to pull yourself over some big rocks or steps.
  • You can get hot food and drinks on the trails.
  • You don’t need to bring a ton of stuff. You don’t need a change of clothes. You don’t need a tent. You don’t even need to bring food and drinks if you are willing to buy them on the trails.

Why it is hard:

  • Altitude sickness is probably the number one reason why most people do not make it to the summit. You can try to minimize your risk of altitude sickness by making certain precautions. But it is not completely avoidable for some people.
  • Even though it’s just a hike, it still can be physically demanding. If you have not been exercising for a while, it is going to be a struggle.
  • The climb is a lot tougher if you do not have the proper attire or equipment. I have seen people slip and fall multiple times because they were wearing sneakers. I struggled through the descent because I wasn’t wearing any gaiters. I ended up with a pool of small rocks and sand in my shoes every few minutes.

Symptoms Of Altitude Sickness And How To Avoid It

Altitude sickness can hit you at an elevation as low as 2,500 meters (8,000 feet). It is caused by the lower oxygen at a higher altitude which causes a lack of oxygen in your body.

Symptoms usually begin within 12 to 24 hours of arriving at a high altitude. Some common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • A general loss of energy

Mild forms of altitude sickness can go away as you get used to the altitude.

You can try to avoid altitude sickness by:

  • Spending more time resting at high altitude. You can either arrive at the 5th station earlier or spend a night in the huts.
  • Climb at a slower pace, even when you are not tired.
  • Take frequent breaks.
  • Stay hydrated.
  • Eat small snacks. Don’t skip meals even if you have no appetite.

What to do if you are suffering from altitude sickness:

  • Inform someone in your group.
  • Take a break for an hour or more. See if the symptoms go away. Continue on at a slower pace.
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen for the headaches.
  • Use an oxygen cylinder to help increase your oxygen level.
  • Descend the mountain, especially if the symptoms are getting worse. Altitude sickness can be fatal.

Unfortunately,  some people can just more prone to getting altitude sickness than others.

I met a guy who was making his fourth attempt up the summit. He suffered from altitude sickness the first three times and couldn’t continue.

Read more about altitude sickness here.

Some Fun Facts About Mount Fuji

  • Mount Fuji is an active volcano. The last eruption was in 1707 and its next eruption is believed to be long overdue. An eruption could devastate Tokyo.
  • Women were not allowed to climb Mount Fuji until 1868 due to religious practices.
  • A 71-year-old Japanese man has set a record in 2014 for climbing Mount Fuji 1,763 times.
  • The fastest ascent of Mount Fuji is believed to be 2 hours 32 minutes in summer and 4 hours 5 minutes in winter.

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