Last year, in our inaugural duty as FuJET president and Vice President, Nas and I took a group of roughly 20 people to scale the slopes of Fuji. Seeing as how this would be my first trip to Fuji as well as the first trip I had ever organized in Japan, I thought it would be wise to gather some words of wisdom from my sempai.
To put it politely…their responses couldn’t have been less helpful. Some laughed. Others felt the need to tell me that climbing Fuji was the worst decision they had ever made in Japan…or in life. Then some more laughed.
Still, deep down inside, I knew that climbing Mt. Fuji was just something I needed to do. It’s something every person needs to try at least once in Japan. I mean, living in Japan and not climbing Mt. Fuji would be like going to an izakaya, paying for a nomihodai, and then only drinking water the entire night. It’s just not right!
So on that fated day, I threw on some sneakers, grabbed my bag, and I climbed Fuji. I climbed the HELL out of Fuji…
Now that it’s my turn to play the role of sempai, let me first start with this: “Hahahahaha. Good luck surviving Fuji!! You are totally fu…(jet)”
With that said, here’s some real advice for climbing Fuji:
- Climbing Mt. Fuji is not a test of strength. It’s a test of will. Don’t use all your energy in the ascent. If anything, the descent is just as hard as the climb upwards, if not harder.
- Expect crowds if you go on a weekend or national holiday. Mentally prepare yourself for the wait, especially once you start nearing the top. I feel like waiting in line was even more of a test of will than the climb itself.
- Again, go at your own pace. Sometimes even the strongest of people will succumb to altitude sickness. Don’t push yourself harder than you need to and let people know if you’re feeling sick so that they can stay with you.
- Bring both warm-weather and cold-weather clothing. The temperature difference between the middle of the mountain and the top is pretty significant. I think I wore a t-shirt, thermal, and hoodie, and I was shivering pretty badly near the top. Then, when the sun came out, I had to strip all of that off in order to stay cool.
- MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO GET BACK TO YOUR MEETING SPOT. There are actually two paths down Mt. Fuji—one will take you back to the starting point, the other takes you down the other side of the mountain. If you come to a fork in the road and are unsure of the way, don’t be afraid to ask the people around you. Also, your cellphone may not work at the top of the mountain (especially Softbank), so that is another reason why its good to know the route beforehand.
- Bring money to buy water. Yes, it’ll be overpriced (expect 500 yen per bottle), but its better than lugging around a lot of water, at least in my opinion.
- If you have a hard time falling asleep in a noisy environment, bring headphones or earplugs. The rest station that you will stay at isn’t the quietest of places.
- Enjoy! It’ll be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done, but you weren’t exactly expecting a cakewalk, now were you?
Climbing Mt. Fuji was easily the most challenging thing I’ve done since coming to Japan, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything. The moment the sun appeared over the horizon while I was sitting on top of the highest mountain in Japan surrounded by my friends and others, l realized just how amazing my life in Japan is and just how lucky I am to be here.