Back in spring my friend asked me if I wanted to climb the legendary Mount Fuji, Japan’s beloved symbol. I’ve always wanted to but never wanted to do it on my own so I jumped on the idea. The plan was to go during the end of July, the beginning of the official climbing season. The only catch was that my friend wanted to climb it starting from the bottom; something unheard of for the average person. Up for a challenge, I agreed.
After finishing off my final classes for the semester, I was off to Mount Fuji. Our plan of attack was to climb the mountain in a period of two days. While we were climbing more, we were going to be doing it at a more leisurely pace. Mount Fuji has a total of 10 stations and most people start from the 5th station. We, however, wanted to tackle it from the bottom. My friend reserved a nice little guesthouse not too far away from the mountain with a very informative guide. He gave us advice on where to start and other tips. We ate a nice dinner and had a relaxing time at an onsen before going to bed to prepare for the first day.
The next day our guide dropped us off at the train station that would take us to our destination. We were in Mt. Fuji station for a little bit so I took a few pictures.
Finally, we caught the train and shuttle that would drop us off at our starting point, Umagaeshi. Immediately after getting off we noticed a little hut with a few elderly people advertising free drinks and snacks. Already thirsty, we headed over there. The people there were really friendly, letting us have as much as we wanted and chatted with us. Kindness: this would be a recurring theme throughout the entire hike.
The hike from 1st through 5th station was a pain. The hike itself wasn’t too bad (besides annoyingly large steps that you had to climb) but the fact that there are endless amount of bugs flying around you made it really irritating. I’m not a big fan of bugs so having a ton of them fly by you, around your ear, etc was really nerve-wracking. The trail itself isn’t really scenic; since no one really climbs this path, it was really dead quiet and contained a bunch of abandoned huts. I guess one nice thing about it though is that it felt like you were climbing a mountain since we were just surrounded by nature; trees surrounded us, you would hear the chirps of the birds, etc. We met a few hikers along the way and they will always go out of their way to say hello to you. For awhile we were hiking along a group of elderly people who chatted with us for awhile. It was nice.
One thing we noticed were the amount of people that were running up and down the trail. Apparently there was some sort of marathon going on where people run their way to the mountain top. That must be one hell of a workout and I could never picture myself doing it but more power to them.
We took various breaks throughout the hike as the heat was pretty bad. It wouldn’t have been bad if you were just walking with little baggage but having a huge backpack on you the entire time can wear you out. One tip I heard was to drink whenever you’re thirsty and I was just going through bottle after bottle. Better safe than sorry, though.
It was nearing lunchtime when we were approaching the 5th station. I was getting pretty hungry and tired at this point so we decided to take a nice, long break at the next stop. That happened to be the Sato Goya hut. There were a bunch of tables with people regaining their stamina by eating their boxed lunches. A few old people were just enjoying the view while listening to the radio. This was a perfect spot to rest for awhile.
The view from the hut was amazing. We were only at the 5th station and the view was already great, I couldn’t imagine how it would be like when we got even higher. Opening a box of CalorieMate (which are actually not too bad for energy) and a new bottle of water, we stayed put for a good half hour.
We chatted with a European couple that were visiting Japan and this was only a small part of their tour. In the midst of this the owner of the hut waved my friend down to try to help him translate a call that was in English. After helping him get the reservation details, he thanked us by giving us a free cola float. I also bought a walking stick from him, which was going to aid me greatly in the near future.
After dealing with that situation, we decided to continue the hike or to shortly arrive at the real 5th station where everyone starts their journey. It felt really weird to see lots of people arrive while we had already been hiking for various hours. We took some nice shots of the area though.
After eating a proper lunch we continued our hike into the 6th station which wasn’t too far away from the 5th. Here is where our day of hiking would end as we had arrived at the mountain hut where we would be staying the night. Seikanso was a very nice mountain hut with plenty of room, service and there weren’t many people staying over so it was nice to just spend the rest of the day relaxing. We had dinner and chatted with the staff for awhile. By the end of the conversation he knew when would be a proper situation to say “Jesus Christ!”, haha.
And thus concludes the first day of the hike. It was pretty tiring but the worst was up ahead. I can’t recommend starting from the bottom unless you really want the bragging rights as there really isn’t much to see or experience on the path we took. We were expecting to maybe receive imprints for our walking sticks but there are no operational mountain huts until the 5th station onward. Oh well, what can you do? I had more things to worry about the next day!