Guide to Climbing Mt. Fuji for Foreigners: When and How to Do It

In Japan, there is a saying about Mount Fuji that goes, “If one does not climb Mt. Fuji at least once then they are a fool, but if they climb it twice they are also a fool.” 

Ichi-do mo noboranu baka ni, nido noboru baka 

Climbing Mt. Fuji, otherwise known as Fuji-san (富士山) in Japanese, is no small feat. The mountain is an icon and national symbol that stands at 3,776 meters (12,390 ft) tall, the highest peak in Japan and an active volcano. Fuji’s majestic symmetrical slopes are made all the more impressive as it stands alone, away from any other mountains. It has long been regarded as sacred even by the indigenous Ainu people of ancient Japan and then by Buddhism and Shintoism1. Some see Fuji as a kami, a god (神), and many religious activities take place on or around the mountain including pilgrimages where people climb to see the auspicious goraiko, sunrise (御来光) and complete ohachi meguri (お鉢巡り), a sacred walk around the rim of the crater where you can also reach Japan’s highest postbox and operational post office. 

In 2013, Fuji was recognized by the World Heritage Committee as a sacred place and source of artistic inspiration. In total, Mt. Fuji encompasses 25 locations that have historical and cultural significance, including shrines, mountain trails, lava tree molds and lakes. Fuji has further been a source of inspiration for many artists and its influence spread worldwide. Paintings of Fuji have been said to have even impacted Monet and Van Gogh2

In this guide, we will introduce all you need to know before climbing Mt. Fuji, including the official climbing season, the trails, mountain huts, what you’ll need, and answer your frequently asked questions. 

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When is Climbing Season in Japan? 

As with any big mountain climb, preparation in advance is a necessity, especially if planning to climb Fuji as part of your trip to Japan. First of all, it is important to know that facilities in Fuji are not open the whole year. In fact, the official climbing season is only a few months long, from early July to mid-September. It is during the official climbing season when the peak is free of snow and the weather is relatively mild, that the mountain huts are open to bookings. However, bookings can only be made in advance and not on the day

Outside of the climbing season, climbing Mt. Fuji is ill-advised as you could encounter dangerous weather and snow, which includes the risk of avalanches. The busiest time is around Obon, a national holiday in Japan in mid-August, and Saturdays which tend to see the most footfall during the week. The best option to avoid crowds is to aim for a weekday in the first half of July before schools break up for summer vacation. 

Choosing Your Trail in Mt. Fuji

Fuji is divided into 10 different stations. In Japanese, these stations are called game (合目). The first station is at the foot of the mountain and the 10th is the summit itself. Four 5th stations are located on different sides of the mountain and this is where most people begin. 

The most popular and beginner-friendly trail that sees the most footfall is the Yoshida trail. The fifth station of the Yoshida trail is also known as the Subaru Line 5th Station and has parking lots, a few restaurants and shops as well as coin lockers. It is very accessible from Tokyo and many tours begin from here. This trail saw 54,392 hikers in 2021, but with a relatively steady incline and a number of mountain huts.

The Yoshida trail is also a good choice if you are worried you will not make it to the top in time for sunrise as sunrise can be seen from many of the mountain huts. On the other hand, the Gotemba trail is the least crowded and saw just 6,336 people in 2021. The downside is that it does not have a first aid station and has a limited choice of mountain huts3

If you are eager to see the sunrise, it is visible not only from the Yoshida trail but also from the Gotemba trail and the Subashiri trail, once you are out of the forest. The Fujinomiya trail is the only trail where you won’t get the same view as you’ll be on the opposite side of the mountain. 

Yoshida Trail Subashiri TrailGotemba Trail Fujinomiya Trail
Elevation of trailhead2,305m 1,970m 1,440m2,380m
Average time to ascend~ 6 hours ~ 6 hours ~ 7 hours~ 5 hours
Average time to descend~ 4 hours ~ 3 hours ~ 3 hours~ 3 hours
Distance for ascent6.8 km 6.9 km 10.5 km4.3 km

Mountain Huts 

Mountain huts can be booked in advance from this website but cannot be booked on the day. Unless you are booking a tour or using an agency, most mountain huts require you to call in advance to make a reservation.

First, you should choose which trail you will take and then choose your mountain hut accordingly. The mountain huts closest to the summit tend to book up quickly as the further down the mountain you are, the earlier you need to wake up and the longer you need to hike in the dark, early hours of the morning. Most mountain huts can be booked with or without meals but ensure you tell them of any dietary requirements well in advance as you often cannot choose your meal. If you opt to not have a meal at your mountain hut, it is difficult to purchase anything other than snacks, so don’t forget to bring something more substantial to eat!

In most of the mountain huts, you will sleep side by side with strangers, both men and women together, and you are often so close your shoulders will touch your neighbor. If you would prefer to have a division between you and the person next to you, there are some mountain huts lower down the mountain that offers accommodation like this. 

climb mt fuji

What You’ll Need to Climb Mt. Fuji

Below we have the ultimate list of what you’ll need to climb Mt. Fuji, including what we wished we’d had! Some of this equipment you can rent, especially if you decide to climb on a tour there is usually an option to rent equipment. But even if you climb outside of a tour there are rental shops available, though you will need to book well in advance. Check out this website for more information. Prices range from 4,000 yen for the basics to 15,000 yen for a more comprehensive set. 

1. Waterproofs 

Mt. Fuji is no stranger to thunderstorms and it is mostly volcanic rock with no overhead cover so waterproofs are a must, both top and bottoms, including a waterproof cover for your rucksack, and don’t forget a spare pair of dry socks!

2. Hiking Clothes Including Comfortable Hiking Boots 

Mt. Fuji is by definition a mountain climb so come prepared with comfortable, flexible, and breathable clothes. Layers are important when climbing a mountain so you can easily adjust your temperature. You’ll need at least a fleece and windbreaker at the top and even then you may be cold as the winds are very strong so it’s best to be prepared with layers. 

3. Warm Clothes 

Although it may be sweltering hot at the base of the mountain in mid-summer, it can be close to 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit) at the summit, especially in the early hours of the morning. So don’t forget warm clothes like a hat and gloves. You might find that you even want to take some kairo (hand warmers) with you just in case. 

4. Snacks and Water 

You don’t want to weigh yourself down but snacks and water can get expensive, especially the higher you go and it’s important to stay hydrated to avoid altitude sickness. There are small shops that sell snacks on route but choice can be limited so if you have any favorites or dietary requirements, bring them with you. Make sure to bring some cash with you in case you want to purchase anything, at the top there is also a small restaurant that serves hot soba noodles which is a great place to also warm up. 

5. Spare Change: 100 Yen Coins 

You need to pay for most of the toilets in Fuji as water usage on a mountain is difficult to maintain. The higher you go, the more expensive it is and in 2019, at the summit, it was 500 yen! Most toilets will range between 100 – 300 yen. 

6. Headlight 

If you plan to climb Mt. Fuji to see the sunrise you’ll want a headlight so you can keep your hands free and just focus on the climb ahead of you. You can buy these ahead of time at Daiso (100 yen shop). 

7. Small Towel 

We recommend bringing a small towel to dry off in case it rains. It will also come in handy to dry your hands after using the restroom.

8. Plastic Bag to Store Garbage 

There are no trash cans on the mountain, not even in the mountain huts so you will need to take your trash home with you. 

Tip: In most of the mountain huts there are no changing rooms so many people sleep as they are in their hiking clothes. This is one reason why you don’t want to get caught without waterproofs. We recommend taking somebody wipes to freshen up but don’t weigh yourself down with pajamas, you won’t change into them! 

Can Mt. Fuji be Climbed in a Day? And What is Bullet Climbing? 

It can take anywhere between 4 to 8 hours to climb Mt. Fuji. Most hikers opt to stay in a mountain hut to rest through the best part of the night and to continue their hike in the early hours of the morning so that they reach the summit just in time for sunrise. 

You may have heard of some people bullet climbing Mt. Fuji, this means climbing without resting, during the day or sometimes through the night. This can be very dangerous and significantly increases the chance of altitude sickness. Even if you do not sleep, staying in a mountain hut where it is warmer and where you can rest will give you a higher chance of successfully making it to the summit. 

What is Altitude Sickness and How Can I Avoid it? 

Altitude sickness occurs when we go to high altitudes without letting our body adjust to less oxygen in the air. Approximately 50% of people will experience altitude sickness when they go above 2,438 meters (8,000 ft) so it is important to know the signs and prepare accordingly4. In order to avoid altitude sickness it is advised to get a good night’s sleep before climbing Mt. Fuji, to stay hydrated, and to climb slowly and steadily, stopping for one hour at the fifth station and every station afterward for at least 15 minutes to allow your body to adjust. 

Some symptoms of Altitude Sickness include 

  1. Headache 
  2. Fatigue 
  3. Shortness of breath 
  4. Nausea 

If you experience altitude sickness, stop, rest, and drink water. You may need to return to a lower altitude and if necessary seek medical attention. Many hikers do not make it to the top of Mt. Fuji as they experience altitude sickness; it is best to listen to your body and not push yourself to the summit. If you are concerned about altitude sickness, consider climbing with an experienced tour guide as they will set the pace for you. 

How to Collect Stamps on a Walking Stick 

At each trailhead, there are walking sticks available to purchase that start at around 1,200 yen. You can buy big ones to use as a walking stick or small ones just to collect stamps and they will fit in your suitcase. You can get your stick branded with stamps called yaki-in (焼印) at each station which will cost around 400 yen each time. These make a great souvenir and a way to celebrate getting to each station.

Recommended Tour Group for Climbing Mt Fuji 

You can book a tour to climb Mt. Fuji through Tokyo Gaijins which includes round-trip transportation from Tokyo, mountain hut accommodation with meals and even an onsen afterward from 13,800 yen. They also have the option to go with a tour guide for an extra 3,000 yen per person and equipment rental options. You can check out their website here. 


Climbing Mt. Fuji can be challenging, but it’ll. bean unforgettable experience. It requires proper planning, physical fitness, and mental determination to reach the summit successfully. However, the rewards of the climb, such as the breathtaking views and sense of accomplishment, are well worth the effort.

For more useful tips about life in Japan, keep following the Coto Academy blog!

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1. Mark Cartwright (2017) Mount Fuji. World History Encyclopedia. Available at: [Last Accessed on 3/8/2023] 

2. Fujisan World Cultural Heritage Council. World Heritage Site: Fujisan Sacred Place and Source of Artistic Inspiration. Available at:,Mt.,the%20UNESCO%2 0World%20Heritage%20Committee [Last Accessed on 3/8/2023] 

3. Council for the Promotion of the Proper Use of Mt. Fuji (2016). Mountain Trails. Available at: [Last Accessed on 3/8/2023] 

4. Cleveland Clinic (2023). Altitude Sickness. Cleveland Clinic. Available at: [Last Accessed on 3/8/2023]

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