Climbing or viewing Japan’s highest mountain is a highlight for many visitors to Tokyo, and it can easily be done as either a weekend trip or a mid-week adventure. Wes Lang explains everything you need to know to climb Mt Fuji.
Sunrise from the summit of Mt Fuji: Nonchanon / Shutterstock.com
Mt Fuji Climbing Routes Map
Here is our full map of the main Mt Fuji climbing routes. Click the icon on the top left of the map to see the menu and zoom in on each specific route.
How to climb Mt Fuji
Choose a day to climb Mt Fuji
Climbing Mt Fuji during the regular climbing season is a bit like joining a festival. It is definitely more of a cultural and social experience rather than a soul-searching journey into solitude. During the main summer climbing season (July 1 - Sept 14), hundreds of climbers fill the slopes at night, hoping to catch the sunrise (known as goraiko). Saturday evening is usually the most congested time on the peak, but even during weekdays in August your progress may come to a standstill.
Climbers heading up Mt Fuji: sopon seti / Shutterstock.com
Instead of a night push, some will find it better to climb during the day, since you’ll be heading against the flow of traffic (especially on the Yoshida and Subashiri routes which have separate ascent/descent trails). Start early in the morning so you can make it back before the final 5pm direct bus to Shinjuku from the Yoshida trail,
If you’re prepared, you can go a few days on either side of the official climbing season. The huts will all be closed, so you’ll need to be totally self-sufficient for the hike. Although the mountain is officially closed during the winter, expert mountaineers can attempt the climb after registering their climbing intentions with the Yamanashi Prefectural Police. Sustained wind gusts of 100km/h are not uncommon during the brutal winter conditions, so a careful study of weather patterns in essential, as well as the ability to self-arrest and properly use full-point crampons.
Choose and plan your Mt Fuji route
YFSG (Yoshida, Fujinomiya, Subashiri, Gotemba) - Remember this acronym, as it stands for the 4 routes up Mt Fuji, in descending order of popularity. The Yoshida route is the most popular for those coming from Tokyo, while the Fujinomiya allows the easiest access from Kyoto, so it is considered a favorite among Kansai visitors. The descriptions below include the shortest distance and approximate time to reach the crater rim. Bear in mind that it usually takes 90 minutes to circumnavigate the crater rim, so take that into account when you plan your hike, and don’t inadvertently descend down a different route, especially if you’ve left any belongings back at the coin lockers where you started your hike! Each route is divided into 10 stations (the trailheads start at the 5th station), with a hut located at each station. Each route up the mountain has booths to pay a voluntary 1000 yen climbing fee at the 5th station but payment is not compulsory.
- Most popular
- Direct access from Tokyo
- Can see sunrise anywhere on route
- Separate ascent/descent trails
- Easy access from Shinkansen
- Only one way up/down
- Can't see sunrise on route
- Shortest route to the top
- Most beautiful route (lots of greenery)
- Separate ascent/descent trails
- 2nd longest route
- Least-crowded route
- Ample parking at trailhead
- Longest and hardest route
Yoshida Route (6km ascent to crater rim, 6.5 hours one-way)
- This is an eastern facing route, meaning you can see the sunrise even if you don’t make it to the summit before daybreak. As such, it’s by far the most popular trail on the mountain, and the 5th station looks like a bustling village, with restaurants, gift shops, and even pony rides!
- Walk past the Swiss-style rest house, through the horses, and onto a broad, flat gravel walking/horse trail on the edge of the birch-lined forest. The views briefly open up before returning to the forest and a junction. The main path veers right and climbs steeply at first before leveling out and passing through a concrete landslide-protection tunnel to reach the 6th station that doubles as the Mt. Fuji Safety Guidance center. The real climb begins here. Ignore the trail going straight (that’s the descent route and turn right at the junction just past the concrete building towards the summit directly in front of you. It’s pretty much impossible to get lost on this route, so follow the crowds through the endless switchbacks and pace yourself by resting and drinking plenty of fluids at each hut along the way. At the crater rim, the true summit sits on the opposite side of the crater. There is a separate descent route that starts at the top of the crater rim, so you can return back to the 6th station without having to deal with 2-way traffic.
- Yoshida Route huts (in ascending order from the 5th station to summit)
Fujikyu Unjyokaku, Hana-goya, Hinode-kan, 7th Station Tomoe-kan, Kamaiwakan, Fuji Ichikan, Torii-so, Toyo-kan, Taishi-kan, Horai-kan, Hakuun-so, Ganso-muro, Fujisan Hotel, Honhachigome-Tomoekan, Goraikou-kan
Yoshida Route map:
Fifth station on the Yoshida route: Foodforthoughts / Shutterstock.com
Fujinomiya Route (3.8km ascent to crater rim, 6 hours one-way)
- This is the only route that faces west, so if you want to see the sunrise you need to make it to the top before daybreak. The trailhead itself is much less developed than the Yoshida 5th station circus. There’s a simple restaurant/shop as well as newer information center. The trail starts just opposite this building, marked by a very large signboard with a detailed map.
- Climb the concrete stairs to the left of the signboard and meander through some greenery at the edge of the treeline. Ropes line either side of the route to help protect the vegetation and after a long gentle climb of 20 minutes you’ll reach the first hut (the new 6th station). Just beyond the hut turn left for the start of the shortest (and some say the steepest) path to the summit. Unlike the other 3 routes on Fuji, there is no separate ascent/descent route, so during busy times it can be a tricky challenge of knowing when to yield to hikers coming from the opposite direction. Again, it’s a matter of following the crowds and pacing yourself by resting in front of each mountain hut. Just before the crater rim, pass through a large torii gate and soon reach the shrine and post office. Turn right and walk along the crater rim for about 20 minutes if you’d like to see the sunrise. Otherwise, turn left for the 30 minute climb to the true summit of the mountain. Return via the same trail and be careful not to accidentally descend the Gotemba trail that starts next to the summit post office.
- Fujinomiya Route huts (in ascending order from the 5th station to summit)
5th Station Resthouse, Hoei Sanso, Goraiko Sanso, Yamaguchi Sanso, Ikeda-kan, Mannen-yuki Sanso, Munatsuki Sanso, Chojo Fuji-kan
Fujinomiya Route map:
Torii gate at the summit of Mt Fuji: MADSOLAR / Shutterstock.com
Subashiri Route (6.2km ascent to crater rim, 7 hours one-way)
- This route is the greenest route on the mountain with an exciting scree-run on the descent route. The path does merge with the main Yoshida route at the 8th station, so you can run into bottlenecks from there to the summit on crowded weekends.
- From the bus stop, the route runs through a pleasant walkway sandwiched between souvenir shops and wooden picnic tables until it reaches a donation collection booth. From here, it passes through a lovely broadleaf forest well below the treeline, which will make you wonder if you’re even on Mt Fuji at all. After passing by a small shrine, the moss-lined path narrows and climbs through forests of beech and fir along a trail of volcanic pebbles, dotted by wildflowers in places. The ascent and descent paths split, so continue following the switchbacks on the main route. The trail can be hard to pick up at times, so it’s best done during the daylight hours with better visibility. After 90 minutes, you’ll finally reach the new 6th station hut, a good place for a break. Keep meandering through the forest for another 90 minutes to reach the old 6th station hut at the edge of the 2700m treeline. The switchbacks continue through ever-steepening terrain, and at the next hut is the start of the famous sand run (or Subashiri) descent route that gives the name to this section of the mountain. Keep climbing up to merge with the Yoshida route at the 8th station and follow that the rest of the way to the summit. Retrace your steps to the start of the descent route and enjoy running through the volcanic scree.
- Subashiri Route huts (in ascending order from the 5th station to summit)
Kikuya Hut, Nagata Sanso, Seto-kan, Taikokan Mountain Hut, Miharashi-kan, Shita Edoya, Kami Edoya, Fujisan Hotel, Honhachigome-Tomoekan, Goraikou-kan
Subashiri Route map:
Climbers heading down Mt Fuji: Nackoper / Shutterstock.com
Gotemba Route (9km ascent to crater rim, 8.25 hours one-way)
- This is the longest and toughest route to the summit, with most of it through deep volcanic scree that can be exhausting for those attempting the ascent. Not only will you get rocks in your shoes but you’ll loose a couple of centimeters with each advancing step, meaning you’ll have to work extra hard just to make progress. This, in addition to the limited number of mountain huts, means the route has the fewest number of people and there is plenty of parking available at the trailhead even during the busy summer season.
- There’s a simple souvenir shop at the bus stop and not much else. Pass through the torii gate and turn left along a broad track of volcanic scree for a few minutes before reaching a hut at the new 5th station. This is as far as the day-tripping tourists usually go, so turn left and continue around on the main trail behind a row of benches. Here the path splits into ascending and descending routes, so stay left and continue through the broad scree. There’s really only one way to go, and if the weather is good you can see all the way up to the summit. Take ample breaks at each hut, and at the 7th station, the ascent and descent trails converge. From here you’ll encounter 2-way traffic all the way to the summit, so pace yourself and take it one step at a time. The path meets the Fujiyoshida trail at the post office at the crater rim. Turn left for the summit or right to find a position among hundreds of other climbers if you’ve climbed for the sunrise. On the descent, retrace your steps to the 7th station and then enjoy running, sliding, and hopping down the massive scree field.
- Gotemba Route huts (in ascending order from the 5th station to summit)
Oishi-Chaya, Waraji-kan, Sunabashiri-kan, Akaiwa-hachigokan, Chojo Fuji-kan
Gotemba Route map:
Near the summit of Mt Fuji: FocusStocker / Shutterstock.com
Getting To Mt Fuji
From Tokyo, you can either get there by bus, train + bus, or by private car (for Gotemba route only, as the other routes require transfer to a shuttle bus)
- Yoshida Route: The easiest and most direct way is via direct bus from Shinjuku (2hr 25min, 2500yen one-way). Advanced bookings are required, but they can easily be done in English on the bus website. Otherwise, take a JR train from Shinjuku to Fujisan station (JR Chuo line to Otsuki, transfer to Fujikyuko Line, 2hr 45min, 2340yen) and change for the Fujikyu bus to Fuji-Subaru Line 5th station. The fastest train is the Fuji Excursion Limited Express from Shinjuku (1hr 44min., 3940 yen) to reach Fujisan station. Buses for Fuji-Subaru Line 5th station leave hourly (between 8:40am and 4:40pm) for the 1 hour (1540yen one-way) journey to the trailhead.
- Fujinomiya Route: From Tokyo (or Kyoto), board the Hikari or Kodama train on the Tokaido Shinkansen (can use JR Rail Pass) and get off at Shin-fuji station. From there, Fujikyu buses leave hourly (between 8:25am and 5:05pm) for the 2 hour ride (2380yen one-way) to Fujinomiya 5th station.
- Subashiri Route: Buses to the Subashiri 5th station trailhead (1hr, 2060yen one-way) depart hourly (between 7:35am and 5:35 pm) from JR Gotemba station (roughly 2 hours from Tokyo on the JR Tokai and Gotemba lines, involving a transfer at Kozu station). Alternatively, there are three direct Romance Car Limited Express trains (1hr, 38min, 2810yen one-way) daily connecting Shinjuku to Gotemba on the Odakyu Railway. Highway buses (advanced booking here) also connect Shinjuku to Gotemba. Another option is to take the shuttle bus (3 buses weekdays, 5 buses weekends in July/August, 90 min, 2060yen one-way) from Shin-Matsuda station on the Odakyu line (1 hr 26min, 780yen) from Shinjuku station.
- Gotemba Route: Buses to the Gotembaguchi New 5th station (6 buses daily between 7:35am and 4:05pm) leave from Gotemba station (see Subashiri Route access above) for the 45min (1540yen one-way) bus ride to the trailhead.
Mt Fuji in summer: Srinil / Shutterstock.com
Mt Fuji Climb
- The Boy Scout motto is “Be Prepared,” and that can certainly apply to your Mt. Fuji trip planning. You should definitely bring warm thermal layers (including a wool hat and warm gloves) for the summit, as temperatures can hover around freezing during the pre-dawn hours on the summit. In addition, a rain jacket will be helpful for when the cloud moves in, bringing misty fog to the peak. A good headlamp is essential for those attempting the peak at night. Sturdy footwear is also recommended, as the trails mostly consist of rough rock that will tear your feet apart if not protected. Snacks and drinks, while available at all huts, are extremely expensive, so bring plenty of water for the hike (at least 3 liters) to help save money. Bring plenty of 100-yen coins to use at the toilets along the way as many of them require a small fee to use.
- Many climbers opt to purchase a wooden climbing staff, which is available for purchase at every trailhead and at many huts along the way. Each station along your climb will, for a 200-yen fee, brand a stamp into your staff as a memento for your climb. While they do make for a unique souvenir of your climb, bring a light pair of gloves to help protect your hands from blisters, as the staffs do not have very good handholds.
- Other than that, be aware of altitude sickness, which often occurs on Mt Fuji. Ascend slowly, take plenty of breaks, and up your fluid intake to help prevent becoming dehydrated.
Stay on the mountain
- While some hikers opt for a one-day hike of the mountain, a lot of visitors select to spread their climb over 2 days by climbing up to the 7th or 8th station and staying in a hut there for a quick nap before continuing on to watch the sunrise. All huts on Mt Fuji require advance booking (which can be done on their websites), but bear in mind that you’ll be packed in like sardines and that you may not get much sleep at all with all of the other people shuffling in and out throughout the night. All of the huts provide bedding and simple meals, so you do not need to worry about carrying any sleeping gear with you. If you just want to take a quick break, you can usually just pay a fee without a booking for a short hour-long rest away from the elements.
- Camping is not allowed anywhere on the mountain, but that doesn’t stop people from laying down for a quick nap on a bench or on the crater rim while waiting for sunrise. Having an extra thermal layer will make those rest times a bit more comfortable.
- One idea would be to stay at the 5th station, start your climb at first light and descend the same day by sundown for another night at the same hut. This might work for people who have heavy luggage they need to leave at the trailhead before starting their hike.
- Another approach is to ascend and descend via different routes on the mountain. That way, you’ll help avoid contributing to trail erosion and can enjoy different scenery and vistas. This will take advanced planning to ensure you don’t miss the final bus of the day.
Climbers near mountain huts on Mt Fuji: IsnakeDesign / Shutterstock.com
Stay near Mt Fuji
- There are plenty of hotels near Kawaguchiko station where you can stay either before or after your Mt Fuji climb. Here are our recommendations:
- For spectacular views of Mt Fuji, try Fuji View Hotel. If you’re looking for a great hot spring hotel to soak those sore legs, then Royal Hotel Kawaguchiko is your best bet. Many hotels offer free pickup from Kawaguchiko station, so inquire at the time of your booking.
Mt Fuji and Kawaguchi-ko: Pigprox / Shutterstock.com
Viewing Mt Fuji
If you don’t have the time or stamina to climb the mountain, there are plenty of options for getting glimpses of Mt Fuji, including on the Tokaido Shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Kyoto.
While possible as a day trip from Tokyo, it is definitely a lot more relaxing to spread your visit to Kawaguchiko over 3 or 4 days to enjoy the hot springs, Fuji vistas, and local cuisine.
Mt Fuji viewed from Mitsutoge viewpoint: Sakarin Sawasdinaka / Shutterstock.com
This mountain on the shores of Kawaguchiko offers one of the most impressive Fuji views in the entire area. It’s a tough hike that will take the entire day if you opt to descend down to Mitsutoge station, so start early in the day and bring plenty of water/lunch/snacks.
You can save a bit of time by taking the Mt. Tenjō Ropeway (open daily 9am to 5pm, 500 yen one-way, 900yen round-trip). At the top of ropeway, the route enters a beautiful forest lined with bamboo grass and occasional views between gaps in the foliage. It will take several hours to reach the top of Mitsutōge (which is actually three different peaks in quick succession, which are collectively known as Mitsutōge). The first of the three peak is Kenashiyama, so after leaving the ropeway traverse through the forest, cross a paved forest road, and ascend the meandering ridge to Shimo-san. From there, it a straightforward climb that steepens just below Kenashiyama before meeting up with a track coming in from the left. Turn right here for Mitsutōge Sanso and its incredible view of Mt. Fuji. The hut offers overnight accommodation (8500yen with 2 meals, advanced booking required, tel: 090-5339-6238) and makes for an amazing place to enjoy the sunrise. You can retrace your steps back to Kawaguchiko or continue past the hut to a junction and turn right for a long and steep descent to Mitsutoge station (a 24-min train ride back to Kawaguchiko station).
Mt Fuji from Lake Motosu: onemu / Shutterstock.com
This mountain, located on the shores of Lake Motosu northwest of Mt Fuji, offers unobstructed Fuji views from its broad, grassy slopes. It takes a bit of planning to get there, as you’ll need to take a Fujikyu bus from Kawaguchiko to Motosuko. The bus actually loops between Shin-fuji and Kawaguchiko stations, stopping at Motosuko along the way. Board the bus at Kawaguchiko station and get off at Motosuko bus stop (45 minutes, 900 yen one-way, hourly buses between 9:05 and 11:05am).
From the bus stop, walk down to the shores of the lake and turn left to enter the campground. The trail goes straight through the campground before climbing up steeply to the ridge, where the first glimpses of Fuji come into view. Continue straight to reach an open grassy field marked with a gazebo. This is the start of the steep climb to the summit, which is made more pleasant by the unobstructed views of Fuji directly behind you. On the summit there is a picnic table so sit back and enjoy the views. If short on time, then retrace your steps back to the bus stop. Otherwise turn left on the summit and traverse the ridge for 30 minutes before dropping right down a steep trail through the forest to the shores of the lake. Turn right and walk another hour along the shores back to the bus stop. Allow 4 to 5 hours to complete the loop.
Mt Fuji from the southern Japan Alps: Pongpet Sodchern / Shutterstock.com
Other Useful Information
- For general information on visiting Mt Fuji from Tokyo, see Visiting or Climbing Mt Fuji from Tokyo.
- For information on visiting the Mt Fuji area as a daytrip from Tokyo, see A Day Trip to the Mt. Fuji Area: Lake Kawaguchiko.
About Wes Lang
Wes Lang is a freelance writer based in Osaka who runs Hiking in Japan, an English-language website providing practical hiking information for many of Japan's best mountains. His comprehensive guidebook to the Japan Alps and Mt. Fuji is now available on Cicerone Press (UK).
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