This incredible, one-of-a-kind adventure is a Hike and Bike Japan exclusive. We take you from the ocean (0 meters) all the way up to the summit of Mt. Fuji (3,776 meters) in two days. While doing the sea-to-summit has gained traction in recent years, most routes follow the roads, which turns the exercise into a a long, unforgiving and joyless slog. We instead utilize a little-known and lesser-used ancient pilgrimage trail snaking through the verdant green forest that flanks the mountain, and is surprisingly pleasant when you consider the monumental effort needed to complete this epic hike.
Mt. Fuji is not only Japan's tallest mountain (by a long shot), but it's fear-inspiring power and breathtaking symmetry have made it a spiritual and cultural icon synonymous with Japan itself. Fuji towers majestically over the surrounding landscape, and it is impossible not to be awed by its enormous scale and raw beauty. In ancient times it was the inspiration for countless legends, poems and paintings, and nowadays climbing to the top ranks as a must-do bucket-list item for most Japanese and international tourists alike.
In-Season vs. Off-Season
The official climbing season begins in early July and ends in mid-September, which corresponds to the period of warmest summer temperatures and ensures snow-free trails. It is also when the mountain huts, toilets and shops are open for business. Each year during that small 10-week window of time, upwards of 250,000 people scale Fuji's barren volcanic slopes for a chance to stand atop the iconic pinnacle of Japan. That amounts to an astounding daily average of no less than 3,500 people. Though this has become the standard period to summit Fuji, in our opinion it is not necessarily the most rewarding. Climbing during this time can feel like a mindless, touristic exercise when you're battling the crowds up the narrow trails, then sharing the summit with thousands and thousands of others. Of course you still earn an amazing feeling of accomplishment, can check the Mt. Fuji box and post about it all on instagram, but the experience itself may be less than ideal.
Though more challenging, we feel that the most enjoyable and impactful climbs of Mt. Fuji can be had in the off-season, specifically during the months of June and September. Though slightly colder than July or August, average temperatures in the shoulder season still fall within a manageable range. The most significant and satisfying difference however is the total lack of crowds; there are far fewer climbers, meaning that the mountain feels more like an actual mountain than an amusement park. This relative quiet does come with a big trade-off, as no facilities on the mountain are open and upper portions of the trail in June will likely still be covered in snow - requiring the use of crampons. Climbers must be entirely self-sufficient, and carry all necessary food, water and gear from start to finish.
From the Sea vs. From the 5th Station
Nearly every one who sets out to climb Mt. Fuji does so in-season, and travels by bus two-thirds of the way up the mountain to what is known as the "5th Station" (between 2,000m and 2,500m of elevation, depending on which trail is used), beginning their hike from there. This is a demanding climb from start to finish that steepens the further you ascend, and one that takes place entirely on rocky, red volcanic slopes with little vegetation or other distractions. It gives you the chance to experience the mountain above tree-line, but bypasses a lot of the other unique and beautiful features of Fuji.
Though it is far more physically demanding and time consuming, starting at the ocean is an incredibly rewarding, once-in-a-lifetime achievement that takes hikers on a multi-layered journey from the ocean to the barren volcanic summit crater of Mt. Fuji, passing through cities, picturesque tea fields, and lush mossy forests along the way. It is definitely the route less traveled, and a rare chance to see a completely different side of one of the world's most climbed peaks.
Japan has numerous ancient footpaths, trade and pilgrimage routes crisscrossing the country, some of which have exploded in popularity in recent years amongst both domestic and international tourists. Most notably the Nakasendo and the Kumano Kodo are now a part of many tourist's Japan itineraries. These wonderful trails combine the perfect mix of hiking through both splendid scenery and culture, and it is easy to see why they have gained such prominence and recognition. The Murayama Trail is basically Mt. Fuji's version, but is almost completely unused by even the Japanese, and wholly unknown to those outside of Japan. In the last few years, Fuji city has began promoting a sea-to-summit route called the "Mt. Fuji Tourism Climbing Route 3776", but it uses a different trail. In fact, little information or maps are available in Japanese for the Murayama Trail, and no information is available in English as far as we can tell. Furthermore, the trail can be confusing through the populated areas at lower elevations and completely unmarked and very hard to follow through the forested section. Combine that with the remoteness, challenging terrain, and lack of facilities - and this is one of those routes where going with an experienced guide is a must.
This is the hardest trip Hike + Bike Japan currently offers, and the level of physical fitness to complete this this one-of-a-kind challenge should not be underestimated. On this hike, we will cover a distance of roughly 47km, with approximately 4,000 meters of total elevation gain, and we should expect to be on the trail for around 8 hours on day one, and as many as 13 hours on day two. This intense level of activity is best suited to runners, hikers or trail runners who train regularly and have experience completing long distances with large elevation gains in a single day. Please contact us for the full itinerary, or to see whether this trip is right for you.
IMAGE GALLERY (June, 2018)
RELATED VIDEO (June, 2018)
This is one of our locally organized and locally guided tours, where pricing is based on a flat guiding fee of ¥35,000 per day. All other expenses during the course of the tour are to be paid by the customers as they are incurred. Contact us for a detailed estimate of those expenses before booking.
PICK-UP & DROP-OFF
Complimentary pick-up and drop-off can be provided from/to Fuji Station (local train hub) or Shin-Fuji Station (bullet train hub), whichever is most convenient for you.
There is no minimum number of participants for this tour
Group size will be limited to a maximum of 4 persons.