During our time in Japan last year Anna and I ended up in Kawaguchiko. Which is one of the villages at the foot of Mt Fuji that climbers often use for their ascent. It was a sunny morning when we got up out of bed, our plan was to head down to the lake on some bikes and just check out the town.

Well that all changed when we made the impulse decision to try and climb Fuji-San.  We took our bikes back to where we hired them from which was the Kawaguchiko Station Inn. The Inn itself was a popular hotel in town and the owner there happened to speak some English.

Which was good.

So we talked with him about climbing the mountain. It turned out that there were huts you could stay at on the side of the mountain, which meant that you could climb in the afternoon, crash the night and head to the summit in the morning. This turned out to be a popular choice for most people.

The time by now was already 10:00am so it would have been difficult to make it to the top, so we asked kindly if he could call one of the huts to make sure they had space. The super nice Inn owner did more than that, he called, made the booking, showed us where to get the bus from to get to the mountain, made sure we had maps, and most importantly told us how to get down the fast way!

So then we rushed around like mad chickens. Anna brought freeze-dried food and I brought my camera.

We boarded the bus.

It turned out we were climbing in the off-season. When on the mountain it gets cold, and rainy, and windy, and misty.

And it was already windy and looking like rain.

Oh good!

For a 100Yen Anna purchased of pair of Mt Fuji climbing gloves during her speed shop for supplies.

She said they were the last pair…

Though I still don’t believe her!

As our bus climbed higher the visibility got worse.

The bus soon arrived at the 5th station which is pretty much where everybody climbs from. It’s pretty high there, the air is noticeably thinner and you can quickly feel the mercury drop as you ascend.

We didn’t stop at the 5th station for long. Anna fantasized with the idea of purchasing a climbing stick.

I then reminded her that I would probably be the one carrying it.

And that I would turn it into a spear.

So we pushed on.

Through the big wooden gates and past the derelict carts…

And into… mist.

Misty misty mist…


The mist made for some interesting and almost spooky looking photographs as we climbed the steps under the avalanche shelters.

As we climbed higher the sky began to clear.

And we reached a point where we could finally see the huts. Although ours was a little further than that top one, for some reason the Kawaguchiko Station Inn owner must have thought we were seasoned climbers.

Also it’s worthwhile to note that we are not seasoned climbers.

In fact, quite the opposite.

I was climbing in some track pants, high-topped Supras and a T-shirt. While all our other gear was stashed in my travel pack.

The conditions at this stage didn’t bother us though, there was plenty of light and Anna had purchased this awesome tasting trail mix stuff.

The sun soon passed around the side of the mountain and the temperature fell even further, I donned my sweatshirt and was quickly thankful that I brought a couple of pairs of exta socks.

We reached our hut. I actually don’t think it took that long, but regardless we were happy to be inside and I was happy to put on my spare socks

We set our bags down, took our shoes off at the door and met a man who introduced himself and welcomed us to his hut called Toyokan. After a quick tour of the hut we were shown  to our room. More on the room later.

It wasn’t long before all the warmth of the sun had faded, leaving a sprinkling of lights across the land below.

Fortunately we were wrapped up warm and it was time for dinner!

Food! Glorious warm food!

It was delicious and totally kicked the ass of that trail mix. Warm Miso on a cold night is one of the best things in the world.

I definitely won’t forget this meal.

After dinner it was back to our room, we were going to be up and climbing early so getting some sleep was pretty important.

Now, when you look at the mats below, one could assume that two people would sleep there. Oh no! How wrong you would be, actually there would be 4 of us sleeping there. Anna, some South African lady, this Japanese dude and myself.

Now this wasn’t a problem at all while everyone was awake. The Japanese dude was super friendly and the South African lady was really nice.

But when friendly Japanese dude went to sleep. A dragon awoke.

And a fucking snorefest began.

The dudes face was right in my face and holy shit, it was a hurricane, No, wait, it was a fucking tornado of noise and I couldn’t escape it no matter where I turned. I sware this dude sounded like Godzilla in heat.. It was insane.

Anyway, I didn’t sleep much.

We got up pretty early, 5 or 6am or something. Packed our stuff and set off.

It was pretty cold at first, but once we got the blood pumping things started to warm up. Occasionally we would encounter patches of rain but it wasn’t too bad at all

At least the mountain wasn’t busy.

We passed signs.

And thermometers.

We even passed people, who were taking a break and sitting down breathing their oxygen canisters. “Wait, what did you say” I can hear you asking. Oh yes, out of the small number of groups that we passed, probably 80% of them had oxygen canisters.

And here we were, climbing through wind and rain in T-shirts, track pants and high tops.


Then as we neared the top for a brief moment the sky cleared and the sun came out.

It was amazing.

At the top there were a number of huts. None open, although I imagine they would be teeming with people if it wasn’t the off-season.

Looking out, down onto the clouds was surreal.

We hiked to the crater and dared to look over the edge.

As we walked back from the crater and through the summit huts a slow and very dark set of clouds started to bear down on us. We decided to make the decision to head back down before things got worse.

Check out Anna’s sweet pink track pants!

And that’s it.

The clouds, rain, wind and mist all set back in and reduced visibility to nearly nothing. My camera couldn’t cope and I was only left with pictures like the above one.

Pictures of bland visual noise…

We made it down after stopping at a hut for a cup of hot shrimp noodles which were delicious. A bit of a shame about the weather on the way down, but we laughed about it afterward, back in the warm comfort of our hotel room.

It was a perfect climb minus the weather. The hut was great, we made it up and down easily and we weren’t even sore the next day. Would I recommend it? Hell yeah!

Would I do it again? well..

“A Wise man climbs Fuji once, a fool climbs it twice”.



4 thoughts on “Fuji-San!

  1. Rad little adventure Matt! I wouldn’t like my chances of getting my wife up there so good on the both of you. Love it!

  2. Wow, That’s an awesome adventure. I must make a pilgrimage to Mt Fuji sometime. Always the best adventures in foreign countries. You shoulda punched that snoring guy in his sleep! You’ll never see him again.

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