The snow-capped, cone-shaped image of Japan’s highest mountain, Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s most enduring symbols. Visible from Tokyo on a clear day, the mountain is surrounded by the lakes of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and stands at 3,776 meters (12,388 feet) above sea level.
Despite being considered a sacred mountain, it is possible to climb Mount Fuji. In fact, climbing to the summit is an important pilgrimage for many Japanese and the mountain is full of Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and torii gates. The climb to the top is not easy and takes the entire day (around 8 hours) so many travelers might wish to experience other things while visiting Mount Fuji.
Take the Train to Mount Fuji
The simplest way to see Mount Fuji is from the train. Travel along the Tokaido Line between Tokyo and Osaka or take the shinkansen from Tokyo towards Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka. The best views can be enjoyed from around Shin-Fuji Station on the right hand side of the train.
Make for the Lake(s) of Mount Fuji
The Fujigoko (Fuji Five Lake) region is at the northern base of Mount Fuji and is a great spot to view the mountain close up. Lake Kawaguchiko is the easiest Lake to access and puts on a lovely sakura (cherry blossom) display in spring and koyo (autumn colors) in autumn.
Ascend Mount Fuji
July and August are the safest months (and official season) for climbing Mt Fuji. The mountain huts are open at this time and Mount Fuji is relatively free from snow. Climbing Mount Fuji should not be undertaken lightly and travelers should be fully prepared and informed before attempting an ascent. There are several routes and several stations along the way, so do your research or book a knowledgeable guide who can help you pick the right one.
Mt Fuji can get quite busy during the official climbing season, which can bring a sense of fun and community to the ascent. Unless you feel like queuing to reach the summit, however, you might wish to avoid Obon Week in mid-August – an annual Buddhist event that sees hundreds of Japanese climbing the mountain to commune with their ancestors.