Hiking to the top of Mount Fuji was my primary goal when first visiting Japan. To say it was easy or that it went without a hitch would simply be a lie. Fuji was tough and my original plan to hike it was shot to shreds when we overslept, but it turned out to be one of my best travel experiences to date.
Our original plan was to get to Mount Fuji around 12pm and start our hike to one of the 8th station huts. That’s what is typically recommended for anyone hiking to the summit and what most people do but was clearly out of the picture for us.
Because we stayed out a little too late the night before our hike (oops), the bus I intended to catch from Shinjuku Station didn’t run on Tuesdays (oops), and we then missed the bus we were scheduled on because we couldn’t figure out where the bus picks up (further oops), we didn’t get to the base of the mountain until 6pm. We debated if we should even attempt the hike but decided if we had come this far we should push on. It was roughly 7pm when we finally hit the trail and our timing proved perfect! Hikers we met up with later on told us they hiked through nothing but rain, a stark contrast to the beautiful sunset and stars were were treated to!
We ended up making it to the last of the 7th station huts that night – Toyokan Inn, which again was perfect. The hut was probably one of the nicer ones on the trail as it was recently renovated. Talking to other hikers who stayed at Fujisan hotel, they complained of crowded conditions and difficulty sleeping. Toyokan was broken into various rooms so we only had a handful of people in our room and not the 150+ some of the 8th station huts have, so we were able to get a full nights sleep!
The next morning we awoke at 4am and started our hike stopping only for one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve seen in my lifetime. Watching the sun slowly creep above a sea of clouds was truly inspiring. We continued on and stopped at one of the huts at the 8th station for some udon noodles. There we met a fellow traveler from Baltimore who told us they could not see the sunrise from the top and had to descend to between the clouds to see it. We continued our hike and as we got to the top, the morning sun began to clear the clouds. We decided to stay a little longer up top and around 7:30am we were treated to some amazing views of the inside of the crater, where a rainbow began to rise out. I’ve never experienced being above the clouds and it was truly breathtaking.
Hiking Mount Fuji taught me some important things I will always try to remember for future travel. Your intended plans might not always come to fruit but you should still continue on regardless.
Fuji is hands down my best travel experience to date and it’s something that almost didn’t happen. Reflecting back I would have not done Fuji any different then the way we ended up doing it. We were given some breathtaking views not seen by a lot of the other hikers we talked to. Furthermore going against the grain and starting later meant the trail was not crowded giving us more time to take in the beautiful views. It’s amazing how things end up working out in the end even when you don’t think they will – I think that is the most important lesson I learned.