The very touristic Yoshida Trail [yellow], the challenging Gotenba Trail [green], the easy going Fujinomiya Trail [blue] and the beautiful Subashiri Trail [red].
The Subashiri route is up to 2700 m nicely vegetated, shadowy and beautifully green. You’ll find much less tourism compared to the other three tracks, but this also makes it less accommodations.
Even if Mt. Fuji can be seen as a point of interest for tourists, is not that easy to get there and organize an overnight stay, if you don’t speak Japanese. In my case a friend took over the whole speaking part, what saved the whole trip.
Of course it’s also possible to get up for „only english speaking folks“, if you prepare some things wisely upfront and plan some extra time for the train & bus schedules.
The first destination on the way to Fuji is a little city called Gotenba at the foot of Fuji. You can get there from Shinjuku by bus or train, but I highly recommend to take the Odakyu-Line’s Romance Car train departing also from Shinjuku. It’s the fastest and most convenient way to get to Gotenba. Please keep in mind, that the Romance Car only departs 3 times a day. Here you can find the Odakyu-Line’s Timetable for the Romance Car.
After arriving in Gotenba, go to the left-front part of the Station to take the Bus to almost 2000 m high Subashiri-Gogome station, also called „Subashiri 5th Station“. You’ll have to buy the tickets for the bus at the little counter beneath the bus terminal, before you enter the Bus! You have to show it, when you exit the Bus.
After one hour of bus riding you’ll arrive at Subashiri-Gogome station, where you can start the hiking after passing some little souvenir stores / little restaurants.
Theoretically it’s possible to climb Mt. Fuji in one day without overnight stay. But thats only possible, if you start 6:30 in the morning at Subashiri-Gogome and leave the summit at 14:00.
But your trip will be much more relaxed, if you book a sleeping surface at Seto-Kan at 2700 m. The Price is 7500 JPY including dinner, breakfast and free use of the Bathroom. A visit at the toilet will cost you between 200 and 300 JPY on every station at Mt. Fuji.
If you want, you can buy a walking stick for approx. 1000 JPY to collect a branding on every station for an additional fee of 250 JPY. A nice souvenir, that doesn’t fit in any luggage.
We started at 14:20 at Subashiri-Gogome heading up to Seto-Kan, after we ate an overpriced soup at the little restaurant.
The trail is very beautiful with roots and moss growing over volcanic rocks. The trek isn’t really challenging and also good for families with kids.
After 2 hours of relaxed hiking you’ll find the first 6th station, where you can eat soup and enjoy the magnificent view over the valley. After you’ll only need 40 more minutes to arrive at seto-kan.
Over all you’ll not even need 3 hours to get from Subashiri-Gogome to Seto-Kan. You can also make it in 2 hours if you not afraid to sweat.
Up there, a middle aged Japanese man happily welcomed us and told us a lot about Fuji and the surrounding area. The sleeping surfaces are separated from each other an you have an curtain for more privacy. Besides us, only one older guy stayed that night at Seto-Kan, so we could choose time for dinner by ourself.
We watched the shadow of Fuji in the clouds, before we where going to bed early.
The next day i got up at 4:30 to make some photos of the amazing sunrise. The 5 minutes of rise are really worth seeing and I assure you 2700 m are high enough to see everything.
After breakfast the owner of Seto-Kan told us about a small cave not far away. It’s called Tainai-Jinja and is located under a Japanese „Torii“. The entrance is very small and you may get some claustrophobia if you squeeze yourself through the ridge. But after the bottleneck a surprisingly big room will open up in front of you with a little shrine at the end of the cave.
Back at Seto-Kan we pack our things and start to climb the remaining 1000 m until the summit. The fist few minutes of the way are still vegetated but after half an hour you’ll be exposed to the sun without mercy. A good sunblock is absolutely mandatory for this hike.
On the way up, you’ll always pass some stations with overpriced beverages and accommodations. After 3 hours we take a longer break at 7th station, where Subashiri and Yoshida route merge together. You’ll notice this also by the increase of tourists walking along the trail.
After 7th station, the summit already looks very close and you can feel the air getting thiner and thiner.
After arriving at the summit, I was suprised how commercialized everything was. A little village of souvenir shops, restaurants and dorms is the first thing you get to see.
To see the inner side of the crater, you have to walk 100 more meters to the edge. The burned soil at the edge justify about some serious volcanic activity a long time ago. But at the bottom only some old snow gets slowly melted by the sun.
You can circle around the crater in about 1.5 hours also passing the highest spot on the west side. They build a weather station right beneath the obelisk marking the highest spot.
At 13:00 we had to go back down in order to catch the last Romance Car to Tokyo. Time was a bit short, so managed the whole way down in two and a half hours. This works only if you use the sand trail where you’ll more slide than hike.
Very very dusty, tired and in my case burned by the sun, we arrived back at Subashiri-Gogome and got the Bus to Gotenba in time.
To stand at the highest point of Japan once in your life time it’s worth to take all the efforts. Getting to Gotenba and Subashiri-Gogome can be a trickey task if you don’t speak japanese. Bring sunblock, good hiking boots, rainclothes, enough money, headlight and at least 2 l water per person with you. Also a respiratory protection for the way back is very recommended otherwise you have to breath all the dust.
-> Subashiri map