Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan, is one of the country’s most iconic natural landmarks. About 300,000 locals and visitors hike to the top of the sacred mountain every year to enjoy the breathtaking views and scenery.
Climbing to the summit of Mt. Fuji was one of the highlights of my Japan trip. Here, I share practical tips on hiking it, particularly the Subashiri Trail, one of the quieter and more scenic trails. This post covers:
- 💪 Hike difficulty, length, and safety
- 🥾 Trail options & pros/cons of each
- 🚌 How to get to Mt. Fuji
- 🛖 Where to stay
- 😴 What to expect on an overnight stay
- 🧤 What to wear and pack
- 🗓️ 2-day Mt. Fuji itinerary
Planning a trip to Japan? This Japan travel guide covers practical things to know before arriving, including a hack on finding authentic food, the best places to visit, and cultural differences.
- About Mount Fuji
- Why Hike It?
- Hiking Season
- Choosing a Route
- Expenses & Donation
- Getting There
- Where To Stay: Mountain Huts
- What To Wear
- Summit Area
- Hiking Itinerary
- Japan Trip Planner
Disclosure: Lists By Lukiih is readers-supported. If you buy through an affiliate link on this post, I may earn a small commission. Thanks!
About Mount Fuji
Mt. Fuji is an active volcano and its peak is the highest point in Japan. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Mt. Fuji has been a symbol of Japan for centuries and is renowned for its natural beauty and cultural significance.
Located in the Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, it is a two-and-a-half-hour train ride west of Tokyo, making it a popular day trip and hiking destination.
Why Hike Mt. Fuji?
Over the recent years, climbing Mt. Fuji has become increasingly popular. Hiking to its summit was one of the highlights of my Japan trip (my other highlight was cycling the Shimanami Kaido).
Visitors and locals climb Mt. Fuji for several reasons:
- Awe-inspiring views. With its iconic cone shape and snow-capped peak, Mt. Fuji is majestic both from afar and up close. Hikers are rewarded with stunning views on clear days.
Most hikers aim to reach the top of Mt. Fuji to see the breathtaking sunrise. To get to the summit before the crack of dawn, you’ll have to plan and time your hike accordingly.
- Personal achievement. Hiking Mt. Fuji is not easy and requires a level of physical fitness and stamina. For many, it’s a personal accomplishment to reach the top of the mountain.
- Tranquil experience. Mt. Fuji has four main trails and climbing one of the quieter trails during non-peak time means that you will get to experience a remarkably serene hike. I experienced one of the most peaceful moments of my life while on Mt. Fuji.
- Bucket list item. Many outdoor enthusiasts consider climbing Mt. Fuji a bucket list item. It’s also an activity that some people do with friends and family as a memorable shared experience.
- Unique experience. About 300,000 locals and visitors hike Mt. Fuji every year, meaning that less than 1% of the 30 million annual visitors do it.
This Japan itinerary shows how to efficiently sequence hiking Mt. Fuji while also exploring other destinations.
When Can You Hike Mt. Fuji?
Mt. Fuji’s official climbing season is from early July to early September every year. I hiked it on September 8th and 9th, 2023, which was right before it closed for the 2023 season on September 10th. (This September in Japan guide shares other things to do during that month.)
Check the Mt. Fuji official website for the 2024 opening and closing dates in the future.
☀️ Mt. Fuji’s Climbing Season
Mt. Fuji’s official climbing season means that the trails are open and accessible. This means that:
- Weather conditions are usually good enough for hiking.
- The trails have clear signage and are not covered in snow.
- First-aid stations, public toilets, shops, and mountain huts are operating.
❄️ Hiking Mt. Fuji in the Off-Season
You can still technically hike Mt. Fuji during the off-season, but this is generally not recommended. The hike becomes significantly riskier, as the weather is more extreme and all facilities close down. You’re even required to bring a portable toilet and properly dispose of the contents to help preserve the natural environment.
If you want to hike Mt. Fuji in the off-season, you’re required to submit a climbing plan. You should only consider doing this if you have mountaineering experience.
How Hard Is It To Hike Mt. Fuji?
Mt. Fuji is considered a difficult hike. As a decently strong hiker, I found it medium-hard. It’s not a particularly long trek (I thought the Inca Trail hike to Machu Picchu was more challenging), but it has a steep ascent and descent.
When assessing the difficulty of Mt. Fuji, consider these five factors:
- Altitude sickness. Mt. Fuji is 12,388 feet above sea level. Many people will have some symptoms of altitude sickness starting at 10,000 feet of elevation. If you get sick at high altitudes, drink lots of water and go at a slow pace, especially at lower elevations to give your body time to acclimate.
- Elevation gain. The elevation gain on Mt. Fuji varies by trail, ranging from 4,819 to 7,723 feet. They all have steep inclines, especially near the summit where you’re basically doing a StairMaster workout for two hours.
- Weather. Unprepared hikers tend to underestimate Mt. Fuji’s bad weather. The weather can change drastically and become severe. The summit of Mt. Fuji can drop to 30 °F with strong winds of over 27 mph.
It’s important to bring proper equipment and gear. During my Mt. Fuji hike, I saw another hiker who didn’t bring a jacket and had to turn around.
- Hours of sleep. If you climb Mt. Fuji over two days, you’ll likely only get five to six hours of sleep in a mountain hut before having to hike again. Most people go to bed after 8 pm and wake up between 2 am and 3 am to summit for the sunrise.
- Trail choice. Mt. Fuji’s four main routes have different characteristics, so some are more challenging than others due to differences in length, steepness, and terrain.
Most people don’t need to hire a guide to hike Mt. Fuji because the trails are clearly marked. A guided tour is only recommended for less experienced hikers.
How Long Does Climbing Mt. Fuji Take?
You can climb Mt. Fuji in one day (this is known as “bullet climbing”) or two days. On average, you can expect to finish Mt. Fuji in 8 to 10 hours.
Below are the average times to climb each route on Mt. Fuji. Note that the durations do not reflect the difficulty of the trails. For example, the Subashiri Trail is longer than the popular Yoshida Trail, but the average time is shorter because more experienced hikers do the former.
|Yoshida Trail||10 hrs||6 hrs||4 hrs|
|Gotemba Trail||10 hrs||7 hrs||3 hrs|
|Subashiri Trail||9 hrs||6 hrs||3 hrs|
|Fujinomiya Trail||8 hrs||5 hrs||3 hrs|
🍀 My Experience: I took a total of 5 hours to ascend and 3 hours to descend the Subashiri route over two days. I hiked it at a decently fast pace, but also made several stops for photos, snacks, and the bathroom.
Most people in my group took about 9 to 10 hours. A very strong hiker moving at a steady pace can likely complete the Subashiri Trail in less than 7 hours.
Choosing a Route: Mt. Fuji’s Four Trails
As mentioned, Mt. Fuji has four different trails and the best trail depends on your preferences and comfort level. Below are the pros and cons of each route in order of popularity.
Mt. Fuji’s Trailheads Map
1. Yoshida Trail: Most Popular Route
The Yoshida Trail is the most popular trail. About 150,000 people climbed it in 2019, accounting for over 63% of the hikers.
Trail Length: 8.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,819 feet
👍 Pros: The Yoshida Trail is popular because it’s the easiest to access from Tokyo and has the most facilities (e.g., shops, first-aid centers, toilets, mountain huts). It is considered the “beginner’s trail”, but be warned that it’s not an easy hike.
👎 Cons: The Yoshida Trail is crowded and it’s the route that people are referring to when they’re criticizing the overcommercialization of Mt. Fuji. Overcrowdedness means that there’s more litter, traffic, and trail damage.
For the reason above, people recommend hiking the Yoshida Trail on the weekdays and not the weekends to minimize crowds.
2. Fujinomiya Trail: Fastest Route
The Fujinomiya Trail is the second most popular trail. Roughly 53,000 people climbed it in 2019, accounting for over 22% of the hikers.
Trail Length: 5.1 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,350 feet
👍 Pros: The Fujinomiya Trail is the easiest to access from Western Japan and is the shortest route at eight hours. It has a relatively good number of facilities, including one first-aid station and several shops.
👎 Cons: The Fujinomiya Trail is characterized as very rocky and steep. It’s also the only trail where the ascending and descending routes are the same, so you get the same views and terrains going up and down.
3. Subashiri Trail: Most Scenic Route
The Subashiri Trail had 20,000 hikers in 2019, accounting for 9% of the Mt. Fuji traffic. This is the route I chose, and I write about it in greater detail below.
Trail Length: 7.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 5,718 feet
👍 Pros: The Subashiri Trail is considered the most scenic route and has the highest tree line, so you get to experience forest and volcanic atmospheres. It’s also significantly less crowded compared to the Yoshida and Fujinomiya trails, making it a very peaceful hike.
👎 Cons: Because it has fewer climbers, the Subashiri Trail doesn’t have many amenities and only has a few shops, toilets, and no first-aid centers. The descent down is steep and you’re on volcanic gravel for most of it.
🍀 My Experience: I had a foggy day during my ascent on the Subashiri route, so I missed the great views on the way up. However, I didn’t see any other group for over 90% of the trail, which made my hike very serene. I particularly enjoyed the beautiful forest at the beginning. Below is my Subashiri Trail itinerary.
🥾 The Subashiri Trail’s Terrain
Here’s what the Subashiri Trail’s terrain is like:
- Since the Subashiri Trail has the highest tree line, you’ll spend the first and last hours of your hike in a beautiful forest belt that looks mystical in dense fog. This part of the terrain is sometimes rocky, but it’s mostly a gentle slope.
- The rest of the ascending trail is made up of volcanic gravel with constant switchbacks. Parts of this portion become very steep.
- When the Subashiri Trail merges with the Yoshida Trail near the summit, the trail becomes a long stair workout with some rock scramble.
- The descending trail is primarily a steep route of volcanic gravel. The most efficient way to tackle it is by running down and using your momentum, but this can be very tough on your knees (I know because this is what I mostly did).
Hiking poles are highly recommended if you want to go down the Subashiri Trail at a steady and controlled pace.
4. Gotemba Trail: Longest Route
The Gotemba Trail is the longest and least popular route. It received approximately 12,000 hikers in 2019, accounting for only 5% of the Mt. Fuji traffic.
Trail Length: 12.3 miles
Elevation Gain: 7,723 feet
👍 Pros: The Gotemba Trail is the least crowded route, making it the most quiet trail to take.
👎 Cons: The Gotembra Trail is the longest route with the least amount of amenities. It also has the worst signage, so your chances of taking a wrong turn are higher.
In general, the Gotemba Trail is only recommended for more experienced hikers.
Does Mt. Fuji Have an Entrance Fee?
Mt. Fuji doesn’t have an entrance fee, so you can hike it for free. Mt. Fuji has a conservation donation station at the start of each trailhead where they encourage people to donate 1,000 yen, or about $6.70 USD at the time of writing.
All bathrooms on Mt. Fuji have a small fee of slightly more than $1. They’re cash-only, so make sure to bring coins with you.
💰 Climbing Mt. Fuji Expenses
I spent $139 hiking Mt. Fuji over two days and here’s how my expenses broke down:
|Mountain Hut (Overnight Stay)||$64|
|Transportation (Bus & Train)||$40|
|Food & Snacks||$23|
|Mt. Fuji Conservation Donation||$7|
I share all my travel expenses in this Japan cost breakdown.
Getting to Mt. Fuji
The four Mt. Fuji trailheads are located in different areas of the mountain and they’re all accessible by public transportation. Most hikers take a train and then a mountain bus to Mt. Fuji.
🚆 How To Get to Mt. Fuji
Step 1: Take a train to one of the nearby Mt. Fuji towns.
- For the Yoshida Trail, hikers typically take a train to the Kawaguchiko Station on the north side.
- For the Fujinomiya Trail, hikers typically take a train to the Fujinomiya Station on the south side.
- For both the Subashiri and Gotemba trails, hikers need to take a train to the Gotemba Station on the east side.
Step 2: From the bus station, take a direct bus to one of the fifth stations on Mt. Fuji where you can start the hike.
Each Mt. Fuji trail has about ten stations along the route. You will start at the fifth station of every route. For example, the Yoshida route starts at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station while the Fujinomiya Trail starts at the Fujinomiya 5th Station.
🚌 How To Get To Subashiri Trail
The Subashiri Trail starts on the eastern side of Mt. Fuji at the Subashiri 5th Station. Here’s how I got to the starting point from Tokyo:
- Step 1: Take a train to the Gotemba Station.
If you’re departing from Tokyo like I did, there is a train called the Romancecar that takes you directly from the Shinjuku Station to the Gotemba Station in under two hours. The Romancecar is a limited express train that is reservation-only and will cost you about $20.
- Step 2: Take the “Subashiri Trail 5th Station” bus from the bus station a few feet outside of the Gotemba Station. Buy a bus ticket at the kiosk, which will cost about $16. Here’s the bus timetable.
Make sure to start lining up for the bus about 15 to 20 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure. If you’re one of the last people to get on the bus, you might not get a seat for the hour-long bus ride.
- Step 3: The bus will take you up the mountain to the Subashiri trailhead in about an hour. At the Subashiri 5th Station, you’ll see a bathroom (which costs 200 yen) and two souvenir shops a few feet away from the starting point.
Where To Stay on Mt. Fuji
Most people hike Mt. Fuji over two days and stay overnight at a mountain hut. Climbing it in one day, called “bullet climbing”, is more dangerous because you’ll have to primarily hike at night to get to the summit around sunrise.
Every trail has mountain huts and the more popular the trail, the more mountain huts there are. The Yoshida Trail has over 15 mountain huts while the Gotemba Trail only has a few.
🛖 What to Expect From a Mt. Fuji Mountain Hut
Here’s what to expect when staying in a mountain hut on Mt. Fuji:
- Most mountain huts have a hostel sleeping arrangement where each hiker gets a sleeping bag in a shared space. Very few mountain huts have private rooms, which are just spaces separated by curtains.
- There are no showers or hot running water on Mt. Fuji. You can bring baby wipes to freshen up if you like.
- Mountain huts provide a basic dinner and breakfast. Don’t expect these meals to be phenomenal. Remember that you’re very high up in the mountains where there are limited facilities. My hut provided Japanese curry for dinner and onigiri for breakfast.
- Mountain huts generally have a curfew so that you don’t disturb other hikers. Most people go to sleep around 8 pm and wake up in the early morning between 2 am and 3 am to do the summit push before sunrise.
- Like in many Japanese accommodations, outdoor shoes are expected to be left by the entrance. Here’s a Japanese etiquette guide highlighting things to avoid doing as a visitor.
- If it rains during your hike, try to stay as dry as possible by bringing rain gear. Many mountain huts don’t have a proper way to dry clothes.
🏠 Where To Stay on the Subashiri Trail
The Subashiri Trail has a limited number of mountain huts, so it’s important to book in advance. You can book online or by calling them (I had a Japanese-speaking friend call on my behalf.)
I stayed in Miharashikan Hut for $64 on the 7th station, which I thought was ideal for several reasons:
- The 7th station is located near the halfway point of the Subashiri route’s ascent. That means that I spent three hours hiking up the first day and two hours on the second day.
- The Miharashikan Hut is a relatively small and new mountain hut when compared to the other ones on the Subashiri Trail. It provides a simple, but cozy atmosphere with fewer people. In comparison, the 8th station hut is significantly larger and more crowded.
Below is information on where I stayed in Gotemba City the night before the start of my Subashiri hike.
What To Wear for Hiking Mt. Fuji
Unprepared hikers tend to underestimate Mt. Fuji’s bad weather which can include heavy rain, strong winds, and cold temperatures (especially at the summit). Make sure you wear warm clothing and bring proper equipment.
Here’s a complete packing list for spending two days on Mt. Fuji:
- Rain gear. I brought a rain jacket and a rain poncho in case of a downpour.
- Headlamp. You’ll need headlamps for the night climb before the sunrise.
- Warm outer jacket. I brought my light down jacket, but wished I had brought something heavier because the summit was colder than I anticipated.
- Warm base layers. Weather changes from the base of the mountain to the top, so layering is important. I brought my Smartwool top and leggings.
- Athletic top and hiking pants. Your hiking pants should be at least water-resistant if they’re not waterproof.
- Hiking shoes. Make sure they’re waterproof.
- Hiking poles. The descent on some trails is steep and composed of volcanic gravel. Hiking poles are highly recommended if you want to go down at a steady and controlled pace.
- Innerwear. Bring an extra pair, as you’ll probably want to change your sports bra and underwear for the second day of hiking.
- Warm hiking socks. I brought my hiking socks to stay warm and dry.
- Reusable water bottle. I brought my 24 oz. water bottle which was a sufficient size for me, as I could refill it by buying bottled water at certain stations and my mountain hut.
- Earplugs and sleeping mask. You’re sleeping in a shared space, so bring these to help with noise.
- Gloves. The summit of Mt. Fuji can drop to 30 °F with strong winds of over 27 mph, so make sure to bring gloves.
- Hat. For the same reason as above, bring a warm hat. I brought a headband which was not sufficient at the summit.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste.
- Day pack and backpack rain cover. If you forget a rain cover like I did, you can drape a trash bag around your day pack if it starts raining.
- Snacks. Head over to a convenience store, like 7-Eleven, Family Mart, or Lawson, before your hike to load up on snacks. Small shops on Mt. Fuji sell limited snacks at a higher price.
The Japan trip planner below has this Mt. Fuji packing list in a downloadable format.
🧳 What Not To Pack for Mt. Fuji
Here are items you can leave behind if you want to travel lighter:
- Your passport. I brought my passport in case the mountain hut needed it for identification, but they didn’t check mine.
- Battery pack. Despite taking a lot of photos, I ended up not needing my battery pack because the mountain hut had outlets.
- Soap. I thought I would at least be washing my face once at night, but the water was honestly too cold and the sink was located outdoors during a windy day.
Facilities on Mt. Fuji
Mt. Fuji has several small shops, public toilets, and first-aid centers. The popular Yoshida Trail has many of these, while the uncrowded Gotemba Trail doesn’t even have a first-aid center.
Based on my experience on the Subashiri Trail, here’s what you can expect from the facilities on Mt. Fuji:
- Public toilets. The toilets on Mt. Fuji cost a little less than a US dollar to use (about 200 yen) and have cold running water, toilet paper, and a small sink.
- Small shops. Certain stations have small shops that sell food like cup noodles, sports drinks, rice curry, water, and beer. Most shops were small and simple, while the bigger shops near the 8th station also sold instant hot chocolate/coffee, bread, and souvenirs.
The Summit of Mt. Fuji
The summit of Mount Fuji is more than just a place to view the stunning sunrise. Here are other things to know about the top of Mt. Fuji:
- There are a few shops where you can purchase simple food, souvenirs, and beverages. There’s even a post office where you can send a postcard from the tallest mountain in Japan. All the shops open around 6 am.
- The top of Mt. Fuji tends to be extremely cold and windy, and there are very limited shelters. Since the shops don’t open until 6 am, prepare accordingly.
- You can also do extra hiking around the summit of Mt. Fuji. A walk around the rim of the crater takes about an hour and takes you through some shrines.
Complete Mt. Fuji Itinerary
Below is my actual Mt. Fuji itinerary while hiking the Subashiri Trail in September 2023. This optimized Japan itinerary shows how to sequence the Mt. Fuji hike during a 10 to 14-day trip.
|🏔️ Day 0|
|4 pm||Arrive in Gotemba City from Tokyo by train|
|4:15–4:30 pm||Check into The Gotembakan Hotel*|
|5–8 pm||Visit the Gotemba Premium Outlets|
|🏔️ Day 1 of Hiking Mt. Fuji|
|7:30–8:30 am||Eat breakfast and get snacks at 7-Eleven|
|8:40–9:45 am||Buy bus tickets, pack and store luggage at the Gotemba Station|
|10:10–10:30 am||Start lining up for the bus|
|10:30–11:30 am||Take the bus from Gotemba City to Subashiri 5th Station|
|11:30–12 pm||Check out the souvenir shops at the 5th Station|
|12–3 pm||Ascend the Subashiri Trail from the 5th Station to the mountain hut|
|3–8 pm||Eat dinner and meet other hikers at the mountain hut|
|8 pm–3 am||Sleep in the mountain hut|
|🏔️ Day 2 of Hiking Mt. Fuji|
|2:45–3 am||Eat breakfast and get ready to summit|
|3–5 am||Summit push|
|5–6:30 am||Watch the sunrise and walk around the summit|
|6:30–9:30 am||Descend the Subashiri Trail|
|9:45–10:45 am||Take the bus back to Gotemba City|
🏠 Where To Stay in Gotemba City
The Gotembakan is a great hotel if your primary goal is to hike Mt. Fuji.
It’s located directly in front of the train station and bus station, includes a complimentary hearty breakfast, and is located near a 7-Eleven where you can stock up on snacks. The rooms aren’t particularly nice, but they’re affordable and have a good view of Mt. Fuji on clear days.
Good luck on your Mt. Fuji climb and remember to be respectful to this iconic mountain!
Japan Trip Planner
To make your travel planning easier, download the trip planner below and use it as a starting point. The planner has country-specific travel information as well as an itinerary, packing list, and map with key places pinned.
The trip planner is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I genuinely love this tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a comment below.
Japan Travel Guides
- 🇯🇵 Planning a Trip to Japan: 11 Practical Things To Know
- 🇯🇵 10 Epic Days in Japan: A Unique & Active Itinerary
- 💰 Trip to Japan Cost: 2023 Travel Cost Breakdown
- 🌋 How To Climb Mt. Fuji: My Subashiri Trail Experience
- 🚲 How To Cycle the Shimanami Kaido: Complete Guide
- 🙅🏻♀️ Etiquette in Japan: 12 Things Tourists Should Not Do
- ☀️ Visiting Japan in September: Tips + What To Know
🧋 This site is run entirely by me, Lukiih. I spend hours researching each destination to ensure its accuracy. If you find my tips helpful, say thanks by buying me bubble tea!