From Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko to the Top
(The following post is from 2010. I imported my blog posts from my month long trip to Japan for posterity and to remember fondly!)
So when I was planning for my trip to see the area around Mt. Fuji, I never really thought i’d end up climbing it.
Mr. Takata helped me to plan the fastest route of trains to Kawaguchiko, which leads up to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji. Even though I would be getting there around 12:30, it takes about 6-7 hours to climb mt. Fuji and longer on the way down. I was expecting to only explore the area around 5th station.
From Shinjuku station, I took the Holiday express all the way to Kawaguchiko, and on the way got many pictures from my seat.
Once I got to Kawaguchiko, I bought a round trip bus ticket to 5th station. On the bus, I sat next to this Japanese guy who started talking to me in Japanese. I learned that he had climbed mt. Fuji 30 times! And he showed me the stuff he had gotten over the years from climbing.
After the bus dropped us off at 5th station, the Japanese dude took me up the the shops and convinced me to buy a walking stick. On the way up Mt. Fuji, you can stop at the places on the way up and pay 200 yen for them to burn a stamp into your stick showing that you were there.
So after that I had a stick. And wherever I decided to go after that point, I would have to carry that stick anyways, so I decided I’d hike up Mt. Fuji for a while. As soon as I was starting up I ran into a couple Americans. Everywhere else I had been there had been hardly anyone to talk to in English so I started up a conversation with them and asked if they were going to the top. They were, and we decided to go up together for a while. I still wasn’t sure if I would go all the way because I wasn’t very prepared, (I had my backpack, a jacket, and money) but I wanted to walk up for a while anyways and see what it was like.
The two people I met are in some of the pictures. Geoffrey Connor and his niece, Caitlyn. They were both really nice people! I found out later that Geoffrey Connor is a former Secretary of State of Texas! Also it turned out that Caitlyn used to live about an hour away from where I lived in NC! Kinda crazy how everything turned out on this trip.
Anyways at station 6, I decided I wanted to go to the top and bought a few things. I purchased a poncho set (which came with a top and pants), a pair of gloves and two water bottles. Then we continued up, expecting to find their room reservation somewhere near the 8th station.
As we walked, since I had the Japanese language experience I did the talking and reading for them when they needed to know something or purchase something. It was pretty cool being useful in that area, haha.
As we kept on trekking up, they had me look at a map and see if I could locate where the place they were staying was. Turned out that we had just past the place and had to hike back down to previous group of buildings. There I asked if they had room, and because it is really early in the season, they did. The place cost about 90 dollars for the night, and included dinner and a pack for breakfast.
For dinner (there is a picture) we had some kind of meat with rice, a small serving of pasta, and miso soup with some green tea to drink. At dinner we decided we would leave around 12:30 to try to catch the sunrise at the summit. The sun rises around 4:30-5 and it takes about 3-4 hours from where we were staying to reach the top.
The rooms hold about 20 people when its crowded. (Kinda weird, because I only saw 3 blankets per level of bunk bed) They contain two huge bunk beds a thin walkway between them to exit the room. It was impossible for me to fall asleep, and it started to rain around 8pm. Hard. I was in charge of waking them up in time, but it was raining so hard I wasn’t sure if i should even bother waking them up. None of us were equipped for such heavy rain. Turns out they couldn’t really fall asleep either and so got up on time anyways. After that, the rain started to die down. We got ready and headed to the entrance and left around 1:30, when the rain had completely stopped. It didn’t rain for the rest of the trip.
We headed up. It was pretty dark, especially for me without any kind of flash light, but I just climbed close to Caitlyn and relied on my night vision. (It wasn’t as slippery as I expected, but it was still hard to see) Sounds pretty dangerous, and yeah it kinda was haha! But somehow I managed to not fall down the entire climb or descent. I slipped a lot, but managed to catch myself each time. The walking stick really helped.
The air gets very thin, and if you over exert yourself you will get incredibly dizzy. We took many short breaks and just kept up a slow, steady pace. The wind was really strong near the top, and a few times I had to get a better footing to avoid getting blown over. My gloves were soaked as we reached the top. It was very cloudy and cold. We couldn’t see anything! But we reached the top. The above picture is of me at the summit! I had to take my gloves off because they were completely soaked and my hands were freezing! The sun rose, but it wasn’t as picturesque as we were hoping. It was completely cloudy and we could hardly see a thing. Also everything on the top was closed at the time.
After we took a few pictures we headed back down. The trip down is a lot harder on your knees, and I got sunburned towards the bottom of the mountain, but I was still proud of climbing the mountain. (Although at the same time kind of miserable and tired from lack of sleep and not being in the best shape)
We said goodbye at 5th station and I headed toward my bus stop. It was a fun trip. Next time I climb, I’ll know what to expect and be better prepared.
That was good exercise.
** Enter photoswipe album here with pictures from fuji climb **