Growing up reading mangas and watching animes (hello fellow Doraemon, Dragonball Z & Detective Conan fans!), I have always felt a connection with Japan, a beautiful place filled with cherry blossoms and maple leaves. With that being said I'm not sure how it took me 25 years to set foot in the country so to rectify that mistake, I have been there 4 times in the past 15 months. My latest trip was solely for the purpose of participating in the ultimate Japanese act, conquering Mount Fuji!
Okay conquering is a big word, more like slowly trekking it up to the top, whilst cursing at myself almost every second for putting my body and mind through hell. A well-known Japanese saying suggests that a wise person will climb Mt Fuji once in their lifetime, but only a fool would climb it twice. I agree.
STAYING AT KAWAGUCHIKO
Kawaguchiko (河口湖) is the second largest lake amongst the Fuji Five Lakes, the area located at the base of Mount Fuji in the Yamanashi prefecture of Japan. It is the most easily accessible via public transport and the lake area is nothing short of beauty. With cherry blossoms in Spring, lavendar in Summer, maple leaves in Autumn and snow-capped Mt Fuji welcoming you in Winter, Kawaguchiko really has it all. Our accommodation Den's Inn (stop 17 at Music Forest Museum on Red Bus, cost ¥380 (~$4) from Kawaguchiko Station) is basic dorm-style guesthouse that was clean and spacious, run by 2 helpful hosts and offered free bicycles rental. We arrived here at around 2pm on Friday, checked out the surrounding area, geared up and left early for the climb Saturday morning, took a well-deserved rest Sunday afternoon and came back to the lavender garden at Oishi Park early Monday morning before leaving to return to Tokyo. We were treated with the most amazing weather the whole time we were around Mt Fuji, with the most perfect blue-sky-white-clouds combination climbing up on Saturday, the misty Sunday that helped ease up the heat on the way down, and the most beautifully clear sky on Monday. Poor Emily got a bit burnt but she didn't regret a second of it!
When we made a reservation ($11pp) for our accommodation at Fujisan Hotel ($110pp) we were advised to start trekking up no later than 3pm as dinner would only be served until 9pm. Emily and I agreed to start early as we didn't want to rush it and I knew that I would need more than 6 hours to make it up there (and I did). The trip from Kawaguchiko Station to Mt Fuji 5th Station took around an hour and when we got there at 10am, the place was already packed full of people. We went into 1 of the souvenir shops and bought a trekking pole each (~$25). Having a pole to support your weight on the way down is a great idea, so I'd recommend that you get one. I didn't care about getting stamps along the way so I didn't get an "authentic" wooden pole with bells on it, instead I chose the retractable one as it was super light and easy to carry around. We also stocked up, went over our equipment list, emptied our bladder and it was time to rock 'n' roll (pardon the pun)!