On August 1st, 2019, my father and I decided to hike Mt. Fuji; the highest volcano and mountain in Japan, to celebrate my 21st birthday. The active volcano has been widely regarded as a sacred kami or spirit in the Shinto religion. To this day, climbing up the mountain is considered an act of pilgrimage for followers of the faith and it is not uncommon to see monks making the climb. Along the mountain, there are several sacred shrines, caves, springs, and a waterfall that attracts religious practitioners, citizens, and tourists alike. Around the base of the mountain, you can find the eight major shrines and hundreds of smaller ones that have been slowly added throughout history. Two of Mt. Fuji’s most recognizable shrines and temples are the Kawaguchi Asama Shrine and the Dainichiji Temple. Being built in the 9th century to appease the anger of Mt. Fuji, the Kawaguchi Asama Shrine can be found towards the peak to ward off further volcanic eruptions. Dainichiji temple was also added on the summit by Matsudai Shonin in 1149 CE and becomes visible as you pass under the large torii gate located along the path. While there is a large stone marker on the summit of the mountain indicating the tallest point in Japan, this tori gate has become a somewhat symbol for reaching the summit.
Our journey started at Subuaru Line 5th Station, were we had lunch and started our climb up the Yoshida Trail around noon. The path was well marked and cleared, making it very suitable for people of all skill levels. Our hut was the closest to the summit and we were able to reach it around 18:00. After eating a basic curry for dinner, we slept for a couple of hours side by side in a sleeping bag with other hikers. Waking back up around 2:00 in the morning, we continued our final ascent to the summit for the sunrise.
Overall, the hike does not require any technical skills to reach the summit, just lots of endurance and perseverance. If you are an active and in shape individual, I believe you could also complete this hike. Hiking at a time that allows you to view the sunrise is hands down necessary. The view is unlike anything else and something you do not want to miss. As the old saying goes: “a wise man climbs Mt. Fuji once, only a fool climbs it twice.”