Good for: views, experience
- tel, info: 0555 3201 3331
- tel, info: 0555 22 7000
- tel, info: 0555 72 6700
- Kawaguchi-ko Tourist Information Center open 08:30-18:00
Lonely Planet review for Mt Fuji
Japan's highest mountain stands 3776m (12,388ft) high. When it's capped with snow, it's a picture-postcard perfect volcanic cone. Fuji-san last blew in 1707, covering the streets of Tokyo with volcanic ash. On an exceptionally clear day, you can see Mt Fuji from Tokyo, 100km (62mi) away, but on many days it's wreathed with clouds.
Your best chance of seeing the notoriously shy mountain is in the late autumn, winter and early spring when the air is fairly clear. Even during these times, the mountain may only be visible in the morning before it retreats behind a curtain of haze or clouds.
You can get a classic view of Mt Fuji from the shinkansen (bullet train) as it passes the city of Fuji (sit on the northern side of the train). But the best and closest views are from the Fuji Go-ko region where, on a clear day, the hulking presence of the mountain seems to fill the sky.
Officially, the climbing season on Mt Fuji is from 1 July to 31 August. Actually, you can climb Mt Fuji at any time of year, and it may be preferable to do so just outside the official season to avoid the crowds, but keep in mind that transport services may be less frequent and some of the huts may be closed. Of course, any time there's snow on the mountain you'll need the proper equipment and experience to climb Mt Fuji, and a midwinter ascent is strictly for expert mountaineers.
You want to reach the top at dawn - both to see goraiko (sunrise) and because early morning is the time when the mountain is least likely to be shrouded in cloud. Sometimes it takes an hour or two to burn the morning mist off, however. You do not want to arrive on the top too long before dawn, as it's likely to be very cold and windy, and if you've worked up a sweat during the climb, you'll be very uncomfortable.