Mt. Fuji has been viewed from Tokyo, the Shinkansen bullet train, in photobooks, and on websites by many people. It is Japan’s highest (3,776m) and most beautiful mountain.
The SOEI Wandervogel Club climbed Mt. Fuji last weekend as part of our 30th anniversary celebrations. It was my first experience of climbing Mt. Fuji.

On Saturday, August 20, 2016, we met at a Shinjuku bus terminal at 8am, and waited for our tour bus to depart for Mt. Fuji. Although some looked excited in anticipation of reaching the highest point in Japan, others looked nervous possibly with worries about the long way to the summit. The tour bus then departed for Mt. Fuji area carrying our hopes and fears.
We arrived at the 5th Station (2,305 meters high), where we started our trek to the summit of Mt. Fuji, before noon. We were disappointed by the heavy rain due to the three typhoons around Japan, according to the weather map. Everyone was probably looking forward to our mountain guide’s explanation that the tour would be canceled because of the downpour. In spite of our expectations, however, our guide announced, “Let’s walk as much as we can. Just trust me.” We were disappointed upon hearing this. Nobody imagined, at this point, that disappointment would later change to gratitude for our intrepid guide.
Our plan was to climb to the 8th Station (3,100 meters high) on Saturday, then resume trekking again at 1am on Sunday after having a nap, then arrive at the summit at around 5am to view the beautiful sunrise from the summit. The weather in the mountain area is said to be quite variable. We were very lucky because it stopped raining just after we started! As the color of the sky changed from dark grey to blue, our feelings also changed from blue to bright. Mt. Fuji welcomed us with a beautifully arched rainbow.

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We arrived at the 8th Station without incident. At which time, the weather map still showed three typhoons around Japan, and our guide informed us that he would decide whether to continue climbing to the summit or give up and descend the mountain tomorrow morning. We then had supper and napped at a lodge.
When we arose at around 1am to depart for the summit, we were extremely surprised to see a sky full of stars and the beautiful night view of Tokyo and Yokohama from the height of 3,100 meters. This was the privilege reserved for only mountain climbers. Such a beautiful night view cannot be experienced from even Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo’s highest tower.

We approached the summit with great anticipation. Although the path there was long and winding, we were not bothered. We climbed slowly step by step, taking in many deep breaths in order to avoid getting altitude sickness. We enjoyed the fantastic scenery on the way to the summit, watching climbers’ torches radiant under the dawn’s bright moon.
After four hours of trekking from the 8th Station, we finally did it! We successfully reached the highest point in Japan! Shown here are our beaming smiles, delighted with our great achievement. We were in plenty of time to enjoy the sunrise viewed from the zenith of Japan. It was so beautiful.
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Although the descent back was not easy, we enjoyed the extraordinary landscape. Finally, we all got back to base safe and sound.
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We thanked our guide, Osawa-san, for showing us the many interesting attractions of Mt. Fuji. Although young, he is highly experienced (his experience gave his face an older, weathered quality). We also thanked our tour escort, Daitoku-san, for her careful attention to our well-being. The talented mountain guide and tour escort easily surpassed our expectations.

After conquering Japan’s highest peak, we are mulling our next challenge – perhaps Mt. Everest, the peak of the entire world.