I'm not a mountain climber by any means, but neither are most of the people who make the trek up Fuji. It is a doable climb for most people, but only easy if you know what you are doing. I think we took eight hours total of climbing, with a break for sleep in a very communal lodge. The terrain changes nicely. Sometimes it is gravel, sometimes dirt. There are spans where crude steps have been carved out, and a few times when climbers have to scale up modestly steep rocks. The changes in pace are nice, and help mentally. The length of the climb is what makes it difficult for some people, but with a little motivation, I made it up Fuji without any significant incident.
It isn't pretty, but this is what a lot of the climb up Mt. Fuji looks like under your feet. Full size
It doesn't happen often, but you will come across some significant ledges while climbing Mt. Fuji. Full size
If there is one thing I remember most, it is the amazing view. It was a pleasure the entire time I was making my way up. From the clouds lazily rolling in the valleys below, to the beautiful sunset, there was always something to look at when you stopped to take a breath. The land below, green and full of life, contrasts sharply with the volcanic rocks beneath you. The mountain itself is spectacular as well, in a different way. It seems alive. I kept looking at it, but I could never get a sense of scale. Towards the start of the hike, there were bushes and a few trees. A few hours in, without you even realizing it, there just a few shrubs and weeds, and finally, just rock and the occasional bit of melting ice that had managed to make it so far into summer. Finally, there were the clouds beneath you. I'm not used to looking out and seeing clouds beneath me. It was an amazing sight and if I do make it back to the top of Fuji, it will be to take in the amazing views again.
Before the tree line, Mt. Fuji is full of life. The clouds hugging the surface are amazing. Full size
Fuji is in a beautiful part of Japan, making the view even more spectacular. Full size
The sun setting below the clouds on Mt. Fuji was amazing. Full size
Like so many other famous attractions throughout Japan, Mt. Fuji is crowded, at least in the regular climbing season. You are likely to come across tour groups, big families, and plenty of foreigners. Everyone keeps up a pretty good pace, and if you need to pass someone, it usually isn't a problem. My climbing mate and I ran into a couple groups of English speaking foreigners on our way up, and ended up making about half of the climb with another group of two gaijin. You won't get the mountain to yourself, but the crowds aren't bad at all by Japanese standards, and they never got in the way.
You are likely to come across plenty of friendly people if you decide to give Mt. Fuji a climb. Full size
When it was all said and done, I had a great time on Fuji. My legs ached and I needed a lot of sleep, but I had a great time. I liked the challenge, the views and the people I climbed with. My Fuji climb was great. I came home and indulged in another Japanese tradition, the hot bath, slept for an afternoon, and when my blisters went away, I still had the memories. They say only a fool neglects to climb Mt. Fuji, and that only a fool climbs it twice, but I don't know, I might be up for another shot at it.
Rocks, mist and wind is all you seem to have here, but there is actually a post office on the summit of Mt. Fuji as well. Full size
This is the roof of one of the lodges on Mt. Fuji. I never got over the clouds when I looked down. Full size
The mountain itself is a sight to behold, especially as the clouds run into it and seem to float up like smoke from a volcano. Full size
I got lucky and flew right over Mt. Fuji one day in early spring. You can see the tracks leading up it if you look closely. Full size