Who wouldn't at least once in a lifetime enjoy the beautiful views of Fuji-san?
If you have already reached the top of Mount Fuji (富士山), you probably would agree that it was worth the struggle to get there (and down again). However, you may think twice about climbing again —not because of its fascinating sceneries, but because of the ignorance of the challenge, it can be.
The Japanese proverb 富士山に一度も登らぬ馬鹿、二度登る馬鹿 (Fujisan ni ichido mo noboranu baka, nido noboru baka, translated into A wise man will climb Fuji once, only a fool climbs it twice) does indeed resonate with the above statement. In reality, and to understand this saying, you would need to explore yourself —whether that will be once or twice, that's up to you.
The peak of Mt. Fuji is officially located at 3.776meters (12388 ft.) altitude and is the highest point of Japan. Summiting the stratovolcano is doable for most people being in healthy condition. In comparison, it is safe to say that the trip is nowhere near a high-altitude advanced climbing tour of the Himalayan destinations such as Mt. Everest and K2.
Will Mt. Fuji erupt?
Should you be concerned about the volcano erupting? Japan is known to have many earthquakes, and because Fuji-san is not far away from large metropolises such as Tokyo and Yokohama, it would indeed cause fear of disaster if it happens. Even though it's an active stratovolcano, it doesn't erupt frequently. The last time it occurred was in 1707-1708. So don't be all scared away from its beauty!
Indeed the iconic views from near and far distances are superb if only the visibility is high and the weather is good. Often, I would be able to get a clear peak of the impressive sight from the rooftop of my old Tokyo apartment. However, the chances were best during early mornings and towards sunset hours. During those days, I frequently thought about climbing Fuji-san. When the opportunity arose by invitation from some friends, I accepted without any hesitation.
Climbing Mt. Fuji wearing Jordan sneakers
I was young and by any means no experienced mountaineer. At the time being, I needed a pair of climbing shoes and decided to buy a new pair of Air Jordan sneakers from the Ameyoko streets of Ueno instead of investing in some proper footwear for the purpose. A purchase made based on the belief that they would serve me many times after. And because they looked super Tokyo cool. In retrospect, that was a stupid decision, but because the weather was on our side, it worked out fine for most of the journey—except for the return sliding on rocks for 4 hours to reach back to the 5th level. Anyway, those sneakers made me fly up there and did last me well in life.
As a result, do I recommend climbing in sneakers, high-heels, or any other casual type of footwear? Certainly not! Any quick change of weather would bring you at risk, and for standard safety measures, please do yourself the favor of wearing climbing footwear and prepare suitable equipment and supplies to take with you.
All the way
While most people start from the 5th base and progress to the 9th station for a couple of hours rest before moving up on the last stretch to see the sunrise, we were adventures and took the longest path leaving the foot of Fuji-san early morning. It was pretty exhausting to reach the top. Although, the views that awaited me on a clear night at the top still stand clear in my mind until this very day. The stars were remarkably bright, and the blanket of the below-laying skies looking so soft that it reinforced me with a sense of calmness to survive for the much-needed sunrise to appear (it was cold even on a calm night without much wind).
Views to die for
One of the views you also can achieve being at the top of Fuji-san is the twilight with the rounded shape of planet earth on the horizon and the gradient colors of the sun blending into the blackness of the night. To me, that view is as close to a definition of life on earth meeting the universe.
Now, it stands clear why Fuji-san is widely popular due to the legacy of its perfectly shaped outline and fascinating views. And for good reasons, it's on the top list of many things to do in Japan. If you haven't already seen it with your own eyes, I hope this post will inspire you to search for scenery in the awaiting—admirable from both a distance and by a climbing "expedition" that you will take on.
Would I do it again?
Whether you are thinking about visiting Japan and climbing Fuji-san, or just a person that fancy beautiful nature, you will most likely be stunned by its impressive sights. I had a memorable, once-in-a-lifetime climbing experience that hopefully contributed to a wiser me. With age, the Japanese saying as introduced resonates with me of why it would be stupid to go for a second attempt.