Mount Fuji

I returned from Tokyo and all its splendid cities (Tokyo is a prefecture and a city, like New York) on Wednesday night. I was completely beat and nearly dead-tired, but we ― Lee and I ― decided to climb Mt. Fuji (affectionately called Fuji-san, 富士山, in Japanese) today.

We aimed at starting out ascent at around 22:00 on Fri so we could make it to the summit in time to see the sunrise and be back on the train to Nagoya by 10:00 Sat. My first real hike and Lee’s first one in a little while, simply by reading up on it online it proved to be a real challenge to us both.

We did our research online, checking the official web sites and various message boards to gather what we’d be in for and to create a gameplan. According to the official web site, the official season ends Aug 31st, but there’s no mention of what’s happening after that date ― surely an entire mountain can’t be closed! We were wrong.

We arrived in Fujinomiya, the closest city to the fifth station on the mountain, where a bus was supposed to take us to, where we discovered that after the 31st there are absolutely no buses running to the fifth station. Can you believe that: the bus company doesn’t like to make money after the 31st of August and we found out that they close the tolled road to the fifth station. Not a single bus would have taken anybody up there. Even if we could have gotten a taxi to take us up there (about $50 each way) there’s no guarantee that it can make it as far as we’d like ― and let’s not forget that we need a way to get back to Fujinomiya Sat morning.

All a big letdown to be sure, but the biggest: There was enough cloud cover that we didn’t get to actually see Fuji-san, only the very base of the thing. Nowhere on any of the official web sites does it list that there are no ways to the fifth station after the official season is closed (!).

On the other hand we got a chance to see what a city at the base of the world-famous Mount Fuji looks like (Fujinomiya): it’s the absolute sticks!