Hello, everyone! I am the admin of this website.
I love outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and trail running. I have three kids and I have climbed Mt. Fuji with each of them when they were 9 to 11 years old. It was a challenging but unforgettable experience that we cherish as a family - and in this article, I would like to share my experience with you.
Mt. Fuji is the highest and most iconic mountain in Japan, and it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Climbing Mt. Fuji is a great opportunity to experience Japanese culture and nature, as you can see the beautiful scenery, visit the ancient shrines, and meet the friendly locals along the way.
Climbing Mt. Fuji with your kids is an adventure that will create lifelong memories for you and your kids. You will face some difficulties and risks, such as altitude sickness, rockfall, or bad weather, but you will also enjoy some rewards and surprises, such as sunrise, clouds, or snow. You will learn a lot about yourself and your kids, and you will bond with them in a special way.
- Preparation For Mt. Fuji With Kids
- Climbing Mt. Fuji With Children
- Tips and Advice For Climbing Mt. Fuji With Kids
- Reaching The Summit of Mount Fuji
- Descending Mt. Fuji
In this article, I will share with you how I climbed Mt. Fuji with my 9-year-old son in July 2018 using the Subashiri route. This was the third time I did a day trip to Mt. Fuji with one of my kids, and I think this method works well for families who want to avoid the crowds and the mountain huts. I will cover the preparation, the climbing, the summit, and the descending stages of our trip, and I will give you some tips and advice to help you plan your own family trip to Mt. Fuji.
I hope this article will inspire you to take on this challenge with your kids and have a wonderful time together. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or contact me on social media. I would love to hear from you. Now let’s get started!
Preparation For Mt. Fuji With Kids
Before you start your family trip to Mt. Fuji, you need to do some preparation to make sure you have a safe and enjoyable climb. Here are some of the things you need to consider and do before you go.
Basics of Mt. Fuji climbing
Mt. Fuji is open for climbing only during the official season, which is from July to September. During this time, the weather is relatively stable and the mountain huts and facilities are operating. However, the weather can still change quickly and drastically, so you need to be prepared for rain, wind, cold, or heat.
Mt. Fuji has four main routes that you can choose from: Yoshida, Subashiri, Gotemba, and Fujinomiya. Each route has its own characteristics, such as distance, difficulty, scenery, and popularity. You can find more information about each route on the official website of Mt. Fuji.
Mt. Fuji is 3776 meters high, which means it is a high-altitude mountain that can cause altitude sickness or other health problems. Altitude sickness is a condition that occurs when your body cannot adjust to the low oxygen level and low air pressure at high altitudes. It can cause symptoms such as headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, or shortness of breath. It can affect anyone regardless of age or fitness level, and it can be serious or even fatal if not treated properly.
Mt. Fuji is also a moderate to hard climb that requires physical strength, stamina, and endurance. The trails are steep, rocky, and sometimes slippery or snowy. You will need to climb for several hours without much rest or shade. You will also need to carry your own backpack with all your equipment and gear.
Why we chose the Subashiri route
For our family trip, we chose the Subashiri route for several reasons. First of all, it is less crowded than the most popular Yoshida route, which means we can avoid long queues and traffic jams on the trail. Half of the people who climb Mt. Fuji use the Yoshida route, so it can be very busy and noisy. The Subashiri route is more quiet and peaceful, and we can enjoy the nature and the views more.
Secondly, the Subashiri route has a fun and exciting section called “Ohsunabashiri” or “sand run”. This is a part of the trail where the surface is covered with loose sand or gravel that allows you to slide or run down quickly and easily. It is very enjoyable for kids and adults alike, and it can save you some time and energy on the way down.
However, the Subashiri route also has some disadvantages that you need to be aware of. For example, it is slightly longer and harder than the Yoshida route in terms of distance and time. The official website estimates that it takes 7 hours to climb up and 3.5 hours to climb down on the Subashiri route, compared to 6.5 hours up and 3.75 hours down on the Yoshida route. These are based on adult pace, so you may need to add 50% more time if you are climbing with kids.
Another disadvantage of the Subashiri route is that it has a lot of dust or rocks that can fly around when you or other climbers slide or run down on the sand run section. This can be annoying or even dangerous for your eyes or lungs if you don’t protect yourself properly. You will also need to watch out for rocks or stones that may be hidden under the sand or gravel.
Equipment and gear for Mt. Fuji climbing
Mt. Fuji climbing requires some equipment and gear that you need to bring with you or rent at the trailhead or mountain huts. Some of them are essential for your safety and comfort, while others are optional or personal preferences.
Here are some of the equipment and gear that I recommend for families who want to climb Mt. Fuji:
- Backpack: You will need a backpack that can fit all your items and that is comfortable to carry for several hours. You may want to choose a backpack that has a hydration system or a water bladder that allows you to drink water easily without taking off your backpack.
- Shoes: You will need shoes that are suitable for hiking or trekking on rough terrain. They should be sturdy, waterproof, breathable, and have good grip and traction. They should also fit well and not cause blisters or injuries.
- Clothes: You will need clothes that are suitable for various weather conditions and temperatures on Mt. Fuji. You should dress in layers that you can add or remove as needed. You should also wear clothes that are made of synthetic or wool materials that can wick away sweat and keep you dry and warm. You should avoid cotton clothes that can absorb moisture and make you cold and wet.
- Rain gear: You will need rain gear that can protect you from rain or wind on Mt. Fuji. You should have a rain jacket and rain pants that are waterproof and breathable. You may also want to have a rain cover for your backpack or a waterproof bag for your valuables.
- Warm gear: You will need warm gear that can keep you warm on the summit or at night on Mt. Fuji. You should have a warm jacket or fleece that can insulate you from the cold. You may also want to have a hat, gloves, scarf, or buff that can cover your head, hands, neck, or face.
- Sun gear: You will need sun gear that can protect you from the sun or UV rays on Mt. Fuji. You should have sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat that can block or filter the sun. You may also want to have a mask, scarf, or buff that can cover your mouth or nose from the dust or rocks.
- Helmet: You may want to have a helmet that can protect your head from rockfall or other hazards on Mt. Fuji. You don’t need a special helmet for climbing, you can use any helmet that is suitable for cycling or disaster prevention. However, you should make sure that your helmet has ventilation holes that are not too big or too small, so that it can prevent dust or rocks from entering or block the air flow.
- Poles: You may want to have poles that can help you balance and support your weight on Mt. Fuji. They can also reduce the impact on your knees and ankles, especially on the way down. You should choose poles that are adjustable, lightweight, and durable. You may also want to have rubber tips or baskets for your poles that can prevent them from slipping or sinking into the ground.
- Water: You will need water that can keep you hydrated and prevent dehydration or altitude sickness on Mt. Fuji. You should bring at least 2 liters of water per person, which is equivalent to 2 kilograms of weight. You may also want to bring some electrolyte drinks or tablets that can replenish your minerals and salts.
- Food: You will need food that can keep you energized and prevent hunger or fatigue on Mt. Fuji. You should bring some snacks or meals that are high in calories, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. You may also want to bring some candy or chocolate that can boost your morale or blood sugar.
- Medicine: You may need some medicine that can help you cope with altitude sickness or other health problems on Mt. Fuji. You should consult your doctor before you go and get some prescription or over-the-counter medicine that can prevent or treat altitude sickness, such as acetazolamide (Diamox) or ibuprofen (Advil). You may also want to bring some painkillers, anti-nausea pills, band-aids, or other first-aid items.
- Buff or face masks: Subashiri route is famous for its dusty sections. You definitely should have a Buff or masks to prevent sand and dust bothering you.
- Other items: You may also need some other items that can make your climb more comfortable or enjoyable on Mt. Fuji. For example, you may want to bring a headlamp, a mobile charger, a map or GPS, a camera, a lighter, a tarp, a compass, etc.
One item that I bought but didn’t need was light crampons (spikes) for my shoes. I thought they might be useful for walking on snow or ice on Mt. Fuji, but there was none when I went in July 2018. So I suggest you check the snow conditions before you go and decide if you need them or not.
Another item that I recommend you bring is 100 yen coins for toilets or drinks. There are toilets and vending machines along the route, but they only accept 100 yen coins (or sometimes 500 yen coins). You may want to bring 20 to 30 coins per person, depending on how often you use them.
How to access the trailhead
To access the trailhead of the Subashiri route, you have two options: public transport or shuttle bus.
If you use public transport, you will need to take a train from Tokyo to Gotemba station (about 2 hours), then take a bus from Gotemba station to Subashiri 5th station (about 1 hour). The bus runs only during the climbing season (July to September), and it costs 1540 yen one way (770 yen for children). You can find more information about the bus schedule and fares on this website.
If you use shuttle bus, you will need to drive your car to Subashiri multipurpose plaza (about 2 hours from Tokyo), then take a shuttle bus from there to Subashiri 5th station (about 30 minutes). The shuttle bus runs only during the climbing season (July to September), and it costs 1600 yen round trip (800 yen for children).
You can find more information about the shuttle bus schedule and fares on this website. You can also book your shuttle bus ticket online in advance, or buy it at the parking lot on the day of your climb. The parking lot costs 1000 yen per night, and it has water, toilets, tables, and benches. You can also camp there the night before your climb, as we did, to save time and money. However, you should be aware that the parking lot can be very hot and humid in summer, and you may not sleep well. You should also bring some insect repellent or net to protect yourself from mosquitoes or other bugs.
How to prevent and deal with altitude sickness
Altitude sickness is one of the biggest risks and challenges of climbing Mt. Fuji. It can affect anyone regardless of age or fitness level, and it can be serious or even fatal if not treated properly. Therefore, you need to know how to prevent and deal with altitude sickness before you go.
The best way to prevent altitude sickness is to acclimatize yourself to the high altitude gradually. This means that you should ascend slowly, take frequent breaks, and stay hydrated. You should also avoid alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, or other substances that can dehydrate you or affect your breathing. You should also monitor your symptoms and your companions’ symptoms regularly, and be ready to descend if you feel unwell.
Some of the common symptoms of altitude sickness are headache, nausea, dizziness, fatigue, or shortness of breath. If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop ascending and rest until you feel better. You may also want to take some medicine that can prevent or treat altitude sickness, such as acetazolamide (Diamox) or ibuprofen (Advil). You should consult your doctor before you go and get some prescription or over-the-counter medicine that is suitable for you and your kids.
If your symptoms get worse or do not improve after resting, you should descend as soon as possible. You may need to seek medical attention or emergency assistance if you develop severe symptoms such as confusion, loss of consciousness, chest pain, or coughing blood. These are signs of more serious forms of altitude sickness, such as high-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) or high-altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE), which can be life-threatening.
In our case, we decided to do a day trip instead of staying overnight at a mountain hut to prevent altitude sickness. We thought that staying at a high altitude for a long time would increase the risk of altitude sickness for our kids. We also decided not to use oxygen cans, which are sold at some mountain huts or vending machines. We thought that oxygen cans were not necessary or effective for preventing altitude sickness, and that they might give us a false sense of security or make us overexert ourselves. Instead, we focused on breathing deeply and regularly during our climb, especially when we felt tired or dizzy.
Climbing Mt. Fuji With Children
The Subashiri route is the least crowded of the four trails that lead to the summit of Mount Fuji. However, it is also the longest and has some steep sections. I climbed this route with my 9-year-old son in a day trip. I want to share our experience and some tips for those who are planning to do the same.
Climbing Mt. Fuji - From the 5th station to the 6th station
We took a bus from the parking lot to the trailhead at the 5th station. The bus ride took about 30 minutes, but we enjoyed the scenic views of nature along the way. We saw a deer family crossing the road at one point. At the trailhead, we took some commemorative photos, did some warm-up exercises, and started our climb.
Climbing Mt. Fuji - From the 6th station to the 7th station
The trail from the 6th station to the 7th station is mostly through a forest. The trees provide some shade and coolness, but also block the views of the surroundings. The trail is not very steep, but it is long and winding. We paced ourselves and took breaks every 15 minutes or so. We also drank water and ate some snacks to stay hydrated and energized.
As we climbed higher, we started to feel the effects of altitude. I felt a slight headache and dizziness as soon as we left the 6th station. My son seemed fine at first, but he also complained of a headache later on. We both took some painkillers and tried to breathe deeply and slowly. We noticed that our condition fluctuated throughout the climb. Sometimes we felt better, sometimes worse. We decided to keep going as long as we could, but also prepared to turn back if necessary.
We met some other climbers along the way, mostly adults. Many of them were friendly and chatted with us, and were impressed by my son’s stamina and courage. Some of them were from overseas and asked us questions about Japan and Mount Fuji. My son was popular among them and enjoyed the attention.
Climbing Mt. Fuji - From the 7th station to the 8th station
The trail from the 7th station to the 8th station is where the forest ends and the volcanic rock begins. The trail becomes steeper and more rugged, with some switchbacks and rocky steps. The views also become more spectacular, as we can see the clouds below us and the summit above us. The weather also changes rapidly, from sunny to cloudy to windy. We wore layers of clothing and adjusted them according to the temperature.
This section was the most challenging and rewarding part of the climb. We had to use our hands and feet to climb some steep sections. We also had to be careful of loose rocks and falling stones. We wore helmets and gaiters to protect our heads and feet. We also used trekking poles to balance ourselves and reduce the impact on our knees.
We took longer breaks at each station, where we could buy some drinks and food, use the toilets, and rest in the huts. The prices were high, but we didn’t mind paying for the convenience and comfort. We also met more climbers here, as the Subashiri route merges with the Yoshida route at the 8th station. The trail became more crowded and noisy, but also more lively and festive.
Climbing Mt. Fuji - From the 8th station to the summit
The trail from the 8th station to the summit is the final and most difficult part of the climb. The trail is very steep and narrow, with some sections that require climbing over large rocks or metal chains. The altitude is also very high, over 3000 meters, and the air is thin and dry. We felt more tired and breathless, and our pace slowed down considerably.
We had to overcome not only the physical challenges, but also the mental ones. We had to motivate ourselves and each other, and keep our spirits high. We also had to deal with some frustration and disappointment, as we saw some people giving up or turning back. We had to remind ourselves of our goal and our reasons for climbing.
We also had to enjoy the moments and the views, as we were close to the top of Japan’s highest mountain. We saw some amazing sights, such as the sunrise over the clouds, the shadow of Mount Fuji on the ground, and the crater of the volcano. We took some photos and videos, but also tried to soak in the experience with our eyes and hearts.
After about 6 hours of climbing, we finally reached the summit. We felt a mix of emotions: joy, relief, pride, gratitude, awe. We hugged each other and congratulated ourselves for our achievement. We also thanked the mountain for letting us climb it safely and peacefully.
Tips and Advice For Climbing Mt. Fuji With Kids
Climbing Mount Fuji with your child is a rewarding and memorable experience, but it also requires careful preparation and planning. Here are some tips and advice that I learned from my own climb, and that I hope will help you and your child enjoy your own adventure.
- Choose the right route for your child’s age and fitness level. The Subashiri route is less crowded and has some fun sections, but it is also longer and steeper than the Yoshida route. The other two routes, Gotemba and Fujinomiya, are even more challenging and not recommended for children.
- Choose the right season and weather for your climb. The official climbing season is from July to September, when the trails are open and the mountain huts are operating. However, the weather can change quickly and unpredictably, even in summer. Check the weather forecast before you go, and be prepared for rain, wind, cold, and sun.
- Choose the right gear and clothing for your climb. You will need a sturdy backpack, comfortable trekking shoes, a helmet, gaiters, trekking poles, sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen, a mask or scarf, layers of clothing, rain gear, a headlamp, a compass or GPS, a map, a lighter, a tarp or tent, a sleeping bag or blanket, a mobile charger, and some cash. You will also need plenty of water (at least 2 liters per person) and food (snacks, energy bars, cup noodles, etc.).
- Pace yourself and take frequent breaks. Don’t rush or push yourself too hard. Listen to your body and your child’s condition. Take breaks every 15 minutes or so, drink water, eat snacks, breathe deeply, and rest in the huts if needed. If you or your child feel sick or dizzy, stop and rest until you feel better. If you don’t feel better after resting, descend to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
- Be flexible and ready to turn back if necessary. Climbing Mount Fuji is not a competition or a test of endurance. It is an adventure and a learning experience. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to turn back if you or your child feel unwell or unsafe. There is an old Japanese saying: “The mountain will not run away.” You can always try again another time.
- Enjoy the views and the moments. Climbing Mount Fuji is not only about reaching the summit. It is also about enjoying the journey and the scenery along the way. You will see some amazing sights that you will never forget: the sunrise over the clouds, the shadow of Mount Fuji on the ground, the crater of the volcano, the views of other mountains and lakes. You will also share some precious moments with your child and other climbers: chatting, laughing, encouraging, celebrating. Don’t forget to take some photos and videos, but also try to soak in the experience with your eyes and hearts.
I hope these tips and advice will help you have a wonderful climb with your child. Climbing Mount Fuji with my son was one of the best things I ever did in my life. I hope it will be the same for you.
Reaching The Summit of Mount Fuji
After a long and challenging ascent, we finally reached the summit of Mt. Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan.
It was an unforgettable experience, but also a difficult one. Here are some of the challenges and highlights we encountered at the top of Mt. Fuji.
- The summit of Mt. Fuji is a large crater that spans about 1,600 feet (500 meters) in diameter and sinks to a depth of about 820 feet (250 meters). Around the crater are eight peaks, each with a different name and elevation¹. We climbed to the highest peak, Kengamine, which is 12,388 feet (3,776 meters) above sea level.
- The view from the summit was spectacular. We could see the clouds below us, and the surrounding landscape of lakes, forests, and mountains. We also saw some features of the crater, such as steam vents, lava rocks, and ice patches. We took some photos and maps to capture the scenery.
- The summit area was very cold and windy. The temperature was around 5°C (41°F), but it felt much colder with the wind chill. We wore layers of clothing, hats, gloves, and scarves to keep warm. We also had to deal with altitude sickness, which caused us headaches, dizziness, and nausea. We took some painkillers and drank plenty of water to cope with the symptoms.
- The summit was also very crowded and noisy. There were hundreds of other climbers who reached the top at the same time as us. Some were cheering, singing, praying, or ringing bells. Some were resting, eating, or shopping at the huts or shrines. It was hard to find a quiet spot to relax or enjoy the view.
- The highlight of our summit experience was eating cup noodles that we cooked with a portable burner and a folding table. It was my dream to eat cup noodles at the top of Mt. Fuji. It was a simple but satisfying meal that warmed us up and gave us energy. However, it also made us thirsty and added weight to our backpacks, so we don't recommend it for everyone.
Tips And Advice Regarding Mt. Fuji's Summit
- Our tips and advice for anyone who wants to reach the summit of Mt. Fuji are:
- Start early and pace yourself. The summit area is only open from early July to mid-September, so it can get very busy during peak hours. If you want to avoid the crowds and see the sunrise, you should start climbing before dawn and reach the summit by 4:30 a.m.. You should also take frequent breaks and adjust your speed according to your condition and the weather.
- Prepare well and pack light. You should bring enough water, food, clothing, and equipment for your climb, but not too much that it will slow you down or tire you out. You should also check the weather forecast and the trail conditions before you go³. You can buy or rent some items at the base or along the way, but they can be expensive or limited in supply.
- Enjoy and respect the mountain. You should appreciate the beauty and significance of Mt. Fuji as a natural and cultural heritage site². You should also follow the rules and etiquette of climbing Mt. Fuji, such as staying on the designated trails, disposing of your trash properly, and being courteous to other climbers.
Descending Mt. Fuji
Meanwhile, my son's altitude sickness was worsening. After reaching the summit of Mt. Fuji, we decided to descend on the Subashiri trail, which is less crowded and more local than the Yoshida trail. We also enjoyed the highest tree line of any trail on Mt. Fuji, which protected us from the sun until about 2,700 m / 8,858 ft2. Away from the crowds of the Yoshida trail, the Subashiri trail was a hidden gem.
The descent was very fun and exciting, especially the sand run section, where we could run down on loose sand or gravel. This was a great way to save time and energy, as well as to have some fun. We were smiling all the way down, as our altitude sickness also improved. However, we also had to be careful not to slip or cause dust or rocks to fly. We wore masks or scarves to protect ourselves from inhaling dust or getting hit by rocks.
We also met some interesting people along the way, such as a family from Romania who slid down the sand run using their butts. They looked like they were having a blast. We chatted with them for a while and learned that they were traveling around Japan for a month. They said that climbing Mt. Fuji was one of their highlights.
The descent took us less than 2 hours, which was much faster than the ascent. We also used poles and shoes with good grip to avoid fatigue or injury.
We finally reached the Subashiri 5th station around 3 p.m., where we took a bus back to Gotemba station. We were exhausted but happy that we had accomplished our goal of climbing Mt. Fuji with our son. It was an unforgettable experience that we will cherish forever.
In this article, we shared our experience of climbing Mt. Fuji with our 9-year-old son on the Subashiri trail. We hope you enjoyed reading our story and learned some useful tips and information for your own Mt. Fuji climbing adventure.
Climbing Mt. Fuji with your kids is not an easy task, but it is definitely worth it. You will be able to witness the stunning views of the sunrise, the crater, and the clouds from the highest point in Japan. You will also be able to bond with your kids and create lasting memories that you will cherish forever.
If you are interested in climbing Mt. Fuji with your kids, we encourage you to do some research and preparation beforehand. Choose the trail that suits your level and preference, pack the necessary gear and supplies, and check the weather and conditions before you go. Most importantly, have fun and stay safe.
We would love to hear from you if you have any questions or comments about our article. Have you ever climbed Mt. Fuji with your kids? What was your experience like? What trail did you take? What challenges or highlights did you encounter? Please share your thoughts with us in the comment section below.
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Thank you for reading and happy climbing!