Mount Fuji Pilgrimage

Mount Fuji (Fuji-san) is the highest mountain in Japan, rising to 12,388 feet, the beautiful cone-shaped mountain located west of Tokyo surrounded by lakes in a national park.

Mt. Fuji is named for the Buddhist fire goddess Fuchi and is sacred to the Shinto goddess Sengen-Sama, whose shrine is found at the summit. It is the holiest of Japan's "Three Holy Mountains." Every summer, thousands of pilgrims and tourists climb to the summit, many of them hiking throughout the night to witness the sunrise from the summit.


Mount Fuji is a volcano, which last erupted in 1707 and is now dormant. According to Buddhist tradition, Fuji rose from the earth in 286 BC after an earthquake that also created Lake Biwa (the largest lake in Japan). Fuji-san has been regarded as sacred mountain since time immemorial and was originally a sacred mountain for the Ainu, the aboriginal inhabitants of Japan.

For Shintoists, Mt. Fuji is sacred to the goddess Sengen-Sama and an embodiment of the very spirit of nature. The Fujiko sect goes even father, believing the mountain itself is a sacred being with a soul. Although especially important to Shintoists, Fuji is also sacred to Japanese Buddhists, who revere the mountain is a gateway to another world.

What To See

Mt. Fuji is located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and is surrounded by five lakes: Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Yamanakako, Lake Saiko, Lake Motosuko and Lake Shojiko. Fuji-san is   12,388 feet high; 78 miles in circumference and 25-30 miles in diameter around the base, with a crater 1600 feet in diameter. It is beloved for its symmetrical beauty as well as its holiness. 

The mountain is home to many Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples and torii gates. The official climbing season is only two months long (July and August), during which time most of the snow has melted. 

The Pilgrimage

The climb is steep and takes about 8 hours.

There are ten stations along the way up, the first at the foot of the mountain and the 10th at the summit. These include huts for resting as well as other basic amenities. Paths are paved up to the 5th station (at 1400-2400 m), which is the most common place from where to begin the ascent to the summit. There are four 5th stations, located on different sides of the mountain, among which the most popular is Kawaguchiko on the Tokyo side.

There are four ascents to the summit of Mount Fuji. Most climbs start at the Gogome, or the 5th Station, between 1,400m and 2,400m (4,593-7,874 ft.) above sea level. From Tokyo, the Kawaguchiko-Yoshidaguchi Trail is the most popular and most easily accessible. 

Pilgrims are discouraged from climbing outside the season, because of the weather and the lack of  emergency services. You are recommended to make the journey on a weekday during the first 2 weeks of July.

Anyone can do the climb but you are advised to wear good footwear, a rainproof, a sun hat, water, something for the cold at night (even in the summer temperatures descend to single figures centigrade), and a torch/flashlight.

Many people like to climb in the early afternoon, spend the night near the summit, and get up early in the morning to climb the rest of the way, and then watch the sun rise from the summit. Here there is also a 1-hour circuit around the crater. Then descend to reach the 5th Station before noon.

There are about 16 mountain huts along the Kawaguchiko Trail above the 5th Station, providing  futons and toilets and food. Huts are open only in July and August – reserve early.

Getting There


From Shinjuku take the train to Gotemba, the closest city to Mt. Fuji. Then take a bus to one of Mt. Fuji`s trail heads.  


To reach the Kawaguchiko 5th Station, take the bus from Shinjuku Station. In July and August there are six buses daily that travel directly from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Trail's 5th Station. (2 1/2 hours). 
There are also buses that go to Kawaguchiko Station (1 hour 45 minutes); from Kawaguchiko Station there are buses to the 5th Station (45 minutes). Buses may require reservations.

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