I am writing this post on behalf of my friend - Shashank Bhatia who was lucky enough to witness the sunrise on Mt Fuji. So here is his story in his own words-
It was Natsuyasumi (summer vacation) in Japan and on one fine day while having a discussion with my close friends, I decided that "someday soon, I am going to climb that mountain, pointing towards the Fuji-San". Who knew then that "someday soon" ;would realize so shortly into an actual trip.
Gearing up, I prepared well for the trek and bought the essentials required- raincoat, headlamps, quality grip gloves, among other things. The D-day was here, I got up at 5 and prepared paranthas to carry along. Started at 6 am all alone, I boarded the train to Fujinomiya station. At Fujinomiya bus stop before boarding the bus to Fujisan station, I met a few Chinese who were going to the summit for religious reasons. I started climbing from the Fujinomiya fifth station (2,400 m). It was full of excitement coupled with a little fear of dark clouds and winds.
At the registration center, officials suggested me that my shoe won't be able to endure till the summit because of heavy rain expected on the way. Without much thought, I decided to follow their offered advice and consequently rented a pair of trekking shoes. At the same spot, one lady approached me and asked whether I needed shock absorber mountaineering stick as well and then and there I nodded in affirmative to let me have her trekking pole in my arsenal.
Hike to Mount Fuji
Now all was set. I looked up at the mountain and God above to bless me and the other fellow trekkers with a safe and adventurous journey towards the summit.
In parallel, multiple thoughts were hovering around my mind as in whether I'm a stupid or a hero to go on a solo trek. With all the thoughts running, I rather kept on walking or so to say precisely, climbing while fighting with the very steep mountain, the crucial but most enjoyable time and the overflowing emotions. I was finally doing it- I was climbing the crazy Mt. Fujisan.
I reached the 7th station named as New Hut in a couple of hours. At the spot, the weather got crazy and it started raining in torrents (shoe advice came in handy here). I decided to stay at the station 7 itself and canceled my booking for station 8. There I met some new faces who offered me Japanese cuisines as I offered them my paranthas. The owner of the restaurant had been to India and in fact stayed there for around 6 months. We spent some really good time talking about India and Indian cuisines.
In the evening, it was a beautiful view on top of clouds and the sky looked all blue! Some point later, I met people from Indonesia and we clicked a few pictures together and shared drinks.
I was informed that it would take around 4 hours to summit from here. So, I decided to kick off around midnight to witness the beautiful and most coveted sunrise amidst Mt Fujisan.
I woke up at around 12:00 am and got all readied with shoes, headlamp, layered clothing and started walking uphill. It was dark (pitch dark) with nothing more conspicuous save darkness. On the way, I met many interesting people and everyone has something or another to offer- some offered me their talks, some candies, and some experiences. By the time I reached the eighth station the temperature had dropped significantly.
Station 9.5, Fujisan
The sky was dark and Fujisan was huge and from such a height 3 beautiful cities with bright lights were visible. The 9.5 station marks the final push to the summit and the steepest and most dangerous section of the mountain. Looking at the steep slopes of Fujisan edge and running along was daunting sometimes but nothing could stop my desire to reach the summit before sunrise. So, I kept on walking, panting and climbing in a non-stop manner.
A couple of minutes later a light started to appear on the horizon and I hurried to catch the best possible spot to watch the sunrise. The clouds got colored, first dark orange and then lighter and lighter, and finally, the passage of time occasioned the fireball emerge from the depths. It couldn't warm us at this high altitude though.
Sunrise at Mount Fujisan
Blanketed by an azure sky, the golden rays of the rising sun, at special times, can gift us with a moment of such unparalleled beauty that we can't get hold of it. We found ourselves momentarily stunned with a frozen gaze. The splendor of the moment so dazzled us that our compulsively chattering minds observed pause to not mentally whisk away from such a breathtaking place. Bathed in luminescence, a door opens to another reality, always present yet rarely witnessed beyond the confines of the mundane and the ordinary.
As sunrise approached, the number of people on the top of Fujisan was ever-increasing. Thousands were trying to catch the first ray of light with their cameras, selfie sticks and mobiles. The moment lasted for around 5 minutes and that was it. Sun was up and morning kicked in.
The Mt Fuji brings to mind a beautiful conical form with its peaked covered in snow. It is really hard to imagine Mt Fuji as an erupting volcano, causing havoc and destroying the surrounding areas. In 1707, however, that is exactly what happened. I took a couple of shots of the crater caused by the last eruption.
Things to do around Fuji
At the top of the Mount Fuji, there's a Japan's highest post office. One can send across the postcard to friends and relatives from here.
Fujisan is considered a sacred mountain by the common people for centuries. For this reason, many temples and shrines are now located close to it and the mountain has become an important pilgrimage to many. At the summit a visit to the Kusushi Shrine is a must for receiving the final stamp to your visit.
There were thousand of people descending and hundreds were still climbing. It was quite busy on the Mt. Fujisan ????
Respectfully, I finished the climb to Mt Fujisan!
Best Time: The mountain peak is open to hikers from July 1 to early September but the best time to climb is from the end of July to late August. This is due to the relatively stable weather conditions
Avoid Weekends: Avoid climbing on Fridays and Saturdays as it gets too crowded and some mountain huts (like mine) also charge higher prices for the weekend
Fee: There is no official fee for climbing the Mountain. The only money you need to spend is on round-trip transportation to and from Mount Fuji, overnight accommodation at one of the mountain huts and the snacks and food items you buy on the way
4 Trails: There are 4 main trails leading you to the top of the summit- Yoshida Trail, Fujinomiya Trail, Gotemba Trail, and Subashiri Trail. You need to reach the 5th Station first since it's the starting point for the ascend.
Medical Centers: They are available especially on the Seventh and Eighth Stations for any medical emergency
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