This is the view from our hotel room. It is the only shot I have of the peak.
After traveling 2 hrs from Shinjuku Eki (Tokyo) to Fujiyoshida City by highway bus, we arrive at the base of Mt. Fuji. Of course there are many ways to climb the mountain, but there is only one way to truly maximize the wonders that Mt. Fuji has to offer. So we will start at the very bottom taking our (my) time and all our (my) determination. This way is very unpopular. In fact we saw only 6 people the entire 8 hrs it took to climb to the 5th station, where everyone else starts the climb.
Here in the heart of Fujiyoshida City we started our Mt. Fuji hike the very next morning. It took an hour to walk from our hotel next to the Fujiyoshida Eki to the Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Jinja (Jinga being the word for Shrine). This Shrine is at the start of the ancient trails that monks used to climb Mt Fuji centuries ago. This is the way the Gods wanted Mt Fuji to be climbed.
After passing through the Otori, both sides of the entrance are lined with many mossy stone lanterns. In 110 the emperor Keiko ordered Yamato Takeru no Mikoto to unify the country. When his party came to the foot of Mt Fuji he erected a shire at Otsuka Hill and this started the worship of the Sengen god of Mt. Fuji. In 788 the shrine was moved to its present location.
All smiles now as we start our hike. The large wooden Torii in background is 60ft high. It has been rebuilt every 60 years since. "Sangoku Daiichizan " is written on the board of this torii meaning the highest mountain among the three countries. The three countries being Japan, China and India, which represented the entire world at that time. On the right is the main Haiden Shrine. 850 meters above sea level. (2,788ft)
Here we purchased our walking sticks and had the first stamp pounded in. After looking around for about 30 min we begin our hike up the mountain. After leaving the temple it was a 4.5 KM (2.8 mile) walk on this highway to Nakanochaya an ancient rest stop (time:1 hr) All the chicks stopped and wanted to give me a lift until they saw the rest of the party.
Here at Nakanochaya, CLOSED!! 1100m (3,600ft) Now its only 8KM (5 miles) to the next Satoh Mountain Hut
You are Here O
This is Umagaeshi. 1450m (4,758ft) Years ago Umagaeshi marked the entrance to the holy area of Mt. Fuji and thus it was here that proceeding by horses was prohibited. The next section of the Yoshidaguchi Climbing trail is called Kiyama Sanri. This area is filled with shrines, Buddhist stones images and historic relics.
From here on we hiked into the sacred forests. A long the way we find the remains of many of the lower stations. 1520m (4,986ft)
The trail becomes steeper and steeper as we ascend. 1840m (6,036ft)
The entire hike through the forest was spectacular. After about 8 hrs I made it to the 5th station. 2,305m (7,562.24ft) By this time it's also getting a lot cooler and I start walking among the clouds.
The 5th station is the border between heaven and earth. At this altitude I can see downward and between the clouds I can see the summit. (time: 6 hrs)
Looking down, and looking up to the summit. I can see the top so close but yet 18 hrs away.
A quick picture, probably the only two or three times we were ever together the whole hike. But onward we go higher and stronger. I had to tell myself.
Part 3 - Mt. Fuji