First there is a mountain then there is no mountain, then there is
February 24, 2008 8:52 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to japan from march 9 until april 6, and I want to climb Mt Fuji, from the bottom to the top. How much snow should I expect? How cold is it going to be? Do I need to bring boots and 3 layers of technical outdoor clothing or a warm jacket and sneakers? My lonely planet says its doable, but thats pretty much it.

If you feel like throwing in some other "Can't Miss in Japan" places to visit, feel free.
posted by youthenrage to Travel & Transportation around Japan (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The climbing season for Mt. Fuji is July-August. To climb while you're there you'll need a special climbing permit. Wikitravel also says:

"Climbing outside the official season is not only technically illegal without police permission but extremely dangerous without alpine climbing experience and equipment. Nearly all facilities are closed in the off season. The weather, unpredictable any time of year, is downright vicious in the winter and there are cases of people being literally blown off the mountain by high winds."
posted by Arbac at 8:57 PM on February 24, 2008

flew over her last week and my there seemed to be LOTS of snow.
any reason you want to climb Fujisan in that season?
posted by dougiedd at 9:28 PM on February 24, 2008

I climbed Fujisan during the open season, which runs between July and August. It's was not that difficult. The problem is you intend to do it in the off season which mean that there won't be anyone on the mountain to help you.
Unless you're an experienced mountain climber i would advise against it. It's going to be extremely cold at the top, lots of snow, and no support whatsoever. When i did it in July the temperature at sea level was something around 35-40°C and at the top of the mountain 0-5°C. In april it definitely is going to be well under -10°.
The other thing is, if you're planning on doing it from the bottom it's going to take some time, which means you're probably going to spend the night on the mountain.
The main concern is that no one is going to look for you if something happens, off-season climbing means you're on your own.
posted by SageLeVoid at 9:33 PM on February 24, 2008

I wouldn't advise climbing Fuji at this time of year unless you're an experienced alpine climber. In the climbing season of July/August temperature's are around freezing, it'll be way below that. I can see it from my window and there's still a ton of snow up there right now.

If you want to do some hiking and look at Fuji, go to Hakone. it's accessible from Tokyo (there's a train from Shinjuku) and you can do the little circuit in cable car and pirate boat.

Nikko's also nice if you have a desire to go hiking in the cold and snow.
posted by Jhoosier at 10:00 PM on February 24, 2008

Re: cool places in Japan. I haven't been there, but coincidentally just tonight found these pictures of a temple with thousands of carved stone rakan figures -- scroll down almost halfway down the page, to the green moss-covered carvings. It's Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple, in Arashiyama, Kyoto. If I ever get to Japan I am so going there.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:23 PM on February 24, 2008 [1 favorite]

or a warm jacket and sneakers?

Dude, that's not enough in August. And climbing from "the bottom" adds about 10x the effort, and time, required, since the popular trailheads are only 2~3 miles from the summit (as the crow flies, the triails themselves wind about quite a lot).

But March through April is an excellent time to be in Japan. The weather will change quickly from Winter to Spring. The daytime chill will leave. The cherry trees will bloom.

"Cant miss places" really depend on what you want to see. If I had to order a list of places to go to, it'd be: Kyoto, Akihabara (Tokyo), Shibuya (Tokyo), the Izu Peninsula, Yakushima (Island).

Japan's an odd bird. The 20th century was not terribly kind to it, landscape-wise, but the surviving old stuff is fun to find, and there's certainly plenty of space & time once you get outside the conurbanations.
posted by panamax at 11:06 PM on February 24, 2008

You need permission from the police AND you need to be a seasoned winter mountaineering expert in order to get that permission. If you do not have the latter, there's no way you'll get the former, and even if you have the latter, you'll need crazy connections (which I assume you don't have if you're asking about this on AskMe) to make the former happen.

If you're serious about winter mountaineering in Japan, I suggest you contact Kevin at as he is a seasoned winter mountaineer and might give you advice.
posted by gen at 3:00 AM on February 25, 2008

People are definitely right on the Fuji issue, so if you want some alternatives... there is an active hiking and mountain-climbing club where I live just outside of Tokyo, and they take trips almost every weekend. If you wanted to pop onto the mailing list you'd certainly be welcome on a trip. Also, I know a few individuals here who are looking forward to hiking in the coming months (we're clinging to the end of the ski season) and may be interested in a bigger party.

Besides that, my must-see places would be Kobe (Kansai area) and Kawagoe (Saitama, north of Tokyo, lots of old buildings and lots of candy. cute). I may be a heretic but one day in Kyoto was enough for me. My must-see in Tokyo is Nippori (one of the few areas not destroyed in WWII, so all old markets and narrow streets and tiny shops).
posted by whatzit at 4:18 AM on February 25, 2008

(on revisiting the club's webpage, i notice lameness on updating the schedule. nonetheless, there has been an outing almost every weekend even through the winter).
posted by whatzit at 4:23 AM on February 25, 2008

LobsterMitten: I cannot highly enough recommend visiting Otagi Nenbutsu-Ji. Absolutely my single favorite place I visited when I lived in Japan.
posted by DoctorFedora at 8:04 AM on February 25, 2008 [1 favorite]

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