Ascent of Mt Fuji to the 8th Station

Trip Start Aug 11, 2010
Trip End Sep 02, 2010

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Where I stayed
8th Station Horai-kan mountain hut

Flag of Japan  , JP.,
Monday, August 23, 2010

I wouldn’t
recommend the hostel breakfast but during weekends, you’re obligated to take
one meal.  This breakfast was a fat slice
of white bread, a piece of ham, and a spoonful of canned corn.  After breakfast I packed up and put my stuff
in safekeeping for 200 yen per bag.

My bus left
from Shinjuku Station which I could presumably get to in under an hour but I
didn’t feel up to wandering around so I took a cab.  It was a minor challenge to find a cab.  This trip was around 2000 yen.  The bus ride went through a lot of suburbs first and then the
kind of town that has rice fields in its midst. 
I must have dozed off because suddenly we were in the mountains with lots
of pointy trees.  Fog or smog.

The Fuji
Fifth Station stop had a holiday atmosphere: 
food and other vendors, buildings lining a square.  Priorities: 
I found a bathroom and then started looking for the start of the Yoshida
trail.  After passing some horses and a
very large horse and cart, I found the trail and found someone to take my photo
at the gate.

The first
section to the 6th station passed pretty quickly.  It was a very wide gravel path.  There was a group of boys in clown wigs who
would stop and  sing a song or give a
cheer.  There were mostly young people,
some young families and some oldsters.  I
don’t think I saw any 90-yr-old women.  I
took photos of flowers and people against the fog because it started getting
foggier at this point.  I don’t remember
much about the next section of trail except that it seemed to take a lot longer
to reach the station.  There are several
facilities at stations 7 and 8 and they are spaced quite far apart up the
trail.  Now there were always signs – in English
too – at junctures telling which trail you were on and to make sure you went
back to the right place.  Somewhere
around here my camera battery (and I only brought the Nikon ) died.  I put in my spare – dead.  Oh, well. 
I heated up the battery or waited a bit and got 1 or 2 more photos.  I should also mention, in the flurry of
repacking, I decided to leave other stuff behind, like my US money, not to have
all my valuables in one place.  All
during the bus ride I worried that I had left my Japanese big bills (and credit
cards) behind as well.  Little did I know
how much I would need money.  As I
progressed up the mountain, prices got steeper: 
a 200 yen bottle of water/Gatorade type drink in a 50 ml bottler became
500 yen at the top

This is
getting awfully long and I’m only at the 7th station.  Well, at this point it seemed like forever to
the 8th.  I was taking
miniscule steps.  At points the trail got
jammed with people single file and we waited after each step. 
The trail here was over rocks – sometimes I gave up on my poles and
pulled myself up on the rocks instead. 
The parts that weren’t big rocks were little rocks- the kind
particularly hard on your feet.  My
blisters and things weren’t too bad except for when I stopped and rested and
started again.  I tended to rest more now
but not for long and kept my slow steady pace. 
Finally I reached the 8th station – nearly at the end of my
endurance.  But it was not my mountain
hut of course.  I had lost my letters = I
think I may have mailed them home – but I thought it had a shorter name than
the others.  The next one was said to be
another 10 minutes up the mountain.

Hallelujah!  They had my name:  Diana. 
It was 5 pm and I had started around 1 pm.  I managed to get my dinner right away:  rice with gravy, pickle, potato salad, a
cherry tomato and some hot dog balls with green tea and a breakfast of rice
packets and water.  I was shown my
sleeping quarters.  Now I know how each “hut”
managed to fit 500 people.  It had dimly
lit corridors with top and bottom bunks on each side.  Well, it was more like 4 bunks:  one top and bottom per side.  My space was pointed out and I could put my
daypack and shoes underneath my space.  There
were sleeping bags rolled up next to the wall and little crunchy pillows in
plastic wrappers.  The spaces were long
and narrow – narrower than I thought because after I went to sleep, I was
awakened and asked to move over since I had taken up 2 spaces, not one.  So there would be the equivalent of 2 people
in a twin bed.  It was very cozy and I
felt bare legs touching mine at times during the night because it was hot and
you couldn’t stay inside the sleeping bag or you would roast. 
There was a couple to my right and the woman seemed nice but the man
made loud sighs and belches and at dinner he kept blowing and I could feel his
exhalations directed toward my food.

In the
middle of the night, a lot of people got up and packed up to begin their ascent
for sunrise.  It was a bit noisy.  I didn’t want to hike in the dark so I was
planning on waiting for dawn.  Then the
neighboring couple got up at 4 am and I can’t be sure exactly what they were
doing but it certainly created a lengthy amount of crunching, sighing,
blowing.  I am not sure about
belching.  We were not supposed to eat in
the bunks – I am thinking that they must have been eating with all that
crunching.  I was getting a little crabby
then.  I am arbitrarily ending at this point and calling it the end of the day, but it really was already morning.  Obviously.

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