Can you travel Japan on just $40 a day? We have 1 month in Japan to figure that out. Follow our blog or Facebook page to see how we travel Japan on a tight budget.
Where are we today?
We stayed local today because we wanted to climb Mt. Fuji!
Where to stay in Kawaguchiko?
We crashed for another night at Backpackers Hostel K's House Mt.Fuj. As stated in previous posts, this place is very comfortable and it was a no-brainer for us to extend one more night.
What did we explore today?
We had aspirations for quite some time now to ascend Japan's most famous mountain, and we decided that today was the day we would do it!
Climbing Mount Fuji Off Season
The official hiking season had closed only a few weeks prior, so we figured that the weather wouldn't be too bad.
After all, it was the clearest day we had yet. The base of Mt. Fuji revealed herself to us. It was like she called out and asked for us to ascend her.
What do you need to climb Mt Fuji off season?
- An umbrella
- Warm clothing (not cotton)
Equipped with only a few changes of clothes--the heaviest items in our wardrobe being a thin sweater and lightweight pants--we threw on what we had, and headed out the door. Warm clothes? Nope. Boots? Nope. ...an umbrella?
With a light drizzle just outside, we grabbed two small umbrellas courtesy of K's House! Unbeknownst to us, these umbrellas would become our saviours... Then off we went toward the Kawaguchiko bus station.
We then hopped on the earliest bus to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji, which left a lot later than we would of hoped for.
Departing at 0850, with an arrival to the station at 1000, we didn't have much time to play around with our schedule.
The last returning bus departed at ~1600, which meant we had 6 hours to climb to the summit and jog back down to catch the bus, or else take a very expensive (~200$) taxi ride back down to the city.
We definitely weren't interested in doing that, so right when the bus stopped, we sprinted out the door and began our trek. Squishing and stomping through the mud, we were eager to get on the trail.
Passing through the first shrine and officially entering the trail amidst a dense fog felt symbolic. We were glad to finally climb this mighty beast.
Some time passed as we huffed and puffed and made our way through the trail. Well maintained with several guideposts scattered throughout, this trail was rather easy for us to navigate.
We were making good time and thought we could definitely reach the summit and hurry back down.
We met the only two hikers on the trail that day. They suggested that we didn't attempt it, since the weather was rather poor and the top had snow.
Taking heed to their warning, we understood their point but brushed right on past them. We were in the fog, barely able to see the conditions at the time... but our spirits were aligned with vigor.
Why you shouldn't hike Mt Fuji in the off season
The light drizzle that we experienced the whole time transformed into light snowflakes.
Wearing cotton clothes they stuck to us like magnets. The wind began to kick up and our umbrellas were our shields. We were now fighting a battle of the bitter cold from every direction. This didn't stop us!
As we kept chugging along we had a foot of snow below every step. Our sneakers were soaked, toes frozen to the core.
At this point there was nothing but a winter wonderland. Not being able to see but a meter in front of you, the trail looked a lot like a floating sky. It was magical for how close we were to the edge.
The cold wasn't enough to stop us. Nor was the snow. I mean, it was beautiful after all! What really got to us was the time.
It took us 2-3 hours to reach the 8th station. We were nearly there ready to breach the summit, yet that bus was leaving with or without us.
Spending $200 would way overdo our budget for a taxi, so we had to make the toughest call this whole trip in Japan: to end it here.
But we didn't turn around just then. We kept going just a tad further, until we truly tapped out on our clock. We couldn't spend any more time pushing forward, and had to prepare the descent.
We did just that. With a long debate if whether to go or not, we decided to be smart and not waste cash for the glory of topping Mt Fuji. It's not like we could see anyway, so best come for a real view at another time.
Can you hike Mt Fuji in the off season?
Yes, quite easily. If you're prepared it'll be a breeze for you. If you have sneakers and a tshirt like us, only if you have more time; or cash to spend.
Don't let people push you away otherwise. The trail is literally open the whole time, if you're willing to take a courageous step forward.
How much did we spend?
Food: ¥846 / $7.53
Transport: ¥2200 / $19.60
Lodging: ¥2507 /$22.27
Total: ¥5562 / $49.40
Did we make it under budget today?
Unfortunately, we were still above our budget of $40, so today was a no. We spent a bit more on our bus ticket to get to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji, but it was still relatively cheap given the distance.
At least we didn't waste our money on a taxi, so today was a success in that regard.
Until tomorrow, be sure to subscribe on our Facebook page to keep updated on our travels through Japan!