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A Backpacking Travel Guide To Mt Fuji And Kawaguchiko


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Elnora Latorre



Welcome to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko, a destination that offers both breathtaking natural beauty and rich cultural experiences. As the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776 meters (12,389 feet), Mt Fuji is an iconic symbol of the country and attracts millions of visitors every year. Whether you are an experienced hiker looking for an exhilarating adventure or a nature lover seeking tranquility, this backpacking travel guide will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your trip.


Located in the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park, Mt Fuji offers a range of awe-inspiring trails that cater to different skill levels and preferences. The region is also home to Kawaguchiko, one of the five beautiful lakes surrounding the mountain. With its stunning views of Mt Fuji, charming lakeside villages, and hot springs, Kawaguchiko serves as an excellent base for exploring the area.


When planning your visit to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko, it is essential to consider the best time to go. The climbing season for Mt Fuji typically runs from early July to mid-September when the weather is most favorable. However, if you prefer to avoid the crowds, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring or autumn. During these times, the weather is still pleasant, and you can enjoy the stunning landscapes without the heavy foot traffic.


Before embarking on your backpacking adventure, it is important to familiarize yourself with the necessary permits and regulations. Summiting Mt Fuji requires obtaining a climbing permit, which can be obtained online or at one of the designated stations. Respect for the environment is highly encouraged, as the mountain holds cultural and spiritual significance for the locals.


When it comes to essential gear, make sure to pack appropriate clothing, sturdy hiking boots, a reliable backpack, and other necessary equipment. The weather on the mountain can be unpredictable, with temperatures dropping below freezing at higher altitudes. Always be prepared with layers and proper gear to stay comfortable and safe.


In the following sections, we will delve deeper into the trail options available, camping and accommodation recommendations, important safety tips, must-see attractions in the area, local cuisine and dining options, as well as transportation within and around Kawaguchiko. Whether you are a seasoned backpacker or new to outdoor adventures, this guide will help you create lasting memories of your journey to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko.


Getting to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko

Getting to Mt Fuji and the nearby town of Kawaguchiko is relatively straightforward, with several transportation options available.


If you are flying into Japan, the nearest major international airports are Tokyo Haneda Airport and Narita International Airport. From either airport, you can easily reach Kawaguchiko by taking a combination of train and bus services. Trains from both airports will take you to Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, where you can then transfer to a direct bus to Kawaguchiko. The journey takes approximately 2-3 hours and offers beautiful views of the countryside along the way.


If you are already in Tokyo, there are multiple ways to reach Kawaguchiko. The most convenient option is to take a direct bus from Shinjuku Station. The buses operate frequently throughout the day, and the journey takes around 2 hours, depending on traffic conditions.


Alternatively, you can take a train from Tokyo to Otsuki Station and transfer to the Fujikyu Railway Line, which will take you to Kawaguchiko Station. This option is ideal if you have a Japan Rail Pass, as it covers the train journey from Tokyo to Otsuki.


Once you arrive in Kawaguchiko, you can easily explore the area by foot, bicycle, or local buses. The town is relatively small and pedestrian-friendly, making it convenient to access various hiking trails and attractions.


It’s worth noting that if you plan to climb Mt Fuji, there are several trailheads available, each with its own access points. The most popular starting point is the Fifth Station, which is accessible by bus from Kawaguchiko. However, there are other trailheads on different sides of the mountain, such as the Subashiri and Gotemba trails, which can be reached from other nearby towns.


In summary, whether you are coming from Tokyo or arriving internationally, there are efficient transportation options available to reach Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko. Consider your preferences and travel plans to choose the most convenient route for your backpacking adventure.


Best Time to Visit

When planning your trip to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko, it’s important to consider the best time to visit to make the most of your backpacking experience.


The climbing season for Mt Fuji typically runs from early July to mid-September. During this time, the weather on the mountain is relatively mild, with temperatures ranging from 5°C (41°F) at the summit to around 15°C (59°F) at the base. The skies are typically clear, offering stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. However, it’s important to note that the weather on the mountain can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature and the possibility of strong winds and rain. It’s recommended to check the weather forecast and be prepared for changing conditions.


The summer months of July and August are the peak tourist season for Mt Fuji, with large crowds of climbers making their way up the mountain. If you don’t mind the crowds and enjoy the social aspect of meeting fellow hikers along the trail, this can be a great time to visit. However, be prepared for longer waiting times at the trailheads and crowded mountain huts.


If you prefer to avoid the peak tourist season, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons of spring or autumn. In spring, typically from late April to early June, the weather is mild, and the surrounding landscapes are adorned with vibrant spring blooms. The autumn months of September to November offer cooler temperatures and the opportunity to witness the stunning autumn foliage in the area.


Winter, from December to March, brings colder temperatures and snowfall to the region. While climbing Mt Fuji is not recommended during winter due to the harsh conditions and limited facilities, Kawaguchiko still offers various winter activities such as ice skating, snowshoeing, and hot spring relaxation.


Ultimately, the best time to visit Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko depends on your preferences and what you want to experience. Consider the weather, crowd levels, and the activities you wish to partake in when planning your trip to ensure you have an enjoyable backpacking adventure.


Permits and Regulations

Before embarking on your backpacking journey to Mt Fuji, it’s important to familiarize yourself with the permits and regulations in place to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.


All hikers planning to climb Mt Fuji are required to obtain a climbing permit. These permits can be obtained online in advance or at one of the designated stations on the mountain. It’s recommended to secure your permit in advance, especially during the peak climbing season, as availability may be limited.


When obtaining your climbing permit, you will be asked to provide information such as your name, contact details, and the intended climbing route. It’s essential to provide accurate information as this is for your own safety and to assist rescue operations in case of emergencies.


It’s important to note that climbing Mt Fuji without a permit is strictly prohibited. Violators may face fines or other penalties, so it’s crucial to adhere to the regulations to ensure everyone’s safety and the preservation of the environment.


Respect for the environment is paramount when climbing Mt Fuji. The mountain holds cultural and spiritual significance to the locals, and it’s a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s crucial to follow Leave No Trace principles and pack out all trash. There are designated areas for restroom facilities along the trail, and it’s important to dispose of waste properly in designated bins.


Additionally, there are several safety regulations in place to protect hikers. It’s recommended to check the weather forecast before embarking on your climb and to be prepared for changing conditions. The weather on Mt Fuji can be unpredictable, with sudden changes in temperature and the potential for strong winds and rain. Dress in layers and bring appropriate gear to ensure your safety and comfort.


It’s also important to stay on designated trails and follow the guidance of park officials and signage. Straying off the trails can be dangerous and can cause harm to the fragile ecosystem. Stick to marked paths and avoid compromising the natural beauty of the mountain.


By obtaining the necessary permits, respecting the regulations, and being conscious of the environment, you can have a safe and unforgettable backpacking experience on Mt Fuji.


Essential Gear for Backpacking

When preparing for your backpacking adventure on Mt Fuji, it’s important to have the right gear to ensure your safety, comfort, and enjoyment along the trail. Here are some essential items to consider packing:

  1. Hiking Boots: Invest in a good pair of sturdy and waterproof hiking boots. They provide ankle support and traction, essential for navigating the varied terrain on Mt Fuji.
  2. Backpack: Choose a backpack that fits well and has enough capacity to carry your essentials. Look for one with a padded hip belt and shoulder straps for added comfort during your hike.
  3. Clothing: Dress in layers to accommodate changing temperatures on the mountain. Pack moisture-wicking and breathable clothing, including base layers, insulating mid-layers, and a waterproof and windproof outer layer. Don’t forget a hat, gloves, and a warm jacket for chilly nights.
  4. Sleeping Bag: If you plan to spend the night on the mountain, bring a lightweight and compact sleeping bag rated for cold temperatures to ensure a comfortable night’s rest.
  5. Headlamp: A headlamp with extra batteries is essential for navigating in the dark during early morning or late-night hikes. Make sure to test it before your trip to ensure it’s in working condition.
  6. Trekking Poles: Trekking poles provide stability and support, especially during steep and rocky sections of the trail. They can reduce strain on your knees and help maintain balance.
  7. Water and Food: Carry an adequate supply of water to stay hydrated throughout your hike. Portable water filters or purification tablets are useful for refilling at water sources. Pack high-energy snacks and lightweight meals that are easy to prepare and provide the necessary fuel for your adventure.
  8. Navigational Tools: Bring a map, compass, or GPS device to navigate the trails. Familiarize yourself with the route beforehand and keep track of your progress to avoid getting lost.
  9. First Aid Kit: Pack a well-stocked first aid kit with essentials such as band-aids, antiseptic ointment, pain relievers, blister treatment, and any necessary personal medications.
  10. Sun Protection: Protect yourself from the sun’s rays by wearing a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen. The high altitude can intensify the effects of UV radiation.

Remember to pack only what you need to minimize the weight of your backpack. Every ounce counts when ascending Mt Fuji. Test your gear before your trip to ensure everything is functional and comfortable. Being well-prepared with the right gear will enhance your backpacking experience on Mt Fuji and contribute to a safe and enjoyable adventure.


Trail Options

Mt Fuji offers several trail options for backpackers, each with its own characteristics and challenges. Here are some popular trails to consider when planning your hike:

  1. Yoshida Trail (Fifth Station): The Yoshida Trail is the most popular and well-maintained route, starting from the Fifth Station. It offers a gradual ascent and provides stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. This trail is recommended for beginners and those looking for a well-marked and accessible path.
  2. Subashiri Trail: The Subashiri Trail is a slightly less crowded alternative, starting from the Subashiri Fifth Station. It offers a diverse terrain with sections of forest, volcanic rocks, and open slopes. This trail is recommended for experienced hikers looking for a more challenging and less crowded experience.
  3. GOTEMBA TRAIL: The Gotemba Trail is the longest and steepest route, starting from the Gotemba Fifth Station. This trail is less crowded and offers a more challenging and rugged ascent. It is recommended for experienced hikers who are seeking a more adventurous and less crowded route.
  4. YOSHIDA TRAIL (from the bottom): For those looking for a longer and more physically demanding experience, starting the hike from the Yoshida Trail at the base of the mountain is an option. This allows you to immerse yourself fully in the natural surroundings and have a more rewarding sense of achievement when reaching the summit.
  5. Fujinomiya Trail: The Fujinomiya Trail starts at the Fujinomiya Fifth Station and offers a direct and challenging route to the summit. This trail is known for its steep and rocky sections, which require careful footing. It is recommended for experienced hikers who are looking for a more demanding and adventurous climb.

It’s important to research and choose a trail that suits your skill level and preferences. Consider factors such as distance, elevation gain, and the level of difficulty when making your decision. Additionally, it’s recommended to check with park officials for any trail closures or maintenance work to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike.


Whichever trail you choose, remember to pace yourself, take breaks when needed, and enjoy the stunning views and unique landscapes that Mt Fuji has to offer. Stay hydrated, follow the marked path, and be respectful of other hikers and the environment.


Note: Due to weather conditions or other circumstances, trail availability and conditions may vary. It’s important to stay informed and flexible in your plans to ensure a safe and successful backpacking experience on Mount Fuji.


Camping and Accommodation

When backpacking Mt Fuji, you have the option of camping or staying in accommodations along the mountain. Here’s what you need to know about camping and accommodation options:


Camping: Camping is a popular choice for backpackers who want to immerse themselves in the natural surroundings and experience a more rustic adventure. There are designated camping areas available at different levels on the mountain, typically located near mountain huts or rest stations. These campsites provide basic facilities such as toilets, water sources, and sometimes even small cooking areas. It’s important to note that camping is only allowed in designated sites, and a camping fee may be required.


Due to the popularity of Mt Fuji, the campsites can fill up quickly, especially during the peak climbing season. It’s advisable to arrive early, or consider camping at a less crowded or alternative campsite along the trail. Remember to bring all necessary camping equipment, including a tent, sleeping bag, and cooking supplies. Leave No Trace principles should be followed, ensuring that you clean up after yourself and leave the campsite as you found it.


Accommodation: If camping isn’t your preferred option, there are various accommodation choices available on Mt Fuji. The mountain has a network of mountain huts or lodges (known as “huts”) that provide shelter, food, and facilities for climbers. These huts offer a range of amenities, from simple dormitory-style accommodations to more comfortable private rooms. It’s important to note that the huts can be quite busy during the climbing season, so it’s advisable to make reservations in advance.


Staying at a mountain hut gives you the advantage of being closer to the summit and allows for an early start to catch the sunrise from the top. However, do keep in mind that the facilities are basic, and you may need to share communal spaces with other climbers.


In addition to the options on the mountain, the town of Kawaguchiko offers a range of accommodation choices, from budget hostels to traditional ryokans (Japanese inns) with hot spring baths. Staying in Kawaguchiko allows you to explore the surrounding area and soak in its beauty at a more leisurely pace.


Whether you choose to camp or stay in accommodation, it’s important to plan and make reservations in advance, especially during the peak climbing season. This ensures a comfortable and stress-free experience during your backpacking adventure on Mt Fuji.


Safety Tips

When embarking on a backpacking adventure on Mt Fuji, safety should always be a top priority. Here are some important safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Prepare and Research: Familiarize yourself with the trail you plan to take, including the distance, elevation gain, and any potential hazards. Check the weather forecast and be aware of any advisories or warnings.
  2. Physical Fitness: Ensure you are in good physical condition before attempting to climb Mt Fuji. The hike can be demanding, especially at higher altitudes. Engage in regular physical activity and endurance training to prepare your body for the climb.
  3. Hydration and Nutrition: Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water throughout your hike. Carry enough water and high-energy snacks to sustain your energy levels. Remember to eat regularly to replenish your body’s nutrients and maintain stamina.
  4. Pace Yourself: Take breaks when needed to rest and recover. Avoid pushing yourself beyond your limits. It’s not a race—conserve your energy for the long hike ahead.
  5. Weather Awareness: Be prepared for changing weather conditions on Mt Fuji. Pack appropriate clothing layers to deal with potential temperature drops and sudden weather changes. Ensure you have rain gear and protection against strong winds.
  6. Night Hiking: If you plan to hike during the night to catch the sunrise from the summit, ensure you have a reliable headlamp and extra batteries. Take extra caution when hiking in the dark and be mindful of your surroundings.
  7. Stay on the Trail: Stick to the marked trails and avoid venturing off the designated paths. Straying off the trail can lead to dangerous situations and harm the fragile ecosystems of the mountain.
  8. Altitude Sickness: Be aware of the symptoms of altitude sickness, including headache, dizziness, nausea, and fatigue. If you experience any severe symptoms, descend to a lower elevation and seek medical help if necessary.
  9. Emergency Contacts: Save emergency phone numbers and keep them handy. Be aware of the locations of emergency stations or rest huts along the trail in case you need assistance.
  10. Communicate: Inform someone about your hiking plans, including your expected route and estimated return time. It’s important to have someone aware of your whereabouts in case of any emergencies.

Remember, safety should always take precedence over reaching the summit. If at any point during your climb you feel uncomfortable or encounter dangerous conditions, it’s important to prioritize your well-being and make the necessary decisions to ensure your safety. Always listen to park officials, follow their instructions, and be observant of your surroundings.


By following these safety tips and using common sense, you can have a safe and enjoyable backpacking experience on Mt Fuji.


Must-See Attractions

While the main highlight of backpacking Mt Fuji is undoubtedly reaching the summit, there are several other must-see attractions in the area that offer unique experiences and breathtaking views. Here are some attractions you shouldn’t miss during your visit to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko:

  1. Chureito Pagoda: Located in the town of Fujiyoshida, the Chureito Pagoda is a stunning viewpoint that offers a panoramic view of Mt Fuji. The pagoda is particularly popular during cherry blossom season, when the surrounding area is adorned with beautiful pink blooms.
  2. Five Lakes of Mt Fuji: Kawaguchiko, Sai-ko, Shoji-ko, Motosu-ko, and Yamanaka-ko are the five picturesque lakes that surround Mt Fuji. Each lake offers its own unique charm and stunning views of the mountain. Rent a bicycle or take a leisurely stroll along the lakeside paths to fully immerse yourself in the beauty of the area.
  3. Oishi Park: Located on the northern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko, Oishi Park offers a picturesque setting with vibrant seasonal flowers and stunning views of Mt Fuji. It’s a great spot for a picnic, enjoying the stunning landscapes, and capturing memorable photographs.
  4. Kachi Kachi Ropeway: Take a scenic ride on the Kachi Kachi Ropeway to reach the observation deck on Mt Tenjo. From there, you can enjoy panoramic views of Lake Kawaguchiko, Mt Fuji, and the surrounding mountains. This is a popular spot, especially during autumn when the foliage displays vibrant colors.
  5. Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station: Even if you’re not planning to hike to the summit, a visit to the Fifth Station is a memorable experience. It offers various facilities, including souvenir shops, restaurants, and stunning viewpoints. The Fifth Station is accessible by bus and serves as a starting point for many hiking trails.
  6. Shiraito Falls: Located just a short distance from the Fuji Five Lakes area, Shiraito Falls is a beautiful waterfall that cascades over a wide area. The clear water and lush greenery make it a refreshing stop to admire nature’s beauty.

These are just a few of the many attractions in the Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko region. Be sure to set aside some time to explore the area and soak in the stunning landscapes that surround the iconic mountain.


Whether it’s capturing the perfect view of Mt Fuji, immersing yourself in the beauty of the five lakes, or experiencing the tranquility of the waterfalls, these attractions will add an extra touch of magic to your backpacking journey.


Local Cuisine and Dining Options

Exploring the local cuisine is an essential part of any travel experience, and the Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko area offers a range of delightful dishes to satisfy your taste buds. Here are some local specialties and dining options worth trying:


Houtou: Houtou is a hearty dish that originated in the Yamanashi Prefecture. It is a thick udon noodle soup simmered with vegetables and meat, such as pumpkin, mushrooms, and pork. The rich and satisfying flavors make it the perfect comfort food after a long day of hiking.


Koshu Beef: Yamanashi Prefecture is known for its high-quality Koshu beef, which is similar to the famous Kobe beef. This tender and flavorful beef is best enjoyed in a traditional yakiniku (grilled meat) restaurant, where you can grill it to perfection and savor the melt-in-your-mouth experience.


Hoto: Another local specialty, hoto, is a thick and flat noodle stew made with miso-based broth, vegetables, and chunks of meat. This hearty dish is perfect for warming up on a cool day and can be found in many local restaurants in the area.


Saury Fish: The Saury fish, or sanma, is a popular seasonal fish in the area. Grilled and seasoned with salt, it provides a delicious and savory dining experience. Look for local seafood restaurants that specialize in fresh catch from nearby lakes and rivers.


Fujinomiya Yakisoba: Fujinomiya yakisoba is a local variation of the popular Japanese stir-fried noodles. It is known for its unique combination of thick udon noodles, cabbage, bean sprouts, and a savory sauce. Enjoy this flavorful dish at local street food stalls or casual dining restaurants.


Fuji-mochi: Fuji-mochi is a delightful sweet treat inspired by the shape of Mt Fuji. It is a chewy rice cake filled with sweet red bean paste. You can find these delicious treats at local confectioneries and souvenir shops.


When dining in the area, be sure to explore the local izakayas (traditional Japanese pubs), where you can sample a variety of small dishes paired with sake or local beer. Additionally, many restaurants and cafés in the Kawaguchiko area offer stunning views of Mt Fuji, providing a picturesque dining experience.


Lastly, don’t forget to try the local fruits, such as grapes and peaches, which are known for their exceptional quality and taste due to the region’s fertile soil and ideal climate.


Whether you’re indulging in traditional comfort food, savoring the flavors of local delicacies, or enjoying the view from a lakeside restaurant, the diverse culinary scene in Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko promises to satisfy your appetite and add a delicious touch to your backpacking adventure.


Transportation in and around Kawaguchiko

Getting around Kawaguchiko and exploring the surrounding areas is made easy with a variety of transportation options. Here are the main modes of transportation to consider:


Local Buses: Kawaguchiko has a well-connected bus network that allows you to easily navigate the town and reach nearby attractions. The Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Loop Bus is a convenient option for exploring the area, as it stops at major tourist spots, including the train station, Oishi Park, and the lakeside areas. The buses operate at regular intervals, and you can purchase a day pass for unlimited rides.


Bicycle Rental: Another popular and scenic way to get around Kawaguchiko is by renting a bicycle. Many rental shops offer a variety of bicycles, including electric bikes, which can help you navigate the hilly terrain with ease. Cycling allows for a more leisurely exploration of the lakeside and surrounding areas, offering flexibility and the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking views at your own pace.


Taxi: Taxis are available throughout Kawaguchiko and can be a convenient option, especially if you’re traveling with a group or have heavy luggage. Taxis can take you directly to your desired destination, and taxi stands can be found at major points of interest, including the train station and popular hotels.


Rental Car: Renting a car gives you maximum flexibility to explore the Kawaguchiko area and its surrounding attractions at your own pace. This option is especially convenient if you plan to visit locations that are farther away from the town center or if you prefer not to rely on public transportation schedules.


Shuttle Buses: During peak tourist seasons, shuttle buses operated by specific hotels, resorts, or attractions may be available to transport visitors to and from designated locations. These shuttle buses offer a convenient way to reach popular destinations and may be included as part of your accommodation package.


It’s worth noting that while public transportation is sufficient for getting around Kawaguchiko and nearby attractions, it may be limited in more remote areas. If you plan on venturing beyond the immediate vicinity of Kawaguchiko, it’s advisable to check the availability of public transportation options and plan accordingly.


Whichever mode of transportation you choose, make sure to check the schedules and plan your itinerary accordingly. Consider the time needed to reach your desired destinations, allowing for possible traffic congestion or crowds during peak tourist seasons. With the various transportation options available, you can easily navigate Kawaguchiko and make the most of your visit to this beautiful region.



A backpacking adventure to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko is a truly unforgettable experience. From the majestic beauty of Japan’s highest peak to the serene charm of the surrounding lakes and countryside, this destination offers a perfect blend of natural wonders and cultural treasures.


By following this comprehensive backpacking travel guide, you can plan your trip with confidence and make the most of your time in this breathtaking region. Remember to consider the best time to visit, obtain the necessary permits, and pack the essential gear for a safe and comfortable hike.


Explore the various trail options available, whether you choose the popular Yoshida Trail or opt for a more challenging route. Take in the stunning views along the way as you make your way to the summit, where you can witness an awe-inspiring sunrise or sunset over the Japanese landscape below.


Consider camping or staying in accommodations along the mountain, each offering its own unique experience and chance to connect with nature. And don’t forget to try the local cuisine, savoring the flavors of traditional dishes and indulging in local specialties that showcase the region’s culinary delights.


Take time to visit the must-see attractions in the area, such as the Chureito Pagoda, the Five Lakes of Mt Fuji, and the Shiraito Falls, each offering their own distinct charm and beauty.


Whether you choose to explore Kawaguchiko by local buses, bicycles, or other means of transportation, be sure to allow yourself enough time to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility and magnificence of this region.


In conclusion, embarking on a backpacking adventure to Mt Fuji and Kawaguchiko is an opportunity to connect with nature, challenge yourself, and create memories that will last a lifetime. With careful planning, proper preparation, and a spirit of adventure, you can experience the awe-inspiring beauty of Mt Fuji and the captivating surroundings of Kawaguchiko. So lace up your hiking boots, pack your backpack, and get ready for an incredible journey to one of Japan’s most iconic destinations.