2016 Japan summer trip (day 5)

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July 27
12:48 am – On the way to the 8th station
Remember the person that arrived after me at the old 7th station? Well, I met him, we even hiked together for a bit.

I noticed he was talking to one of the hut owners and it was then that I decided to ask if they still had a vacancy. He sort of translated what the hut owner was saying in English but somehow in the end, it turned out that the hut owner can speak a little bit of English as well.

Formal introductions and a bit of chatting followed. I can’t exactly remember how we ended up going together. It probably started when we agreed to wake each other at around 12 midnight in case our alarms failed us. Since I wasn’t able to get any sleep, I was the one who did the waking.

There was a bit of hesitation going around as it was a bit raining and windy at that time. Before we left, we asked the hut owners if it was ok to continue to the top. They said the weather was better on higher altitudes. Apparently, the huts update each other with regards to changes in weather.

Before we went, I warned him about my very slow pace. He seemed to be ok with it even though, as I learned a bit later, he’s an experienced hiker.

Lastly, no, the experiment did not work. I still had the throbbing pain at the back of my head. All I could do was to stay with the same slow pace and not to make sudden movements with the head.

2:08 am – At the 8th station
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I was so out of it I didn’t notice the blaring light when I took the photo.

2:14 am – On the way to the 9th station
I have no idea why I took less than 10 minutes of rest.

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Can’t remember if this was a torii gate.  I know I’ve read somewhere about this, that people shouldn’t be putting more coins as it is slowly ruining the structure. We did though. We both grabbed 10-Yen coins and looked for a crack where we could stick the coins in.

While we were talking, I learned that Satoshi-san (that’s his name by the way) had an 11:00 am bus waiting for him at the 5th station. I did some quick estimates based on my pace and told him he won’t make it back in time if he keeps up with my pace.

He was really hesitant to leave me behind. He knew about my head pains and was worried something bad might happen to me. There was even a point during the hike that he suggested I go down to a lower height if the pain gets worse.

He was right, and I agreed, going down was the only cure for altitude sickness. But I was having none of it. I was determined to get to the top but I was also not going to be the cause of his delay. I finally convinced him to go ahead of me when I promised I’d meet him somewhere along the trail – probably on his way down.

3:33 am – At the 9th station
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While I was resting at the 9th station, Satoshi-san went ahead of me.

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3:59 am – On the way to the 9.5th station
The weather did ease up a bit during this segment. The rocks were getting bigger too. There were areas where I had to grab on to something to pull myself up.

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There was a large patch of snow towards the right side of the trail.

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And there it is, sunrise.

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It felt a lot longer than 200 meters.

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The clouds behind me.

4:52 am – At the 9.5th station
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Light rain welcomed me.

5:15 am – On the way to the summit
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30 minutes my ass.

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Before I forget, there are toilet facilities on each station but a visit will cost you 200 JPY. Here’s what the facilities on the 9.5th station looked like. You’ll need to insert two 100 JPY coins before the door can be opened.

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The sun and light rain.

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A few people on their way down.

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Longest 200 meters of my life.

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Some rock formations near the summit.

I ran into Satoshi-san while he was on his way down. Apparently he was still a bit worried as he had shared my situation to some of the people he met at the top. To finally put his mind at ease, I promised to send an email once I got back to Higashi-Shizuoka.

6:37 am – At Mt. Fuji’s summit
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Sooo white.

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You’ll be greeted by this torii gate. And no, I do not know who that guy/girl is.

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A map of the crater and a little history of Mt. Fuji.

I didn’t go around the crater as a lap normally takes around 90 minutes. If I were to do a lap with my current pace, I won’t make it back to the 5th station by 2:30 pm.

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This is the hut at the summit. I ate breakfast somewhere nearby and explored the place a bit.

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The shrine (Fujisan Hongu Sengentaisha-Okumiya) where I had my walking stick branded.

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This is the crater. It’s lowest point is the same height as that of the 8th station.

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That’s probably the weather station. Kengamine (the highest peak) is also up there.

7:15 am – On the way to Kengamine
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It was a steep and grainy climb.

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I only saw white when I looked on the left side of the railing.

7:46 am – At Kengamine
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And here it is, 3776 meters.

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I saw the bottom of the crater from up there.

7:56 am – Left Kengamine

8:15 am – Back at the summit

8:30 am – On the way to the 9.5th station
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On the way down, I came across around 11 groups of people going up. 6 of those groups were children, probably kids from high school. This was one of them.

9:19 am – At the 9.5th station
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It was raining lightly at this point.

9:29 am – On the way to the 9th station
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The rain’s intensity increased on the way down.

9:52 am – At the 9th station
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Hey there! I had no idea who that was either.

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Visibility was getting worse.

10:02 am – On the way to the 8th station
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This was the last image I took. I didn’t take any more pictures because the phone was getting wet. I just went down as fast as I could to get out of the rain.

10:34 am – At the 8th station

10:44 am – On the way to the old 7th station
I was strict with the rest times.

11:30 am – At the old 7th station

11:46 am – On the way to the new 7th station
I lost track of time for a bit.

12:29 pm – At the new 7th station

12:39 pm – On the way to the 6th station

1:38 pm – At the 6th station

1:48 pm – On the way to the 5th station

2:08 pm – At the 5th station
I had a few minutes left before the 2:30 bus so I went straight to the bathroom to change into some dry(-ish) clothes. A bit of water seeped into the bag and got some parts of my remaining clothes wet. Even my shoes were soaking wet at that point as the plastic shoe cover I bought the previous day was already torn.

Oh and for reference, here’s the map with average uphill and downhill hike durations for the Fujinomiya trail. I think mine was double the average.
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Source: fujisan-climb.jp/en

Looking back, I probably would have seen the sunrise had I not tried to sleep in one of the huts. Even with my slow pace, I still would have spent probably one or two hours waiting at the top. I’d probably be fine with the cold too, seeing as though I already had an idea what -2 degrees Celsius felt like. Had I not gotten that throbbing pain at the back of the head, I would probably have gone straight and just braved whatever cold was waiting at the top.

It was still fun though. Very tiring, but fun. I hadn’t pushed myself like this in quite some time. I don’t mind being a fool, as I may do it again within the next two years.

2:30 pm – Bus to Fujinomiya station
Made it just in time. A few minutes after I sat down, the bus left.

3:45 pm – At Fujinomiya station
I still hadn’t totally recovered from the altitude sickness. There were still cracking sounds when I swallowed.

4:22 pm – Train to Higashi-Shizuoka station

5:31 pm – At Higashi-Shizuoka station

6:25 pm – At Yunokinosato
Before the trip, I looked up public baths near the station so that I could at least clean myself up before the bus ride going back to Kyoto.

The closest one I found was Yunokinosato. It was just a short walk from Higashi-Shizuoka station. It was one of the bigger bath houses as the building had two floors and there were multiple baths within the building. I on the other hand just took a shower and changed. There was also a restaurant on the first floor.

It wasn’t my first time in a public bath so I already knew what to expect and do. I was already getting used to the idea of parading my naked ass in front of other naked asses.

After the bath, I bought food from a nearby convenience store and ate at the benches near the station. I was too tired to look for restaurants. The second I saw the empty benches I just wanted to sit down and rest.

Oh, and I did send an email to Satoshi-san that night.

11:22 pm – Bus to Kyoto station
It did not matter if I wasn’t comfortable with the seat, less than five minutes after sitting down I was out.

To make up for all the text towards the end, I leave you with a panorama of Mt. Fuji’s crater.
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