Everything you need to know about the Gotemba trail before embarking on your journey
The gently sloping Gotemba trail has the fewest climbers and the least congestion of the four trails up Mt. Fuji .
The ascent starts from Gotemba 5th Station, which is around 1,400 meters above sea level. There are few facilities along the beginning of the route, so make sure to take everything you need with you or buy it at the 5th station. Enjoy great views along the way but take appropriate measures to remain hydrated and protect yourself from the sun.
The Gotemba trail at a glance
The change in elevation is the most significant of the four trails (1,400m-3,776m)
Ascent: approximately seven to 10 hours, with few facilities until around the 7th and 8th stations
Descent: approximately three to five hours, with large sandy sections called sunabashiri where you can run down in a very short period of time
Seeing less than 10 percent of the climbers who take the most popular Yoshida route , the Gotemba trail makes an excellent choice for people wanting a more leisurely ascent without the crowds. The landscape looking up the mountain along the Gotemba trail is largely the same, with short, shrub-like greenery occasionally adding some color to what is essentially a mountainside of black volcanic sand. Due to the wide open nature of the terrain, be careful to stay hydrated and protected from the sun. Sunscreen is your friend as you set out on this trail.
At Gotemba 5th Station you will find a small shop, a bus stop, restrooms and not much else. This is the least developed of all the 5th station trailheads, and that carries through to the trail. No facilities can be found until you reach the Waraji-kan mountain hut, over four hours after starting out. Make sure to be prepared from the onset. The majority of the trail's limited facilities are from the 7th station onwards. Bring some change for the restrooms, which cost 200 yen.
Starting your trek
Reach Gotemba 5th Station via bus from Gotemba Station. The trip costs 1,110 yen one way while the round-trip costs 1,540 yen. The trip takes about 40 minutes from station to station. The bus operates from 8:35 a.m. to 4:05 p.m. (roughly one bus every two hours) heading to Mt. Fuji and from 10:15 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. heading back to Gotemba Station. Reservations are not required.
From Gotemba 5th Station to the summit, expect a relatively easy climb, albeit significantly longer than the other trails. From the start to the 7th station, roughly four hours away, there are no facilities. After an initial ascent, take a breather at the Jirobo midway station between the 5th and 6th stations before pressing on and tackling one of the most trying sections of the trail, two hours of switchbacks with little varying scenery. You'll hit over 3,000m in elevation before you see your first mountain hut. As you pass the Waraji-kan hut and continue onto the eighth station, you'll notice the sandy terrain turning red, and if you stop to peer down the mountain you'll get a beautiful view of Lake Yamanaka.
From the 8th station onward, helmets are highly recommended as the path becomes steeper and rockier, winding back on itself as you progress up to the summit.
Helmets and other climbing gear can be rented before you set out from different companies, such as Yamarent .
The descent follows the same path for part of the way, eventually diverging to the sunabashiri slope, or what people like to call the “great sand run.” As the name suggests you can pick up speed and cover a large section of the descent with relative ease. Make sure to have spats or gaiters for this portion, as there's a lot of fine dust. You may want to wear a mask or goggles for the same reason. Fog also is known to roll in quickly, so be careful to stay near the path markers or risk getting lost.
Where to stay
This route has very few mountain huts to stay at and none have English websites or booking options. For reservations, ask at a tourist information center for booking assistance. For information on the mountain huts available, check our complete list of Fuji mountain huts .