Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Mount Fuji: How to Make Mountain Hut Reservations

"Let's climb Mount Kinabalu this year!"

"Okay!"

"And while you're in the conquering mountain theme, let's climb Mount Fuji as well!"

"Okay!"

I really need to stop having internal conversations with my psycho self.... Riding high on a series of fitness challenges I've set out for myself for 2015, I dimwittedly added Mount Fuji to that list. And never one to back down for a challenge (especially one that no one I know has attempted), I am determined to accomplish this by any means.

source: Google image
So as soon as my mind was made up, the research commenced. How to get to Mount Fuji, how to climb Mount Fuji, what to bring and finally, where to stay atop Mount Fuji. Of all the topics I had to look up, Mount Fuji accommodation was the trickiest.

But fret not, fellow Mount Fuji conquerors-to-be. I am here to share with you my experience of booking a mountain hut and how you too could stay atop the highest mountain in Japan.
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source: Google image
Accommodations atop Mount Fuji are called mountain huts. Not hotels (even if the word hotel is in its name, it's anything but a hotel). Not hostels. To give you a close example of what it is, think along the lines of dormitories. Now imagine sharing that room space with over 20 other hikers and there you have it, a mountain hut.

source: Google image
Now that I've adjusted your expectations, these mountain huts are located at the five stations leading up the trail to Mount Fuji's summit. There are four trails to pick from, all starting from different parts of the mountain and possibly in different prefectures and are colour-coded to avoid confusion. The most popular trail is Yoshida trail, the yellow one. Due to its popularity amongst local and foreign hikers, mountain huts are plentiful along this trail at the station stops.
source: Google image
A popular place to stop and rest is the 8th station as it is the last stop before the summit. However I am opting to stay just a little higher up (just so that I only need to hike less to the top when we set out the next morning) and picked Goraikoukan hut at Station 8.5 (3,450 meters above see level).

Reservations for Goraikoukan hut opens two months before the official hiking season in July to September but it's not as easy as it seems. For one thing, the website's reservation form was only in Japanese and only available through the Japanese version of the site. However, here's a little hack I learnt through another blog.

Google Chrone has a translate feature that gives you the option of translating a webpage to English. How neat is that? The option will either pop up itself or you can right click to find it.



Using this translation feature, reading Goraikoukan's site is not problem although the translation may not be so accurate but a little common sense helps. To get their rates, just click on charges and reservations. A night's stay and two meals (dinner and breakfast) comes up to about 8,500yen/RM260 and you can select either western or japanese meals or a mix of both.


From there, just select your dates and fill in the form, also using the translation feature. A confirmation email from Goraikoukan will confirm your booking and should you have any concerns, feel free to ask them. Then before heading up, remember to write down the booking number as reference.



Alternative Booking Methods
Another way would be to ask your hotel or hostel to assist with the booking as they would be able to converse with the staffs of the huts. Not all the huts are tourist-friendly or can speak English so it's recommended to opt for one with English speaking staffs.

Finally, Fuji Mountain Guides also helps with reservations for Fujisan Hotel (not a hotel) with a small extra fee of $10/RM30 of course. To make a booking, just click here. While $10 is paid to FMG upon booking, the actual fees for the hut is paid upon check-in, in cash as there is no credit card facility.

Websites
For a list of huts on Mount Fuji, go here. It also gives an indication which huts have English speaking staffs.
For tips, updates and other advices, check out this website. It's super useful.
And finally for Goraikoukan site, click here.

I'll be hiking Mount Fuji on 1 - 2 September so if you are there as well, drop me a comment. Also, if you have another means to easing reservations on Mount Fuji, do so as well. I look forward to finding out more.

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