Climbing Mt. Fuji is getting more expensive and more complicated from this summer.

Earlier this spring, the government of Yamanashi Prefecture announced its decision to begin charging a mandatory fee to hike the most popular trail to the summit of Mt. Fuji, the Yoshida Route. With the summer climbing season coming up, the official Mt. Fuji Climbing website has now posted further details, including information about how to make advance reservations for the trail, which will have daily limits on the number of hikers allowed to pass through the gate.

The admission-charged route starts at the Mt. Fuji 5th Station, roughly half-way up the mountain and the highest point you can get to by car/bus. Those wanting to hike the Yoshida Route past that point will be required to pay a “hiking fee” of 2,000 yen (US$13) per person before passing through the gate, which will be closed between 4 p.m. and 3 a.m.

A daily limit of 4,000 hikers will be imposed for the trail. Given Mt. Fuji’s relatively remote location, visitors will want to avoid the possibility of coming all the way out to the mountain only to find out upon arrival that the limit has already been reached for the day, so it will be possible to reserve your gate passage through the official climbing site. Same-day reservations are not available; they must be made before midnight as least one day prior to when you’re planning to hike the trail.

Making a reservation also requires advance payment of the hiking fee, and the website says that the reservation cannot be cancelled, changed, or refunded, with a specific mention that refunds will not be provided for hikers who arrive after the gate is closed for the day due to public transportation delays, so you’ll want to schedule your train/bus ride to get you to the 5th Station early.

Advance reservations for the trail are, however, not necessarily required, and if you’re feeling lucky you can still try rolling out to Fuji without one and keeping your fingers crossed that the 4,000-person limit hasn’t been hit by the time you get there. Records show that the Yoshida route had more than 4,000 hikers on 17 days during the 2017 climbing season, 12 days in 2018, 10 days in 2019, and five days in 2023 (the route was closed as part of pandemic protocols between 2020 and 2022).

Payment of the hiking fee can be made using credit cards or currently unspecified cashless payment formats. However for those not making reservations and paying in advance, the official climbing site still recommends bringing enough cash with you “as cashless payment [at the gate] may be difficult during extreme weather conditions.”

It should be noted that the 2,000-yen hiking fee must be paid by all hikers, including those with reservations to stay at mountain huts along the Yoshida Route (i.e. the hiking fee is not built into your payment to the mountain hut). However, those with mountain hut reservations are guaranteed a spot on the trail, even without making a hiking reservation. Even still, the official site recommends advance reservations/payment, saying “As payment is complete at the time of reservation, the process of passing through the gates would be smoother as there is a separate line for those who have made prior reservations, who will need to show their QR code for confirmation.”

There’s one more wrinkle to the system for those staying in mountain huts, which is that they’re allowed to pass through the trail gate even during the restricted hours of 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. The official site, though, still states “as a general rule, please pass through the gate before 4 p.m.,” and also that “climbers are subject to restrictions and cannot climb during the hours between 4 p.m. until 3 a.m.,” so it looks like being out on the trail during those hours is, at the very least, frowned upon.

Finally, the official site reminds travelers that the hiking fee is not a replacement for the 1,000-yen-per-person “donation” which has been requested since before the implementation of the hiking fee, and which hikers are still strongly encouraged to pay. The official site’s Japanese-language page says “Please be sure to cooperate with the (optional) Mt. Fuji Conservation Cooperation Donation as well,” and separate purposes are listed for the two payments.

What is the purpose of the hiking fee?
● Safety and conduct
● Support for foreigners (interpretation)
● Maintenance expenses (gate maintenance and operational fees)
● Managing the local emergency contact point at the information center
● Disaster response and discovery services
● Trail management and maintenance
What is the purpose of the donation?
● Operation of first aid stations
● Operation of portable toilets
● Operation of a safety support information center at the 6th station
● Support for the local disaster prevention organisations
● Prevention of invasive species

▼ “Part of why we need to collect a hiking fee is to pay for the system to collect the hiking fee” might sound weird, but operating costs need to get paid somehow.

What all of those requirements, requests, and exemptions boil down to is the Yamanashi prefectural government preferably wanting anyone hiking Mt. Fuji by the Yoshida Route to spend the night in a mountain hut and pay 3,000 yen per person in additional fees. As stated previously by the policymakers, the decision to close the gate from 4 p.m. to 3 a.m. was made specifically to discourage hikers from starting their ascent in the late afternoon, reaching the peak before dawn, watching the sunrise from the summit, and then hiking back down without spending the night in a mountain hut. The official reason is that the government views hiking at night and without sleeping and acclimating to the high altitude as dangerous, though the policy also, intentionally or not, should also boost the revenue of mountain hut owners.

Reservations for the 2024 summer climbing season are set to open through the Mt. Fuji Climbing official website at 10 a.m. on May 20.

Related: Official Website for Mt. Fuji Climbing
Source: Official Website for Mt. Fuji Climbing (1, 2)
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Official Website for Mt. Fuji Climbing, Pakutaso
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!