Mt. Fuji, Accomplished!

The final torii gate, steps from the top
If you’re stationed in Japan, many conversations at some point will bring up Mt. Fuji.  “So, have you climbed Mt. Fuji?””Are you going to climb Mt. Fuji?”  It’s symbolic of Japan and only 2ish hours away from Yokosuka.  SMS has already been up it twice this Summer but I hadn’t been and I really wanted to go.  As I told people, “I don’t want to come back to Japan a third time!”  Although I like my job and enjoy Japan, there are some challenges here and besides, I like to move to new places!
I was starting to get worried that I wouldn’t make it though, schedule-wise.  But I called in a favor (like, my 500th one.  I’m way behind on the favors owed column of my life spreadsheet) and SMS and I were signed up to lead a MWR day trip to Mt. Fuji.
 

I’m so glad you’re heeeeeerrrreeeeeee!
We woke up at 12:45 a.m. (ooof!) and headed over to Outdoor Rec.  I borrowed a pair of hiking boots and gaiters.  We hopped on the bus and picked up our group.  They were 16 deep sea divers from a visiting ship and they were pretty hilarious.  SMS and I mostly kept to ourselves but some of their conversations were pretty funny to overhear.  We stopped at a rest stop on the way.  There was a huge banner sign of an older woman wearing a lemon hat on her head.  For some reason (sleep deprivation?), I thought this sign was hilarious!  So, it’s photo-documented. 
Different trail conditions
We arrived to the Fuji Subaru 5th Station around 4:45.  SMS, Jeff and I were the three guides and went to a back room to hang out for a bit before starting off.  A worker walked in and gave us breakfast sushi, which was really nice.  He said his name was Yasushi, which he found hilarious when I repeated it.  I strongly suspect that his name was not Yasushi.  But the sushi was good and it was nice to get an unexpected treat.  
Crater panorama
SMS and I headed out around 5:30 and got to the top by 10:20.  It was drizzly and slightly cold so I didn’t feel the need to hang out at the various stations.  The trail conditions were sort of in thirds.  The first third was packed dirt and occasional broken pavement, the second was lava rock that had some easy scrambles and third was gravelly switchbacks to the top.  
SMS and I had several clothes talks on the way up.  He thinks that Americans can be very
judge-y about outdoor clothing and proper apparel.  In contrast, it is perfectly acceptable
in Japan to wear a one-piece bright yellow rain suit emblazoned with “Yellow Corn.”
There was the trade-off that we had to wait up top until 1:00 because the other group had some slow hikers and slow movers when it came to re-starting the trail.  SMS and I wished that our group was the only one because those guys were up and out by 12.  SMS said they were the most organized, cohesive group by far that he’s seen on his trips.  
The trail wasn’t too crowded but there were a few large groups of older Japanese
hiking the trail.  I can only hope I’ll be that active!
The 8th Station, seen from the descent trail
After 1, we headed down and met up with Josh.  We went ahead and once Josh and the group were off the mountain, our group headed back to Yokosuka.  SMS promised the bus that we were going to stop at the world’s best rest stop but unfortunately, the driver had other plans.  We stopped at a pretty good rest stop but apparently, not the world’s greatest.  It did have McDonald’s though so the divers were happy.  SMS promised to take me to the world’s best rest stop another time.  Sounds romantic!
The hillside was beautiful with blue-tinted rock and vibrant green plants
We got back around 7:30 and I think I was asleep within the hour.  It was a long day and totally worth it.  I don’t have to do the hike again, but it was challenging and enjoyable.  I recommend it!
Yay!

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