There are more than a few ways to climb Mt. Fuji!
Most Popular Route: The most common and accepted way to climb to the summit of Mt. Fuji is to take the Fuji Subaru toll-road up to the Kawaguchi 5th station and from here hike along the Kawaguchi route to the top of Mt. Fuji, however there are many many more ways to climb Mt. Fuji. The signs on hiking paths are often written only in Japanese, so privately guided tours are strongly recommended for your safety.
Other Hiking Routes: There are actually five different routes you can take to reach the summit of Mt. Fuji, (Kawaguchi, Subashiri, Gotemba, Fujinomiya and the Yoshida routes). The Yoshida and Subashiri trials actually connect with the Kawaguchi trail, the Yoshida route joins from the 6th station and the Subashiri joins at the 8th station, essentially this is also the main reason why some first time climbers get lost on the mountain,as they incorrectly take the wrong descending route downward.
The Original Mt. Fuji Pilgrim Route: The original Yoshida route starts from Fuji Sengen Shrine, where the pilgrims of over 500 years ago came to pray before they started their climb up the sacred mountain. It begins at the Sengenjinja, where Fuji pilgrims, who became known as Fujiko, arrived to purify themselves and then pay their respects to the Shinto goddess and protector of Mount Fuji.Taking the traditional pilgrim route from the bottom allows hikers and climbers alike to enjoy the historical and cultural heritage along the way. Of all the routes up Mount Fuji, the Yoshida trail is the oldest, first conquered many centuries ago.
Circle Routes: Finally, there is also a relatively unknown route called the Ochudo trail that circles the entire mountain near the 5th stations,however do not expect to see many people on this trail. Mt. Fuji’s highest point is located immediately next to the weather station on the opposite side from where the Yoshida trail reaches the summit.There is a also a trail running along the crater of Mount Fuji, it takes about one hour or more depending on your energy level to do a complete circle around the crater,however, as most have little energy leftover, this is often skipped.
Climb Duration: Most conquer the mountain at a reasonable pace over a 2-day time frame, 5~6 hrs getting to the Mt. Hut near the top, then climbing 2~3hrs during the night to see the sunrise, followed by a 3~5hr descent. On the other hand, a 1-day Mt. Fuji climb is not impossible and can be more practical for some, when starting early in the morning or hiking thru the night, as it eliminates staying at one of the sometimes overly crowded, Mt. Huts.
Finally, for those top athletes there is an annual race up Mt. Fuji every year at the end of July,(Sponsored by the city of Yoshida) starting from the bottom to the top, the fastest racers reach the top is less then 3hrs!! Not recommended for beginners!