I have a good American friend who lives and works in Japan for the military.
As he knows I work as a Mt. Fuji Guide in the summer, he is always telling me how easy it is to climb Mt. Fuji; however, he has never actually climbed Mt. Fuji himself, and is just describing observations he has heard from others.
As I have climbed Mt. Fuji over 250 times myself using all four trails, I can plainly understand where my American friend’s oversight comes from.
Certainty climbing Mt. Fuji is not easy, and many that attempt the climb fail to make the summit, however there are many different ways and routes to climb Mt. Fuji and the reality is some routes are easier than others.
There are four principal routes to climb Mt. Fuji: The Yoshida Route, Subashiri Route, Gotemba Route and the Fujinomiya Route. Each route has a paved road to the 5th Station so almost all the people that climb Mt. Fuji start from a 5th station and skip half the climb.
It is possible to start from the base of Mt. Fuji, however due to the lack of use most of the original trails have been overgrown and are difficult to find, with the exception of the Yoshida Route which is well maintained due to the annual July Mt. Fuji Race to the summit that starts from the Fuji-Yoshida city.
Anyway, returning to my friend’s claim about Mt. Fuji. As he works for the military almost all of his Mt. Fuji climb stories, comes from his fellow military co-workers.
There is in fact a US military base called “Camp Fuji” located at the base of the mountain and ever year large groups of military personnel drive up to Mt. Fuji Fujinomiya 5th station early in the morning and climb Mt. Fuji in one day using the Fujinomiya Route.
I know this because I have seen them climb countless times, year after year; climbing in large groups in their military apparel. As you can expect most of the US military personnel are young and in great shape and have little trouble climbing Mt. Fuji in 1-day using the Fujinomiya route. On the other hand, even from the 5th station, climbing Mt. Fuji can be a challenge and truth be told not all the US military personnel are able to reach the summit in one day using the Fujinomiya Route.
Nevertheless, the key point here is they use the Fujinomiya Route, which is in fact the shortest route to the summit, and the only route recommended for a 1-day Mt. Fuji climb. If in fact they tried to climb Mt. Fuji using the Gotemba Route in 1-day, half of them would not make the summit, and I would not be having this conversation.
By far, the most popular route for climbing Mt. Fuji for the civilian population is in fact the Yoshida Route, located on the Yamanashi Prefecture side of the mountain and is about 3km longer than the Fujinomiya route as it starts at a lower altitude. Thus, for the civilian population the Yoshida Route equals climbing Mt. Fuji and on the other hand, for the US military population the Fujinomiya Route equals climbing Mt. Fuji. See what I am getting at here?
The perception you have of your Mt. Fuji climb is based on the climbing route and as each climbing route is different, your opinion of how hard it is to climb Mt. Fuji, 100% depends on which route you take. Therefore, the only real way to know how difficult it is to climb Mt. Fuji, is to climb Mt. Fuji using all the different climbing routes at least once and compare.