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    Posted April 22, 2014 by
    Edwardsville, Illinois
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    The world's best national parks

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    Fuji Hakone Izu National Park, Japan

    Mt. Fuji in Fuji Hakone Izu National Park
    For three years we lived in Japan. It was one of the many places we enjoyed. Every year on July 1st would start climbing season up Mt. Fuji. You saw people of all ages, 5 to 80, hiking to the top. It was like a rite of passage. They say you are a fool to not climb it once, but a fool if you climb it more than once. Yet I talked with one elderly couple who said they always go on the first day of the season. It is their tradition to signal a good year.
    You start at station five where the bus drops you off. This is a gift shop with souvenirs and food. We had been to this station several times on different site seeing tours. While there, there was an old woman making this donut hole type of banana pancakes. That is the best I can describe it. They are good. A MUST to purchase there if you are going up the mountain is a walking stick.
    Getting a walking stick will not only help you along the path but even more important is to get it stamped along the way for proof or your journey. Be sure and take plenty of yen with you as each stamp will cost you.
    Now this may be July, but take extra clothing with you. It may be warm at the bottom but it gets much colder the higher you climb. I recommend a light waterproof jacket as the clouds you may climb through are full of water and your sweat shirt may get soaked. I took a backpack but even that was drenched through. Good walking/hiking shoes are also a must.
    Most of the trail is a series of switchbacks but there are a few parts that require climbing over large rocks. Going down is loose gravel and harder on the body. Knees can be injured and toe nails fall off. That is from the down sliding.
    There are places along the way that can put you up to sleep as well. Don’t expect a luxury room. They are just small areas to sleep. There is a restaurant at the top as well to get a hot cup of soup. A must because you WILL be cold.
    My son and I went with a group of friends on 1 July 2003. I have to admit I did not make it to the top. We found out later, I was just a station away when we turned around. My son however did. He went up with the rest of the group.
    My goal is to go back someday and make it to the top. Or do a night climb and be there when the sun rises. I hear that is the most beautiful.
    My pictures are from our journey and some are taken from the window of an airplane. You can see the trail in one section.
    I recommend this journey. Don’t spend too much time in Tokyo. Explore the smaller villages of Japan and especially Mt. Fuji in Fuji Hakone Izu National Park.
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