Get your gear ready: Japan’s iconic peak is open for climbers.

Maybe it’s when you see the salarymen wielding their fans on the trains, or when you see people in their best Cool Biz attire, or just when you start saying to yourself, “it sure would be nice if they would turn up the AC on this train, and if that sweaty dude next to me had taken a shower this morning.” All of us set different standards for acknowledging that summer has come to Japan.

Well, one more of those possible signs has arrived: today marks the day when you can (officially and safely) make your way to the top of Mt. Fuji. (Despite what you might think, you can climb during the off-season, but it can be a perilous adventure, and you shouldn’t expect anyone to come running to help you if you get stuck up there…) The first climbers of the season already made their way up this morning to catch the sunrise.

However, despite its status as the symbol of Japan, there are plenty of people who are happy to leave the mountain right where it is, and gaze on it from afar. They might see it as too much of a physical struggle, or they might not be in the mood for the swarms of people who climb up during the brief official season—you’ve got until early September, and trips up the mountain can be notoriously crowded. If you’re ready to make this the year that you finally head up, here’s a guide to some of the equipment you’ll want to have at your disposal when climbing Mt. Fuji. In addition to all of the cool gear, make sure to bring plenty of change: public toilets have a ¥200 cover charge. Finally, since last year a suggested donation of ¥1000 to help keep the area clean has been requested, so we’ll leave that between you and your conscience…

–Alec Jordan

Mt. Fuji, Mount Fuji, Hiking in Japan