When you set off on your climb - whichever trail you use - you will be able to buy a wooden walking stick. Depending on length and whether they have a cloth covering, the price is between 800¥ and 1,500¥. The stick will also have the 5th station (that's where you typically start) stamp a well as a couple of others. As you climb, almost every station will be able to add a stamp for a fee of 200¥ as a sort of 'proof' that you made it there. A stick with all the stamps from a particular trail is probably the best souvenir you can bring from the top!
There is also a second, more practical reason for buying one if you don't have walking poles. The descent is over loose volcanic sand and rocks/pebbles so it tends to slip from under your feet - the stick proved especially useful in helping to make the descent more controlled. It makes going up easier, too.
Favorite thing: This Mt. Fuji photo is taken at Suwabara Castle ruins in Kanaya, Shimada. Mt. Fuji looks as if spewing, the magic of clouds. It is interesting, however, the same day such cloud was spotted on February 27, Shinmoedake of Kirishima Volcano in Kyushu erupted.
Favorite thing: Miho Seacoast known by the legend of Hagoromo(the robe of goddess) is now a part of World Heritage candidate site, Mt. Fuji. It is selected as a part of candidate heritage because of the representative view of Mt. Fuji.
Favorite thing: At the station of Kawaguchiko there is a tourist information desk where you can find a lot of information, brochures as well as ask all the questions that you have, they will be very helpful and assist you in your visiting plan.
Favorite thing: The Kawaguchiko town and Lake Kawaguchi are easy to get by train or bus and then from here to take the trails around the area to visit Mt. Fuji and other places around the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
Favorite thing: The Mt. Fuji area is known around Japan for the quality of its blueberries. In the stores around the lakes, you can find all sorts of blueberry products, from blueberry ice cream to blkueberry vinegar to blueberry wine. We bought some bluebery jam before breaking down and having snacks and coffee overlooking the lake and mountain. Janet had a little blueberry pastry while I indulged in a swirl of softserve ice cream - half vanilla, half blueberry.
If I'm not mistaken, when people say July/August is the best time for visiting Mount Fuji, they mean it's the best time to climb it. In any case, that's the official climbing season and the safest time to do the hike (because you don't have to deal with the snow, sub-zero temperatures, etc).
If you are indeed climbing it, where to stay may well depend on the route you wish to take up. For example, if you're starting the hike from the foot of the mountain (Yoshida route), then the town of Fujiyoshida would be where you want to stay.
If you're talking about just touring the area around Mount Fuji area, the Kawaguchi lake area is where you'll find the widest range of accomodation, from budget places to 5 star hotels to cozy cottages. It's also where you'll most easily find transportation (from bicycles to tourist bus routes to trains/coaches back to the city), food and amusement.
If you need help finding a place to stay, there's a tourist office just outside the train station that will be able to recommend places to fit your budget/requirements.
Fondest memory: I was at Mount Fuji in July and the summer heat is a tad too overbearing for me. But it's a nice area to explore.
Favorite thing: The Hakone region is relatively easy to move around thanks to the many signboards, brochures, maps, timetables etc which include English as well. Prior to your trip, you can also do some reading up on the internet. Overall, I think the Hakone region is easy to travel and the only problem is time constraint. It will be best to spread out the trip for 3 days (i.e. the validity period of the Hakone Freepass) and you will then fully enjoy the trip there :)
Favorite thing: For those of you staying at Moto-hakone town for a night or two, you should walk around town during sunset and at night. On a good day, you can catch Mount Fuji during sunset followed by a leisurely walk around the town to experience the charming atmosphere at night.
Favorite thing: Yes, I managed to see sakura flowers during the autumn of 2006 at Gora Park, which is one of the attractions of the Hakone region. There are several sakura trees in the park and there are still some flowers left (the sakura flowers during spring time in Japan and is one of the main attractions of this country).
Favorite thing: Autumn is the best time to experience the Hakone area because of the cool weather, more days of clear sky and of course the beautiful colours of the tree foliage. In fact, Hakone is one of the best places in Japan to view the autumn foliage, and the best period to do so is between early November to late November every year. More photos of the autumn colours are at the travelogue section of this VT page.
List of Hot Springs in Japan :
Wikitravel Hakone page:
Hakone overview map from Hakone Elegance Homepage.
My favorit guest house in Hakone area:
Favorite thing: It is somewhere between Kawaguchi-ko and Yamanaka-ko. Most Fuji-san postcards are taken from here. The place is famous for the "eight seas" [small lakes] and an excellent place for taking photo and drawing of Fuji-san. You can see that that day the weather was SUPER fine - she's no longer hide behind the small patch of cloud - rarely seen throughout the year.
Favorite thing: This picture was taken from the window of my room of the pension I stayed. For more information of this pension with wonderful view of Fuji-san, take a look from the Tips on "Accomodation" under my main Japan page.
Take the travel around Hakone National Park. With several means of transport you cross a beautiful surrounding of natural, industrial and vulcanic activities. The journey starts in a litte tram that ispulled up the mountain by a cable, where one goes into a cablecar that hangs high above a mining valley. On the other side and on foot you walk along hotsprings and steaming boilers that smell awfully (sulfer). One can eat boiled eggs, but with this stench ... I pass. With another cablecar the trip goes on to a beautiful lake that - if he would show himself - is supposed to reflect Fuji-san in a miraculous way. Sadly, we didn't have that luck. However, the lake and it's green surroundings are anyway pictoresk and we enjoyed the boattour on a kind of pirateship. From the other side of the lake the tour concludes by buss, that brings you to the point of origin.
Fondest memory: The little Torii that mirrors in the lake is a wonderful sight and a little comfort from missing Mt. Fuji.