Goraiko – My last hurrah

Goraiko (ご来光) – literally, “The coming of the light”, it refers to the sunrise on top of Mt. Fuji, the highest point in Japan.

I knew this year I wanted to go out with a bang – which could only be accomplished by trekking up the mt. and catching a totally wild sunrise.

There’s a saying in Japan: “一度も登らない馬鹿、2度登る馬鹿” – “Only fools never climb it, or climb it more than once”. Which made me a fool, at least until I’d climbed the damn thing!

The plan I had laid out months ago with Mike had, over time, spawned into a massive gathering of 12 people from 3 prefectures. 6 of us set out from Mie in a rental Velfire (one hell of a ride!) and met up with another 6 from Yokohama/Tokyo at the base of the climb: Fuji 5th Station, Yoshida trail head. (see Mike’s blog for all the goodies!)

From the 5th Station

View of Fuji asserting it’s will from the 5th station.

Sun and a rainbow

Sweet rainbow on the left side.

The climb up was…tougher in some ways, and easier in others. We were treated to a pretty amazing sunset as we climbed up the first few hundred meters.

"Castle in the sky"
Thick, orange clouds look like they could hide Miyzaki’s “Laputa – Castle In The Sky”

Fire in the sky

Lit up by the setting sun, wild clouds accentuate the colors.

Sunset on Fuji

The sky pretty much exploded for a few minutes.

Some interesting structures litter the path to the summit, and the shapes cast in the evening light were beautiful and slightly haunting.

The fence

Looks like it could be a huge fence…


These “steps” were some of my favorites.

Fuji city at twilight

A shot of Fuji City at twilight as the lights came on.

As I wanted to stay with Kanako, the methodical pace we set wasn’t that strenuous, but as the night wore on I realized I hadn’t slept in almost 24 hours. After about 2 hours of solid climbing the wind suddenly picked up, at times spraying us with dirt and dust until we choked and hid our eyes. After 4 hours we made it to the 8th station (roughly 3200 meters above sea level) and slept with the group as best we could for a few hours at a small hut. While I didn’t get much rest the hot food and drinks were lifesavers, even at inflated prices.

At about 2 AM we started the final trek up from the 9th station to the summit…along with everyone else who came to climb Fuji! Traffic jam, and a bad one at that. I was almost physically pulling Kanako up the mountain to keep her from falling asleep standing up! When we finally made it to the top both of us almost collapsed from sheer joy. We had about 30 minutes to spare before sunrise. We were then treated to…more wind! Ok, the real reason we went up Fuji: Goraiko!

Mike, Jake, Vishal and I camped out in a small little corner and huddled against the wind as we waited for the sun to peek out from behind the encroaching clouds. My s90 was a trooper all the way up and down. This little puppy can sure put out when it needs to!

Goraiko - 10 second prior

Goraiko – 10 seconds prior.

Goraiko - Breaking the clouds

Goraiko – Breaking the clouds

Goraiko - Moment of creation

Goraiko – A new day is born!

Goraiko - The world is bathed in light

Goraiko – Sunlight bathes the land below.

Cold but happy

Goraiko – cold but happy! Mike snapped this shot as we were running to get inside, away from the wind, dust and cold.

The trek down was brutal, mentally and physically. No rest for 36 hours and sore legs from the climb up forced all of us to dig deep and trek on hour after hour. When I finally made it to the 5th station I thought I’d lost my legs halfway down the mountain! I was also covered in red and black dust from the silty and dusty trails, and sweaty and tired, but exalted to have accomplished such a feat.

In closing, thank you to everyone who came that made this trip so memorable for me. It may be the last great hurrah for me here, as I leave in just over a month’s time. I hope to meet you all again somewhere – take care, and safe travels! 😀

More next week from other final adventures here in Mie!


6 thoughts on “Goraiko – My last hurrah

  1. Nice photos. I especially like the one of the silhouetted fence, really good stuff. You were also smart to get a photo of yourself in front of the sunrise. I think I was in survival mode by that time!

  2. Jake – Yeah, I had Mike take that as we were all running for cover! Turned out pretty good too haha. I look mighty cold!

    Peter: Yeah the s90 is really all I need most of the time on any kind of excursion or day trip. And now that you mention it, I guess I do love to crank up the sat to pretty insane levels…though it has its limits! Sometimes too much of a good thing, haha.

    • Thanks Sarah 🙂 Astri came to visit and it was a pretty fun time, though she bossed me around…as usual hahaha. Too bad you and Sachi weren’t here as well! And the rest of the gang…wonder if we’ll ever get together at the same place in the next few?

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