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Publication Date : 06-08-2013
It’s possible for children in lower grades of primary school to summit Mt Fuji if they have average physical strength
Mt Fuji has opened its annual climbing season, and many children and their families are setting out for Japan’s highest mountain. A number of outdoor goods are on store shelves, and there are also hiking tours to teach outdoor safety for children.
“Kodomo to Noboru Hajimete no Fujisan” (A guide to climbing Mt Fuji with kids) was published in May, selling for 1,400 yen (US$14).
According to the author Ryoichi Seki, 55, it’s possible for children in lower grades of primary school to summit Mt Fuji if they have average physical strength.
Since 1993, Seki has organised “Oyako Yama Gakko”, a climbing school for children and their parents. Every year, he climbs with many groups of parents and children, but only one has given up. Seki solicits participants for his course starting April via the website (http://oyakoyama.jimdo.com/).
Online registration will begin in February, and once a month, the school holds a hiking event in the Tokyo area. It costs 3,000 yen ($30) a month.
The air at the 3,776-metre summit of Mt Fuji is thin, and the environment is different from that at sea level. Without proper preparation, climbers can become injured or sick or get lost.
“You should set a time schedule and route in advance and purchase necessary equipment,” Seki said.
Seki added that “the time parents and children spend holding hands strengthens their bond more than just walking in town together”.
Several items are available for kids. The Kikki backpack, for example, is good for children aged 3 or older. It is comfortable to wear, and the side pockets have velcro fasteners.
Sports gear shop Caravan Co. sells trekking shoes for both children and adults. The material used in the heels and toes is stiff, yet the entire shoe is made with soft fabric.
To climb to the summit, where the temperature can be 30 C lower than that of the surrounding lowlands, it’s important to wear a rain suit, which also provides protection from wind and snow at the top.
To keep the backpack light, Vapur’s Antibottle, which can be folded, is a light and eco-friendly way to carry water.
Seki recommends using nasal strips to breathe well near the summit to avoid altitude sickness.
If you feel uncomfortable organising a climb on your own, it may be better to participate in tours aimed at parents and children.
For example, Fuji Eco Tour Service in the city of Fuji-Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi Prefecture, has tours for pre-school kids including an “Aokigahara forest cave exploration mystery tour” and a “Mt. Fuji and Hoei volcanic vent tour”. The tours cost between 6,000 yen and 10,000 yen for adults and between 3,000 yen and 6,000 yen for children.
US$1 = 98 yen