My husband and 10-year-old son are travelling to Japan late this month for nine days and will have a father-son adventure: they wish to climb Mount Fuji. Both are fit and do a lot of walking each week. They also want to visit Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. What is the easiest way for them to access money while in Japan (credit or debit card, traveller's cheques)? Do you have any advice on the Mount Fuji climb?
- M. Rozsa, Ashbury.
ATMs can be found just about everywhere in Japan and are a practical, convenient way to access funds via debit cards. I've used a Visa card to withdraw cash from ATMs in Japan on several visits and never had a problem.
Before they leave, they need to contact their bank to make sure that their card will work overseas - and consider taking a second card just in case. You might also refer to my reply to A. West's query (see right) to help them make up their mind which card is going to serve them best.
Climbing Fuji-san is one of Japan's peak experiences. From the end of the road up the mountain, it takes about five hours to reach the summit and about half that to return. Most people set off well before dawn and plan to hit the summit at sunrise, which is when the views are most likely to be clear. Even at night the trail is easy to follow with a head torch and there are always plenty of other climbers.
Kawaguchiko is a small resort town and a popular base for climbing the mountain, with plenty of accommodation, restaurants and a tourist information office.
There are several trails to the summit, but the Yoshida trail, which starts from Kawaguchiko, is the most popular and has the greatest number of mountain huts. The easiest way to get to Kawaguchiko is by bus from Tokyo's Shinjuku bus terminal, at the western end of the train station. The trip takes less than two hours.
Climbing the 3776-metre peak is not especially daunting but it demands preparation. Even if the sun is shining when they set out, they need decent walking boots, thermal underclothes, waterproof trousers and jackets, snacks and water and, of course, a mobile phone so you can congratulate them at the top.