Anyway, caught the first train (well, first limited express) out of Shinjuku to Otsuki bright and early at 7AM, then the local train to Kawaguchi-ko (could have taking the more expensive express, but it wasn't really that much faster, and I didn't know about it until I got there). Spent most of the morning (and early afternoon) wandering around Kawaguchi-ko, took the cable car up to the viewing platform, and generally checked things out in the morning. It was hot, hot, hot -- well, at least in the sun, in the shade sitting down, it was actually reasonably pleasant (at least compared to Tokyo), if a bit humid. It was hazy, though, you could barely see Fuji-sama from the lake (or Fuji-yoshida, for that matter), and that never really changed.
Anyway, once I hopped over to my hotel, I showered and took a nap (both of which I desperately needed). I ended up missing most of the fire festival (I needed sleep more, really, than I needed a matsuri), but did catch a little of the end that night.
So, next morning, stopped at the shrine to pay my respects, hopped the first bus up to fifth station (if I'd been climbing one day earlier, it would have been the third or fourth bus -- the matsuri marks the official end of the climbing season), and started up. By then, my cold was pretty minor, minor enough not to bother with cold medicine of any kind (the humidity was helping too, honestly). Of course, being humid, by the next day I'd easily burned through a gallon of water (plus some more I'd grabbed along the way), which was the hardest thing about this mountain (the second thing that made it hard was the jet lag, because it is harder to exert yourself when you're tired). While I was doing it, I was thinking it was the hardest mountain I've climbed this year (albeit only the seventh highest -- it's really steep, with lots of loose rock/gravel), but on reflection, I'd actually rank it number two behind Elbert. Not trivial, certainly, although the loose scree on the way down was nice, because a lot of the time you could kinda "scree surf" down. Often, though, there just wasn't enough, so you were just stuck hoofing it down on a surface of questionable stability.
I stayed above the old eighth station (about 3300-3400 meters up?) in the Tomoekan Eighth Station lodge. I have to say, while it probably wasn't that good objectively, the curry rice that night was one of the best meals I ever had (and I'm not the biggest fan of Japanese curry, since I find it kind of boring), if you know what I mean. I didn't really get much sleep that night, though (although it wasn't so crowded in the lodge, there were still at least 20 people in the same room -- the room could have easily fit 30, and I'm sure they crowd in 40 or more during peak season. There was amazingly little snoring -- almost none, really. I suspect that a lot of people didn't sleep that well there).
Anyway, got up the next morning at 2AM and headed to the top to see dawn. This was the only time it was truly crowded -- at times there was a solid line of stopped people in front of me. Overall, I suspect this was about as good a "Fuji-san" experience as you can get; there were still the crowds, but not enough that it meaningfully slowed down the hike at any point -- the only solid line was that morning. I made a number of friends on the mountain who I may or may not keep in touch with (we'll see), with some people promising to email me pictures, and of course I'll send them the link to mine when I upload them eventually.
So. Saw dawn (was cold, but not too cold, just above freezing). Walked around the crater (sometimes clear, sometimes foggy, but the weather was generally pretty good that morning). Scattered my dad's ashes into the crater (although, in the swirling wind, I got plenty all over me, too), walked/slid down, took the bus to Kawaguchi-ko station from fifth station, took the train to Osaki, then Shinjuku, then Yokohama. Checked in to the "hotel," crashed, met my friend/roommate, and eventually got clean pants.
And that's pretty much it.