Fuji Five Lakes, Japan

Trivia #1: Mt. Fuji is affectionately addressed as “Fujisan” by the locals
Trivia #2: The very first person who ascended Mt. Fuji was a monk in AD 663
Trivia #3: Mt. Fuji is actually made up of 3 volcanoes stacked on top of each other (stratovolcano)

 

Located at only 100km southwest of Tokyo, Mt. Fuji is one of the most recognisable symbols of Japan and a dignified theme for Japanese art, poetry and music for a long time. Having been added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on 22 June 2013, its dignified beauty continues to captivate visitors.

There are many hot spots to view Mt. Fuji, and the more popular ones are the Fuji Five Lakes region and of course, the beautiful town soaked in nature’s pristine goodness, Hakone.

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Amazing sunset view of Mt. Fuji from Lake Kawaguchiko (Photo credit: Yvonne Z.).

Mt. Fuji is really beautiful, isn’t it? Majestic, even! No matter how you look at it, Mt. Fuji’s near perfect symmetrical snow-capped cone is amazing. Perhaps Mt. Fuji truly encapsulates the Japanese way of harmony and balance in its physical form.

If you’re planning to pay Mt. Fuji (or as the locals affectionately call it, Fujisan) a visit, it might be best to spend at least 2-3 days in the area to increase your chances of meeting Japan’s tallest and highly-revered mountain. This is because weather conditions can be rather tricky as Mt. Fuji is prone to be enveloped by clouds on a cloudy or rainy day, swallowing it whole.

Photographers, I’ve found an hour-by-hour Mt. Fuji weather forecast site for your field photography planning purposes.

So, for this post, we’re gonna bring you through some of the best viewing spots for the legendary Mt. Fuji – here we go!

Lake Kawaguchiko

Lake Kawaguchiko, one of the great five lakes presenting the great Mt. Fuji in all its beauty, is the easiest to get to from Tokyo as it is very well connected by train and direct bus. That said, do expect the vicinity around Lake Kawaguchiko to be rather touristy – the good side of it being filled with an abundance of family-friendly activities, museums and restaurants.

For good views of Mt. Fuji, try positioning yourself at the northern shore, and in the early morning.

Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway

Previously known as Kachi Kachi Ropeway prior to 1 April 2018 (definitely not an April’s Fool stunt), it has underwent a name change to Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway. It starts from the eastern side of Lake Kawaguchiko and crosses over Mt. Tenjo, bringing you to an observation deck near the mountain’s peak.

Besides an amazing bird’s eye view of the surrounding landscape and Mt. Fuji, there are some good hiking trails as well to complete the itinerary for nature lovers!

At the observation deck, apart from great panoramic views, you can also chill out at a small cafe with snacks and drinks.

It was said that the name for Kachi Kachi Ropeway originated from a folk story “Kachi Kachi Yama” in which a rabbit gets its revenge on a thieving tanuki (Japanese raccoon) by setting him on fire and then drowning him in a river. Wow. Maybe it might be good to come up with a kid-friendly version behind the cute animal mascots if your kids ask for the background story:)

How to get to Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway:

1. The quickest (and free) way is to walk from Kawaguchiko station to the ropeway entrance (15 minutes)

2. Alternatively, you can want to wait for the bus – take the Omni Bus (red line) from Kawaguchiko station and alight at the Pleasure Cruiser/Ropeway Entrance bus stop

For itinerary planning, it is best to refer to the latest official bus schedule online (don’t forget to check out the route map too).

Chureito Pagoda

Built in 1963 as a peace memorial, the five-storied pagoda is part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine. Located about 10 minutes walk from the nearest Shimoyoshida station (Fujikyu line), Chureito Pagoda is the place to be at if you are thinking of taking a classic Mt. Fuji shot.

Upon arriving at the temple compound, you will need to climb about 400 steps to reach the pagoda. This route will be quicker, but the downside of this option is that it might be challenging for people with limited stamina.

Alternatively, you can opt for the longer route with gentler slopes – this will be better suited especially for the elderly and younger children. This is also a good opportunity to enjoy a bird’s eye view of the Fuji Five Lakes area with Mt. Fuji as the backdrop.

Get your cameras ready for splendid shots of Mt. Fuji amidst a sea of pretty cherry blossoms:)

How to get to Chureito Pagoda:

1. By train: Kawaguchiko station to Shimoyoshida station (Fujikyu line), followed by 10 minutes walk

2. By bus: From Kawaguchiko station, hop on the bus (Mt. Fuji World Heirtage Loop bus, 15 minutes) and alight at the Chureito Iriguchi bus stop – a short walk from Arakura Sengen Shrine.

Foodie Section:

Most hotel accommodations at Lake Kawaguchiko offer packages that include breakfast and Kaiseiki dinner (multi-course traditional Japanese dinner), to varying gourmet levels.

A traditional Japanese breakfast and afternoon tea with roasted mochi in azuki bean soup.

The Japanese take great care in presentation, and likewise for food, they are presented immaculately with a refined touch.

Mt. Fuji bento – never thought food could be this fun! We’re amused:)

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Narusawa Ice Cave (Hyouketsu)

Formed in AD 864 when Mt. Nagaoyama erupted as its extremely hot molten lava carved underground caves at the time of eruption. Even in summer, it acts as a natural refrigerator with freezing temperatures. What an awesome geological marvel!

However, the cave is very small, hence it wasn’t much of an adventure if you are expecting a deep, cavernous (excuse the pun) experience. As a general guide, it will probably take participants about 10-12 minutes to explore this little cave.

Also, some of the steps are pretty slippery and the passage way can be rather tight – you will have to waddle your way through very confined spaces. If you’re not comfortable with small or confined spaces, then this is probably not for you.

How to get to Narusawa Ice Cave:

1. Option A: From Lake Kawaguchiko station, take the bus (green line) which goes to Lake Saiko. The green line has a higher frequency but you will need to get off at the Wind Cave bus stop and walk for about 20 minutes to the Ice Cave.

2. Option B: From Lake Kawaguchiko station, take the bus (blue line) which goes to Lake Saiko. The blue line bus will bring you directly to the Ice Cave start point, but do note that the bus frequency for the blue line is about 2 hours.

Address:
8533Narusawa-mura, Minamitsuru-gun 401-0320, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nemba

If you would like to travel back in time to the Showa period where thatched huts and quiet, traditional villages are a way of life, then you might want to explore Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nemba.

Previously destroyed by a typhoon in 1966, the village has since then been reconstructed and opened to the world as an outdoor museum, preserving its old ways of life and traditional craftsmanship.

The village settlement’s thatched houses are built in the style of Kabuto-zukuri, encompassing its form after the samurai’s helmet. It gives the quaint village a lot of character, isn’t it?

Against a stunning Mt. Fuji backdrop, I could imagine how life would be like in this small farming village. Oh, did you know that ‘Iyashi no sato’ literally means ‘healing village’? Awesome.

How to get to Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nemba:

1. From Kawaguchiko Station, take the bus (green line) which goes to Lake Saiko.

2. Hop off at Iyashi no Sato Nenba bus stop.

Address:
2710, Saikonenba, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Japan

Lake Shojiko

Perhaps the lesser-known lake among the Fuji Five lakes region, Lake Shojiko is the smallest of them all. However, it is famed for its Kodaki Fuji scene, where the name means “child-holding Fuji”.

This is due to the position of Mt. Omuro located at its front, so it sort of resembles a mother cradling a child – heart-warming moments from mother nature!

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Lake Shojiko and its famous child cradling scene (Photo credit: Yvonne Z.).

How to get to Lake Shojiko:

1. You can hop on the Omni Bus (blue line) that connects Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko (every 2 hours interval).

2. Alight at the Kodaki View Point bus stop.

For itinerary planning, it is best to refer to the latest official bus schedule online (don’t forget to check out the route map too).

Concluding notes:

Mt. Fuji is just amazing, isn’t it? That said, there are lots of really beautiful spots for sightseeing and touristy stuff to do for everybody in the Fuji Five Lakes region. What’s more, with lots of quality, authentic Japanese cuisine and the exceptional Japanese service experience, we’re pretty sure it’s a great choice for a family vacation!

With the Kawaguchiko station and Fujisan station as the main transportation hub, you will be able to travel to all the five lakes and other attractions using the different types of buses available – find out more here.

Lastly, for cost-savings purposes and to maximise your travel experience in this region, you’re better off getting the Fuji Hakone Pass if you want to explore more areas around Mt. Fuji.

Travel Story Contributor:
Daniel Chen
Singapore

Special Photo Credits:
Yvonne Z.
Singapore

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