Mount Fuji or Fuji San as known by the locals is a popular tourist destination. Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain and it is well known for its white snow-capped facade. Catching a side of this is not that easy as it is dependent on the weather as well. Lake Kawaguchiko in the vicinity of Mt Fuji is a common spot for tourists. You can do a day trip here just for sight or stay here overnight in one of the hotels or ryokans overlooking the mountain. Checking out Mt Fuji is on my bucketlist. It is said to be better in the winter season when the skies are clear. When the weather is good, you can even have a view of the mountain from Tokyo. Do check the weather forecast ahead before heading for your day trip as you do not want to travel out there and not get a view of the mountain. There isn’t anything else besides Mt Fuji.
Travelling to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo
There are a couple of ways to get to the Mt Fuji area from Tokyo. When people speak about Mt Fuji, they are usually referring to the 5 lakes and towns in its vicinity. Kawaguchiko is one of them and by far the most famous and well-established one in terms of facilities and amenities. While it is possible to ascent Japan’s highest peak, Mt Fuji which lies 3776 m above sea level, it is usually left for the professionals. Tourists flock to one of the nearby lakes for a view of Fuji San. You can take a bus, or train in addition to self-drive when you are heading here from Tokyo. There are pros and cons for each method. The bus will usually be the easiest way to get there. Although you are prone to a traffic disturbances. Check out the highway bus if you are keen to take the bus there. You can find more information here. Most of them leave from Shinjuku or Shibuya. I however decide to take the trains as I wanted to make full use of my JR Pass.
Heading to Mt Fuji or Kawaguchiko by public transport is rather inefficient by Japanese standards. You are looking at the very least a 2 hours journey from Shinjuku and you still have to get here from where you are staying. Plan for another 40 mins or so! If you are not taking the Limited Express Fuji Excursion Trains, plan even more time. The usual Chuo Line and Fujikyuko Line transfers take a much longer time. I took the Fuji Excursion Express from Shinjuku which is the easiest way via trains and the fastest. This special express train only runs a limited number of round trips per day between Shinjuku Station on the JR Lines and Lake Kawaguchi on the Fujikyuko Line. The ride runs as JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku to Otsuki Station and then as the Fujikyuko. Do note that with a JR Pass, your journey is only partially covered and you have to get additional tickets for the ride after Otsuki. You must also reserve the ride in advance and you can only do so at JR East counters. I found it the hard way when running around doing the reservations at Tokyo Station. You can find more info here. There is another issue as we are not able to get tickets and seat reservations for the Fujikyuko Line portion. Here are some pictures of the train ride. It is very comfortable, at least for the portion we had seats.
We had to top up another 1770 yen per person for the uncovered option. Considering that the highway bus only cost 2200 yen. The next time, I will probably just opt for the bus to make things easy. Heading back was much better as we boarded early and managed to get unreserved seats back to Shinjuku.
Kawaguchiko & Mt Fuji
Immediately after alighting at Kawaguchiko Station, we are greeted by the towering Mt Fuji right behind us and we of course when into full photographer mode!
We then took a short stroll over to Lake Kawaguchiko which is about a 15 mins stroll. The sun was out and the weather was lovely! It was pretty busy and they had some events by the lakeside. We got some snacks from a nearby convenience store and then headed to the ropeway.
The Mt Fuji Panoramic Ropeway takes you up to the nearby hill which boasts an amazing view of Mt Fuji. Here you can get unblocked views of Mt Fuji. I love it. You can get tickets on the spot and they cost 900 yen each. I got so many lovely pictures here. You can get a good view of the lake from here too.
I had lunch during my short time there and we went to one of the highly recommended eateries in the area called Fuji Tempura Idaten. There isn’t much in the area and some of them are also only open in the evening. The other famous outlet near the station would be Hotou Fudo Kawaguchiko Station. Be careful of the waiting times as it can get crowded. We waited for a long time to get a table and have our meal served. It is kinda stressful especially since we are rushing for our return train. The tempura was really good and the prices were fair as well. We got their famous Fuji Don which is designed like Mt Fuji!
Seeing Fuji San or Mt Fuji is something you have to do when in Japan. You have to do it at least once! The entire experience is very weather dependent so do check out the forecast before planning anything especially when you are doing a day trip. You won’t want to travel out there and not get to see anything. I wish I had slightly more time in the area and would love to visit a couple more spots. Time is rather right given the long travelling hours. I took the 9am train out of Tokyo and the 3pm train back. That gives me only around 4 hours in Kawaguchiko. I do have to say that there isn’t much in the area beside the view of Mt Fuji. Sometimes it helps that I had a JR pass and can do it more flexibly rather than just getting fixed tickets. It’s so nice seeing you Fuji San. Till next time then.
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