Mount Fuji is the icon of Japan and on many traveler’s bucket lists. In case you are planning on mainly staying in Tokyo (for example to explore Tokyo for 5 days) during your trip to Japan, don’t fret. Fujisan(富士山), as the mountain is called in Japanese, is only a short distance from Tokyo and planning a Day Trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo is no problem at all.
If you are the sportive kind, you might want to climb the 3776-meter high mountain. But if you are visiting in the colder months, where climbing Mount Fuji is forbidden your only option is viewing the iconic mountain from the bottom. This post mainly covers the day trips to Mount Fuji with the objective of viewing the mountain in all its beauty rather than undergoing the strenuous task of climbing all the way to the top.
You can only see Fujisan on sunny days when no clouds obstruct the view of the mountain. The views of Mount Fuji are especially beautiful in the early morning (before 9 a.m.) or the evening, because during noon clouds often obstruct the view, even on otherwise sunny and beautiful days.
So for a day trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo you have to either get up really early or stay until the evening.
Fujigoko (富士五湖) or Fuji Five Lakes is an area about two hours west of Tokyo. The five lakes formed due to the eruption of Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes area is a favorite weekend or day trip destination from Tokyo. Not only the abundant nature is beautiful, but there are also famous Onsen and other sights to be seen. While you can see Mount Fuji in many places around the Fujigoko area, some viewing spots are exceptionally lovely.
Typically, from April to June each year (from April 14 to May 27, 2018) the Shibazakura (pink moss) Festival is held close to Motosuko Lake in the Fuji Five Lakes area. The festival offers impressive views of vast fields of Shibazakura with Mount Fuji in the background.
Due to the popularity of the festival I highly recommend not to visit during the Golden Week (a one week holiday in Japan at the beginning of May) or on weekends. For the best views and least people, a visit in the early morning will be your best option, even on weekdays.
I am planning a trip to the Shibazakura Festival this month (May 2018) and will tell you all about my experience in a following blog post. And if you love flowers Furano might also be an interesting destination for you.
Kawaguchiko (河口湖) is the most accessible lake of the Fuji Five Lake area, and from its northern shore, you will have a fantastic view of Mount Fuji especially during cherry blossom season in April and fall season at the first half of November. Lake Kawaguchiko has much more to offer than just an unforgettable view of Fujisan. There are hot springs and a variety of museums you could visit during your day trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo.
Kawaguchiko is easily accessed from Tokyo’s Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal by highway bus (2 hours, 1750 Yen). About two buses leave every hour. You can also take buses from Tokyo Station or Shibuya.
If you are a JR Railpass holder and are not in too much of a hurry, you might want to take a train from Shinjuku to Otsuki Station which takes 70 minutes and then buy an onward train ride for 1140 Yen to Kawaguchiko, which will take another 55 minutes.
The Chureito Pagoda (忠霊塔) is part of the Arakura Fuji Sengen Jinja Shrine (新倉富士浅間神社). You climb the 400 steps from the bottom where the main shrine is located all the way to the pagoda on the top, then you make your way around the pagoda and get a look at the pagoda in the foreground and Mt. Fuji in the background. It is one of the most famous images of Japan and extraordinarily beautiful in November when the many maple trees turn bright red, or during cherry blossom season when the cherry trees around the pagoda are in full blossom.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Chureito Pagoda. On the one hand, it is a beautiful spot to view Fujisan. On the other, every time I visit there are clouds in front of the mountain. This is not to say that you won’t be able to get that perfect shot, I know many people who got lucky and had a fantastic, unforgettable view. It’s just mine and Taka’s luck which in the three times we tried to visit Mount Fuji was hidden at least partly in the clouds.
You can get to the Chureito Pagoda either by a train going all the way to Shimo-Yoshida Station on the Fujikyu Railway Line (10 minutes, 300 yen from Kawaguchiko) and walking the short 10-minute distance from there, or by Mount Fuji World Heritage Loop bus.
If you want to do something a little bit different on your day trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo, riding a roller coaster while admiring Mount Fuji might do the trick. At Fuji Q, the famous amusement park in Kawaguchiko you can do just that. Fuji Q is one of the most popular amusement parks in all of Japan; one reason is the record-breaking Fujiyama roller coaster, which used to be the fastest and highest when it was opened in 1996. Since then the park has been continuously upgraded, and there are always new attractions to compel people to visit.
I am not a lover of roller coasters myself and have never been inside Fuji Q Highland Park, although I have driven by and can tell you it looks fantastic. But I do have some friends who recently visited the Fuji Q Highland park during their trip to Japan. They told me even though the lines where a little long sometimes it was a lot of fun to ride the four crazy roller coasters, but they mainly loved the haunted house, which used to be a real hospital.
You can get your ticket for Fuji Q Highland at a discount from KLOOK.com
Most busses bound for Kawaguchiko from Shinjuku make a stop at Fuji Q Highland. This is probably the easiest way to get to the amusement park from Tokyo. The aforementioned Fujikyu Railway Line between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko also stops at Fujikyu Highland Station.
Motosuko (本栖湖) is the fifths lake of the Fuji Five Lakes and furthest away from Tokyo. The lake with Mount Fuji in the background is the iconic scene of the Japanese 1000 Yen bill. There is a convenient viewing point directly at the street going around the lake.
If you want to get to Lake Motosuko, you can take a bus from Kawaguchiko Station which leaves about once an hour and will take about 30 minutes (1230 Yen).
Hakone is another favorite day trip or weekend destination from Tokyo, because of it’s incredible views of Fujisan. It is also a hot spring destination because of the vulcanic activities in the area. There are a lot of activities to enjoy around Hakone, and while a day trip from Tokyo would be enough to see Mount Fuji there is enough to see and do to spend a night here.
If you want to get a fantastic view of Mount Fuji from Ashinoko (足の湖) I recommend you get on one of the Sightseeing Cruise Boats crossing the lake between Togendai, Hakone Machi, and Moto Hakone. A round trip costs 1840 yen (18 USD). The tori gate of Hakone Jinja Shrine (which I suggest you visit from Moto Hakone Port) in the foreground of the lake and Mount Fuji in the background is an unforgettable sight and can be best enjoyed on your way to Togendai port.
There are multiple ways to access Hakone from Tokyo by public transport, but none that will let you reach Ashinoko without any transfers. If you are a JR Railpass holder, you might want to take the Shinkansen to Odawara Station (30 minutes) and then continue your journey to Ashinoko by bus to Moto Hakone or Hakone-machi. The route from Odawara will cost 1180 yen and take about 50 minutes.
If you don’t have a JR Rail Pass you might want to consider a bus ride from Tokyo to Hakone on the Odakyu Hakone Highway Bus from Shinjuku.
From Togendai you can also take the Hakone Ropeway (1370 yen) to Owakudani (大涌谷) where you can breathe in the (not so pleasant) smell of sulfurous fumes as they come to the surface of this active volcano. You can not only enjoy black eggs that have been cooked in the sulfurous waters but also have an amazing view of Mount Fuji on sunny days.
If you are planning to stay in Hakone for a little while longer than just a day trip, it might be worth looking into the Hakone Free Pass. It includes the ropeway, boat rides and busses around Hakone and there is even one that will cover your way to and from Tokyo.
The most flexible way to get to all the Mount Fuji viewing spots is to rent a car in Tokyo and drive yourself. That is what we always do. You can get to the Fuji Five Lakes area as well as Hakone in about two hours.
Please note that to drive within Japan you need an International Driving Permit and you will have to get this before arriving in Japan.
Did you know that you don’t even have to go on a day trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo to see Mount Fuji? When the weather is good, you can see Mount Fuji even from Tokyo. One of the best places to do this is the Tokyo Tower. The views from the Tokyo Tower are especially beautiful when the sun is going down, but that is also the time when it is most crowded.
Another great way to see Mount Fuji is from the Shinkansen bullet train. As you can see in the picture above. If you are heading to for example Nagoya, Kyoto or Hiroshima on the right-hand side you will get a spectacular look at Fujisan on sunny days. For your seat reservation make sure you sit by the window on the right side of the train.
If seeing the famous mountain on a day trip from Tokyo is not enough for you, you can also climb Mount Fuji. Climbing is only possible in the summer months from July to September, the official climbing season. In the other months, Mount Fuji is covered in snow and therefore it is too dangerous to climb. I have never climbed Fujisan before and am not planning on doing it soon. I am not a climber and Taka isn’t either. But the views from the top, especially the sunrise is supposed to be magical.
There is a saying in Japanese that you have to climb Mount Fuji once in your life, but if you climb it more than once you are crazy.
If you are looking for more information on how to climb Mount Fuji, I can recommend the post from theplanetD that covers all the relevant information for a trip to Mount Fuji if you want to climb the mountain.
None of the experiences in this post are in any way sponsored and have all been payed for by myself. The opinions stated are all my own and have not been influenced in any way.
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