Being Japan’s icon and rightfully so, seeing Mt. Fuji is definitely a must for me. There are so many ways and so many places to enjoy the view, but for my trip, I chose to see Mt. Fuji from three vantage points in two days from the Fuji Five Lakes region. I tried viewing Mt. Fuji from the Chureito Pagoda, Mt. Shakushi and Lake Kawaguchiko. So yeah, these are the more nature-leaning sightseeing spots for Mt. Fuji.
I’ve read that Mt. Fuji’s visibility is somewhat unpredictable, so choosing the date to see Mt. Fuji (which I set practically four months in advance) was a gamble for me. But as you’ll see, it did pay off 🙂
Access to Fuji Five Lakes Region Coming from Tokyo
Let me start though by sharing how to get to the Fuji Five Lakes region. If you’re coming from Tokyo, the cheapest and fastest way to get to Fuji Five Lakes is via bus from the Shinjuku Bus Terminal. The trip roughly takes 2 hours and it costs JPY 1750 up to Kawaguchiko. You may purchase in advance and just approach the counter so you can get your ticket and have your seat assignment, or just purchase upfront. This is a hard lesson learned for me: to make the most of your trip, check the timetable and be at the bus terminal at least half an hour early so you can purchase your ticket.
I was originally going to alight at Kawaguchiko Station, but the bus would stop at Shimoyoshida first, where Chureito Pagoda is, so alight at Shimoyoshida station I did. And then I wish I didn’t, because I felt I was in the middle of nowhere. Don’t get me wrong; the town was quiet and lovely, but save from a couple other passengers–a lady and a man–who got off, there was no one else around because the town was covered in snow. And there were no signage near the bus stop that tells you how far Chureito Pagoda is, or which direction you need to head. So I mustered up my courage and asked one of the other passengers. She started telling me that I had to walk, and when I asked how far, she was hesitating. That got me nervous, for sure, until the other passenger spoke up and told me that he’ll show me the way. So we kept walking for at least 10 minutes until he spoke up and pointed at the mountain on the other side of the road. And boy, he did point way up to the mountain’s summit. For the second time that day, first being the moment I got off the bus, I thought of giving up. But I didn’t want to waste the gentleman’s kindness so I kept on. He pointed the way to the train station, i.e., my save point, and then he gave me instructions on how to get to the shrine entrance. I walked on, but didn’t find the way, so I retraced my steps. I came across another couple and this time, they took me right at the steps to Arakura Shengen shrine (where Chureito Pagoda is). So here it is, in pictures:
For a second, I wanted to cry after my phone shut down. I haven’t texted my host yet to pick me up, and it was about to get dark in the next 10 minutes or so. But I steeled myself and focused on getting to the train station. Thankfully, I was able to charge my phone when I got to Shimoyoshida station, texted my host, and then waited at Fujisan station. I then spent the night at Peace & One resort which I wrote about here.
Mt. Shakushi’s summit is one of the underrated viewing spots for Mt. Fuji, but when you conquer the two-hour hike, it’s said to be worth it. Note that I wrote “said to be” because it was too cold for me and I didn’t have enough time. But the trail is beautiful, too:
Following my failed quests to reach Chureito Pagoda and Mt. Shakushi’s summit, I had to ask my host several times if Lake Kawaguchiko is at sea level or not. The lake is one of the most scenic spots to view Mt. Fuji and this spot is the most accessible of the three, and is actually within the busy town. The lake is just a 5 – 10 minute walk from Kawaguchiko bus station and there are plenty of signs to guide the way. I was running on a tight schedule so I just managed to take a few shots of Lake Kawaguchiko:
This time, Mt. Fuji wasn’t completely visible at all (or maybe I was just looking at the wrong direction^^;;) In any case, it was still worth checking out Lake Kawaguchiko, mostly because I’d lose sleep for days in regret if I didn’t! Haha!
Two days, three spots, priceless encounters with places and people.