Visiting Mount Fuji: The Guide to Discover Japan’s Famous Mountain
If you are visiting Japan, you know that Mt. Fuji, its highest mountain, is a must-visit. If you want to include this perfect looking snow-capped volcano in your itinerary, we tell you how you can plan our trip based on the experience of a real-traveller.
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Essential Travel Guide to Mount Fuji
Why visit Mt. Fuji?
Image Credit: David Edelstein on Unsplash
Mt Fuji is gorgeous. But everyone already knows that. What is not as well known, is that it is known as “Fujisan” to the locals and it is an active volcano which last erupted in 1707. Another less well-known tidbit is that Mt Fuji is actually a composite of three volcanoes whose combined volcanic activity over the centuries gave Fujisan its unique symmetrical shape and distinctive snow-capped beauty.
Now, this is a travel guide about great places to visit and experiences to be had near Mt Fuji, and you may be thinking “why we are recommending that you visit an active volcano ?”. Well, it hasn’t erupted for well over three centuries so chances are you are going to be safe. Second, volcanic activity means there are hot springs to visit. A lot of hot springs (also known as onsens to the locals)! And just look at that photo of Mt Fuji and tell me you aren’t keen to see it with your own eyes.
But what if you are an adrenaline junkie like me and the languid relaxation required by a hot spring just makes you feel restless? Got you covered. Continue reading for all you need to know to experience Mt. Fuji in all its splendour.
Admiring Mt Fuji From Afar: Best Views
Before actually visiting this Japanese iconic spot, why not admire it from afar? Here are some of the top places where you can get a great view (if the weather allows) on Mt. Fuji:
- Tokyo Metropolitan Government Observation Deck,
- Tokyo Tower,
- Roppongi Hills,
- and the Tokyo Skytree.
Pro Tip: Look for places that are high up in the city.
- Mount Fuji can also be seen well from Haneda Airport’s International Terminal. Head of to the observation deck on the 5th floor. It is open 24 hours but the best time for the best view is early morning.
- Close to the city at just 1 hour away from Shinjuku station, is Mount Takao from where you can also enjoy an awesome view of Mount Fuji.
- About 10 minutes away from Fujisan Station is Lake Kawaguchi, a famous scenic spot known for its stunning contrast between a clear lake and Mount Fuji.
Best time to visit
- Winter (December to February) – Winters in Japan tend to have clear weather and offer good visibility of the mountain.
- Spring (March to May) – During Springtime, the weather is still generally cool making it a pleasant time to visit. Although, you might find that the haze that often occurs can diminish the visibility.
- Summer (June to August) – June and July are usually rainy. August and September are peak seasons for typhoons in Japan so you might not be able to fully enjoy the Fujisan views.
- Autumn (September to November) – Autumn in Japan is always gorgeous and the weather starts to get cooler. You will have better chances of visibility of the mountain if you visit in late October and November.
You can visit Mt Fuji is all year round. However, if you want to attempt the climb, it is strongly recommended to avoid winter as the dangers increase exponentially with sharp temperature drops, strong piercing winds and potential avalanches. In short, don’t attempt the ascent during winter.
Each season lends the areas around Mt Fuji a certain charm and unique beauty. Many of the local menus are entirely seasonal as well, so it is advised that you pick out your preferred season to visit to coincide with your favourite activities, food and whether or not attractions are open during that season.
How to Reach Mt Fuji?
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Take Chuo Line (中央線) at Tokyo Station, and change trains to Fujikyuko Line (富士急行線) at Otsuki Station. And then get off at Mt. Fuji Station, Fuji-Q Highland or Kawaguchiko Station.
3h to 3.5h
~ 3,000 yen
Shinkansen (bullet train)
Take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Tokyo Station (covered by the Japan Rail Pass). Get off at Odawara station. In Odawara, change for the Hakone Tozan line. You might get to see Mt Fuji from the train if the weather allows.
Bus from Tokyo Station
Take the bus from Tokyo Station to Fuji-Q Highland/Kawaguchiko Station/Mt. Fuji Station. The buses depart from Tokyo Station Yaesu South Exit bus terminal in the morning and from Yaesu North Exit Tekko Building in the afternoon.
2 to 2.5 hrs
Bus from Shinjuku Station
Take the bus from Shinjuku Station to Fuji-Q Highland/Kawaguchiko Station (stop only in September). Buses to Mt.Fuji area generally depart from the B Area on the 4th floor of BUSTA.
1,750 to 2,700 yen
Climbing Mt Fuji
Image Credit: Japan-Guide.com
One of the most obvious experiences you can have is to simply climb Mt Fuji. However, ascending the mountain is not that simple. To begin the climb, travel to any one the mountain stations approximately a third of the way up which for some reason all have “fifth station” in their names.
These stations are accessible by vehicles and are all popular locations for climbers and non-climbers alike. The two most developed and largest stations, the Fuji Subaru Line Fifth Station and the Fujinomiya Fifth Stations respectively are well developed, accessible by roads have shops, restaurants and supplies available for purchase for those who wish to hike to the summit. Guides and private tours are available for booking as well. To climb, you must be physically fit and well equipped for the climb.
The trails are marked with many signs and mountain huts along the way to the summit offer respite from the climb in the form of food, shelter and supplies.
Hot Springs, Lakes and Roller Coasters
Image Credit: Fujisan-pref.jp
There is a multitude of hot springs both public and private for every price point available. There are ryokans and hotels which offer a private onsen in your room with a stunning view of Mt Fuji to soothe you as you lay down in your personal onsen.
Fuji Five Lakes and What to do in the Area
There are a famous series of lakes called the Fuji Five Lakes. They are named Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko and Motosuko. They are great if you want to visit the attractions near Mt Fuji and still have a fairly close up view of the majestic volcano.
There is a plethora of activities to do around the five lakes, like shopping at the Gotemba Premium Outlets, unique museums such as the forest music museum, Kimono museum, an open-air museum with a craft village, the Chureito Pagoda which you have probably seen even if you don’t know the name of it (the picture at the top of this article features the Pagoda) and more. There is even a ski village named Snowtown yeti where you can take to the slopes with Mt Fuji as your background.
You can sample a famous local dish named Hoto noodles comprised of thick wheat noodles, a hearty miso broth, seasonal vegetables and served in an iron pot.
If you are looking for a great all-around experience, Lake Kawaguchiko is the most easily accessible of all the lakes with direct train and bus services from Tokyo. Considered a hot spring resort town, it also hosts a ropeway to the summit of the nearby Mt Tenjo to give you a commanding view of Mt Fuji. Yes, I know you are going up a mountain to see another mountain. But the views are spectacular and you can learn about a fairly gruesome local folktale.
Fuji-Q Highland theme park
Image Credit: Fuji-Q highland
And of course, my personal favourite place to visit is the Fuji-Q Highland theme park. This is one of Japan’s most popular theme parks, it is best known for its record-breaking, high octane roller coasters and complex anime themed rides and attractions. The theme park constantly strives to be on the cutting edge of extreme rides and not rest on their laurels. They are continually developing and building world record-breaking rides and attractions so visitors who visit once every several years can always look forward to something new, record-breaking and sure to give them that adrenaline rush that I know and love.
Ready to enjoy Mt. Fuji? Platforms such as Klook offer a great and convenient way to secure your tickets or reservations to attractions and experiences. They also serve as a guide to which attractions are open and if not, when they will be available. The prices and experiences offered change depending on the season and peak travel periods, so it is advisable to research before you fly and manage your budget. If you are more budget conscious, you can still have a great time if you stay at capsule hotels, hostels and utilize the public onsens.
Visiting Mt Fuji can honestly be a trip that you will never forget and I strongly urge those sitting on the fence to take the plunge or in this case, ascend to the top.