Classified as the highest mountain in Japan at 3776m, Mount Fuji is not only a famous symbol of the Japanese culture, but also one of the most popular destinations among visitors in Honshu island.
The month of February had barely begun and the clear and blue sky above Tokyo was a reminder that the day to witness the iconic Mount Fuji had arrived. Excitement and curiosity were undeniable while getting ready to leave the hotel room.
It is essential to travel to Fuji under the perfect weather conditions, so that, instead of just having a short glimpse of the beautiful mountain or not being able to see it at all, the trip pays off. Furthermore, we knew, beforehand, that travelling to Japan in winter would grant us beautiful sunny days – take a look at this previous post with useful tips to help you travelling in Japan.
Fuji can be seen from multiple places. Why did we choose the Five Lakes in Fujikawaguchiko?
There are, at least, two common touristic places to enjoy dazzling views to Mount Fuji. On the one hand the Five Lakes in Fujikawaguchiko town is the closest one, sitting in the northern foot of the mountain. On the other hand, Hakone, a geopark nearby, and the lake Ashi are also quite popular among travellers, although further.
Our choice was Fujikawaguchiko and the surrounding Five Lakes, since we were almost absolutely guaranteed that from there, even if there were some clouds, Mount Fuji could be seen. From Hakone, however, if there was a chance of having fog and some clouds, it would not allow a clear view of the mountain.
In addition, the remarkable Chureito Pagoda, which makes a distinguishing post card from Fuji, can be easily accessed from Fujikawaguchiko.
How did we get to Fujikawaguchiko from Tokyo?
Early in the morning, we went to Shinjuku station, the busiest in the world, where more than three million people take trains everyday.
We bought our tickets (to take the JR Chuo Line to Otsuki – we did not have the Japan Rail Pass, but if you do, this line is included. The trip takes roughly one hour and a half and as we got to Otsuki, we had to change to the Fujikyu Railway Line until the last Kawaguchiko station – not valid with a JR Pass, costs 1140 yen each way. This second leg of the day took about one hour, which means that from Tokyo to Mount Fuji, we spent nearly three hours. To return to Tokyo, we did exactly the same, later on that same day.
In sum, bear in mind the amount of time a day trip to Fuji takes. Wake up early and get there still in the morning, when there’s a lesser risk of foggy weather. Also, remind that for the section between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko, the Japan Rail Pass is not valid.
What have we done in one day?
As soon as the train arrived at Kawaguchiko station, we were asked to answer a brief survey straight away. It did not take too long and, honestly, turned up being useful, since we were told great viewpoints for photos.
Despite the sunny day, the temperature was below freezing alongside a bitter wind blowing. It was almost midday when we started our walk around the lake and took more time than we had imagined. Due to our main purpose to photograph the mountain and the lake, crossing to the other side was mandatory. The lake is surrounded by either hotels and hot spring baths or museums and we did not go any further from Ubuyagasaki, short before the single bridge over the lake, where we stood for a while, just waiting for sunset.
Attention: Our troubled return to Tokyo
The train back to Otsuki departed at 6:30 p.m sharp and while on that train, we began figuring out we might miss the connection train to Tokyo. Therefore, with the rush in Otsuki station, we ended up stepping aboard the wrong train, despite setting off from the right platform – too early (instead of too late)!
The moment we realized it, the train would make its next stop in the last station both lines had in common! Fortunately, we were able to make that change and still arriving at Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, just before 10 p.m, tired and starving.
All in all, this day turned up a great adventure we will not forget too soon.
Want to know more about Japan, our trip and read useful tips? Click here to find it.