Visiting the Mt. Fuji Area: Perfect One-Day Itinerary for around Lake Kawaguchi

Visiting the Mt. Fuji Area: Perfect One-Day Itinerary for around Lake Kawaguchi
Visiting the Mt. Fuji Area: Perfect One-Day Itinerary for around Lake Kawaguchi

As Japan’s tallest and most sacred mountain, Mt. Fuji has been the motif depicted in pictures, cultural items, and various other art forms since ancient times. It is also a major destination for visitors from abroad!

Every year the number of tourists visiting Mt. Fuji and its surroundings is steadily increasing—4.5 million visited in 2017 alone! Mt. Fuji and the Lake Kawaguchi area attract such a large number of visitors, first-time visitors may be at a loss in deciding where to go and what to see. To assist with those decisions, the following sightseeing schedule was created in order to enable a day-trip visitor from Tokyo to fully experience the attractions of this area!

Brief Overview: The Mt. Fuji Area

Both in the past and present Mt. Fuji has been an iconic symbol of Japan to the Japanese. In particular, the Thirty-six Views of Mt. Fuji depicted by Katsushika Hokusai influenced not only Japanese art but introduced the fabled mountain to the rest of the world, too. Mt. Fuji is not only the tallest mountain in Japan, it also boasts the largest number of climbers each year. The summit of Mt. Fuji affords spectacular views of the Southern Alps, Izu Peninsula, and lakes, such as Kawaguchi, all at once. Without a doubt, it offers the most spectacular views of Japan. For Japanese, Mt. Fuji is unparalleled in enabling one to experience the beauty of nature.

At the foot of Mt. Fuji there are five lakes that were created when it last erupted: Lake Motosu, Lake Shoji, Lake Sai, Lake Kawaguchi, and Lake Yamanaka. Together these are called the Five Lakes of Mt. Fuji and in 2013 they were also included as part of Mt. Fuji when it was registered as a Cultural World Heritage site.

Among the five lakes, since ancient times Lake Kawaguchi has been renowned for its scenic beauty. There is an assortment of facilities in the vicinity of Lake Kawaguchi such as the Oishi Park, which affords an excellent view of the lake and Mt. Fuji, the Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum with its medieval European decor in which all sorts of music boxes are displayed, as well as hot spring resorts in which you can relax and enjoy the scenery of Mt. Fuji.

・ Steps leading up to Mt. Fuji being registered as a World Heritage

Let’s learn a little bit of the history of Mt. Fuji before setting out to see it. The path to becoming a World Heritage site was never an even one. Japan ratified the World Heritage Convention in 1992. It was from then that efforts primarily spearheaded by natural conservation groups in the two prefectures surrounding Mt. Fuji—Shizuoka and Yamanashi—began their efforts to get Mt. Fuji registered as a natural heritage.

However, as attention became focused on the problem of climbers on the mountain littering it with trash, efforts to seek registration as a natural heritage were suspended. Nevertheless, neither prefecture abandoned its goal. In 2005 the two prefectures inaugurated the Joint Council for the Registration of Mt. Fuji as a World Cultural Heritage Site. Rather than seek registration as a natural world heritage site, they instead decided to seek registration of the mountain as a cultural heritage site.

As a result of continued public relations activities, primarily by both Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, with increased efforts focused on resolving the problem of trash disposal, the dream of Mt. Fuji being registered as a cultural heritage was realized in 2013 and with that it came to represent Japan both in name and fact.

Today Mt. Fuji receives support from both Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures. When you visit Mt. Fuji, remember the efforts of the local municipalities that is hidden in its history and please make every effort to take away any trash you have when you leave.

Majestic Views of Mt. Fuji: Perfect One-day Course around Lake Kawaguchi

Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (Shinjuku South Exit 4th Floor) (departs at 8:25)

Arrive at Chuodo Shimoyoshida Station at 10:00

Arakurayama Sengen Park

Depart Shimoyoshida Station at 11:00am

Hoto Fudo (Kawaguchiko Ekimae shop)

Depart Lake Kawaguchi Station aboard Lake Sai Excursion Bus (Green Line) at 12:40pm

Yagizaki Park

Depart Yagizaki Park Station aboard Lake Sai Excursion Bus (Green Line) at 1:22pm

Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village

Depart Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Village Station aboard Lake Sai Excursion Bus (Green Line) at 2:40pm

Depart Lake Kawaguchi Station aboard Lake Kawaguchi Excursion Bus (Red Line) at 3:30pm

Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway

Depart Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway Station aboard Lake Kawaguchi Excursion Bus (Red Line) at 5:00pm

Gateway Fujiyama (Lake Kawaguchi Station store)

Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal (Shinjuku South Exit 4th Floor)

Getting to Mt. Fuji: Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal, Shinjuku South Exit 4th Floor

(Depart: 8:25am)

When you go out the south exit of Shinjuku Station you will see a four-story building directly ahead of you. This is the Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal and it is from here you will begin your journey.

For our one-day excursion to Mt. Fuji today we will take the Keio Bus Fuji Goko Line bound for Lake Yamanaka which departs at 8:25 a.m. The expected arrival time at Arakurayama Sengen Park, our first destination, is exactly at ten o'clock. The one-way fare is 1,700 yen and the trip takes about 90 minutes. There are many different ways to get to Mt. Fuji from Tokyo, so when considering factors such as complicated transfers and cost, the express bus from Shinjuku is considered to be the smoothest way to go.

There is also no need for worry if you should happen to miss the scheduled bus departure. In addition to the Keio Bus, there is also the Fuji Express Bus which also goes to Mt. Fuji, so there is a bus heading in that direction every 15 minutes. It is a good idea to check with the counter whether there is a vacant seat on the next bus and whether or not it would be possible to take it. Also, if you arrive earlier than the departure time, you can use the waiting room in the bus terminal.

Arakurayama Sengen Park: Gorgeous Views of Mt. Fuji and the streets of Fuji City

(Depart Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal at 8:25am → arrive at Chuodo Shimoyoshida bus stop at 10:00am)

About an hour and a half after leaving Shinjuku, you will arrive at the Chuodo Shimoyoshida bus stop, which is very near Mt. Fuji, and where you will want to get off the bus. Make your way to the Arakurayama Sengen Park from where you can see both Mt. Fuji and a five-storied pagoda at the same time.

The number of foreign visitors flocking here to take photographs has sharply increased. It is about 1km away from the bus stop. It takes about 20 minutes to wind your way up the gradual slope and when you see the bright red torii gate you will have reached the entrance to Arakurayama Sengen Park. Passing under the torii gate, you will suddenly come upon the Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine.

The shrine, built more than 1,000 years ago, today is famous for drawing crowds of the faithful who seek heavenly protection from disaster, family harmony, safe childbirth, and child-raising. If you continue into the precincts, you will come to stairs leading up to an observation deck. If you climb the 398 steps of the Sakuya Hime Kaidan [Blooming Princess Stairs] you will reach the observation deck.

There are two ways to get to the observation deck. You can either take the stairs, or if you prefer an easier course, you can take the more circuitous route of the path gently going up the hill.

Ascending the stairs you are greeted by the Chureido Pagoda in Arakurayama Sengen Park. From the observation deck, you can overlook magnificent Mt. Fuji, the streets of Fujiyoshida that spread out before it, and the five-storied pagoda.

It is easy to forget the time as you admire the broad landscape with Mt. Fuji at its center. Plus, the park has 650 Yoshino cherry trees which are a sight to behold in the spring when they are in full bloom. Peak season is around mid-April in general, which is later than Tokyo and is thus popular with people who miss blooms around Tokyo.
If you would like to see cherry blossoms and Mt. Fuji at the same time, then Arakurayama Sengen Park is the place to go.

Arakurayama Sengen Park (Chureito Pagoda)
〒403-0011 山梨県富士吉田市浅間2-4-1 / 2-4-1 Asama, Fuji Yoshida-shi, Yamanashi, 403-0011, Japan
Telephone: 0555-21-1000
Open: 24 hours a day
Fee: None
Closed: Open daily

Boarding the Sightseeing Buses: 3 types of buses depart from and arrive at Lake Kawaguchi Station

(Depart Shimoyoshida Station at 10:57am → Arrive at Lake Kawaguchi Station at 11:11am)

After enjoying the magnificent view from Arakurayama Sengen Park, next head to Lake Kawaguchi Station. This time you will use the Fuji Express Line. Take a local Fuji Express Line train bound for Lake Kawaguchi from Shimoyoshida Station and arrive at Kawaguchiko Station in about 15 minutes. The one-way fare for adults (12 years of age and older) is 300 yen and that for children (between 6 and 12 years old) is 120 yen. Once you arrive at Kawaguchiko Station, decide on how you would like to get to your destination.

From Kawaguchiko Station, you can visit the Lake Kawaguchi ~ Mt. Fuji Panorama Ropeway, take a Lake Kawaguchi Excursion Boat, visit the Music Box Forest, and the Lake Kawaguchi Museum of Art using the Lake Kawaguchi Excursion Bus (Red Line); go around Lake Motosu from Kawaguchiko Station using the Narusawa - Lake Shoji - Lake Motosu Excursion Bus (Blue Line); and visit Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village, Lake Sai Bat Cave, Fugaku Wind Cave, and Lake Sai Wild Bird Forest Park using the Lake Sai Excursion Bus (Green Line).

Bus fares range from 150 yen to 1,280 yen depending on the route. Individuals thinking of visiting a number of sightseeing spots should consider purchasing the All Areas Coupon that allows you to ride all the excursion buses as often as you like in a two-day period. It is more convenient than paying each time you board a bus and reduces travel expenses for visiting many sightseeing spots. The Free Pass for adults is 1,500 yen and 750 yen for children.

Let’s take the Lake Sai Excursion Bus (Green Line) to visit Yagizaki Park and Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village and then the Lake Kawaguchi Excursion Bus (Red Line) to visit the Lake Kawaguchi ~ Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway.

Kawaguchiko station
〒401-0301 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町船津3641 / 3641 Funatsu, Minamitsuru-gun, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, 401-0301, Japan
Hours: 6:00 a.m. ~ 10:19 p.m.
Fare: depends on route
Closed: Open daily

Hoto Fudo (Kawaguchiko Ekimae shop): Popular for its miso soup loaded with delicious ingredients

There is more to be enjoyed than just taking in the view of Mt. Fuji and sightseeing around Lake Kawaguchi. There are also many places where you can enjoy delicious meals in the area. One of these is the Famous Hoto Fudo which is very near Kawaguchiko Station.

The dish for which this shop is famous is its Hoto (1,080 yen including tax) which is a miso-based soup loaded with local ingredients grown near the foot of Mt. Fuji and firm-textured noodles. One sip of the hot soup infused with the delicious flavor of the ingredients is enough to refresh and re-energize you after the morning’s activities.

Hoto Fudo offers a number of other dishes such as basashi (thinly sliced raw horse meat) found in Japanese cuisine, and Kokuto Taki Inari (flavored boiled rice wrapped in fried bean curd), its aburaage (fried bean curd) cooked in brown sugar giving it a sweet flavor. Give any of them a try as I am sure you will enjoy them.

Houtou Fudou(Kawaguchiko Station shop)
〒401-0301 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町船津3631-2 / 3631-2 Funatsu, Minamitsurugun, Fujikawaguchikomachi, Yamanashi, 401-0301, Japan
Open: 11:00 a.m. ~ 7:00 p.m.
* If you will be visiting after 4 o'clock in evening or later on a weekday, please be sure to telephone the shop in advance to verify the time it will close.
Prices: Fudo Hoto (1,080 yen including tax); Basashi (1,080 yen including tax); Kokto Taki Inari (432 yen including tax)
Closed: Open daily

Yagizaki Park: Spectacular views of lavender blooming with Mt. Fuji in the background

(Depart Kawaguchiko Station at 12:40 → arrive at Yagizaki Park at 12:52) (Lake Sai Excursion Bus)

After taking a rest at Hoto, let’s next move on to Yagizaki Park, one of a number of places in the prefecture noted for its large number of wild birds. From Kawaguchiko Station take the Lake Sai Excursion Bus (Green Line) for about a 12-minute ride and get off at Yagizaki Park. The fare is 150 yen one way. Yagizaki Park is a short 3-minute walk from the bus stop.

Located on the south coast of Lake Kawaguchi, Yagizaki Park affords an excellent view of the Misaka Mountains as well as the expanse of beautiful lake shoreline unfolding before you. Many types of shrubs and plants, such as lavender, are planted in the park enhancing the view of Mt. Fuji in the distance. This is an excellent place to go for a stroll after a meal.

Every year between June and July the Herb Festival is held in Yagizaki Park and at that time when the lavender is in bloom, the area is carpeted in purple providing yet another beautiful view of Mt. Fuji.

Also on the west side of the park is the Kawaguchiko Muse Museum - Yuki Atae Hall which permanently exhibits the creative works of the noted doll maker Mr. Yuki Atae. More than one hundred dolls created by Mr. Yuki Atae are on permanent display at the Kawaguchiko Muse Museum - Yuki Atae Hall, and at other times various other displays are also exhibited. In addition, there is a museum shop that sells postcards featuring the items being displayed and other goods, such as card cases, and at the Doll Cafe you can enjoy hearty dishes, desserts, and alcoholic beverages.

Yagisaki Park
〒401-0302 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町小立897-1 / 897-1 Kodachi, Minamitsurugun, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, 401-0302, Japan
Open: 24 hours a day
Fee: None
Closed: Open daily

Kawaguchiko Muse Museum
〒401-0302 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町小立923 / 923 Odachi, Minamitsuru-gun, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, 401-0302, Japan
Open: 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (Admission until 4:30 p.m.)
Admission fee: General / university students: 600 yen (540 yen)
Junior and Senior High School students: 400 yen (360 yen)
* No charge for elementary school age and younger
* ( ) indicates individual fee for groups of 8 or more
* Admission for those with disability cards is half price
Closed: Every Thursday between December and March
Exhibition change dates: March, September, the end of the year
* Please telephone for more details.

Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village: A charming farming village of old

(Depart Yagizaki Park at 1:22pm → Arrive at Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village at 1:50pm)

After enjoying the natural scenery of Yagizaki Park, next head to the Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village. After once again boarding the Lake Sai Excursion Bus (Green Line) at Yagizaki Park, you will arrive at Lake Sai after about 28 minutes, the one-way fare being 520 yen. The Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village is a recreation of a village of old thatch-roofed farm houses.

Created 52 years ago, there are several thatch-roofed farm houses in a style called Kabuto-zukuri (made like a helmet) because when viewed from the side, the roof looks like a samurai's helmet; a style of Japanese housing that was common in this area. A typhoon in 1966 leveled the area and the old houses became a thing of the past. Today it is difficult to see traditional old farm houses in other parts of Japan such as those that have been faithfully recreated here at Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village.

Each building has its own unique characteristics, for example, the Tokusanhin Kakojo [Special Products Processing Plant] which sells special products such as locally produced wine and sake; the Omoideya [House of Memories]; the Shokuji/Kanmi Saiun [Food and Sweets Saiun] where you can enjoy light meals and tea; the Sabo Shiryokan [Erosion Control Museum] where you can learn about disaster prevention; and the Tsuchi Asobi Fuji Roman Kama [Ceramics Experience] where you can enjoy trying your hand at handicrafts.

This is the only place where you can take photos of the majestic Mt. Fuji in the background of this setting of old traditional-style farm houses. Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village is the ideal place for taking memorable photos of your visit.

Saiko Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba
〒401-0332 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町西湖根場2710 / 2710 Saiko Nenba, Minamitsuru-gun, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, 401-0332, Japan
Open: March ~ November 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:00 p.m. (Last admission 4:30 p.m.)
December ~ February 9:30 a.m. ~ 4:30 p.m. (Last admission 4:00 p.m.)
Admission fee: Adults (high school age and above) 350 yen (300 yen)
・ Children (junior high school age and below) 150 yen (100 yen)
* ( ) indicates individual fee for groups of 20 or more
・ Adults with disabilities: 150 yen
・ Children with disabilities: 50 yen
* Please show disability card at admission counter
Closed: open year-round (*There are times when there are unscheduled closures)

Lake Kawaguchi - Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway: Enjoy the panoramic view from 1075 meters up!

(Depart Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village at 2:40pm → Arrive at Lake Kawaguchiko Station at 3:15pm → Depart Lake Kawaguchiko Station at 3:30pm → Arrive at Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway at 3:41pm)

After enjoying the rustic scenery of an old Japanese village at Lake Sai Iyashinosato Ancient Japanese Village, let’s next head to the Lake Kawaguchi ~ Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway. Once again we will take the Lake Sai Excursion Bus (Green Line) for a 35-minute ride (700 yen one way) back to Kawaguchiko Station. After getting off there, we will next take the Lake Kawaguchi Excursion Bus (Red Line) for a 10-minute ride (150 yen one way) to the Excursion Boat and Ropeway Entrance.

After arriving there, we’ll take the ropeway up to the top of the mountain. From the observation deck located atop the 1075-meter peak, if the weather is fine, a broad panorama encompassing all of Mt. Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi, as well as Mt Akaishi and Mt. Arakawa in the Southern Alps will welcome you.

In autumn the crimson-colored leaves on the trees on the mountain are a sight to behold together with Mt. Fuji and the shore around Lake Kawaguchi. There are several places in this area where views of Mt. Fuji can be enjoyed, but of them all, this is the only one that affords a 360-degree panoramic view.

Mt.Fuji Panoramic Ropeway
〒401-0303 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町浅川1163-1 / 1163-1 Asakawa, Minamitsuru-gun, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, 401-0303, Japan
Hours: (normal times) 9:00 a.m. ~ 5:20 p.m. (Last trip up 5:00 p.m.)
(Winter season) December 1 ~ February 28 9:30 a.m. ~ 4:40 p.m. (Last trip up 4:20 p.m.)

Fares: Individuals
・ Adult Round trip 800 yen (400 yen); one-way 450 yen (230 yen)
・ Child Round trip 400 yen (200 yen); one-way 230 yen (120 yen)
* Fares in ( ) are for the disabled
・ Group Adult Round trip 720 yen; one-way 410 yen
・ Group Child Round trip 360 yen; one-way 210 yen
・ Student Adult Round trip 640 yen; one-way 360 yen
・ Student Child Round trip 320 yen; one-way 190 yen
* Group fares are for 15 or more people
* Adult fares are for junior high school age and above
* Group fares for elementary school age and younger are those for Group Child fares

Closed: open year-round (*There are times when there are unscheduled closures due to weather conditions.
Light meals and souvenirs are offered at the Tanuki Jaya [raccoon dog tea house].)

“Tanuki Jaya” Shop
〒401-0303 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町浅川1163−1 / 1163−1 Asakawa, Minamitsuru-gun, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, 401-0303, Japan
Hours: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Prices: Food
Tanuki Dango [raccoon dog dumpling] (400 yen tax included), Usagi Dango [rabbit dumpling] (400 yen tax included), Zekkei Itadaki Karēpan [Superb View Curry Bread] (400 yen including tax), Usagi Soft [rabbit soft ice cream] (400 yen including tax), Matcha Float (500 yen including tax), Fujiyama Beer (650 yen including tax)

Mini Osembei (550 yen including tax), Osembei (400 yen including tax), Gondola-shaped Fujiyama Cookie (700 yen including tax), Usagi Jinja Omamori [Rabbit Shrine Amulet] (620 yen including tax), Tobidashi Mascot (380 yen including tax), Frame Magnet (270 yen including tax), Ema [Votive picture] for fulfillment of love (410 yen including tax), Ema [Votive picture] for family well-being (410 yen tax included), Fujisan mai kago jōsha tegata [Mt. Fuji Pilgrimage Litter Ticket] (500 yen tax included), Lake Kawaguchi ~ Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway Limited Edition Medallion (200 yen tax included)

Closed: open year-round * There are times when there are unscheduled closures

Gateway Fujiyama Lake Kawaguchi: Perfect souvenirs of your sightseeing around Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi

(Depart Fuji Panoramic Ropeway at 5:00pm → Arrive at Kawaguchiko Station

As we leave the Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway, our day-trip to the area and its spectacular scenery draws to a close. We board the Lake Kawaguchi Excursion Bus (Red Line) (150 yen one way) and return to Kawaguchiko Station.

Before leaving Kawaguchiko Station and returning to Shinjuku, we have one last chance to shop. Gateway Fujiyama Lake Kawaguchi is an antennae shop that has a wide selection of local well-known products and souvenirs. The Fujiyama Cookie, in the shape of Mt. Fuji, is especially popular with tourists. It is made with flour produced in Japan, honey from Mt. Fuji, cheese, and other select ingredients, and baked to a nice shape. It has a delicious flavor that lingers delightfully in the mouth with each bite. Its delightful representation of Mt. Fuji, as well as its aromatic texture and flavor, also accounts for its popularity.

Also located in the building is the Fujiyama Cafe, a corner offering country-style food and drink made with local ingredients such as Yoshida Udon (650 yen tax included) that is a specialty of the region, and Fujiyama Soft (370 yen tax included), a double-layered soft ice cream cone representing the colors of Mt. Fuji.

Gateway Fujiyama Kawaguchiko(Kawaguchiko Station shop)
〒401-0301山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町船津3641 / 3641 Funatsu, Minamitsuru-gun, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Yamanashi, 401-0301, Japan
Open: 8:00 AM a.m. ~ 8:00 p.m. * Times may vary according to the season
Prices: Depend on the product
Closed: July - September always open; October - June unscheduled holidays

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Written by Tomoya Nakazawa