Like this post? Help us by sharing it!
Seeing Mount Fuji should be on every Japan bucket list, but where is the best place to spot its snowy summit? Senior travel consultant Tim Grisbrooke explores Kawaguchiko in search of that elusive perfect view.
Spotting Mount Fuji
To a lot of people, that majestic mountain in rural Yamanashi (not right next to Tokyo, Gulliermo del Toro) known as Mount Fuji is Japan. It’s an iconic symbol of the country known around the globe. As such, it’s at the top of many bucket lists. Seeing the mountain can be difficult depending on the weather (obscuring the view), so if you do get to see it, you want to in the best possible way. Head to Kawaguchiko, one of the Fuji Five Lakes.
Getting to Kawaguchiko
This lakeside resort, just 10 miles north of Mount Fuji, is popular with Tokyoites escaping from the city. While many people flock to Hakone for hot springs and Fuji views, I feel Kawaguchiko does it better. Certainly when it comes to views!
With highway buses from Shinjuku in Tokyo that take around 2 hours, getting to the area is simple enough. After a leisurely hour and a half, you’ll see Fuji rise on the horizon before you pull up into the centre of town. From there, you can get pick up local sightseeing buses, take a trip up the ropeway and go on a boat ride across the lake. The ropeway leads to an observatory with the most amazing views, and chance to try the local tanuki dango; hot rice cake balls smothered in sweet soy sauce. Simple, but really delicious (if sticky!)
With a few days in Kawaguchiko, I found a wide range of activities; you can canoe across the lake, in addition to tour boat rides, and adrenaline junkies can even take a speedboat. If thrills are your thing, the Fuji-Q Highland theme park is 10 minutes on the train from Kawaguchiko Station. A leisurely walk around the lakeside takes you to various little museums with their own specialities. There are museums about local gems, Fuji and for the horticulturalists? Locally grown herbs. My personal favourite though was the Itchiku Kubota Museum.
Itchiku Kubota Museum
This museum was set up by artist Itchiku Kubota to house both his work and his collection of historic artefacts, such as an extensive glass bead collection from across the world. The main centrepiece of the museum is the ‘Symphony of Light’.
This collection of hand-dyed kimono were designed by Kubota to represent the changing of the seasons across 80 individual kimono. The work finishes at 36 pieces, but the museum gives you an opportunity to see this craftsmanship up close. Sadly, I can’t show the kimono themselves, as pictures aren’t allowed, but I highly recommend the museum. If only for the beautiful architecture and garden design.
Arakura Sengen Shrine
If you want some peace and serenity, Arakura Sengen Shrine is just 20 minutes away on the train. The park is a lovely place to visit (even in the summer rain as I did!), but Chureito Pagoda, about a 15-minute walk up the hill in the park, is the jewel in the area’s crown. From here, you can get iconic shots of Fuji – a photographer’s dream! Sadly, the weather was against me so I couldn’t make it as far as Chureito, but heading here in cherry blossom season would be stunning.
Naturally, accommodation in the area like to shout about their views, and many local ryokan (traditional inns) and hotels have Fuji views from the room. I stayed at the ‘glamping’ resort of Hoshinoya Fuji and woke up to breakfast with this shot:
What better way to start the day? The Hoshinoya Fuji isn’t alone in these views, and even budget options mayhave Fuji views from the room. So, if you enjoy a room with a view and a relaxing few days like myself, Kawaguchiko is definitely one to add to that bucket list.
See yourself eating breakfast with that view? Us too. Get in touch with our team of travel consultants to get planning.