Those who think about travelling to Japan know, that Mt. Fuji is one of those places that must be seen. It is the highest mountain in Japan (3776 meters in high) and it is an active stratovolcano as well (the same as in Italy: Etna, Vesuvius or Stromboli). In 2013, Mt. Fuji was listed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site as a sacred place and source of artistic inspiration.
The characteristic, conical silhouette of the volcano, by the majority of time snow-capped, has inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries. Publications with the image of the mountain – have already appeared in the Edo era, ie. in the form of woodcuts (most famous are the works of Hokusai), now appear on the covers of Japan guides, on the book covers, postcards, leaflets, cups, T-shirts or magnets on the refrigerator.
In 1957, founders of the new TV channel were looking for a perfect name. During those researches, they were inspired by the name and popularity of the Mt. Fujii, so based on its popularity, they decided to build their own brand. On their website, it states: “A TV station must be loved by everyone; therefore, our name should be crowd-pleasing. ‘Mt.Fuji’ is the most popular icon in Japan, so how about ‘Fuji Television’?”. Fuji TV is one of the most popular TV stations, with the main building located at Odaiba, where Tokyo’s bay is.
Mt. Fuji – sacred place and symbol of Japan
For the Shinto followers – Fuji remains a holy mountain, and for all Japanese people – the eternal symbol of their country. It is a place of religious worship, a sacred place famous for 12 centuries, visited by almost 17 million people a year. On the bottom of the mountain, there is the Fujisan Hongu Sengentaisha Temple – a thousand-year-old temple dedicated to the female deity, princess Konohana-no-sakuyahime-no-mikoto.
What is interesting, until 1868, there was no entry allowed for women.
Before heading to the top of the mountain, it is desirable to come to the face of the deity and to bow down, to apologize for the disturbance of the peace. The temple was also built in the belief that it would protect the surrounding area and Edo, against the next volcano eruption. The last eruption (caused by a strong earthquake) took place in 1707/1708, so it is worthy to be grateful.
Mt. Fuji – climbing
It is possible to reach the peak of the mountain at a specific time of the year. The main climbing season is in July and August. During the summer period (from May to September), up to 2400 m high – you can drive up the mountain (asphalt road) by bus or car. Entry from this place to the summit can take between 4 to 7 hours (depending on the condition of the hiker, weather conditions and traffic on the trail), the time of descent may take from 2 to 4 hours. On the way, there are several shelters, and at the top of the mountain, there is a meteorological observatory. During the winter season on one of the slopes, there are downhill ski areas.
The popular Japanese proverb says: “You have to be a fool not to enter it once, and even more foolish to enter it twice.” If you do not want to look like a fool, your first-time trip should be prepared properly and you should take care of appropriate equipment. You should also remember that even in the peak summer season in August, the temperature can fall to 5 degrees. On the north side, Mt. Fuji is surrounded by five lakes, with the common name: Fuji Goko and the mountain itself is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
Mt. Fuji – how to get there from Tokyo?
From Tokyo, you can take a train or a bus if you want to reach nearby the Mt. Fuji. I recommend the bus option, as this is the cheapest way. Daily, several buses are going in the direction of the mountain. We have chosen Highway Bus. Bus ticket from Shinjuku station in Tokyo to Fujian costs about 1750 yen (about 14Euro one way). It is possible to book a ticket upfront the trip, via the Internet (when you book online, you must choose a specific departure and arrival time as well as reserve seated place). Please keep in mind that you must pick up your ticket, max 15 minutes before the departure otherwise you will lose it. So, please be there on time. Your final stop should be Kawaguchiko Lake.
The bus terminal of Shinjuku Station West Exit, from where the Highway Bus departs, is in front of Shinjuku Station, across the street. The entrance to the main hall of the bus station is quite well signposted and there is no way to be lost when looking for stairs leading up to the station hall located on the 4th floor. There is a large and comfortable waiting room and several cash desks. We had made an earlier booking, but when we were buying tickets at the station, we were asked if we want to change departure or arrival time as it was still possible.
In the waiting hall, there are visible and well-marked timetables displayed on large screens, so there is no problem with finding the departure gate. Buses are parking just in front of the door of the waiting room, so it is a place where you no longer must look for a stop or go anywhere. On the way to Mt. Fuji, there are many suburban stops, but not many people use them. It takes about 1hour and 45 minutes to get from Shinjuku station in Tokyo to the final bus stop at Kawaguchiko Station.
The trip itself is an interesting attraction. When you are nearby the mountain, it appears directly in front of the bus, so you can enjoy its beautiful views.
Kawaguchiko lake and its attractions
When you get out of the bus, you are just in front of the train station, loop touristic bus and information point. It is worthy to enter the Tourist Information, as there are local maps and service provided in English. In front of the train station, you will find the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus stop (Red Line and Green Line). I recommend it only to those who intend to stay longer than one day or would like to have a tour of the nearby lakes or waterfall. You can purchase a bus ticket valid only for 2 days, cost from 1300 to 1500 yen (10-12 Euro). The more expensive cost, if you also want to use Blue Line – which has the longest route.
For those who came here only for one day, and would like to see Mt. Fuji from Lake Kawaguchiko, I recommend taking a stroll and do not spend your money on the bus. Walking distance from the station to the lake is about 15 minutes. This time can be longer if on your way you will visit little but charming Entuji Temple.
View at Mt. Fuji
On the right side of the lakeshore, there is Kawaguchiko Ropeway cable car station (800-yen return / 6 Euro). To reach the top of Mount Tenjo it takes about 3 minutes. Here you can find a few beautiful spots with an amazing view on the Mt. Fuji. Do not rush to take a photo, do not crowd in the first viewpoint you will see after leaving the cable car. Few meters away there are few other places where you can take beautiful photos – without crowding with others.
From the top of Mt. Tenjo, there are also beautiful views at Kawaguchiko Lake and the nearest area. In the distance, you can also see the mountains located on the other side of the lake.
At the lake, you can find some beautiful viewpoints (including places where hydrangeas, lavender and cherry are blooming). On the local maps, you can find those areas with information when there is a pick of blooming season. Here you can buy a trip by boat, go on a water-bike or visit one of the museums. Near the lake, there is a sake brewery and onsen baths with hot springs. There are some lovely statues and very interesting monuments as well.
On our way, back to the bus station, we visited another small temple, built-in 1476: Hachioji shrine (Funatsu).
Return to Tokyo by Highway Bus. Bus returns almost to the same place from which he left at the Shinjuku Bus Terminal, on the 3rd floor. For those who plan to visit Kawaguchiko Lake, I would recommend staying there one day, as it is a great place to rest.
If I would be able to be back there – I would be happy to spend 2 days on this tour, to be able to visit the nearest area, neighbouring lakes and local waterfall.
- Highway Bus
- Ticket reservation HIGHWAY BUS
- Fujikyuko Bus
- Japan National Tourist Organization: MT. Fuji and Fuji Five Lakes
So far, my other posts about Japan:
- Japan – how to organise trip by your own
- Japan – tailor-made travel plan
- my own gallery of Japan photos