In case you didn’t know I am a geographer. It was always my favourite subject at school, and I of course studied it at university. Therefore, Mount Fuji for me was a big deal, I was finally going to be able to tick off a childhood bucket list dream. There are a few different places you can view Mount Fuji from but below I’m going to detail my experiences of the small town of Katsuyama and the beautiful Lake Kawaguchi.
I spent a while trying to figure out the best way to travel to Mount Fuji from Kyoto because this active volcano is actually much closer to Tokyo than Kyoto. Some people choose to travel to Tokyo first and then back down to Mount Fuji. I however, decided to take the Hikari train on the JR Tokaido Shinkansen from Kyoto Station to Mishima Station. This trip takes just 2 hours and cost 11,100 YEN (US$100). Even just writing that makes me want to throw up! Take note travel in Japan is not cheap. I think prices have definitely gone up in price since I was there in January 2020, with tickets on the Shinkansen website being around 14,950 YEN (link below).
When in Mishima you then want to take a bus to Kawaguchiko, it’s a quick 90-minute trip. This trip is 2,300 YEN (US$20) one way or 4,200 YEN (US$38) return. The Fujikyu City Bus website is pretty useful, so I have also linked that below. After enjoying the spectacular views of Mount Fuji I then took the bus from Kawaguchiko Station to Shinjuku bus terminal in Tokyo, costing 2,000 YEN (US$18).
Where to Stay
Whilst visiting Mount Fuji I stayed at K’s House. Located just 1.2km from Kawaguchiko Station it was a highly convenient location to enjoy all that the area has to offer. It was a nice walk to Lake Kawaguchiko and close to convenience stores and restaurants. I definitely picked K’s House because it was cheap and in a good location. They offer Japanese-style rooms and dormitory rooms. Their cheapest accommodation option was the 9-bed mixed dormitory that is priced between 2,500 – 2,800 YEN (US$22.50-25.30) and a private room for 2 people was in the range of 3,600-4,200 YEN (US$32.50-38.00). The hostel staff were very friendly and helpful. The rooms and common room areas were basic, a bit dated, but most importantly clean! There was also a nice kitchen and living room area, with very comfy sofas (I definitely fell asleep there after long days walking!). I loved some of the travel décor touches around the reception area, including a pin board of currency from around the world.
Things to Do
I mean obviously staring at Mount Fuji will be top of your list, and I mean never taking your eyes of this stunner of a volcano. Lake Kawaguchi will be your base for most activities but here is a list of things to do surrounding Mount Fuji.
You just have to walk around Lake Kawaguchi. The shoreline walk is spectacular, constant views of Mount Fuji from an array of angles makes for great photography. The walk around the lake is 19km in total, so it’s pretty far, but well worth the steps. If you do get tired there are shuttle buses that go around the lake so you can always hop on one of them to bring you back to the main town.
- Oishi Park
Oishi Park holds a perfect view of Mount Fuji, and a spectacular array of flowers. Compared to the rest of the lake walk it feels a bit commercialized, probably because tourists hop on and off buses just outside Oishi Park so it’s a bit busy (even in the winter months). There is a café and a gift shop, if you are in need of those Mount Fuji souvenirs.
- Chureito Pagoda
This has become a popular photographic spot in Japan. With the red pagoda in the foreground and snowcapped Mount Fuji in the background. I will not burden you with looking at my photos of Chureito Pagoda, I was greeted by an all-morning rainstorm and a somewhat unclear view of the pagoda let alone Mount Fuji. But in springtime I can only imagine how spectacular this view is.
I would strongly advise staying in Mount Fuji for three or four days. If you want to go hiking then you’ll definitely need this time, but if you just want to walk around the lake and explore the town then I’d still recommend this length of stay. I had one day where the weather was so bad, I couldn’t even see 3,776m high Mount Fuji, so imagine your disappointment if you’d only booked an overnight stay.