One of Japan’s most iconic and inspiring sights, Mount Fuji is nature at its finest. A pilgrimage made by many a tourist, it’s a bucket list essential that’s well worth trekking to see in person. The highest mountain in Japan at 3,776-metres tall, and bestowed with World Heritage status in 2013, it’s a mesmerising sight up close and afar, an inspiration to poets, artists, photographers and climbers for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Nearby to Fuji’s breath-taking magnitude is Hakone National Park and Lake Ashi, a scenic body of water populated by hot springs, historical sites and ryokan, traditional Japanese inns that have been since around the eighth century AD. To day-trippers, the two go hand-in-hand, with tourists often combining a journey to Mount Fuji followed by a sightseeing cruise of Lake Ashi and Hakone Park in the same day.
Here we’ll guide you through how to plan and make the most of this eye-opening excursion.
How do I get to Mount Fuji?
If you’re travelling from Tokyo, then the easiest option is to use the Keio express bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko Fifth Station. It takes around 2.5 hours, costs ¥2,600 and takes you directly to the start of the climb. You can also take the bus from Shibuya station which is quicker, but the service for buying tickets online is not yet in English.
Note that the last bus service from both stations is at 9pm.
While there’s no direct access to get to Mount Fuji by train, it’ll still get you pretty close, at which point you can change to a bus for the rest of the way.
For trains to the Fujiyoshida staging point, take the JR Chuo line to Otsuki, and change to the Fujikyu line, until you get to Kawaguchiko. Here you can get hourly buses to the 5th Station starting point.
For the visitors travelling from western Japan, the Fujinomiya approach is advisable. Go for the train from Shin-Fuji station if you don’t fancy changing; if you’re on the Tokaido line, you’ll have to change trains to the JR Minobu line at Fuji station.
By guided tour
There are plenty of guided tours to be found throughout Japan. These tours tend to include round-trip bus fare, a climbing guide, dinner, breakfast and a visit to a hot spring after you’ve descended. Be aware that these tours can be a bit on the pricey side, and tend to be in Japanese for the most part, too.
When is the best time to visit?
The official climbing season runs from only July to August. Weather can be of two extremes during this time; blisteringly hot during the day, and below freezing when night falls, so be sure to dress appropriately. Climbing outside of this time is not advisable, as the inclement weather is very, very dangerous.
That said, if you still want to get close to the mountain without climbing, you can do so throughout most of the year. The trails at the bottom of the mountain aren’t so steep and more akin to a gentle hike. At peak season, a traipse around the nearby Murayama Sengen Jinja temple is a must-do. Shrouded in sacred, spiritual beliefs, the surrounding cherry blossoms found in the temple’s garden are a thing of beauty, painting the land in hues of lilac and rose that offers an enchanting sight to all who visit.
For peak viewing of both Fuji and the cherry blossoms, April to mid-June tends to offer the best views of the mountain, while the weather is mainly dry and clear for the most part.
Where can I eat near Mount Fuji?
Buying food and drink beforehand and hauling it around on your hike is possible, but there are a few nearby eateries for visitors to dine in. Whether you’re filling yourself up to power yourself through the journey ahead or satisfying your empty stomach after working up an appetite, these simple yet authentic places have plenty of Japanese dishes to feast on.
Stop by Fujisan Miharashi for some delicious, no-frills Japanese fare, sample something at Fujikyu Unjokaku against a backdrop of Mount Fuji itself, or stop by the Gogoen Resthouse for a bit of extra culture with your meal; it has its own ‘natural museum’ where you can learn about the wildlife that populates Mount Fuji after you’ve finished eating.
To commemorate scaling Fuji’s summit, or at least having a walk around the peaks, be sure to bring back a souvenir with you to show your friends and family at home. Pick up a Komitake Shrine charm, available at every Japanese temple, for good luck, health, wealth and success in love.
Why not go for a replica of the traditional walking sticks used by many a hiker to walk up Fuji? In fact, go one better and buy a proper hiking stick and get it stamped from one of the stations that are close by.
Along with mini versions of traditional Japanese hand fans and plush mascots, keep an eye out for little Mt. Fuji soy sauce dishes too. They’re embossed with a stylised version of Fuji that, depending on the amount of sauce you put in, adds an extra bit of artistry to your sushi sessions.
Lastly, one of the more unique things you can do, you can send a postcard from Japan’s highest post office, perfect for letting your loved ones know how you’re getting on at altitude.
An enchanting, enriching area of the world, why not get planning a trip to the wonders of Japan and Mt. Fuji sometime soon? To see all of Cruise1st’s cruises to Japan, head over to our dedicated page right here, or give our friendly customer care team a call on 0808 274 6777.