About Fuji Kawaguchiko
Fuji Kawaguchiko is a beautiful little onsen town which makes up one of the Fuji Five Lakes just south of Tokyo and is (quite rightly) famed for it’s incredible views of Mt Fuji.
When To Visit
We visited in late March (23 – 26 March), just before peak cherry blossom season. While it’s possible to visit Kawaguchiko on a day trip from Tokyo, I would highly advise going for a couple of days.
We decided to stay for two days/three nights and I’m SO glad we did! The weather around Fuji at this time of year can be notoriously unpredictable and our first day on the lakes were so cloudy we couldn’t see Fuji at all. On our second full day we were fortunately blessed with beautiful clear skies and the most amazing mountain views, but I’ve known people to take day trips from Tokyo and totally miss the view. While there’s still a lot to do in Kawaguchiko aside from the mountain views, it’d be really disappointing to go all that way and miss it! Visiting during the spring time means we did miss Fuji climbing season (July-September), but we did get to witness a beautiful snow capped peak and the early signs of cherry blossom which was magical.
Weather wise it was pretty damn cold (we were greeted with a brisk -6°C in the mornings), and we experienced both sunshine and snow in the two days were were there. Not that the weather deterred us in any way of course! We bought ourselves overly priced gift shop gloves, wore pretty much every item of clothing in our backpacks and heavily relied on vending machine hot teas to get us through the day. Despite the cold, those two days were two of my most memorable and happiest of our 6 months backpacking!
Arriving slightly before peak cherry blossom season meant that we avoided the busy crowds that start to flock a week later, although the bus routes around Kawaguchiko lake did tend to get a little crowded during the day. I advise getting up as early as you can while you’re there. It’s so peacefully quiet at sunrise and nothing beats admiring those epic views to the sound of early morning bird song. If you want a more in depth look at how the season looked while we were there, I’ve included our vlog here for you to watch!
How To Get To Fuji Kawaguchiko
We travelled to Fuji Kawaguchiko from Tokyo, as we chose to travel down through Honshu instead of up.
If you’re travelling pretty far in Japan (or are planning to use the shinkansen at all while you’re there), I highly recommend ordering a JR pass for your stay. I’ve had a JR pass every time I’ve visited Japan, and it’s saved me SO much money on train fares. Don’t forget though that you have to order the pass BEFORE you arrive in Japan, and then activate it when you arrive. For more information on the JR Pass, head here .
This is the route we took to Fuji Kawaguchiko:
Take the JR Chuo line from Shinjuku station to Otsuki station (this part of the journey is included on the JR pass). From Otsuki station take the Fujikyu line to Kawaguchiko station (we bought the ticket for this part of the journey at Otsuki station).
Don’t forget to activate your JR pass before you travel. We activated ours on the morning we travelled from Tokyo at the new JR office in Shinjuku station. Don’t worry if you get lost finding the new office (we did)! There are loads of information staff wondering around the station who’ll be happy to show you the way.
The journey to Fuji Kawaguchiko is really simple and with very minimal changes it’s pretty hard to go wrong. If you do have any trouble working out the journey though, the staff in the JR ticket offices are usually really helpful when it comes to mapping your route for you (we found them SO useful when it came to working out slightly more complicated routes such as our journey from Kawaguchiko to Naoshima)! For more info on how to get to Fuji Kawaguchiko from Tokyo, head here.
Where We Stayed
We stayed it a really cute private room in a Guesthouse/hostel called Guesthouse Asobi Factory. Owned by a really lovely couple who also spent their 20’s travelling, Asobi factory felt like a home away from home. Really cosy communal living area, beautifully spacious tatami bedroom, traditional Japanese baths and amazing views of Fuji san! The owners offer a free shuttle service too and from the train station throughout the day which we found incredibly helpful. They even went out of their way to wake up at 4:30am with us on our second morning and drive us to Chureito Pagoda to watch the sunrise. I’ve never experienced such kind hearted hosts, and I can’t recommend their guesthouse enough!
What To Do In Fuji Kawaguchiko - One Day Itinerary
Although we spent two full days in Kawaguchiko, due to the weather we ended up visited a few places more than once so we could experience them with the amazing views. Everywhere we visited is possible to do in a day, but again I do recommend an early start up to Chureito Pagoda to watch that view with the sunrise. Alternatively you could head there for sunset, but be prepared for it to be a little busier then.
You know that really famous, stereotypical postcard picture of Japan – This is where it was taken. A five storey pagoda on the mountainside overlooking Fujiyoshida city, and looking out over that iconic view of Mt Fuji.
Part of the Arakura Sengen shrine (which you’ll walk through on the way up), Chureito pagoda sits 400 steps up the mountain – don’t worry, there’s also a slope to the top for those who may struggle with stairs.
The pagoda is also one of the best sakura viewing sites in Japan, although we were about a week early so only one little tree was in bloom! We visited here both our days in Kawaguchiko – one when it was overcast (we filmed both mornings in the vlog so if you want to see what it looks like also covered in clouds, scroll down), and travelled there both by train on the first day, and a kind lift on the second!
How to get there:
By train – Jump on the Fujikyu railway line at Kawaguchiko station and travel four stops (about 10 minutes) to Shimo-yoshida station. Arakura shrine is about a ten minute walk from Shimo-yoshida station
You’ve watched the sunrise over Mt Fuji, now head to Fuji Street for a jaw dropping view of the mountain from street level. You can find Fuji street pretty easily on Google maps (or for the exact location scroll to the end of this post for my shared Google map of Kawaguchiko) – It’s the main road running pretty much parallel to the railway line.
We took a stroll down here just after sunrise (armed with hot vending machine tea) while it was still really quiet and sleepy. Rounding the corner to that view of Fuji at the end of the street was absolutely breathtaking.
Walk up Fuji street all the way to Mt Fuji train station and grab the Fujikyu line back to Kawaguchiko train station.
How to get there:
Fuji street is a short walk from Shimo-yoshida train station so it’s best to visit here either before or after visiting the Arakura shrine. You can also get the Fujikyu line from Kawaguchiko station toMt Fuji train station and walk about 3-5 minutes to Fuji street
Iyashi No Sato
Our next Fuji veiwing spot of the day was Iysahi No Sato, a former farming village on the western shores of Lake Saiko (the smaller lake next to lake Kawaguchiko). The village was destroyed by a typhoon in the 60’s, but has now been reconstructed as an open air museum and craft village.
Every thatched house holds something different – From delicious soba noodles to museums and galleries. My personal favourite was the gift shop run my a lady who gave us complimentary green tea.
Being a little more out of the way, Iyashi No Sato was a lot quieter than the tourist spots around Lake Kawaguchiko, and offered a completely different perspective of Fuji San.
How to get there
From Kawaguchiko train station, get the green sightseeing bus line to Iyashi No Sato.
There are three main sightseeing bus routes around Fuji Five Lakes, the red line which takes you part way around Lake Kawaguchiko, the green line that takes you from Lake Kawaguchiko to Lake Saiko and Aokigahara forest and the blue line which travels from Lake Kawaguchiko all the way to Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko.
We used this really helpful map of the bus route here, which you can also pick up in physical form at the tourist information point outside Kawaguchiko train station.
We jumped on the green line at stop 1 and travelled about 50 minutes to stop 68 – Iysahi No Sato. It’s a really pleasant journey with beautiful views of both lakes and Fuji en route.
On your way back from Iyashi No Sato don’t forget to spend some time exploring Lake Kawaguchiko. Admire the dramatic mountain reflections and take a walk amongst the cherry blossoms that line the lake (I’ve marked the best cherry blossom viewing spots in my personalised google map at the end of the post)!
We spent a while on the northern shore of the lake next t0 the Kawaguchiko living centre, admiring the view of the mountain through the reeds. Despite the chill, we could have stayed here for hours!
How To Get There
We caught the green bus line back to the Kawaguchiko area, then hopped on the red line that travels round the Eastern side of the lake. For the view below get off the bus at stop 22 – Kawaguchiko Natural Living Centre.
Be aware that the red bus routes do get pretty busy during the day and queues to hop on and off get very lengthy! Allow yourself plenty of time as the lake is large and it can take a long while to walk what looks like a short journey!
Other Things To Do Around Fuji Five Lakes
There are a few other things we had on our list, but didn’t get round to doing due to the weather:
- Mt Fuji panorama ropeway.
- Hiking trails – There are SO many hiking trails around Fuji Five Lakes. Just head to this map for a few ideas
- Unwind in the onsen. Being an onsen town there are so many public and priavte onsen to visit, ideal for relaxing after a long day sightseeing!
- The forested areas of Aokigahara. Aokigahara forest is a little out the way, but if I were to go back, exploring this beautiful area would be top of my list. Despite the incredibly sad recent history that surrounds the forest, the area is one of stunning natural beauty and if you’re visiting during Autumn, is great for catching the red maple leaves!
I really hope you found this post helpful!
Any other questions you have about the area or travelling in Japan in general, let me know in the comments below and I’ll try my best to help!
Don’t forget to give my vlog a watch below – Hopefully it’ll be a really useful tool to help you gauge the weather and in planning your route!