Of all the places we have been to in Japan, I think, Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko area would be our most favourite. Mt. Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan, standing tall at 3,777 meters, one of the three sacred mountains in Japan alongside, Mt. Haku and Mt. Tateyama.
At the northern foot of the Mt. Fuji, there are five lakes, usually known as Fuji five lakes; Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko and Motosuko. The most famous among these lakes is the Kawaguchiko, followed by Saiko and Yamanakako. We were able to visit Kawaguchiko and Saiko, and these are some of the unique places and moments we had when visiting the Kawaguchiko area.
If you happened to read this story and have visited the area, let me know what your favourite spots are around Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko.
Fuji Yoshida City
Results from internet research will not be the same until you see the places by yourself. I spent a lot of hours searching for information on where to go, see and stay around Mt. Fuji, but they were just different once we got there.
Alright, so the first place I wanted to share is Fuji Yoshida city. We used to book our accommodation through Airbnb, and I couldn’t find any affordable accommodation around Lake Kawaguchiko. They were all beyond our budget until I found this private room in a boarding house at Fuji Yoshida near Fuji-san station. Don’t get me wrong, it was still expensive. Even though it’s shared accommodation, but the place was as clean or even better than a hotel room. The price included breakfast for two as well; therefore, it was a good value for the money. Anyway, that’s not what I wanted to share.
On the second day there, we wanted to go to Lake Kawaguchiko. Since it was still early in the morning, I went for a stroll, hoping to be able to see Mt. Fuji. When we arrived the day before, the day was cloudy, so we didn’t know where to see Mt. Fuji from the city.
Just as I stepped out of the gate on to the street, I suddenly got choked as I looked on my left, there it was, Mt. Fuji so clear. I wouldn’t expect to see Mt. Fuji so close! The morning sunlight was perfectly shinning on its snowy top. I walked up toward the Fuji-san station, then I realised I should have been walking away from the station to get even a better view. So I started walking in the opposite direction from Mt. Fuji. At that time, I was like a child, overjoyed by the majestic view of Fujisan that morning.
The following morning, I wasn’t as lucky as the day before. The day turned cloudy again, but this time in my morning walk, I found a small river, branching out from Miyagawa river, running through the city. It took a lot of patience waiting for the cloud to dissipate before I could get a good shot of Mt. Fuji from the river.
A funny thing was right after I took this photo when I turned around, I saw some kids were lining up walking to school slowly. Some were obviously still half asleep. School system in Japan regulates that elementary schools should be located at least within the radius of 4 km. Junior high schools should be no more than 6 km from the children’s home. Children living in the same neighbourhood usually go to school together. They would have various safety measures in place that involve parents, school staff, and volunteers for supervision. Younger kids would be required to wear a yellow cap to make them visible to drivers. Apparently, the walk-to-school practice has helped Japan address childhood obesity (i).
It’s hard not to be romantic about trains. Trains are the most accessible public transport in Japan. There are even trains decorated in a unique way depicting anime character or representing the image of the place, Mt. Fuji included. To go to Mt. Fuji five lake areas from Tokyo, you need to go to Otsuki station first. Then, there are several trains to choose to go to Fujisan station; Fujisan express, Fujisan-view express or Fuji Tozan Densha. All are run by Fujikyu express company, so your JR Pass doesn’t apply here. We rode Fujisan express train, which was so cute with all the paintings of Fujisan outside.
From Fuji-san station going to Kawaguchiko station, you need to get on to the local train or Fuji-Tozan Densha. It is also as unique because of its look, a vintage train, that reminds me of the Ghibli’s movie of The Wind Rises (2013).
545-3 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi-ken 401-0301, Japan
You might find it strange why Ogino supermarket makes it to the list. Well, simply because we just love the place since it also sells fresh ready-to-eat food. Deep-fried, grilled, or fresh food like sushi and sashimi, all are available. Ogino is just around 15 minutes walk from Kawaguchiko station, but the Kawaguchiko bus will pass by the main road in front of Ogino quite regularly.
We used Ogino as our base to have lunch and dinner. They even have a dining area where you could sit and enjoy your meals. I was lucky to find a vacant wall power socket that I could plug in the charger for my drone batteries while we were enjoying our lunch. I’m thankful that I could re-charge my batteries then. Little that I knew, the next drone flight photos and videos I took later that afternoon have been my most favourite shots so far.
Momiji Tunnel at Lake Kawaguchiko
Oishi Park is the last destination if you ride a bus around Lake Kawaguchiko. It is a pleasant place to spend time. The view of Mt. Fuji from the park is also beautiful, especially if the sky is clear, but I would recommend you to explore beyond Oishi park.
There is no bus service to this spot, so you need to walk or ride a bicycle for about 1.7 km further. I chose to walk to this place, while my wife opted to wait for me at Oishi park. There was barely no one around because all the people were spending their time at Oishi Park. No one really ventured beyond Oishi Park.
On the way, I was taken aback by how beautiful the sceneries were, with such a perfect combination of greenery from the trees and golden leaves under the lazy afternoon autumn sunlight.
Let me share some of the photos from my walk.
So there! Those are our four favourites spots and moments around Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko. Let me know your favourite places and memorable experience around Lake Kawaguchiko or Mt. Fuji.
(i) Mori, N. Armada, F. and Wilcox, C.D. 2012. Walking to School in Japan and Childhood Obesity Prevention: New Lessons From an Old Policy. Public Health. November. 102(11): 2068–2073. Published online 2012 November. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2012.300913