At the base of the glorious Mount Fuji is the Fuji Five Lakes region (Fujigoku). The region offers camping, hiking, hot springs, snow sports, museums, and even an amusement park with record-breaking roller coasters.
While it is possible to do a Fuji Five Lakes day trip from Tokyo, it is not recommended as the region has such an enormous amount to offer. Here are some of the best things to do around Fuji.
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Essential Travel Tips
Is a Mt Fuji Day Trip Enough?
The area is known as one of the best places to view Mount Fuji and to set up base and rest up before climbing the mountain, but the Five Lakes area has so much more to offer than just great access to the iconic mountain/volcano.
When travelling with limited time, Kawaguchiko by Lake Kawaguchi is a must visit, because it is the easiest to access and offers the most to do and see. I personally visited twice in spring and absolutely loved it each time so that I want to return again.
How to Get Around
To experience as much as possible in a short amount of time, a 2 day sightseeing bus ticket is the best way to jampack as many sights into your days as possible at an affordable rate. Taking out individual bus tickets quickly is more expensive than this tourist ticket.
Plus, you’d need to figure out local bus lines and stops. It’s better to get that ticket for the great deal it offers along with the easy route map. You can get it at the train station.
Always check the bus schedule to not end up stranded. You can’t do all of them in one day, so make a plan. Also, some of the bus stops are harder to find than others, so it’s best to return to the stop you got off at. I once had a bus drive right past me at the stop, so definitely stand in clear sight and make yourself known.
It’s not really possible to do all three routes in one day if you want to get on and off, so stay overnight if you do want to maximise the Kawaguchiko sightseeing. And you have a 2 day ticket anyway.
Note that there is a separate bus line and ticket if you want to get up on Fifth Station. Also, this line doesn’t always operate as it’s dependent on the weather situation. Check in early to double check and avoid the crowds.
How much is ticket to Fuji Fifth Station?
One way costs 1540 yen and takes a little less than an hour. The round trip is 2300 yen. Buses leave 1-2 times an hour in July and August and hourly the rest of the year, if weather conditions allow.
How much is the 2 day bus ticket for Kawaguchiko?
I paid 1750yen in spring 2018.
Where exactly are the Fuji Five Lakes?
Fuji Five Lake (富士五湖, Fujigoko) is a region north of Mount Fuji in Japan. But the name is telling because it spans five lakes, which is fed by water coming from the mountain. The lava left from its active days has long been cooled down and now serves as a perfect filter for precipitation. The five lakes are called Motosu, Shōji, Saiko, Kawaguchi and Yamanaka.
Is Fujigoko only for outdoorsy people?
No! While you can get active by hiking, water sporting, fishing and camping, there are tons of other things to do in Fuji Five Lakes. Alone in Kawaguchiko offers things to do galore. You can visit museums, historical villages, enjoy the wellness offerings, bathe in hot springs and enjoy the theme park Fuji Q Highland.
Is Kawaguchiko the best base?
I haven’t stayed in other towns around the area but I totally think Kawaguchiko is great. You have easy access on the main bus routes and get to experience lots of things with ease from here.
Fuji Five Lakes Itinerary
Fuji Shibazakura Festival
If you’re visiting Fuji 5 Lakes in the spring, you can’t miss the Fuji Shibazakura Festival, which is the best opportunity to see the stunning shibazakura or moss phlox flowers.
Nearly 800,000 stalks of five different types of shibazakura can be seen at the garden
festival. They bloom in magnificent colours like pink, purple and white and cover the entire park landscape. There are themed foods and events to accompany the experience as well.
The flower festival runs from mid April to early June, but the best time to see the flowers is usually during the first three weeks of May. Don’t come too early or you’ll see this.
Also, be sure to visit early in the morning and on weekdays to avoid the majority of the crowds.
Entrance to the festival is 600 yen and there is a small café, where you can buy flower shaped and spring themed food. It comes at a cost, however.
The Healing Village, also known as Iyashi no Sato, sits on the western side of Lake Saiko. This ancient farming village was destroyed by a typhoon in 1966. Forty years later, Iyashi no Sato was reconstructed to be an open air museum and crafting village with the purpose of keeping traditional Japanese culture alive.
The village is made up of twenty houses with roofs designed to look like traditional samurai hats. The Healing Village has something for everyone. Each house contains different shops, restaurants, museums, or crafting workshops.
You can even rent a kimono or samurai armor and have a photo shoot with Mount Fuji towering in the background. These photos plus the various local and traditional crafts make the Healing Village one of the best places in the 5 lakes region to get unique souvenirs from your trip to Japan.
Japanese nature is stunning and Aokigahara Forest is no exception. The peace and quiet in that forest and the gentle moss cover that lies on both trees and forest floor is breathtaking.
I definitely encourage you to engage in a little forest bathing. Shinrin-Yoku, as it is called in Japan, has been proven to reduce blood pressure. However, to keep it that way, stick to the designated paths and don’t stray away. The ground is bumpy and full of holes due to the volcanic composition.
Also, you might know the Aokigahara as the Suicide Forest of Japan. Deep in the forest, many people have taken their lives and corpses are still often found, so please stay away. This is nothing to gawk at as happened with a certain provocative vlogger.
If you are unsure of the trails and distances, get a map from the tourist information or use the maps.me app, which I found very helpful in Japan. Google Maps isn’t entirely reliable when it comes to hiking.
I started a little walk through Aokigahara from the stop Saiko Yacho-no-Mori Park (Wild bird’s forest) on the green bus line to Fugaku Fuketsu (Wind Cave), where I got back on the bus after visiting the small cave. The trail was pretty clear and there are signs too.
Centuries of eruptions and lava flows have created stunning caves at the northern base of Mount Fuji. Three of these caves are currently open to tourists, and each one has something unique to explore.
The largest and most extensive cave is the Bat Cave. The cave is 350 meters long and has lots of tunnels and larger chambers to explore. Entrance is 300 yen.
The Ice Cave is freezing all year round and has been used to store ice in the summer months since the early 1900s. This cave doesn’t take very long to explore, but its icy walls are beautiful and the cold air is refreshing when visiting in the spring and summer. Entrance is 350 yen.
The Wind Cave is used to store acorns and boxes of silkworm cocoons. It is the easiest of the three caves to walk around, but it also offers the least to see. Entrance is 350 yen. You can combine your visit with a short forest walk at the next bus station. But always stick to the path!
Fuji Fifth Station Hike
If you’ve come all the way out to the Fuji Five Lakes and spent all day yesterday marvelling at the wonderful site that is Mount Fuji, chances are you’re going to want to climb some of it.
Fuji Fifth Station is the highest of five rest areas along the Fujinomiya trail, which is the shortest route up Mount Fuji. The full trail takes 4-7 hours to ascend and 2-6 hours to descend. It’s not for the faint hearted and requires hiking experience and sturdy hiking boots (I swear by my Lowa hiking boots, which I’ve been using for five years now).
If you don’t want to hike all the way up to the fifth station, you can take the shuttle bus from late April-October. Tickets can be bought at the train station, where the bus leaves as well.
Once you reach the Fuji Fifth Station, you can take a forest walk around the level of the mountain, weather permitting. When I visited, a snowslide had blocked parts of the road and I couldn’t walk far as it was closed off. So I went back to the restaurant and had some Fuji-shaped cake.
Or, if you want to do some serious hiking, you can follow the trail to the summit or take the shorter hiking trail of Hoeizan to a nearby secondary peak. From its peak, Hoeizan offers an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, and you can even see as far as Tokyo on a clear day.
Full climbs are only possible when there isn’t snow, which is usually for one or two weeks at the end of August or start of September. It’s possible to book a guided tour as solo climbing can be strenuous and lonely. To see the sunrise, you have to sleep near the top. There is a small hut for that but it gets well visited.
Kawaguchiko in Japan is a hot spring resort town. It is breathtakingly beautiful all year round, but especially in the spring during cherry blossom season.
Give yourself some time to wander around the lake and explore its natural beauty, hot springs and the Fuji Q amusement park if you like a little thrill in your travels.
For something a little quirkier, don’t miss the Kawaguchiko Music Forest, a museum and theme park dedicated to antique music boxes, mechanical organs, and other automatic musical instruments. Admission is 1500 yen.
There are smaller shrines and temples around the Lake as well if you need some time to reflect and admire beautiful traditional architecture. Or just want to pray or amire cherry blossoms in spring, such as at Fujiomurosengen Shrine.
Other Attractions in Fuji Five Lake
Maybe you don’t want to or can’t do all the outdoorsy stuff. The weather can be fickle, I know. So here are some suggestions that will provide shelter and still enjoyment.
Japan is famous for its thermal hot springs, which are said to have healing qualities. Being this ridiculously close to the former volcano means there are natural springs here as well. And an onsen is quite a unique and pleasant experience.
Check whether the baths are mixed or separated by gender for your own convenience. There are public onsen, such as Fujiyama Onsen and some are included in your hotel stay, such as the one I’ve always chosen at Station Inn Kawaguchiko. You can reserve it here.
There are a few museums in Fujigoko. If you want to see as much of Mount Fuji as possible and you love art, then the Fujiyama Museum is for you. It houses many paintings and illustrations of the iconic landmark and is close to Fuji Q and the Fuji Resort Hotel.
For a Fuji Five Lakes day trip, I recommend picking two to three museums at least to not have sensory overload or not having to move around too much.
A super popular getaway near Fuji is the theme park Fuji Q Highland (also known as Fujikyū Highland). Not surprisingly, many people do a Mt Fuji Day trip just to see the theme park. Yes, even coming from Tokyo.
There are buses and trains going there and some tours offer day trips from Tokyo to here. Skip the queues and get your ticket online here. Such a pass includes access to both Fuji-Q and Thomas Land with unlimited rides.
There are four big rollercoasters to the backdrop of Fuji-yama and the rollercoaster of the same name is actually the 10th fastest in the world. It has a height of 79 m and reaches speeds up to 130 km/h. Another one is a vertical loop and you really have to have a strong stomach for this one.
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