The area around Mount Fuji holds many natural phenomenon due to the past eruptions of Mount Fuji carving out the landscape, changing the biggest lake in the world into the five lakes of Fuji. Oshino Hakkai was created thanks to the same eruption which split the great lake. What remained were eight pools filled with water from Fuji’s peak which filters through the lava for decades (80 years!) before bubbling out here. The water quality is very high here and is safe to drink without any treatment.
Oshino Hakkai may be different from what you expect. Before I visited I imagined it would be a walled off space which contained the ponds, not so! The ponds are spotted around a village in which people live and work. Hundreds of years ago the pools were seen as sacred and monks lived nearby, however the practice fell out of favour. Not that long ago someone wished to renew this practice and the ponds once again became sacred and visited by religious and secular alike. A few of the ponds, especially the main pond, are only accessed through a building, however some are merely by the side of the road.
In good weather you can get a great view of Mount Fuji with traditional thatched cottages next to the pond. There is also a small museum which is very much worth the entry fee. You can enter the traditional cottages and explore up into the roof, seeing all the equipment used by the farmers decades ago. There are also small shops and stalls selling food to tempt you whilst there.
Seven of the eight ponds are close together and you can easily walk to them all. The eight pond is a 15 minute walk from the main area, if short on time or walking isn’t your thing it can be missed, it was large but not impressive as other ponds were. The ponds themselves are beautiful, the water if crystal clear and inhabited by lovely carp, even some that are blue!
Oshino Hakkai can become very crowded, which somewhat mars the serenity of the pools. I’d suggest visiting earlier in the day, which also increases your chances of getting a shot with Mount Fuji too!
Hours: The buildings near the ponds are open 9 – 5 each day. However, as some of the ponds are just near the side of a road, you could see them outside of these hours.
How to access: Oshino Hakkai can be accessed easily by car or by bus or train (and then bus).
From Shinjuku Station by JR Chuō line go to Ōtsuki Station (approx. 90 minutes)
Continue from Ōtsuki Station by Fuji Kyuukō Ootsuki Line to Fuji-san Station (approx. 50 minutes)
From Fuji-san Station
・Take the bus bound for “Uchino” and get down at Oshino Hakkai Iri-guchi bus stop
・Take the bus bound for “Fanakku Keiyu Heiya” or “Fujikko-gou” and get down at Oshino Hakkai (Ōbashi) bus stop