For many people visiting Japan seeing Mount Fuji is a must! The most famous postcard views of Mount Fuji are rarely ever from Fuji herself. These scenic vistas can be found in the surrounding lakes and mountains.
Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi) is often considered the entrance point to Mount Fuji and the Fuji five lakes region (Fujigoko). With direct access points from Tokyo city, Narita airport, and the Tokaido shinkansen line (from Mishima) Kawaguchiko, and therefore Mount Fuji, are easily accessible.
Kawaguchiko is the second largest of the five great lakes and, as you can see, the shores are quite urbanised, yet still surrounded by soaring mountains. With such easy access and stunning views, Kawaguchiko is the perfect spot to appreciate Mount Fuji. Here are my top tips for getting that perfect shot!
Kawaguchiko Northern Shore
The northern shore of Kawaguchiko has some amazing views of Mount Fuji. Clear of the nearby mountain you can get a full view of Fuji from base to peak. In spring the view is framed by pink fluffy cherry blossom.
Kawaguchiko Panoramic Ropeway
The Kachi Kachi ropeway, also known as the Panoramic ropeway, is a tourist favourite for those who visit Kawaguchiko. The gondola will take you up to 1,075m, on Mount Tenjo, offering stunning views of the lake and Mount Fuji on clear days. It can get super crowded at the top, there is a new viewing platform, but after 10 am tour buses start pouring in, so go early! Don’t simply go straight back down either, keep going up through a wooden gate and you will find more secluded views further up. If you keep going even farther (for a few hours) you can reach the peak of Mount Mitsutoge.
Access: To get to the ropeway base you can walk from Kawaguchiko station, it will take around 20-30 minutes, or take the bus.
If you keep walking up the mountain from Mt Tenjo, for around 4-5 hours, you can reach Mitsutoge, which has one the most stunning view of Mount Fuji anywhere!
The shores of Kawaguchiko give stunning views, taking a 30 minute cruise across the lake gives a new perspective to Mount Fuji. You can get a ticket which combines both the rope way and sightseeing boat tickets, with a small saving. Again the boat can get very crowded with tour bus groups, the first trip of the day sets sail at 9 am, before the tour buses arrive and so is much quieter.
Access: The pier which the boat leaves from is right on the eastern edge of Kawaguchiko which can be accessed by bus or on foot from Kawaguchiko station
Oishi park is a very popular spot on the northern shore of Kawaguchiko. The park is part garden and part souvenir shop/snack shop. All year round Oishi park has different plants at their peak. In spring the cherry blossoms burst open, in summer fields of lavender grace the shores, cosmos following and then the pampas grass, and fall leaves come in autumn. For views with fewer buildings this is a great spot.
If you walk clockwise around Kawaguchiko from Oishi park you will come across a couple of beautiful maple trees which are stunning in autumn.
Access: Oishi park is near the end of the red line on the Kawaguchiko sightseeing bus
The maple corridor is lonely most of the year, but comes into its own during the autumn season. The maple tunnel, not to be confused with the maple corridor which has no view of Fuji, is further west around the lake from Oishi park. You can cycle or drive here, and there is a small parking area where you can take some great shots from. A must see during the fall colours, day or night!
Of all the five lakes of Mount Fuji, Kawaguchiko is the only one with a bridge, the Ohashi bridge. Although the main role of the bridge is obviously to allow people quicker travel around the area, it also offers great views of Mount Fuji from the eastern walkway.
Access: There are a few bus stops which will get you near to one end of the bridge or the other or even drive you over the bridge. Obviously walking over allows for better shots!
Although mostly considered a transport hub, Kawaguchiko station also offers views of Mount Fuji and also opportunities to buy some local treats, such as Fuji cookies, Fuji water and even Fuji air (quite literally a tin sealed on Mount Fuji).
Access: Simply walk out the front of the station and turn around to see views of Mount Fuji on clear days
Walk across the bridge, heading away from Kawaguchiko station and turn a sharp right once the bridge ends, then you can head down the rocky shore to great views of Fuji and the rest of Kawaguchiko itself. If you then walk counterclockwise you can find a small shrine on top of a rocky hill with views of the mountain too! This is Ubuyagasaki shrine! Each year on the 25th of April this shrine is visited by a portable shrine during an annual matsuri!
Access: Accessible by walking across the Ohashi bridge from Kawaguchiko station side or along the northern shore of Kawaguchiko.
On the less developed northern edge of Kawaguchiko is Rusugaiwa rock, the setting of a tragic tale of two lovers which ended in their deaths. This spot is great for photos as you can climb onto the rocks and have an unobstructed shot of Fuji with fewer buildings along the coastline.
Access: The bus routes around Kawaguchiko do not go as far as Rusugaiwa rock. You can, however, walk or cycle from Oishi park, or there is a small parking lot on the mountain side of the road.
A short bus or car ride away from Kawaguchiko lake is the spirutual home of Mount Fuji water. THere are a number of traditional styled houses around Oshino Hakkai, alongside the 8 sacred lakes. This is great for a side trip from Kawaguchiko and offers a historical touch to the area.
Although not on the shores of Kawaguchiko, Chureito pagoda is just a ten minute train ride away. One of the most iconic views of Mount Fuji can be found here, a truly iconic view. Beautiful in every season, from the pink fluffy cherry blossom in spring to the crimson leaves in autumn, Chureito pagoda is a must see.