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.
Access: You can easily get to the northern shore by walking or cycling, or use the red line bus from Kawaguchiko station
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!
Access: The bus routes do not stop on this area of the lake, you can cycle from Oishi park, the roads around the lake often do not have walking paths so could be risky to walk here
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.
Around the northern shore of Kawaguchiko there is a walking path which takes you along the lakeside, past numerous cafes and museums, and a number of rivers which feed in and out of the lake. You can get some clear views of Fuji and of the Kawaguchiko bridge too.
Access: The path starts around the southern end of the lake and you can walk there from Kawaguchiko station. The red bus line can also be taken to the northern shore to take the walking path
Fuji Deck is a newly opened viewing deck within a garden and cafe. There is a small fee to access the deck. There are interior floors for viewing, and an open air deck on the roof.
Access: The nearest bus stop is Forest Mall on the blue line, walking from there to Fuji deck will take around 20 minutes
Tenka Chaya is a tea house right on the edge of a mountain tunnel, facing across Kawaguchiko and Mount Fuji. You can go and enjoy some tea and snacks at the cafe, or park opposite near a trail head and snap some amazing shots from the side of the road.
Access: Most easily accessed by car. The K line bus does stop at the relatively nearby Mitsutoge entrance stop.
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.
Access: Accessible by bus at stop 126 on the Fujiyoshida/Oshino/Yamanakako Sightseeing Bus route.
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.
Access: Either take the train to Shimoyoshida station from Kawaguchiko station, the highway bus from Tokyo also stops at Shimoyoshida or by bus on the Fujiyoshida/Oshino/Yamanakako Sightseeing Bus line.
Chureito pagoda is built on the side of Mount Arakura, and as we know offers some amazing views. A short 30 minute hike up the mountain will get you to the peak, which offers interesting views of Mount Fuji, and a lovely little rest area built by the locals.
Access: About a 40 minute climb up from Chureito pagoda
Kawaguchi Asama Shrine Torii
Kawaguchi Asama shrine is one of the less visited of the shrines around Kawaguchiko, but it absolutely stunning. The shrine itself it beautiful, surrounded by enormous cedar trees. From the shrine continue up a windy mountain road, and you will come to the newly famous Asama Torii gate, which frames Mount Fuji and Kawaguchi Lake. With popularity starting to rival Chureito Pagoda, this is a must visit when in Kawaguchiko and a perfect sunrise spot!
Access: Take bus number 5 from Kawaguchiko station to Kawaguchi Asama Shrine, it is then a brisk walk up the hill to the Sky Torii.
Fancy seeing Fuji but want to put in a bit more effort? Mount Kurodate is one of the peaks of the mountain range which runs along the northern shore of Kawaguchiko. Accessible from Oishi Park or Tenka Chaya, among other places, the ridgeline offers stunning views of Mount Fuji, Kawaguchiko and the surrounding area!
Access: There are several starts to the trail up to Kurodake. You can start at Oishi park or Tenka Chaya, see directions above.