Mount Fuji is notoriously shy, even if you plan your visit to the area you may never see Mount Fuji – this was my experience on my first three visits to Japan! I decided to work out how likely you actually are to see Mount Fuji by collecting daily data for the past three years.
How many days is Mount Fuji visible?
Your chance of seeing Mount Fuji in all her glory varies from month to month, the best time of year to get a clear view of Mount Fuji is in February – when the air is cold and there is little cloud cover. The worst time of year to see Mount Fuji is September – during typhoon season when Fuji is often veiled in clouds.
Out of the 1,095 days recorded, Mount Fuji was only visible for 621 days, around 56% of the time. This varies vastly from month to month, as above, the best months of the year are December and February, with July and September having the fewest days of visibility.
The worst month for visibility coincides with the rainy season, usually in late May to June, and typhoon season which in around September. During summer months warm air will hit the cold peak of Fuji, producing clouds, making visibility poorer.
The time of day also changes how likely you are to see Mount Fuji, rumour has always said that dawn is the best time to catch a clear view, as clouds haven’t yet formed…
As you can see from the graph above, on average, 6am is the time you are most likely to see a clear view of Mount Fuji, except for in December, when 12pm was the best. If you aren’t able to arrive that early in the morning then dusk, around 6pm, give the second-highest chance.
Averaging this across the year it shows that you have a 47% chance at 6am, and a 34% chance at both 12pm and 6pm, with that chance being incrementally higher at 6pm.
What are the chances?
So if you want to hedge your bets, and gamble based on statistics here are the percentage chances of seeing Mount Fuji throughout the year. Visiting the winter months from November to March gives the highest chances, whereas in the summer months the chance of seeing Mount Fuji is less than 50%.
Getting a completely clear view of Mount Fuji is not the only way to see this famous mountain, some partial views can actually be quite stunning. In June, July and August it is more likely that you will get a partial view than a full view, but no view is still more likely. July, September and October also give a higher chance of not seeing Fuji than getting a clear or partial view. As with all the data the winter months are still the months with the highest chances.
If we combine data for clear days and partially clear days you can see that for six months of the year you are more likely to see something than nothing. In June, July, September, and October you have less than a 50% chance of catching sight of any part of Mount Fuji!
With all this in mind when is the best time to visit?
So… when is it best to go?
If your sole purpose is to see Mount Fuji then the best time of year to go is in winter, with February giving the best chance.
Cherry blossom reaches the Kawaguchiko region in April, which still has good chances of a clear view with a 40% chance across the day, 6 am giving higher chances of a good view compared to noon or dusk. Here are some of the best places to catch this view.
The leaves change around Kawaguchiko in mid to late November, chances at this time of year are 49%, with morning being the best bet at 52% chance. To view Fuji in autumn click here.
As many know the months you are least likely to see Fuji are during the summer.
Of course if you are planning to climb Mount Fuji, the mountain is only official open in July and August. These may be the worst months for view of Mount Fuji, but are the safest to climb.
Partial views of Mount Fuji are still exciting and beautiful, nine months of the year the odds are that you will see some of Fuji, but getting up early is still the best bet!
All the data here was collected from the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchi, if the cloud is low lying travelling up one of the surrounding mountains can give you a clear view of Fuji! You can see that Kawaguchiko below is shrouded in cloud, where as from our vantage point Fuji is clear!
If you are going to try and catch a view, definitely stay over night. You are significantly more likely to see a clear view in the morning. Without daylights saving the sun rises very early, and no public transport would get you to Kawaguchiko on time.
I hope this helps you plan your next trip to see Mount Fuji 🙂
How the data was collected: Data has been collected over three years using live webcam feeds to view Mount Fuji at 6am, 12pm and 6pm each day. I rated the view as whether Mount Fuji was totally visible, partially visible or not at all visible.