The best views of Mount Fuji are from the Lake Kawaguchiko’s northern shores and are spectacular during the Sakura season and autumn foliage season. A few of the most iconic pictures of Mount Fuji is from Lake Kawaguchiko and Chureito Pagoda. Among the wide range of other tourist attractions available around Lake Kawaguchiko are Onsen, museums, the Fuji-Q Highland, sight-seeing cruises and the Kachi Kachi Ropeway, which heads up a mountain next to the lake.
These days people tend to visit the 5th station of Mount Fuji. The Subaru Line 5th station, which sits at an altitude of 2,300 metres is one of the most popular bases from which climbers can reach the top in about 7 hours. But what is the point of going there if you aren’t planning to hike it? It definitely makes more sense to be on the other side of the mountain if you want a good view of the world famous heritage mountain.
Another famous spot for viewing Mount Fuji is Hakone. Other than being able to see the shy mistress, Hakone is well known for its onsen and ryokan, as it is still an active volcano. Don’t miss out on what there is to do and see in Hakone!
Getting to Lake Kawaguchiko
We booked our tickets here. I would strongly recommend booking the tickets as they tend to be fully booked (especially during peak seasons like the Herb Festival). After booking the tickets, simply print them out and present them during boarding the bus. It used to be free for reservation, but for some reason now they are charging once you book the tickets. You could choose either the Shinjuku or Shibuya Expressway Bus Terminal, and we usually choose the Shinjuku one.
The round way journey is 3,500 yen and takes around 1 hour 45 minutes from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station under good traffic. There are several stops before the Kawaguchiko Station, but there are is a screen and announcements on the bus so don’t worry about missing your stop.
Getting around Lake Kawaguchi
Once you have reached Kawaguchiko Station, went to the bathroom and stretched your legs, hop onto the Retro-Bus for the Kachi Kachi Ropeway (stop 11 on the Red Line). The ropeway goes all the way up to the observation area of Mount Tenjo.
Kachi Kachi Ropeway
You will be seeing a lot of raccoons and rabbits here. So the story goes that an old couple lived here peacefully, but the raccoon was always stealing the old man’s crops. Finally one day, the raccoon was caught and tied up by the old lady. The raccoon begged her for forgiveness and told her that he will be good from then on so the old lady let him go. Shortly after that, the raccoon revenged himself by killing the old lady. The rabbit, who was the old man’s friend, decided to take revenge for the old man. He invited the raccoon to collect firewood together, and the rabbit secretly burnt the raccoon’s back. From the Ropeway, you will be able to see the slope that goes down where the raccoon runs down with burning firewood on its back. The rabbit also invited the raccoon to go fishing at the lake. The rabbit built the raccoon a mud created boat which drowned him. In the story, lake Kawaguchiko is the lake where the raccoon was drowned. Somewhat weird (and creepy), but nonetheless cute, story of a mountain.
The Kachi Kachi Ropeway allows you to choose between a one-way ticket (JP¥410) or a round-trip ticket (JP¥740). It isn’t a very challenging hike downhill so feel free to walk down the mountain with your loved one, or family as the views are quite rewarding. It takes 40-50 minutes and you’ll be able to see very pretty views of Kawaguchiko and also pass by the Hydrangea Pathway which is quite a sight during summer. Mount Kachi Kachi is 1,075 meters above sea level so the view of Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji is quite amazing from up here. The famous “Heavenly Bell”, surrounded by the shape of a heart is a bell whereby locals believe that happiness and luck will come to your family if you ring it. Don’t forget to visit the Rabbit Shrine, with two rabbits standing as guardians at the door. Locals believe that you will become wiser by stroking these rabbits. Famous local snacks, dango and sweet potatoes are grilled over charcoal.
After satisfying yourselves with lots of photos of Fujiyama (if you’re lucky) and snacks in your tummy, let’s move on to hiking down the mountain. If you are a Hydrangea fanatic, make sure to head here during mid July where they start blooming in full.
Lavender Fields and Herb Festival
If you do happen to come in July, then you’ll most likely to be in time for the Herb Festival (check here for the Herb Festival dates). Lavenders during Herb Festival will be in full bloom. Seeing so many Lavender plants up close, in a field of purple is pretty mind blowing. There is also the smell of the Lavender floating all around that makes you feel the romantic atmosphere by just standing here.
If you come during April to May/June, remember that this is a peak season as locals flock in to see the Shiba-sakura, which is Sakura that grows on the ground. The whole place is covered in pink and it is a sight that you will never forget seeing. Click here to find out the dates for Shiba-sakura season.
Natural Living Center
Next to the Oishi Park is the Natural Living Center. Lavender souvenirs like soap, perfume, candles, etc. are sold here so make sure you buy some home to reminisce this place. Our place in Hong Kong has no bath tub so we absolutely love the bath tubs here in Japan. Every time we visited, we would buy a bunch of different bath powders to try. Obviously we bought a lavender bath powder from the Living Center this time.
Next to the Natural Living Center is an ice cream shop selling blueberry/vanilla ice cream. Lake Kawaguchi is famous for its blueberries and there is a blueberry farm where you can pick and eat all you can for 40 minutes. The ice cream is only JP¥350 for one. Japanese ice cream are THE BEST. It’s creamy and rich and you can practically feel the blueberries dancing on your taste buds.
Staying Smart with these Tips:
- July is when the lavender is in full bloom, remember to check out when the Herb Festival is and which park it is held at. There are two parks that the Herb Festivals are held, check the schedule and venue here.
- April to June is Shiba-Sakura season, remember to check out the dates here to plan accordingly.
- If you are only here for Mount Fuji, we strongly recommend that you come in Autumn, when the red leaves are in season. During spring, the Shiba-Sakura are lovely too, and you will be able to take the world famous picture of Chureito Pagoda and Mount Fuji, if you are lucky. But we tend to find the autumn season being drier than spring and hence, the higher chance of spotting the shy mountain.
- The return bus stop is at the same place where you arrived.
*Photos are embedded from Google searches