Fuji in clouds

Fuji 5 Lakes is pretty much how it sounds – a series of lakes, forests and small towns with good views of Mt Fuji. Its a popular place to stay and prepare before climbing Fuji, or for some serious relaxation after.

This definitely isn’t as expensive or arduous as some other places. Lake Kawaguchiko is the most built up and easy to get to. You can get there by bus, local or express train without spending too much cash or time.

Buses run by Fujikyu go from Shinjuku Station quite frequently, take about 2 hours and cost 1,700yen each way.
Local trains take the Chuo line to Takao and onwards to Otsuki, then switch to the Fujikyu line to Kawaguchiko. It will cost about 2,500yen and take around 2 and a half hours
Express trains go from Shinjuku, cost about 4,000yen each way and takes just over 2 hours.

Getting around the Lakes isn’t too hard as there are regular buses between Kawaguchiko and Saikyo and some less frequent buses to the other lakes. There’s also several places that rent bicycles if youre planning short trips – the prices vary a lot so ask around if it seems expensive.
Check if your hotel or hostel offers discount bike hire, mine was 1,000 yen for a day

For climbing Mt Fuji you’ll have to go when the mountain is open to climbers during the summer months. For general sightseeing and short hikes any time of year should be fine if you remember to wrap up warm in winter. It will get humid in June but is slightly cooler than Tokyo.

Where to stay
There’s tons of hotels and hostels on Lake Kawaguchiko with a wide range of prices. It may be harder to find a room on quieter lakes but there are several campsites in the Fuji 5 Lakes area.

Lake Kawaguchiko

What to do
Lake Kawaguchiko has the most to offer for outdoor activites and sightseeing.
Climbing Mount Fuji has to be the most active of these. Start from the 5th Station, stay overnight in a mountain hut to rest and get used to the higher altitude, then ascend to the peak and come down the next day. The mountain huts are closed except during summer, don’t try to climb Mt Fuji during winter!

If youre not up to climbing the biggest mountain in Japan there are some shorter hikes starting from Kawaguchiko. Mt Tenjo on the south-eastern shore can be climbed in around 2 hours, although the first half is very steep there are some good viewing points for catching a glimpse of Mt Fuji. The exceptionally lazy can even take a ski lift most of the way up between 9am and 5pm.
From Mt Tenjo there is a walk along the hilltops on the eastern shore to Mt Mitsutoge. This can also be climbed from the north-east corner of the lake.

For alternative ways to see the lake itself, hire a pedalo or rowboat if youre feeling active, take a guided tour by boat or jump in a speedboat for a faster ride. The rowboats are about 1,500yen per hour, pedalos 2,000 per hour. The guided tours or speedboats vary in price so try different places before you buy a ticket. There are several leaving from the eastern shore. There’s also rented bikes to go round the lake on the shoreline road
Hire a rowboat, do 10 minutes rowing and you’re away from it all. Take a few cold beers or a picnic and enjoy the quiet

If you love huge coasters and you don’t mind 2 hour queues for 2 minutes of screaming and nausea, try a day trip to Fuji-Q . Fuji-Q has some huge and heart stopping coasters, its one stop away on the Fujikyu line and costs 1,300 yen.
Don’t go at the weekend or during school holidays is you can avoid it. It will be ridiculously painfully busy

entrance to the Bat Cave (no bats)

Lake Saiko is slightly smaller than Kawaguchiko but offers some unusual attractions on the south-western edge. There’s a series of 3 caves formed when Mt Fuji last erupted near the Aokigahara forest, known as Bat Cave (300yen, no bats), Ice Cave (280yen, cold) and Wind Cave (also 280yen, also very cold). Iyashi No Sato , a traditional village of wooden houses, is near these caves.

Aokigahara woods can be explored on well marked paths. This vast forest stretches far to the south and has a dark reputation for travellers getting lost. The trees are growing thickly almost directly out of cooled lava which makes for some creepy protruding roots. The trees grow so close together it is hard to see far ahead and its fairly dark even at midday – this combination can make it easy to get lost and impossible to find the path again.
There’s also canoe hire and jet skiing on Lake Saiko.

Dragon Cave in Aokigahara woods

Lake Yamanako is the largest of the lakes, and there’s a wide range of watersports there. Mt Fuji can be seen from the northern shore, and some of the outdoor baths of the onsen have good views.

Lake Shojiko is the smallest but has excellent views of Fuji from the north shore. You can also see a smaller mountain that mimics its shape, known as Kofuji or “baby Fuji”. Surprisingly the smaller mountain is an extinct volcano and an older vent for the same magma pool that created Mt Fuji, so the ‘baby Fuji’ is actually older.

Lake Motosuko is hard to reach using public transport and isn’t very developed. Sorry for the brief post, I haven’t visited Motosuko as it seemed impossible to get to without a car and there seems to be little information available in English

Hotto is a regional specialty, made of thick fresh noodles in a meaty soup. Flavours range from pork to bear.
That’s not a typo. They really have bear meat

Fuji from top of Kachi Kachi ropeway - for some reason I can`t get it the right way up

Fuji 5 Lakes has so much to offer, whether it’s intensive mountain climbing or cruising in a slow boat. It can get very busy during summer weekends, so book ahead


Buses to Kawaguchiko – http://transportation.fujikyu.co.jp/english/gettinghere/01.html#pgm03

More information on the Lakes – http://www.japan-guide.com

Train times – http://www.hyperdia.com

Fuji-Q English site – http://www.fujiq.jp/en/