Are you planning to visit the region around Mount Fuji (富士山)? From Tokyo, 100 kilometres east of the mountain, you can already see Japan’s national symbol on a clear day. It is therefore ideal as a day trip, but if you have more time, there is plenty to see and do here. And the Japanese love coming here too. If it is not to climb the mountain, then it is to enjoy the beautiful surroundings around the mountain. In this guide, I will take you to the best historical sites in the region and tell you more about the history of Japan’s most sacred mountain, Mount Fuji.
What would you like to know about Mount Fuji, Japan?
- History – 5 historical facts – Did you know…?
- Sightseeing – What to do near Mount Fuji?
- Accommodation – Where to stay?
- Transport – How to get there
History – 5 historical facts – Did you know…?
- Written sources have revealed that an anonymous monk in 633 AD was the first person to reach the top of Mount Fuji?
- A source from the 10th century AD described Mount Fuji’s significance as ‘immortal’. But afterwards more descriptions were added and what Mount Fuji really means is still unclear.
- The last eruption of the volcano in 1708 was?
- The British Sir Rutherford Alcock was the first non-Japanese to climb the mountain in September 1868. The climb up took no less than 8 hours! Can you do it faster?
- In 2013 Mount Fuji was included in the UNESCO World Heritage List?
Sightseeing – 5 historical sites near Mount Fuji
Most people who visit the Mount Fuji area do so as a day trip from Tokyo or stay overnight and then head on towards Kyoto. But do you have the time and are you looking for more relaxation? Then read on and discover the best sights in this region.
1. Climb Mount Fuji
Are you up to the challenge? Climbing Mount Fuji in Japan is a real highlight of your trip. However, this is only possible between early July and mid-September. There are several stations on the mountain where you can start, depending on your condition. Unfortunately, I was not able to do this climb myself, but it is still on my bucket list. Roommates in my hostel have shown me beautiful pictures of the top of the volcano and the majestic sunrise they experienced. Would you like to know more about climbing Mount Fuji? For more information, please visit the website Fujisan Climb.
2. Fujisan Sengen Shrine, the most important …shrine in Japan?
Before venturing up the mountain, stop by the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine in Fujinomiya. This is the main Shinto shrine in honour of the goddess of volcanoes, Konohanasakuya-hime. Until 1900, pilgrims came to this temple, worshipped the goddess, washed themselves in the pound and started the 19 kilometre climb to the top of the mountain. In addition, there are 159 festivals a year, so the chances of entering the temple in a friendly atmosphere are pretty good. And since 2013, the Fujisan Sengen Shrine has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Would you like to know more about the Fujisan Sengen Shrine? Then read the article Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine | The Pilgrimage to Mount Fuji
3. Visit the town of Hakone
Hakone is located south-west of Mount Fuji. This town is known as a health resort because of its many hot springs and the beautiful view of Mount Fuji. But it is also a great place for cultural activities. Hop on the classic Hakone Tozan line train and visit the Hakone Open-Air Museum and the Hakone Art Museum. Or take the Hakone Ropeway and head towards Lake Ashi for great views of Mount Fuji. This cable car takes you past the geothermal valley with its hot springs. For more information, visit the Japan Guide website.
Hakone can be visited as a daytrip from Tokyo. But if you decide to stay in this beautiful place, check here for accommodation in and around Hakone.
5. Go to the 5 lakes and enjoy the view of Mount Fuji
Around Mount Fuji, there are many beautiful places where you can enjoy the magnificent view of Mount Fuji. Maybe you recognise the front page of Lonely Planet from a few years back? This picture was taken at the Chureito Pagoda and the Arakura Sengen Shrine near the 5 lakes. Before you can enjoy the view, you only have to climb 400 steps. But the view…
Would you like to know more about the Chureito Pagoda, the Arakura Sengen Shrine and the view? Read the article Arakura Sengen Shrine & Chureito Pagoda | The view of Mount Fuji
5. A place for suicide: The Aokigahara Forest
To the northwest of Mount Fuji is a very peculiar forest. It is called Aokigahara, but is better known as the Suicide Forest. It became especially popular after the publication of the book Kuroi Kaiju (Black sea of trees) by Seicho Matsumoto in 1960. In that book, two lovers committed suicide in the forest. In the year 2002, even 78 bodies were found and maybe you will meet ‘someone’ during a visit. The forest is full of signs that try to make suicidal people change their minds.
Many people also committed suicide at the Kegon Waterfall in Nikko National Park. Why they did this you can read in the article Kegon Falls | Why 200 people committed suicide in Nikko?
Accommodation – Where to stay around Mount Fuji?
Planning to stay near Mount Fuji because you’re keen to explore the region? Then there are a number of options. I myself stayed two nights at Nasubi Mount Fuji Backpackers in the town of Fuji, south of the volcano. It is a fine hostel with an incredibly nice owner. There is also a cosy room to meet fellow travellers. However, a stay in this hostel does depend on what you want to do in the area around Mount Fuji. For a climb of the volcano, this is the place to be. But for the region of the 5 lakes, it is not…
So I made a day trip around the volcano and visited Kawaguchiko Lake. The disadvantage was the public transport, which took me 2 hours to go there and back, so I had to change trains 3 times. Also, the JR pass was not valid everywhere. But if you are really looking for relaxation, then an overnight stay at Kawaguchi-ko, Sai-ko, Yamanaka-ko, Shoji-ko and Motosu-ko is highly recommended.
Finally, consider staying in the beautiful town of Hakone to the southwest of Mount Fuji.
Transport – How to get to Fuji, Hakone or the 5 lakes?
Fuji: The town of Fuji is located south of Mount Fuji. Most Shinkansens between Tokyo and Kyoto stop at Shin-Fuji. 2 km northwest of Shin-Fuji is Fuji Station for the JR Tokaido Main Line. From Tokyo, you can take the Shinkansen to Mishima and change to the Tokaido Line.
Hakone: For Hakone, take the Shinkansen to Odawara Station. From here, take the Hakone Tozan line to the centre of town.
5 Lakes: The 5 lakes is located north of Mount Fuji. For the 5 lakes, it is best to take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Otsuki Station. There you transfer to the Fujikyo Railway Line to Kawaguchiko Station.
For more information about your travel route, please take a look at Hyperdia. It describes exactly which route is best for you to take to your next destination.
Next destination in Japan?
Continue your journey through Japan to the west for Tokyo or Nikko National Park. Or head north for the Japanese Alps and discover Nagano or Matsumoto. Finally, head west for the Kiso Valley, Nagoya, Kioto and Osaka.
Do you have more tips, comments or ideas about Mount Fuji and the 5 Lakes? Feel free to leave a message below!