Day trip to Mount Fuji
This site contains affiliate links to products. I may receive a small commission for purchases made through these links, at no extra cost to you.
When you think about Japan, the image of Mount Fuji springs to mind more often than not, particularly the one above. You've probably seen this view of Fuji San from Arakurayama Sengen Park at least a dozen times when anything related to Japan is advertised.
To my somewhat surprise it was exactly as in the pictures. Honestly, most places I've been to in Japan looked like a postcard. Considering most pictures on social media are edited/enhanced in one way or another, it felt surreal sometimes seeing how beautiful everything was in real life.
Day trip to Mount Fuji From Tokyo.
I would have loved to climb Mount Fuji, but unfortunately for me this time, climbing is only allowed during early July - late September and I chose to be there during Cherry Blossom Season which is around late March - April.
Since climbing was out of the question I thought the next best thing I can do was to look for places which offer the best view of Fuji San. I chose Arakurayama Sengen Park with the iconic Chureito Pagoda and Lake Kawaguchi.
From Tokyo it takes about 2 hours to get there by train. If you can and choose to drive it will take about 10 minutes less than that. If you want to opt for tours/private tours, maybe check the links below.
How to get to Arakurayama Sengen Park and Lake Kawaguchi
Out of all Fuji 5 Lakes, Kawaguchi was, for me, the easiest to visit from Tokyo. Arakurayama Sengen Park is 30 minutes away from the lake (15-minute walk and 15-minute train ride) so it was easy to enjoy on the same day the spectacular views both these places have to offer.
From what I gathered, there are 3 round trips every weekday between Shinjuku Station (Tokyo) and Kawaguchiko Station with an extra one added on the weekends and holidays.
Departing from Shinjuku you can take the 'Fuji Excursion Limited Express' Nr. 3 (7.30 am), Nr. 7 (8.30 am) or Nr. 11 (9.30 am). From Kawaguchiko you can take Nr. 36 (15.03 pm), Nr. 44 (16.51 pm) and Nr. 48 (17.36 pm).
You can buy the tickets at any JR ticket office or online. The online reservation system is in Japanese only, so, for me, the ticket office was the only option. You can book up to a month in advance and I would highly recommend you don't leave it until the last minute.
For the full/accurate/updated schedule please check the links below.
I took the Fuji Excursion Nr. 3 which departed from Shinjuku at 7.30, arrived at Otsuki after about an hour and since I was in car 5 I had to change to car 3 for the rest of the journey as only the first 3 cars go to Kawaguchiko.
I opted for the view from Chureito Pagoda first and the view from the lake last so I stopped at Shimoyoshida, one station before Kawaguchiko. Arakura Sengen Shrine is a 10-15 minute walk from the station, from there you will have to walk an additional 5-10 minutes uphill to the Pagoda. We were packed like sardines from Otsuki to Shimoyoshida but seeing this magnificent mountain made it all worth it.
Arakurayama Sengen Park
Offering spectacular views of Mount Fuji and Fujiyoshida City, Arakurayama Sengen Park is located in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture. It was opened as a public park in 1959 with Chureito Pagoda built as a peace memorial.
To get to the Observation Deck and Five-Story Pagoda you have to climb 398 steps so make sure you're wearing comfortable shoes. Halfway there you will find Arakura Fuji Sengen Shrine, a Shinto shrine founded in 705.
As I climbed up the steps I had to stop every once in a while to appreciate the breathtaking view of Fuji San. The Observation Deck was quite busy, so I had to wait a while to take the iconic shot. As a solo traveller, it can be a bit daunting to have to ask random people to take a photo of you so not all photos with you are selfies, but everyone was super nice. Honestly, a massive 'Thank You! ' to everyone who's helped me out while on this adventure.
From the Pagoda, I walked/hiked for 20-30 minutes up Mount Arakura. It was beautiful, and peaceful, and it gave me the energy I needed to continue my itinerary for the day.
I wish I had more time to reach the top of the mountain, but my purpose for that day was to get to Lake Kawaguchi as well. I went back to the Shimoyoshida station and took the first train to Kawaguchiko. From what I could see, there were trains running in between these two stations every 20 minutes or so (give or take) so I didn't have to wait too long.
There are numerous spots which offer a beautiful view of the Lake and the mountain. For the second part of my day trip to Mount Fuji I chose the view from Ubuyagasaki Shrine. The shrine itself is not that spectacular, but the views from there, and on the way there are worth your while.
I have to say I was incredibly lucky to have been there on a clear and sunny spring day. I had the pleasure of seeing Mount Fuji in all its might from both the Pagoda and the Lake.
If I would have picked any other day for the following 2 weeks I would not have been as happy as I was. If you want to take iconic photos or simply enjoy the view, please check the weather in advance to avoid disappointment. When it gets cloudy or rainy Fuji San likes to hide.
From Kawaguchiko station I walked along the lake shore for about 35-40 minutes until I reached the shrine. If you decide to climb up the stairs please be super careful as it can be a bit tricky. On my way back to the train station I found a little cherry tree and was happy to take a Mount Fuji & Sakura photo.
Returning to Tokyo
I took the Fuji Excursion 36 which left at 15.03 from Kawaguchiko, arriving at 16.57 at Shinjuku. Tickets get released a month in advance, so please, please, please try to book in time to avoid disappointment. For the ride back I didn't have to change trains fortunately and it was significantly less busy than on my way there.
I was a big fan of Mount Fuji before, and after this day trip, I can say I am a fantastically huge fan of Fuji San. Once I saw how mesmerising it looked in real life I can say with certainty that understand why so many people can become a little obsessed with it.
If you have any questions, please ask away in the comments below.
I hope life is treating you well