What is so wow about seeing Japan’s iconic mountain from Fuji Five Lakes Area when you can see it from Tokyo? This is the most often asked question.
Here is your answer to why you must wander in Fujigoko during December. And how to soak yourself in a small-town vibe and gaze at Japan’s most beautiful mountain from different scenic spots.
- Why visit?
- What is wow about Kawaguchiko
- Kawaguchiko Vs Hakone
- How many days to spend here
- Best time of the year to visit
- How to get to Fuji Five lakes area from Tokyo
- Getting around Fujigoko using public transport
- Food recommendations
- Best things to do here
Is Fuji Five Lakes worth visiting?
You know what they say? “Five is better than one.” There is no ambiguity – It is worth visiting the Fujikyu area for several reasons. Let us keep the fact that Mount Fuji is an icon of Japan aside for a while.
Imagine a mountain that is a truncated cone with smooth curved edges. It rises above, reaching the sky from the upper slope of the earth. Then think, someone poured snow on that curvy cone as they pour hot white chocolate on Belgian Chocolate ice cream, and it froze there on the top with time.
Now think of greenery as sides and toppings. Lastly, place this entire scoop of ice cream in a fantastic water-filled earthen bowl. Doesn’t it sound aesthetically pleasing? Mount Fuji’s volcanic mountain profile is uncannily perfect and brings in some sense of calmness every time you view it from various angles.
What are the five lakes around mount fuji?
The Fuji Five Lakes area consists of Yamanakako, Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Shojiko and Motosuko and is locally known as Fujigoko.
Is Kawaguchiko worth visiting?
Yes! Kawaguchiko is a small town. Irrespective of which street you are on, you are probably 2 degrees turn away from Mount Fuji’s view. But, of course, the lake is the focal point – Mount Fuji stands as the tallest bud of the bouquet, and the green forest surrounding the lake looks like the petals beneath. The smaller shrines add natural beauty to the town, making it even more spectacular.
What is Kawaguchiko known for?
Apart from hundred different viewpoints, Kawaguchiko is famous for a few hot springs. The number of onsens you find here may be less than in Northern Japan. But these are nothing less than good.
Which is better Hakone or Kawaguchiko?
It is good to do both if you are in Japan for a long as both towns are beautiful. During our 19 days trip, we skipped Hakone and chose Kawaguchiko for a few reasons. Firstly, you see Fuji from closer in Kawaguchiko than Hakone. Hakone is a mountainous region, and Fuji pops up between those now and then. So it isn’t that 24/7 Fuji sight you get in Hakone.
Many people choose Hakone because it is easier to reach than Kawaguchi and provides better for tourists. If you are a Fuji worshipper like us who wants to see Fuji every minute, choose Kawaguchiko. If you aren’t into a small-town vibe, love being surrounded by people, and don’t intend on a 24/7 Fuji view, head to Hakone from Tokyo or Kamakura.
Can you make a day trip to the Fuji Five Lakes area?
Fuji region is beyond just Kawaguchiko. Its beauty stays in walking, cycling and going around by yourself. Each viewpoint is different, and it is hard to declare the most scenic spot to see mount Fuji.
More than any other reason why making a day trip to Fujigoko isn’t ideal, you must know Mount Fuji is moody! If she decides to hide behind the clouds, she ain’t gonna come out for the whole day! Her favourite time of the day to shine is during the early morning. So without at least one night’s stay, you may miss her blessings.
How many days to spend in the Fuji Five Lake area?
We spent two days in the Fuji Five Lake area with our base at Kawaguchiko. A third day here would have been a delight, so we could have gone cycling everywhere and basked like crocs by the lakes even more.
What is the best time of year to visit Mount Fuji?
The best time to see Mount Fuji is December. Japanese official statistics show a 77% chance of you seeing Mount Fuji without clouds during December. So just wear your warmest clothes during December and buy Japanese heat packs. The temperature can reach up to -5*C at night.
Though Sakura is an amazing time to view mighty Fuji with the foreground of pink flowers in April, the chances of her coming out of the cloud are rare. And you must know that millions of other tourists will be beside you to savour Mount Fuji’s beauty along with Sakura between March and May.
How to get to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo?
Kawaguchiko station has a highway express bus plus an omnibus station in front. The rear is the train station.
Reaching Fuji Five Lakes Area by train from Tokyo
- Take Chuo Line at Shinjuku to Otsuki station – Covered under JR Pass
- Transfer to Fujikyuko Line at Otsuki to get to Kawaguchiko. Not covered under JR Pass. From here, take the local bus to get to other lakes.
We don’t recommend this as it involves transfer and takes 2.5 hours
What is the fastest way to get from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko Station?
Reaching Fuji Five lake area by bus from Tokyo is the fastest and easiest way as it involves zero transfer and is shorter than the train(less than 2hrs). The highway express bus leaves Tokyo station almost every 45 minutes. Buy the tickets a day prior at the station during peak season. Or arrive at the station at least 20 minutes before departure to buy the ticket.
Heads Up: Two company buses depart from Tokyo to Fuji’s five lakes area. There is no difference in the price between these two, but boarding points differ and are located 100m from each other.
Can I go to Kyoto or Osaka from Kawaguchiko?
Yes. The night express highway buses are the best way to get to Osaka or Kyoto from Kawaguchiko. Remember that these buses are in full demand during weekends. Either book in prior. Or take a late evening bus to Mishima from Kawaguchiko and catch a bullet train to Kyoto/Osaka.
How do you move around in Kawaguchiko?
“Omni Buses ” are made for travellers by connecting famous spots along the five lakes across three lines – Green, Red and Blue. Various types of passes are available for the omnibuses, and you can buy them at Kawaguchiko station.
Check the inclusions and period of validity of the pass properly before buying. We bought a two-day Omni bus pass only. Some passes may offer discounts on Rope way and boat riding. However, they are expensive and may not be worth the money.
The timetable of this sightseeing bus varies with the season. So always ask for a printed map with time table while buying the pass at Kawaguchiko station.
Cycling in Fuji Five Lake Area
Most accommodations rent you bicycles. Depending on your fitness, you can enjoy the countryside at the foot of Mount Fuji by cycling even during chilling and sunny December.
Where to stay in Fuji Five Lake Area?
When you book accommodation, Stay closer to the bus or train station unless you are in the Fuji Five Lake area for a week. Cabs are rare, and no apps work here.
Out of the Five lakes, Kawaguchiko and lake Yamanakako provide many options for accommodation for visitors. The 4 lakes are located north of mount Fuji, and Yamanaka is on the east. So if you pick Yamanakako, you are away from the rest 4.
What are the best accommodations near Lake Kawaguchiko?
The guest houses next to Kawaguchi station and near the lake are expensive. So if you choose somewhere between the lake and the station, you get a better deal on accommodation.
We stayed at K’s House MtFuji, a hostel 500m from lake Kawaguchi and a km from the station. It was closer to the green, and red bus stops. Lawson store was just 100m away.
Are there good food joints in the Fujigoko area?
The stay here is cheaper than in Tokyo. But food is equally expensive. So we stuck mostly 7/11 & Lawson food. There is a handful of vegetarian-friendly restaurants. We tried two of them.
- One is Aladdin, a Nepali restaurant at Kwaguchiko.
- Kagikake Tea house at Iyashi no Sato entrance.
Best Things to do in Fuji Five Lakes area in December.
The moment you pick the Fujikyu sightseeing bus map, you will be shocked to see 50+ things to do and see in Fuji Five Lake Area.
DON’T PUT YOURSELF UNDER PRESSURE TO TICK EVERYTHING OFF YOUR LIST. Take it slow. Read & choose your places carefully. There are dozens of museums in Kawaguchi. I am not a museum lover, so it was easy for me to drop all these.
Then there are multiple shrines. You can skip shrines here if you are visiting or have already visited Kyoto. Or add one shrine that gives you an impressive view of Mount Fuji.
The places you can visit during December differ from what you would do in other seasons. For example, Momiji Autumn Leaves Corridor will be an empty canal in December.
Things we did in and around Kawaguchi during December :
1. Spend an evening at Oishi Park
The North shore of lake Kawaguchi at Oishi park is mystic! The serene waters are a lovely backdrop for a romantic evening stroll. But if you’re feeling adventurous, you can rent a boat and try paddling. Is it a good idea to boat in freezing cold waters during December? – I don’t think so
If you’re more of a land-dweller, fear not. Oishi Park has plenty of walking paths and open spaces to explore. Farter you go, the better the views. You can take a leisurely walk around the lake, enjoying the views of the surrounding mountains and trees. And have an ice cream like most domestic tourists do here.
The best thing to do at Oishi Park in Kawaguchi.
As the Sun sets, the park takes on a magical quality. The trees and buildings are illuminated with colourful lights, giving the whole area a fairytale-like atmosphere. It’s the perfect time to grab a seat on one of the park benches and watch the world go by. Or see local men fishing!
But beware of the mischievous squirrels who call the park home. They’re always on the lookout for an unattended snack, and if you’re not careful, they might steal your snacks right out of your hands.
How to get to Oishi Park?
The Red line Omnibus on takes you to Oishi Park.
2. Climb to Cheurito Pagoda.
You have likely seen an image of Mount Fuji behind a traditional Japanese Pagoda at least once. This picture-perfect spot is the anonymous symbol of Japan Tourism for all the right reasons.
The word “picture-perfect” suits this place most because -Cheurito Pagoda has historical significance and sits in complete harmony with mother nature without dominating its surroundings.
Most of us assume it to be of religious importance until we catch that long breath at the hilltop to realize it serves as a peace memorial commemorating the citizens of Fujiyoshida who died in wars from the mid-1800s until World War II.
Is the Chureito Pagoda worth it?
In December, the Fuji Five lakes area goes mostly on neutral shades with a pinch of pastel colours. But here at Cheurito Pagoda, the vibrance arises because of the bright orange colour of the five-storey traditional Japanese structure with an astonishing view of mount Fuji calmly sitting at the end of the 400th step.
The number 400 may seem like a lot to many of us. If you’re not in great shape, you might start to question whether the view is worth the hike. But fear not! The climb may make you catch long breaths. But the view is going to leave you breathtaking. Whatever you have considered a “small town” until now looks like a huge urban sprawl from the top.
If none of this excites you, some tourists always take endless pictures in cute poses that can entertain you.
How to get to Cheurito Pagoda in Fuji Area
The nearest railway station to Cheurito Pagoda is Shimoyoshida station. Take the Fujikyu railway train to Shimoyoshida station from Kawaguchi. Thomas and friends-themed trains are the cutest and add charm to your Cheurito Pagoda half-day trip. You can buy to and fro train tickets at the train station directly.
How long does it take to climb Chureito Pagoda?
From Shimoyoshida station, a 30-minute walk with 400 steps takes you to the viewpoint. If you want to avoid the mildly difficult hike, you can hire a taxi for 800 yen at the starting point of the steps.
When you hike, don’t worry about losing your trail. From Shimoyoshida station, the picture of Cheurito Pagoda is embedded on the pathway and walls as signages with arrow marks. Make sure you start your day with water bottles and some snacks early so that you are at the top by 9.30AM to avoid glare.
3. Wander in Iyashi no Sato – a Traditional Japanese village.
This is where we both decided to chill on the patio to let things unwind by themselves. Iyashi no Sato translates to “Healing Village and it does feel so! Nestled in the picturesque Fuji area, Iyashi no Sato is a recreated village with 22 traditional thatched roofs. This feels exactly like a village from Japanese folklore or the scene from the Ghibli movie” The tales of Princess Kaguya.”
The journey to the village itself keeps you captivated. The lakes and shrines pass by, making you feel as if you are in a place that has nothing to do with the modern world. But those vending machines in the middle of nowhere remind you that you are still in Japan.
Walking in the village
Usually, tourists stay here for a maximum of one hour. But we spent a whole noon there – Solid 3hrs.
Once you arrive, the calming sound of a flowing stream invites you. The group of sloped thatched huts lined with bamboo forests in the background makes you slow down. When you wander, those huts’ pottery and silk shops make it feel like Japan of the 1960s. The corncobs hung from the eaves of roofs make you wonder if the village is actually alive.
The entire setup may take you back in time. But the village’s post office wants you to get to the future. So a traditional house is converted into a souvenir shop cum post office. Here, you can send a post to your future self. All you have to do is pay, pick a cute postcard from their collection, write a message and fill in your address after specifying the delivery date!
Don’t forget to wander outside the traditional village. People actually do live in these isolated areas in modern houses lined with traditional villages on one side and a view of Mount Fuji on the horizon.
What makes it different from other traditional villages in Japan?
Until you enter the experience centre in one of the huts here, Iyashi No Sato is about immersing yourself in rural beauty. But the charming village has a heartwrenching past. In 1966, the village was destroyed in a mudslide caused by a typhoon. More than 300 people died within 24 hours! So the place that delights you now was reconstructed in 2006, which was designed to look like samurai warrior helmets.
How much is the entrance fee for Saiko Iyashi no Sato?
The village, an open-air museum, is open for visitors from 9.30 to 5pm in winter. Entrance fees in December 2022 were 350 yen per person.
How to get to Iyashi No Sato village?
From Kawaguchiko station, take the Green Line Bus to Iyashi No Sato Village.
4. Stroll on the shoreline of lake Saiko.
Have I blabbered too much about watching Mount Fuji? Ok, take a break from Fuji by walking on the banks of lake Saiko. Because other mountains partially block the view of Mount Fuji except at the lake’s western tip.
Can you swim in Fuji Five Lakes?
The dark reflection of the forest in the waters of Saiko makes it appear deep – Maybe the waters are deep! But it doesn’t stop some night campers from swimming even when the temperature is 0*c!
Strangely, this area felt like the town “Ozark” from the Netflix series – There are cabins and trailers here and there. I thought we would meet Ruth there! Tourists love this bank for fishing and camping. Hence you spot tents at some places. The houses with sloped roofs and patios in the front felt like Marty Byrde coming out any time!
4. Take a walk around lake Kawaguchi.
Watching the sunset at lake Kawaguchi is Gucci! The most famous attraction in the Fuji Five Lakes area is Oike Park in Kawaguchi, for all the right reasons. You may wonder if a tourist herd swamps you when I say it is well-known. Fear Not! The lake is huge, and tourists don’t stay for longer.
If you are there for the sunset, you hardly share the park with two or more small groups of people. Because most tourists head to that expensive ropeway or boat rides on that ugly-looking plastic ducks.
Can you walk around Lake Kawaguchiko?
Yes, you can! The 17.5km loop may take a whole day. But you can choose when and where to stop. Because the trail is scenic everywhere.
The lake not only reflects Mount Fuji at its best. But also the sight of the 1.6km long Kawaguchi Ohashi bridge built in the 1970s. To top it, benches face the lake to admire the beauty of the thin man-made forest built on the bank.
Don’t forget to look at the “Goddesses on the Lake” bronze statue.
The statue represents the image of the two famous goddesses of Sengen Shrine dancing joyfully over the lake. These two sister goddesses are highly respected and loved by the people of this area as guardians bringing eternal love, peace and prosperity.
6. Walk in the Kawaguchi neighbourhood
If you are like me, who imagined Japan as a place for skyscrapers, you may want to wander in a small town like Kawaguchi. Or if you are a Ghibli fan who admires detailing and little things in life fascinate you, you must stroll in Kawaguchiko.
The houses may be tiny. But the amount of detailing that goes into their gardens here is conspicuous. Most patios face mount fuji view and always have a small table with two chairs where you find old people hanging out. The silence on the streets and zero noises from the houses make you rethink your human presence.
Farther you go, you come across a community cemetery as per Shinto tradition. Typically, the Japanese family grave consists of a stone monument with space for flower decoration, incense sticks and water. Sometimes you may even find a cute stone statue in the middle of hundred graves.
What is there to do in Kawaguchiko in winter?
The Sun sets early in Kawaguchiko in winter. On an evening’s dusk, we stepped a little outside the town. What started as a nice evening walk turned out creepy because we met no human! When we were crossing a small mansion, a person came out of the house smilingly and asked why we were out in the dark.
Merriy, I replied to him after a “Konichiva” that we were on a casual walk. I conveyed my excitement of spotting rabbits and deer using a translator because I had seen a capture cage of 2ft height a few minutes ago.
Shockingly surprised, he took a few seconds to type, “The cage was meant for bears, not rabbits.”
I need not explain at what speed we returned to our hostel room after the “Bear fact” though the temperature reached -2*C!
Did we inspire you to explore Fuji Five Lakes Area in December? Let us know in the comment section below.
Heads up – we are very honest and keep it no secret.
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