The Fuji Five Lakes (富士五湖 Fuji-Goko) are a group of five small lakes in Yamanashi prefecture, on the North side of Mount Fuji in Japan. From East to West, they are Lake Yamanaka (山中湖 Yamanakako), Lake Kawaguchi (河口湖 Kawaguchiko), Lake Sai (西湖 Saiko), Lake Shoji (精進湖 Shojiko) and Lake Motosu (本栖湖 Motosuko). Lake Kawaguchi is the most popular, the most developed, and by far the most visited.
Main approaches to Mt. Fuji
Access to the area usually involves going via Otsuki to the town of Fujiyoshida (富士吉田), located between Lakes Kawaguchi and Yamanaka. Fujiyoshida can be reached from Tokyo by taking the JR Chuo line to Otsuki (105 min, ¥1340 by local train, 60 min ¥2360 by ltd express) and changing to the Fujikyu line, which goes to Fujiyoshida and terminates at Kawaguchiko Station (55 min, ¥1170). For those using the Japan Rail Pass, the JR train up to Otsuki is covered, but not the Fujikyu train between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko. For those using the Tokyo Wide Pass, both the JR and Fujikyu trains are fully covered (except ltd express panorama seats). JR also has a couple of Fuji Excursion Limited Express trains with morning departures (¥4130 115 min, seat reservations required) from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko, but JR Rail Pass holders still must pay the ¥1170 fee for the portion running on Fujikyu tracks.
Highway buses are cheaper than the train, and available from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko and Yamanakako, and at certain times, directly to Kawaguchi Fifth Station (Go-gome) on Mt. Fuji. The bus from Shinjuku Station takes approximately 1 hr 45 min and costs ¥2000. The ticket office can take both cash and credit cards, as well as issue bus day passes for the 5 Lakes area. Buses are equipped with toilets and luggage compartments, and you get a seat assignment. Buses are also available to and from Shibuya and Tokyo Stations. Be aware that en route during busy times and rush hour, buses may be delayed. That said, there are many people who go see the Fuji 5 Lakes, and on weekdays the area is generally less crowded.
For those interested in seeing both the Fuji 5 Lakes and Hakone, there is the Odakyu Fuji-Hakone Pass, taking buses to the Five Lakes back from Tokyo, then buses to Hakone, and then Odakyu trains to Shinjuku from Hakone (or vice-versa), good for 3 consecutive days.
You can reserve a seat for free at Keio express bus. You will still need to pay for your ticket at the station.
Extensive local bus service is available, particularly in and from Kawaguchiko (Lake Kawaguchi) Station, which is the most popular launching point for exploration of this region or a climb of Mount Fuji. The Kawaguchiko Retro Bus serves the path around the lake, stopping at many of the local tourist attractions like the museums or parks. A regular local bus serves the five lakes and the caves, also popular tourist attractions. There are bus day passes that can save you some money, but different passes cover different areas, so consider your itinerary. For other areas like Lake Yamanaka, bus frequency is far less, and knowing the bus schedule ahead of time can save you from some headaches.
Bus service is available from Kawaguchiko Station to Kawaguchi Fifth Station, the most popular place from which to start a climb of Mt. Fuji. The bus takes about 50 minutes. Be aware that climbing is not recommended outside of official climbing season (July and August) and the buses are restricted to the daytime. This means that if you do intend to climb, you will need to arrange a taxi early in the morning or late at night to get to Fifth Station. A taxi one way can cost about ¥13,000-¥15000.
You can rent bikes for an hour, 3 hours or a full day at several places. Depending on your fitness level you can visit the lakes and several attractions nearby while cycling. Many of these bike rental places will store your luggage as well.
For those going to more isolated areas, renting a car is by far the most convenient and efficient way to get around. There are several rental agencies close to Kawaguchiko Stn.
Regardless of how you travel, be aware that the roads heading back to Kawaguchiko Stn around 5 PM can get jammed, and you should give yourself enough time especially if you are trying to catch the last bus of the day.
Kitaguchi-hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine
Most visitors come here for views of Mount Fuji, with many postcard shots taken from Lake Kawaguchi in particular. Be aware though that the weather is rarely ideal and notoriously uncooperative, plus it can change quickly. Autumn and winter are by far the best seasons to see Mt. Fuji clearly, and early morning and evening usually are the best times of day. For those with a primary interest of going from Tokyo to see Mt. Fuji, you can check this live web cam and perhaps save yourself from a needless trip if the weather is bad.
- Chureito Pagoda (浅間公園 忠霊塔), 3353-1 Arakura, Fujiyoshida (15 min walk from Shimoyoshida Stn), ☎ 055-523-2697, . 8AM–5:30PM. This is the most famous and iconic spot of the Fuji 5 Lakes, especially beautiful during cherry blossom season. To give fair warning, your chances of catching the same views as in the picture postcards and travel brochures are not that great, but you could still see a beautiful view that you won't ever forget. edit
- Kawaguchiko Tenjozan Park (河口湖天上山公園), 1163-1 Azagawa, Fujikawaguchiko, ☎ 055-572-3168, . 9AM–5PM. Take the Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway up 220m to the top and get magnificent views of Lake Kawaguchi and Mt Fuji. You can also walk back down through the Hydrangea Route from mid-July to late-August and see gorgeous flowers on the way back. Ropeway ¥900 r/t, ¥500 o/w. edit
- Oshino Hakkai (忍野八海), Shibokusa, Oshino, ☎ 055-584-4221, . This is a delightful small village mostly filled with restaurants and souvenir shops, famous for its natural 8 ponds from melted snow. There is also a nice traditional Japanese garden that almost nobody discovers. edit
- Kitaguchihongu Fuji Sengen Shrine (北口本宮冨士浅間神社), 5558 Kamiyoshida, Fujiyoshida, ☎ 055-522-0221, . This is one of the best shrines to see in the area, with a long prominade leading up to the main hall, as well as ancient revered trees and a high decorated altar area. Free. edit
- Lake Saiko Caves (西湖コウモリ穴). On the southwest side of Lake Sai, there are 4 unique caves with some fascinating scenery - the Bat Cave (¥350), the Dragon Cave (free), the Narusawa Ice Cave (¥350), and the Fugaku Wind Cave (¥350). The Bat Cave has no more bats but its 350 length makes it the most impressive. The Dragon Cave is small and doesn't offer much, but the surrounding forest walk with verdant green trees and moss from late spring is impressive. The latter two caves you will need some thicker clothing for - the Ice Cave was used as a natural freezer with its subfreezing temperatures up til the 1920s, and the Wind Cave with an average temperture of about 3°C made it perfect for preserving silkworm eggs. Later it was declared a national treasure by the government. ¥. edit
- Fuji Shibazakura (富士芝桜まつり), 212 Motosu, Fujikawaguchiko (A bit south down Rte 139 from Lake Motosu), ☎ 055-589-3031, . 8AM-5PM. One of the most beautiful times to see the Fuji 5 Lakes area is from mid-April through May and the reason is the magnificent moss phlox (shibazakura) which comes into full bloom with Mt. Fuji in the background. The colors are amazing and if you are lucky enough to be there when the weather is good, it will be an unforgettable experience. ¥800. edit
- Aokigahara (青木ヶ原), along Highway 139 (western shore of Lake Sai), . Also known as Jukai (樹海) or the "Sea of Trees", this forest is famous for its volcanic caverns and infamous as Japan's top suicide spot. There is still some excellent hiking though, with some very good places like the Sankosai Viewpoint and Koyodai Observatory, as well as Mt. Omuro. edit
- Lake Shoji (精進湖 ''Shojiko''). Lake Shoji is a small, horseshoe-shaped lake, idyllic-looking and with pretty views of Fuji. Boating and fishing rental available. edit
- Lake Motosu (本栖湖 ''Motosuko''). Lake Motosu is the furthest out, also the deepest and clearest lake. Boating rental (paddle boat, rowboat) and a sightseeing boat available. You're not allowed to go out very far if you do rent a boat, though. It also has a nice sight - the view from the back of the Japanese ¥1000 yen note is from there, and if driving you can go to the exact spot. Most conveniently reached by rental car. edit
- Yamanashi Prefectural Maglev Exhibition Center (山梨県立リニア見学センター), 2381 Ogatayama, Tsuru-shi, ☎ 055-445-8121, . 9AM–5PM, Closed Mon. A museum giving you a chance to see Japan's Maglev train, which will run close to 500 kph when it starts up between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027. With exhibits that explains the scientific principles as well as hands on demostrations. There are test runs most weekdays (be sure to check their website before going there). Normally you can't ride in the trains on the track (there's a small example in the museum though) except a few select times during the year, and you must set up reservations a few months ahead of time. ¥420. edit
- Iyashi no Sato (西湖いやしの里根場), 2710 Nenba, Saiko, Fujikawaguchiko, Saiko, ☎ 055-520-4677 (fax: 055-520-4678), . 9AM-5PM Mar-Nov, 9:30AM–4:30PM Dec-Feb. An open air museum of over 20 recreated building on a former village site that got destroyed in a typhoon and landslide in 1966. You can see the thatched roof structures of the buildings and many of them are for selling local handicrafts, as well as an art gallery, farmer's residence, etc. Free Parking. ¥350. edit
- Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum (河口湖 音楽と森の美術館), 3077-20 Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko, ☎ 055-520-4111, . 10AM–5PM, Dec-Feb 10AM–4PM. A European inspired museum of traditional antique music boxes, organs, and regular classical music concerts. The museum garden also has beautiful flowers, especially 720 kinds of over 1200 rose bushes. ¥1800. edit
- Kawaguchiko Museum of Art (河口湖美術館), 3170 Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko, ☎ 055-573-8666 (fax: 055-576-7879), . 9:30AM–5PM Closed Tue exc. Jun-Aug. Established in 1991, this museum focuses on art made of all kinds of views of Mt. Fuji. If the weather is dismal, you might find the view you want here. edit
- Yamanashi Gem Museum (山梨宝石博物館), 6713 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko (From Kawaguchiko Stn, take the Retro Bus or walk, about 20 min), ☎ 055-573-3246 (fax: 055-573-3247), . 9AM–5:30PM, Wintertime: 9:30AM-5PM, Closed Wed exc. Jul-Aug. The museum houses 3000 specimens of 500 varieties of gems from around the world. The exhibits include both raw stones to finished jewelry pieces. Precious metals can also be seen. This is the only gem museum in Japan. Cafe and gift shop available. ¥600. edit
- Itchiku Kubota Art Museum (久保田一竹美術館), 2255 Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko (NE shore of Kawaguchiko), ☎ 055-576-8811 (fax: 055-576-8812), . 9:30AM–5:30PM, 10AM-4:30PM Dec-Mar, Closed Tue. This small but gorgeous museum was designed by the artist himself. Kubota was Japan's premier modern kimono designer, and this museum houses part of his collection of carefully dyed and worked silk kimonos. Museum also has two different tea shops. The grounds of the museum is an artwork in itself with a stylized entrance way in the shape of a lone standing door frame in the forest. Take the Retro Bus, ask the driver to let you off for the Kubota museum. ¥1300. edit
- Kawaguchiko Konohana Museum, 3026-1 Kawaguchi, Fujikawaguchiko-machi (reachable by retro bus - Fuji Kyuko line), ☎ 055-576-6789, . Mar-Nov: 9AM-5PM, Dec-Feb: M-F 10AM-4PM, Sat-Sun & holidays 9AM-5PM. A museum of the popular Japanese children's book "Dayan the Cat" by Ikeda Akiko. Shows a lot of artwork from the artist's books in the world of Wachiworld, and has a lovely gift store and cafe. With website entry discount coupon. Adults: ¥500 / Children: ¥300. edit
There are no real beaches, and no swimming is allowed in any of the five lakes. Paddleboats and rowboats are available for rental at most, and fishing equipment at some.
There are however some places for hot springs, as well as campgrounds, particularly near Lake Sai.
- Fuji-Q Highland, 5-6-1 Shin-Nishihara. Fujiyoshida (Directly adjacent to Fujikyu Highland station, buses available from Tokyo and Yokohama), . Hours vary. One of Japan's largest amusement parks and home to Fujiyama (1996), briefly the world's tallest rollercoaster, and Dodonpa (2001), briefly the world's fastest. Takabisha (2011) has a 121-degree drop, and Eejanaika (2006) is a 4th-Dimension coaster by S&S. Entrance only ¥1300 with per-ride tickets available, or a free pass for ¥5000. edit
- Kawaguchiko Ensoleille Sightseeing boat (河口湖遊覧船), 4034 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, ☎ 055-572-0029, . 9AM–4:30PM. This boat runs frequent 20-minute sightseeing rides on Lake Kawaguchi during the day. A bit pricey for such a short ride, but the views of Fuji are excellent, and it's a good chance to see more of the lake. Tickets can be bought from the machine near the boat dock -- attendant will also be around to answer questions. Adult ¥1000. edit
Fujiyoshida is famous for its Hoto noodles in a miso broth.
- Fujiyama Beer is a locally produced craft beer with 3 varieties, and worth a drink if you spot some.
- Ide Sake Brewery (井出醸造店), 8 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, ☎ 055-572-0006, . 9AM–12PM, 1PM-5PM. Locally made Japanese sake maker using the pure waters nearby. Offers one hour tours of their brewery that shows how their sake is made (reservations at least one day prior required). ¥800. edit
- Kawaguchiko Station Inn, . Small inn/hostel directly across from the train station, very convenient location. Single rooms available. Clean, friendly place with shared bathrooms on each floor, free internet, showers/laundry/Japanese baths on top floor, small restaurant. edit
- Fuji Lake Hotel, . Guests can enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji from both room and bathroom. The chartered barrier-free open-air baths are also popular. edit
- K's House Fuji View, ☎ 055-572-3332"", . A spacious hostel with good views of Mt. Fuji. There is a rooftop balcony and patio available for guests. It is a bit far from Kawaguchiko Station - about 20 minutes on foot. A taxi from the station costs about 800-900 yen. There are single and dormitory rooms available. Some private rooms include a sink and/or a bathroom, but there are also shared bathrooms on each floor. Very clean. They offer free internet, free coffee and tea in the mornings, and free padlocks. Bicycle rentals are also available. edit
- Kozantei Ubuya. A high class Japanese-style inn with views of Mt.Fuji and Kawaguchiko from both the bedrooms and the large bathrooms. The bathrooms also feature an open-air bath. edit
- Kasuitei-Ooya, . Kasuitei Ooya is contemporary Japanese style inn standing just on the shore of Lake Kawaguchi. It has renovated rooms with private open-air bath and observation bathroom. Guests can enjoy more hot springs than ever before. edit
- Fuji-View Hotel, . The Fuji View Hotel stands just on the shore of Lake Kawaguchi. Guests can appreciate natural beauties including the garden in the hotel property. The garden accommodates gorgeous view of blossoms of over 300 cherry trees in over 99,000 square meters (110,000 square yards). edit
- Shuhokaku Kogetsu, . This hotel is located near Kawaguchiko and All rooms and hot springs have a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji. Guests can enjoy the beautiful Mt. Fuji changing its feature from season to season. edit
- Fuji Royal Hotel Kawaguchiko, . The most reasonable hostel with hot spring in Kawaguchiko area. edit
- Fuji Onsenji Yumedono, . Fuji Onsenji Yumedono is a luxurious Ryokan, or Japanese style inn, located in the Kawaguchi resort area near Mt. Fuji in Japan. edit
Hakone - One of Japan's premier hot spring areas, with numerous museums, natural beauty, Lake Ashi, and geological activity.
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