Ever dreamed of seeing Japan’s symbolic Mount Fuji up close? These 5 places are famous for having the best viewpoints of the incredible Mount Fuji. Whether its during the golden hours of sunset or the early fog of the morning; from the comfort of your bike, or at the peak of a hike – each of these locations offers their own unique up-close perspective of Japan’s iconic summit. One of these locations is even on the 1000 yen bill! Read on to discover the five best places to view Mount Fuji.
1. Lake Yamanakako (山中湖)
Lake Yamanakako (山中湖) is the largest of the five lakes surrounding Mount Fuji. It also has the highest elevation of the Five Lakes, as well as the closest location to the famous peak. Therefore the view of Mount Fuji straight ahead is clear, uninterrupted, and simply outstanding.
The probability of seeing Mt. Fuji throughout the year is said to be higher here than anywhere else. Autumn and winter are especially clear, as the air is often free of clouds. In the winter, as well as in the summer, visitors can witness the famous “Red Fuji”, when the sunlight paints the entire peak in red and pink tints.
“Diamond Fuji” can also be seen in the evenings from November-February. This phenomenon occurs when the sun seems to sit directly above the summit of Mount Fuji, looking like a sparkling diamond atop the mountain. It happens most often during the winter solstice when the days are shorter.
There are good views of Mount Fuji from all around the lake, especially on its northern shore, and from Panorama Dai, an observation point located in the southeast. Other popular spots include Asahigaoka lakeside Parkland and Benifuji no Yu, a hot spring that offers beautiful views of Mount Fuji! There is also a cycling road around the lake, so renting a bike and riding around the lake is also highly recommended.
2. Lake Kawaguchiko (河口湖)
Lake Kawaguchiko (河口湖) is another of the Fuji Five Lakes. It is easily accessible by train and direct bus connections from Tokyo. The most popular views of Mount Fuji are located around the lake’s eastern end, as the northern and western shores are mostly undeveloped. The easy accessibility of the lake via public transportation compared to the other five lakes makes it a popular tourist destination. There are three “Retro Bus” lines, Red, Green and Blue, that depart from Kawaguchiko Station and will take you right to most sights around Kawaguchiko.
The lake offers incredible views of both the spacious landscape and the beautiful ridge line of Mount Fuji. The sun rises from the left side in the morning, making photography a bit difficult in the early hours of the day. However, it is said that this lake offers clear positions where it is hard to get a cloud interrupting the view.
This spot is especially popular during in the cherry blossom season in late April and the autumn leaves season in late October. At these prime times, the shorelines are packed with people and photographers. One incredibly popular place is Oishi Park, which is located on the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko. It is famous for its lavender blossoms. Other notable spots around the lake and in the area are the Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center and the Mt. Kachikachi Ropeway.
3. Lake Shojiko (精進湖)
Lake Shojiko (精進湖, Shōjiko) is the smallest of the Fuji Five Lakes. It is located between Lake Motosuko and Lake Saiko, and the three of them were formed when lava flowing from Mount Fuji divided a large lake into 3 smaller ones. The area around Lake Shojiko remains mostly undeveloped, making it the most quiet and natural place of all the Fuji Five Lakes.
There are a few hotels around its northern shore that boast of having excellent views of Mount Fuji. The lake itself is quite shallow, and the areas allowing enough open shore for shooting are small, the view from this lake has a high probability of looking up at “Inverted Fuji”. Especially when visiting in the middle of the night, there is a high probability that you can see Fuji upside down. Other popular viewing spots around this lake are Tatego-hama Beach, the Kodaki Fuji View Point, and the Panoramic Viewing Platform on road 706.
Around December or January, the sun rises from the exact bottom left point of Mount Fuji. Therefore, Lake Shojiko is very crowded around the New Year holidays. Lake Shojiko is known for being one of the best places to capture Mount Fuji during the morning glow.
4. Lake Motosuko (本栖湖)
Of all of the Fuji Five Lakes, Lake Motosuko (本栖湖) is located the farthest west. Lake Motosuko is best known for being on the back side of the 1000 yen bill and the old 5000 yen bill.
This lake is the deepest and most spacious of the Fuji Five Lakes. The lake is less visited by tourists, as it is difficult to access by public transportation and largely undeveloped except for a few campsites around its shores. Outdoor activities are popular here as well.
Due to its location, it is very rare to see “Inverted Fuji” from this viewing point. However, many photographers come here to shoot Mount Fuji during the earliest hours of sunrise, as it is visible for quite a large portion of the year: from Autumn to Spring. Popular viewing spots around Lake Motosuko include Koanso on the lake’s northwestern shore (where the 1000-bill photo was taken from, and the Mt. Eboshi-Panorama-dai trailhead on the northeastern hiking trail.
5. Arakurayama Sengen Park (新倉山浅間公園)
Located halfway up Mount Arakura (新倉山) in Fujiyoshida City of Yamanashi Prefecture, this park offers a panoramic view of the city with Mount Fuji as a backdrop. This park is well-known for being a popular viewing spot for Mount Fuji. It is also famous as a spot for cherry blossoms in the spring and fall colors during the autumn foliage season in early-mid November.
The park is also home to the iconic Chureito Pagoda (Chūreitō, 忠霊塔), a five-storied pagoda on the mountainside that overlooks Fujiyoshida City and Mount Fuji. The pagoda was built as a peace memorial in 1963, and is an important part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine. To get to the pagoda from the shrine grounds is a 5-minute walk up 397 steps.
Facebook Live: Incredible Early-Morning View of Mount Fuji
See Fuji-san Live from Lake Kawaguchi-ko. Watch below:
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