The second time I hiked Mt Takao in Tokyo, in the far distance, I saw the silhouette of Mount Fuji and was already over the moon in excitement. How was I to know, that 2 days later, when my family & I headed to Fujikawaguchiko, we got to see Mt Fuji so much closer & frequently!
But first, where is Kawaguchiko?
Let’s get our bearings right first, because this part annoyed & confused me when I was trying to get some info about it. The actual name of this town is called Fujikawaguchiko (富士河口湖町 Fujikawaguchiko-machi) and it’s located in the Yamanashi Prefecture, while many people refer to the town as Kawaguchiko. (I’ll use that reference in this post). The lake is called Lake Kawaguchi (not “Lake Kawaguchiko”), and it’s the 2nd largest & also the lowest in elevation among the Fuji Five Lakes.
Things to do in Kawaguchiko!
Enjoy Mt Fuji views all day everyday *
All thanks to good weather in Kawaguchiko in November last year, we were blessed with amazing views of Mt Fuji for all 3 days! On the 4th day as we were leaving, it was so cloudy that there was no sight of the perfect mountain at all.
I could admire Mt Fuji from my hotel room & during breakfast at the hotel, at the lobby, at the lakeside behind the hotel, while taking the shuttle bus to Kawaguchiko Station; and so many times that Mt Fuji appeared in my face that I had to video-call my sister in Singapore to show & share with her.
* subject to weather
Enjoy a pleasure boat cruise
When the boat first set off, I really didn’t know what to expect. Nor did I spot Mt Fuji. Ahh, the beauty of not having done proper research and simply just trusting what someone else had planned, can bring you some very magical travel experiences. Don’t worry, very soon, the smaller hills will give way and you’ll be greeted with this delightful view! It was a short 20min boat ride but very… pleasurable. You’re free to stay at the open deck upstairs or sheltered & comfortable at the lower deck.
We bought bundle tickets which gave us 2-day access to sightseeing buses + one-time-each access for the ropeway (return trip) and the pleasure boat cruise (2,360yen/adult, 1,180 yen/child).
Rent a cute swan boat and pedal at the lake
These swan boats were near the embarking area for the pleasure boat cruise. Pedal far enough on these swan boats and you’ll probably be able to admire Mount Fuji from your boat. I would love to do it but no one will do it with me!
Ride the ropeway
It’s called the Mt Kachi Kachi Ropeway, ascending 400m in height to bring you to an observation deck near the peak of Mount Tenjo. From this observation deck, you get excellent views of Kawaguchiko from above, and if you’re blessed, the most amazing views of Mt Fuji. It was surreal to see the peak of Mount Fuji peaking above the clouds, like a painting.
The ropeway queue might seem really long but it moves pretty fast, because they pack as many people as possible into each of the 2 cars -.-“. Which means you can’t even turn your body around to see the views without feeling you’re intruding into someone else’s personal space. But once you reach, it’s open space all around, so you’ll forget about the ropeway experience soon.
There’s a snack shop & souvenir store at the top. While I was up there, I enjoyed an ice-cream! Way too relaxing a morning 😚
Take leisurely nature walks at Lake Kawaguchi
Lake Kawaguchi is huge which means you can access it from many parts of Kawaguchiko. From the back of my hotel, there was an empty path that winds around a bit of the lake.
This path also takes you to the Sakuya Bell of Love. My family, always concerned about my marital status😂, persuaded me to ring the bell for the sake of it. In the evening’s quietness, the loud sound of the bell echoed around the lake!
A little confession though. I’m the kind of person that can sense ‘dark energy’ at times. There was a particular area at the forest along this walk that didn’t give me a good vibe, instead, was rather eerie. It also was still light hours in the afternoon, not even sunset yet. So I’ll say, try not to explore this area on your own if you’re afraid of things like that ya!
Head to the north shores of Lake Kawaguchi for splendid views of Mount Fuji. Then walk to the northeast shore for these trees. From Instagram, I’d imagined this famous spot to be full of autumn trees and leaves. Truth was, autumn season was almost over & all the trees were mostly bare. This was the only photo I managed to frame a picture properly of!
Admire autumn leaves at the Momiji Tunnel (seasonal)
The momiji tunnel is also called the Maple Corridor. Pretty, actually, even though in Singapore, we’ll refer to it as a canal if there’s water inside, oops. I was surprised there weren’t any crowds when we were there. A local couple was there having their wedding photos taken.
Soak in an onsen
My hotel has onsen facilities, so we’ll go soak in one when we have spare time! There are other onsen facilities in the vicinity. I would recommend you choose one that gives you views of Mount Fuji while you’re soaking!
| If you’re new to Japan’s onsen, check out my useful guide on how to use an onsen! |
Hike to Chureito Pagoda for the most Instagrammed view of the pagoda + Mt Fuji
Again, I was thankful for great weather. In autumn, this was a beautiful short hike up of 3-400+ steps of the staircase along the hill to get here. There’s also a little winding route alongside the staircase for cars to use, so if the staircase isn’t too easy on your knees on the way down, you can simply change your path and take the road option instead (do watch out for cars).
How to get here: At Kawaguchiko Station, take the train along Fujikyu Railway Line, to Shimo-Yoshida Station. From there, walk 10min to Arakura Sengen Shrine and hike 5min up the hill to Chureito Pagoda. You’ll also notice pretty, painted signages on the ground that will guide you there.
More activities for you at Kawaguchiko
Check out Aokigahara forest (not recommended)
This is one of the things you can do, but personally, as a traveller, I don’t have any reason to visit this suicide forest. This suicide forest is half an hour of driving distance away, within Fujikawaguchiko still. Here’s how to get to Aokihagara Forest!
A fellow travel blogger (Karen) wrote a very good article documenting her trip to Aokigahara; you might wanna check her post out!
For more ideas on things to do in Kawaguchiko, TokyoCheapo has a list of museums and more.
Here’s my actual Kawaguchiko itinerary!
(We’d also actually planned to visit the Music Forest but the buses were too packed for us to board so it’ll be too late by the time we got there.)
• Arrive & have lunch at Kawaguchiko Station
• 3pm – Take hotel shuttle bus, check in at Fuji View Hotel
• 3.30pm – Explore Fuji View Hotel’s sprawling gardens and also take a walk along Lake Kawaguchi
• 4.30pm – R&R at hotel
• 6pm – Walk out for dinner at a home-style restaurant
• 8.30pm – Onsen at hotel!
• After breakfast, take shuttle bus out to Kawaguchiko Station, for bus to pleasure boat cruise
• 10.25am: Pleasure boat cruise
• After cruise, walk over for Kachi Kachi Ropeway to Mt Tenjo.
• 11.35am: Arrive at observation deck at Mt Tenjo. R&R. Take ropeway down to bottom of mountain.
• 1.10pm: Walk to nearby Japanese restaurant for lunch
• After lunch, the buses were all full so we walked to the bottom of the ropeway & beyond, and finally could board a bus back to hotel
• 3.40pm: Back at hotel. R&R (power napped because I came down with a flu)
• 5pm: Walk out to grab dinner
• 6.40pm: Onsen at hotel!
• 8.30pm: Chill & relax at hotel ryokan rooms
• After breakfast, take shuttle bus out to Kawaguchiko Station, for bus to another part along Lake Kawaguchi, for a morning walk!
• Walk to Momiji Tunnel
• Waited for an available non-packed bus back to Kawaguchiko Station
• Lunch at Fuji Tempura Idaten restaurant
• 1.50pm: Take train to Shimoyoshida Station, to walk & hike to Chureito Pagoda
• 3:50pm: Leave Shimoyoshida Station to head back to Kawaguchiko Station, to hotel
• Walk out to grab dinner
• Onsen at hotel!
• Leave Fuji View hotel, head to Kawaguchiko Station, to take bus to Haneda Airport for return flight home
Tips for visiting Kawaguchiko!
- Be flexible about your plans, as the sightseeing buses – although looking really retro & cute – don’t run too frequently and because of its size, it can be too packed for you to board. So you’ll have to keep waiting for the next, or the next.
- Should you take a day trip to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo? Yes you can, but be aware that you’ll be left with limited time for activity at Kawaguchiko. I won’t find that the best use of time, unless you arrive early. Check what time the sun sets for your planned time too!
- During peak seasons, the luggage storage locker facilities around Kawaguchiko Station can get quite limited especially for bigger suitcases. We had our luggage with us during lunch at the little restaurant within the station, simply because we couldn’t find available places to store our luggage.
- Kawaguchiko Station is the bus station and also train station. It’s very small, with probably just one small eatery at the station. But walk further out of the station and there’ll be more shops, convenience stores and restaurants (we also ate at Tempura Ninja – a short distance from the station)
How to get to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo
We booked bus tickets on Highway-Buses.jp before going to Japan. I’ll advise you to print out your confirmation email instead of showing on your mobile. The bus leaves Shinjuku Bus Terminal and takes about 1 hour 45min to reach Kawaguchiko Station.
Shinjuku Bus Terminal is the building right across the road from Shinjuku train station’s South Exit. The bus terminal is clean, modern, has aircon/heating, vending machines, washrooms, and at least one convenience store.
The bus might make a few stops along the highway and also in the Fujikawaguchiko area, so make sure you know where to alight (for me, we alighted at Kawaguchiko Station). This bus company also has another route from Shibuya. Check out Japan-Guide for more info.
Tip! When booking, select the bus timing according to what time you’ll leave your Tokyo hotel, because you’ll need to consider the Tokyo trains’ peak hours with your luggage ya! Unless you’re staying at for eg. Sunroute Plaza Shinjuku Hotel, (my review here!) because you only just need to walk over from the hotel to the bus terminal.