How to get to Aokigahara Forest from Tokyo?

Aokigahara Forest
©Ana Costa

For those of you who are fans of horror movies like The Forest, you might want to visit one of the most famous Japanese forests: the Aokigahara Forest (青木ヶ原), which is also called the Sea of Trees (樹海). The Aokigahara forest is located at the base of Mount Fuji, but it’s not that easy to get there if you’re planning on using public transportation only. Even if Japan’s railway system is pretty awesome, there aren’t any high-speed railways near the forest. So How do you get to Aokigahara Forest?

The fastest way to get to Aokigahara is by car. It is also possible to get to Kawaguchiko by train and then take the bus or rent a car to the forest. The cheapest way is by taking a highway express bus to Kawaguchiko and then the sightseeing bus to Aokihagara, but the easiest is going on a guided tour.

Now let’s look at all these options in detail, so you can have all the information necessary to make the best choice for your travel, according to your preferences and budget.

The fastest way to get to Aokigahara forest

Since there’s no train station near Aokigahara, the fastest way to get there from Tokyo is by car. It takes a little more than 1 hour and 30 minutes, and you have to drive for 76 miles (122 km). The only problem is that this option can be expensive because you take the highway, and you have some tolls with this route.

Aokigahara Forest
©Ana Costa

On the other hand, if you choose to avoid the tolls, you will take at least 3 hours to make 81 miles (130 km), assuming that you leave early in the morning, and you don’t get caught in a traffic jam.

So yes, getting to Aokigahara forest by car is great, but only if you’re willing to pay the price for car rental, tolls, and gas. You might want to try to save some money by renting a car in advance or exploring other ways to get there.

Cheaper ways to get to Aokigahara forest

Because renting a car is not an option for everyone, let’s see how you can get to the forest using public transportation.

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The first thing you have to keep in mind is that the closest train station is Kawaguchiko Station, which is 8 miles (13 km) away from the forest. There are several trains that get you from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko, so you will always have an option available, but the best trains need to be booked as soon as possible, otherwise, you’ll have to go with the other options left (like it happened to me on my first trip).

Also, keep in mind that there are usually more options departing from Shinjuku station, and if you’re staying in other areas of Tokyo, you’ll need extra time to get to Shinjuku.

To get to Kawaguchiko Station from Shinjuku by train, you can:

  • Take the Fuji Excursion (Fuji Kaiyu) and go from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station (no transfers). It will take less than 2 hours and will cost you about 4,000 yen. This train doesn’t have unreserved seats, so you will need to make a seat reservation in advance. Make sure you do it as soon as possible because seats sell out fast.
  • If you miss the chance to use the Fuji Excursion train, you can take the Azusa train from Shinjuku to Otsuki station. It takes roughly 1 hour and the price (about 2,500 yen) is included in the Japan Rail Pass. Then transfer to the local train (Fuji Kyuko) to Kawaguchiko which takes less than 1 hour and costs about 1,200 yen (not included in the Japan Rail Pass).

If you need more information about the Fuji Excursion train, you can check the official website.

To get to Kawaguchiko Station from Tokyo (Shinjuku) by bus it’s cheaper because you can take a highway express bus which takes you there in less than 2 hours and costs a little more than 2,000 yen. The express bus is very popular, so reserve your seats as soon as possible. You can reserve seats online 30 days in advance, and I really recommend making your reservation once your date is available.

I forgot to book my tickets, and when I checked (15 days in advance), the date and time I needed were sold out. Don’t make the same mistake I did, and set a reminder to book your tickets 30 days in advance. If you need to check the recent information and make your reservation, check the official Highway Bus website.

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Whether you get to Kawaguchiko Station by train or bus, the next step is to get to Aokigahara Forest. You can use one of the 2 sightseeing buses (Blue Line or Green Line) that stop in the area. As you can imagine, the forest is huge and there are several stops you can choose (Narusawa Ice Cave, Fugaku Wind Cave, Ryugu Lava Cave, or Saiko Yacho-no-mori Park, to name a few).

It will take at least 30 minutes to get to Aokigahara Forest (depending on the stop you choose), so allow enough time on your itinerary, especially if you are visiting other places in the Mount Fuji area. Honestly, my first trip to Mount Fuji was a little disappointing because I didn’t manage to see everything I wanted in one day trip using public transportation.

If you just want to visit the area around Lake Kawaguchiko, I guess you will be OK because there’s a sightseeing bus (Red line) every 15 minutes. Once you want to explore other areas like the forest or the other lakes in the area, the other sightseeing buses only pass every hour and you lose a lot of time in transportation.

For those still willing to try the sightseeing buses, there is more detailed information on Fujikyu Bus website (only in Japanese, but you can translate some information using your browser). There’s also the official Fujikyu Bus PDF you can download to check the routes, timetables, and prices. But if you plan on getting the Fuji Pass, the sightseeing buses are included in the pass.

For general information on train timetables and fares, please use the Japan Travel by Navitime website which gives the best routes according to the passes you have.

As you can see, you have to be a little motivated to see the Aokigahara Forest, but it is really worth it.

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The easiest way to get to Aokigahara forest

So far we’ve seen, the fastest and the cheapest ways to get to the forest, but you probably want to know the easiest way too. Well, the easiest way will be on a guided tour from Tokyo.

There are several guided tours you can find online, but make sure you choose one that starts in Tokyo, so you don’t have to worry about all the trains and buses, timetables, and fares. Some tours start in Kawaguchiko, so you will have to get from Tokyo to Kagaguchiko using one of the possibilities I explained above.

It can be interesting to pick a guided tour to have a guide once you manage to get to the forest, but the most complicated part is precisely how to get to the forest, so if you pick a guided tour that takes care of that for you, then you will be less stressed out.

And by the way, there are guided tours that include visiting the forest, the Fugaku Wind Cave, and Narusawa Ice Cave. So if you were also planning on seeing Mount Fuji, a guided tour that includes several of these places like this one from Viator might be a good choice. I guess everyone wants to see Mount Fuji at least on their first trip to Japan, but don’t assume that it is worth it every single time. That’s why I wrote a full article named Is Mount Fuji worth seeing?

What to see in Aokigahara Forest?

Aokigahara Forest
©Ana Costa

This forest is sadly known as the suicide forest because it is one of the favorite spots in Japan to commit suicide, but it is also an extremely quiet place where you can enjoy the calm and the beauty of nature.

There are trees everywhere and in some places, there are so many trees that you have a hard time trying to see the sunlight.

As the forest was created due to the volcanic eruptions of Mount Fuji, the ground is mostly made of volcanic rock, making it really difficult for the trees’ roots to enter the soil. That’s why you will have to be careful when walking around the forest since you can easily trip over the roots.

There are a few caves in the area that can be visited by tourists, but the most important are the Narusawa Ice Cave and the Fugaku Wind Cave.

Narusawa Ice Cave (鳴沢氷穴)

The Narusawa Ice Cave is located in the heart of the Aokigahara forest, and it is definitely a place worth visiting mainly because of the huge ice pillars that can measure over 30 meters long. It’s said that the cave’s temperature stays around 32 °F (0 °C) all year round, but I didn’t think that was the case when I visited in mid-October. Anyway, make sure you take something warm to wear even during the summer.

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The cave is usually open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but opening hours can change according to the seasons, and it is usually closed for a brief time in December. There’s an entry fee of about 350 yen for adults and 200 yen for children.

You can find more information at the Yamanashi’s official travel guide website.

If you want to have an idea of what this cave looks like, I selected this short video for you. However, I have to warn you that the cave doesn’t always look like this. In fact, when it is not cold outside, the ice melts down and the cave doesn’t have anything special. (It happened to me when I visited in mid-October)

Fugaku Wind Cave

Just 20 minutes away from the Narusawa Ice Cave, you will find the Fugaku Wind Cave. It is also a good place to visit if you have time.

Like the Narusawa Ice Cave, it takes around 15 minutes to see the cave and it is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (opening hours can change according to the season too). It also costs about 350 yen for adults and 200 yen for children.

The Yamanashi’s official travel guide website also has updated information about this cave if you need to check before going.

For those wondering what this cave looks like, here’s a video that gives you a peak behind the curtain. However, just like I told you before, you won’t see these huge Ice pillars when it’s not cold outside. My visit in mid-October was pretty disappointing.

Conclusion

Hopefully, by now, you already have a clearer idea of the options you have to get to this incredible forest. It is definitely a place worth visiting, especially if you plan on visiting Mount Fuji nearby.

For me, the best option is taking the highway express bus because it is cheaper, and it doesn’t take much time, but if you’re traveling with your family or with a group of people, you might want to consider the car option.

The train option is not that bad, but you have to be careful not to get lost in all the transfers (especially if it’s your first time in Japan).

The guided tour option is pretty cool, but it all depends on the budget you established for your travel. If you are traveling on a low budget, you might want to skip this and stick to the basic expenses.

Good luck with your trip to Aokigahara!


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