Mount Fuji is undoubtedly the most iconic landmark in Japan, and for obvious reasons. It is the highest volcano in Japan, the most beautiful, and it is located about 62 mi (ca. 100 km) from Tokyo, the incredible megalopolis of Japan. Knowing all this, it’s not a surprise that almost every tourist wants to see Mount Fuji, but is it worthwhile to see the mountain from a very close distance?
Mount Fuji is worth it, and it is better seen from a certain distance, where the pictures taken will be much more impressive. It is possible to visit the Mount Fuji area during a day trip, but it is advisable to spend at least two days as there is so much to see and do.
This doesn’t mean that Mt. Fuji is not worth seeing, but how you decide to see it is important so you don’t waste time during your travel.
Mount Fuji For Tourists
If you’re a tourist, I suppose you are fascinated by Mt. Fuji, and the day you decided to plan your itinerary Mt. Fuji was already on the list. I totally understand you. Going to Japan and not seeing Mt. Fuji will feel a little like going to New York and not seeing the Statue of Liberty. Well, not really the same thing because Mt. Fuji is much bigger, but you get the idea: both are well-known landmarks.
Can you take pictures at the bottom of the Statue of Liberty? Yes. Are they great? No. Well, that’s what you can expect from seeing Mt. Fuji from the Fifth Station, which is the highest station open to the public before climbing the mountain.
There’s nothing great to see at Mt. Fuji Fifth Station other than several shops and a few shrines, buses filled with tourists that went on a tour, and hikers preparing to climb Mt. Fuji. If you want to take a look at the Fifth Station, there’s a live cam from Fujigoko.tv website.
You can also check the Mt. Fuji 5th Station Tourism Association Official page (in Japanese) for more information and images, or you can check the video below that shows exactly what the Fifth Station looks like for tourists willing to see Mt. Fuji really close.
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Hopefully, now you understand that it can be a huge mistake to try and see Mt. Fuji from the 5th Station, at least if you go with the intention to get some amazing pictures. You will be so disappointed when comparing the pictures from the 5th Station and the pictures from one of the Lakes around Mt. Fuji, for example.
What you need to keep in mind is that observing Mt. Fuji from anywhere around the Fuji area is ok, but observing Mt. Fuji from the mountain itself is not a good idea. I don’t recommend wasting time taking a bus or a tour to see the Fifth Station especially if you don’t take into consideration the weather.
The first thing you should always check before attempting to see Mt. Fuji from anywhere is the weather. Mt. Fuji is a huge mountain, but that doesn’t mean that it is easily seen. Mt Fuji is hidden by clouds most of the year. The huge number of pictures you can find on the internet might lead you to think that you can see Mt. Fuji each time you plan to, but these pictures were taken at specific times of the year.
You should keep in mind that December and January are the best months to see Mt. Fuji and to take the best pictures. The sky is clear during the winter months in Japan and Mt. Fuji will be covered with snow, which will give some really cool pictures to show off.
Before trying to see Mt. Fuji, check the weather forecast for the surrounding cities, like Gotemba or Fujiyoshida, for instance. And I don’t mean to check it before going to Japan, you should check the weather the same day before heading towards Mt. Fuji. Getting to Mt. Fuji from Tokyo will take you around 2 hours, so if you get there only to see clouds, you will be disappointed.
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Another thing to keep in mind when visiting Mt. Fuji is the time of the day. As with most Japanese wonders, Mt. Fuji is best seen early in the morning, so plan accordingly.
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Where Can I See Mount Fuji
Now that you understand that taking a close look at Mount Fuji is a little useless unless you’re planning to climb it, let me tell you how to see Mt. Fuji.
As I told you briefly before, taking a tour to visit Mt. Fuji Fifth Station is not worth it, but this doesn’t mean that all tours are the same. If you don’t feel confident to explore Japan on your own, that’s fine and there’s a solution for it.
Viator, for instance, offers some cool tours to see Mt. Fuji with an English guide. Since most of us aren’t fluent in Japanese, an English guide is much appreciated. A tour that caught my eye was the Private Full Day Sightseeing Tour to Mount Fuji and Hakone. What I like about this tour is:
- A reasonable price for a private tour
- Pick Up and Drop off to Hotel
- Private transportation
- English guide
- Wi-Fi on board
- Flexible itinerary
And if taking a tour is not your thing, let me tell you about some good places to see Mount Fuji on your own.
Lake Yamanaka is one of the Fuji Five Lakes, and it’s where you can observe the phenomenon called Diamond Fuji, which occurs when the sun sets behind Mt. Fuji, making it look like a shining diamond. More information about the Diamond Fuji in the Yamanashi Official Travel Guide website.
Consider buying the Fuji Hakone Pass (valid for 3 days) if you’re staying in the area for a few days. This allows you to move around the Fuji and Hakone areas hassle-free. I bought the Mount Fuji Pass and the Hakone Freepass separately, but you can buy the Fuji Hakone Pass if you know that you will be visiting both areas. More information about this pass at the official website.
Hakone is a great area to visit, and it has some beautiful views of Mt. Fuji. You can try the famous sightseeing cruise on a pirate ship that allows you to view Mt. Fuji from an original place. More information on the cruise at the official website.
Consider buying the Hakone Freepass to save you some money if you’re exploring the Hakone area for a while. You have all the details on the official website. If you want to know more about visiting Hakone, check my article Is Hakone worth visiting?.
Lake Kawaguchi is another of the Fuji Five Lakes and is an excellent place to see Mt. Fuji. It is also the most accessible of the five Fuji Lakes, so you won’t have any problem getting there.
Located north of Lake Kawaguchi, you will find Oishi Park which is definitely one of the best places to see Mt. Fuji. More information about Oishi Park at the Kawaguchiko website.
The Chureito Pagoga is located in the Arakurayama Sengen Park, and it’s a famous spot for taking photos of Mt. Fuji. If you have some time, this place is really worth it. And if you’re visiting during the cherry blossom season, this place is even more amazing with its 650 cherry blossom trees. We went end-October, but it was a little too early for the Autumn leaves.
More information about the pagoda at the Kawaguchiko website.
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Oshino village is a charming traditional village in the Fuji area. It is located between Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Yamanaka and is an amazing place to see Mt. Fuji. If you love traditional Japanese villages and beautiful landscapes, you have to visit the Oshino village.
Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nemba
Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nemba is another traditional village in the Mount Fuji area, but because it is lesser known, it was fewer tourists and you can really enjoy the calm.
Yes, it is also possible to see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo, even if it is about 62 mi (ca. 100 km) away! The best time to see Mt. Fuji from Tokyo is between November and February when the sky is clearer and the clouds are rarer.
For instance, you can see Mt. Fuji from the Tokyo Tower, the Tokyo Skytree, the Tokyo Metropolitan government Observation Deck, or Haneda’s Airport Observation Deck on the 5th floor (if your flight is early in the morning it’s great).
If, for some reason, you don’t plan on going to the Fuji area, you must know that it is also possible to have a glimpse of Mt. Fuji when riding the Shinkansen (Japan’s famous bullet train). It’s a little tricky, but it’s possible.
When riding the shinkansen from Tokyo to the Kansai area (Kyoto, Osaka, etc.), sit on the right side of the train. Inversely, when going from the Kansai area to Tokyo, sit on the left side. You should be ready to take your picture around Shizuoka Station.
With all this information, I hope that you have a clearer idea of what to do to see Mt. Fuji. It’s worth seeing it, but not too close because you won’t notice its true beauty.
In short, Mount Fuji is an absolute gem in Japan, deserving of a spot on every traveler’s itinerary. The key, however, lies in how you choose to view Mount Fuji.
Consider visiting the area around Mount Fuji which has so many beautiful things to see and offers better views, rather than being on the mountain itself. Explore the surrounding areas like Lake Yamanaka, Hakone, Lake Kawaguchi, Chureito Pagoda, Oshino Village, and Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nemba. These spots will offer diverse perspectives and unique experiences.
Remember, whether you’re in Tokyo or riding the Shinkansen, there are opportunities to catch a glimpse of Mount Fuji from afar, especially between November and February when the skies are clearer. Don’t forget that the winter months are the best to see Mt. Fuji (during Summer it will be hidden behind the clouds, and it will be a miracle to see it).