There are hundreds if not thousands of interesting things to do while visiting Mt. Fuji. But first, it helps to know how to get to Mt. Fuji, specifically how to travel from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji and from Kyoto to Mt. Fuji. It’s also a good idea to learn a little about the history of Mt. Fuji so that your trip is more meaningful and memorable.
Other pertinent questions to address include Mt. Fuji climbing info because millions of people ascend the peak every year, especially during Japan’s “climbing and hiking season.”
Depending what you plan to do and how long you intend to stay, Mt. Fuji costs can range from low to high, but most visitors are surprised at how little it costs to spend a day or two in the area.
The main attractions near Mt. Fuji are as varied and exciting as you might expect. It’s quite common for visitors to do one of the many hikes up the mountain, explore the foothills area, visit one or more of the five gorgeous lakes nearby, or just view the peak from afar at one of the dozens of lookout posts in the area.
Mt. Fuji: The Basics
Mt. Fuji is more of an experience than a mountain. Visitors who aren’t prepared might be overwhelmed by the beauty of the place as well as the number of things to do in and around the historic, sacred mountain.
Anyone headed to Mt. Fuji should know the “basics” and have a firm understanding of what is in store for them during a visit to the vicinity. Here are some of the key points for first-time visitors:
Casual and serious climbers have plenty of choices on a visit to the sacred mountain. There are four popular paths to the top, but not everyone goes the entire way. Most tourists, in fact, only go halfway up the mountain and stop at one of the main viewing points.
Visitors who want to experience the entire climbing routes can take their pick from the four available. The section on hiking/climbing below offers a detailed look at each of the four paths.
The region around Mt. Fuji are full of interesting and inexpensive attractions, including a full-scale amusement park, museums, local restaurants, nightclubs, scenic lakes, underground caves, and super-relaxing public baths and hot springs.
The Fuji vicinity is the most popular tourist area in Japan, for visitors from abroad and the locals. The mountain’s scenic wonders have been attracting curious people for centuries. It is no exaggeration to say that Mt. Fuji is one of the most breathtaking spots on the planet.
(Note: Prices are stated in yen. To convert to pounds, dollars or euros, use the following conversion rates, which were current as of late 2019; 143 yen per pound, 112 yen per dollar, 128 yen per euro).
Compared to other world-famous landmarks of a similar type, a trip to Mt. Fuji is relatively inexpensive. Of course, you can bump the cost higher by purchasing more food and drink along with your hike to the summit, but for the most part, here are the typical costs a person can expect, traveling from Tokyo to the top of Mt. Fuji:
Round-trip bus fare from Tokyo that includes a special “Fuji package” of all-inclusive transportation cost and a coupon for a free hot bath at the bottom of the mountain will cost approximately 5,000 Yen.
Generally speaking (because everyone has different appetites and needs), expect to spend another 1,000 yen going up the mountain on snacks and restroom fees, about 1,000 yen at the top of the mountain on a much-needed meal, and perhaps another 750 yen on the way down the mountain on restroom fees and a small snack.
After that, if you have the bath coupon, the necessary relaxation of warm water and steam will cost nothing, but you might want to buy a souvenir or two for about 1,000 yen. You can buy souvenirs on the summit but the exact same items cost much less at the shops near the mountain’s base.
Your total tab for climbing Mt. Fuji, having a bath, and getting to and from central Tokyo comes to 8,750 yen (roughly, 61 pounds or 78 dollars). Considering that the mountain is such a popular destination for travelers from all points on the globe, that’s quite a reasonable price for a basic trip from Tokyo to the summit of Mt. Fuji and then back to Tokyo.
Other activities, like a trip to the nearby amusement park, a stay in a local hotel, or a full meal at one of the many restaurants will be discussed in detail below.
The 3,776-meter peak of Mt. Fuji ranks as the highest point in Japan. The mountain was created by volcanoes that began elevating the area more than 1,000 centuries ago. Nowadays, for relaxation, fun, camping trips, and hiking journeys, Mt. Fuji is the number-one destination for millions of Japanese citizens and foreign visitors.
But it’s not just about traveling and fun. The Japanese consider Mt. Fuji a spiritual, sacred place. It’s also a spot where artists go to get inspiration. The peak can be seen from far away, even from Tokyo on a very clear afternoon.
One of Japan’s most famous religious figures, Hasegawa Kokugyo climbed the mountain so many times he eventually formed a small group of “mountain-worshipers” who revered Mt. Fuji. That tradition continues today, with many Japanese viewing Fuji as a religious symbol of the power of nature and creation itself.
Every visitor will notice the many shrines at the bottom of Mt. Fuji, most of which were placed there by monks who used to train in the area.
In 1707, a 16-day eruption spewed ash all the way to Tokyo. In fact, similar volcanic turbulence is what led to the creation of secondary mountains near Fuji, the nearby caves, as well as the lakes that surround the main mountain.
For the purposes of outdoor activities like hiking and sightseeing, there is no more appropriate place in Japan than Mt. Fuji. The hot springs near the base of the mountain are rich with healing minerals and are the ideal way to soothe aching bones and muscles after a long day of climbing or hiking.
During the summer months, more than 335,000 climbers scale the mountain, either all the way to the top or part of the way up. Hikers choose one of the four different paths to the summit, and all of them include restrooms, food, and places to sleep. One of the most common hiking itineraries includes a pre-dawn approach to the summit and then a view of the sunrise from there.
Getting to Mt. Fuji from Kyoto and Tokyo
It’s very easy to get from Tokyo or Kyoto to Mt. Fuji. Trains and buses have dedicated routes and are constantly taking visitors to and from the famous peak. During the warm months that include “hiking season,” buses and trains are full on every trip. There are more excursions per day to and from the big cities to accommodate the thousands of people who flock to the area to spend vacation time.
Trains depart from three primary places, namely Tokyo Station, Shinjuku Station, and Shinagawa Station. Passengers can choose to arrive near Mt. Fuji at the Kawaguchiko, Mishima, or Shin-Fuji Stations.
The Bullet Train will cost more and get you there faster, in about one hour or 1.5 hours’ time. Cost ranges from 4,500 to 5,500 yen for these fast trains. The regular trains take between 2.5 and 3.5 hours from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji train stations and cost between 2,500 and 4,000 yen.
Buses from Tokyo leave from various spots, including Tokyo Station, Shinjuku bus station, Haneda Airport and elsewhere. Ask at your hotel where the nearest “To Mt. Fuji” bus stand is located because the arrangement changes often. Costs for bus transportation range from 1,700 to 2,700 yen and the trip takes between 1.5 and 2.5 hours or slightly longer depending on traffic.
Getting to Mt. Fuji from Kyoto takes longer and costs more because it’s much further from the mountain than Tokyo is. But the process is actually simpler. By train, use the Tokaido Bullet Train (Shinkansen) directly from the Kyoto rail station to the Mishima rail station. There, hop on the bus to Kawaguchiko.
This trip takes about 3.5 hours and will set you back a whopping 13,260 yen, one-way! It’s the Bullet Train and you’re going a long way with a bus transfer near the end, so the high price is to be expected.
Much lower prices are available for non-Bullet Train riders. Consider taking the overnight bus for way lower rates. Buses leave Kyoto Station and take about 10 hours to reach Kawaguchiko near Mt. Fuji. The round-trip cost is 14,800 yen. Compare that to the round-trip cost of 26,520 on the Bullet Train. Buses take longer but cost about half of what the fast trains cost.
Top-rated things to do:
Hiking to the summit of Mt. Fuji is the primary activity for most visitors. Foreign tourists tend to add other activities to their itineraries, like a visit to the Five Lakes near the base of the mountain. The Fuji-Q Highland amusement park is a great place for families, as is the Fuji Safari Park with its many elephants and wild lions.
The Narusawa Ice Cave is an underground venture that everyone enjoys. Visiting Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Yamanaka are two of the best-traveled areas near the Five Lakes region. Inns, resorts, hiking trips and all types of water sports are available to those who stay at any of the inns or who just take a day trip to the lakes.
Best Ways to View Mt. Fuji
There are many, distant and near, places from which visitors to Japan can view Mt. Fuji. The most famous and well-traveled of these are in Tokyo. Here are the top five spots for visitors:
Tokyo: The Tokyo Metro Government Observatory is the best place in Tokyo from which to view the peak. These Shinjuku towers are part of a high-rise government building network, and each has a 45th-floor observatory. They’re both 202 meters high but you’ll need a bit of luck to see the mountain because sometimes fog, clouds or fuzzy skies get in the way.
Urui River: From the scenic shores of the Urui River you can get a photo-worthy view of Mt. Fuji because the river runs directly from the southwest base of the mountain and flows into the ocean. Try to visit the banks of the Urui River during cherry blossom time for an unforgettable look at the incredible peak. That means taking an early-April trip to the river.
Tanuki Lake: Millions, perhaps billions, of photos have been taken of Fuji from the serene and shimmering waters of Tanuki Lake. The lake sits about 40 kilometers straight west from the summit.
Yamanaka Lake: Near the base of Mt. Fuji is one of the most convenient places to take a stunning photo of the peak. Yamanaka is close by and the nearby park is where tourists go to view the mountain. This is especially true when the colorful sunflowers are in bloom during summer months.
Oshino Hakkai: For a historic feel, visit Oshino Hakkai’s eight ponds within an old rural setting of thatched roofs, wooden bridges, and old-fashioned water wheels. The water in the ponds is the result of melted snow from Mt. Fuji, and the view is one of the best you’ll get of the legendary peak.
No trip to Mt. Fuji is complete without a stop at one of the hundreds of nearby attractions. Consider one of the caves, a hot springs bath, an amusement park, an afternoon exploring one (or all) of the five lakes. Here are the top four local attractions for visitors to the area;
The Caves: Besides the Narusawa Ice Cave, there are caves with bats (they’re not aggressive so don’t worry) and a fascinating “wind cave” that children love. Consider touring the caves when you visit Mt. Fuji and you will have even more memories to bring home.
Five Lakes: The Fuji “Five Lakes Area” sits immediately north of the peak and has dozens of inns and resorts where visitors can indulge in scenic hiking, long walks on mountain trails, and water sports. Fishing, paragliding, windsurfing, water skiing, boating, and swimming are all on the menu, so try to spend at least an afternoon at the Five Lakes Area.
Amusement Parks and Zoo: The Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park is nearby and offers low-cost passes, as does the vast Fuji Safari Park, an outdoor zoo-like facility where the wild animals are free to roam. You’ll be safe in a vehicle or behind railings, so expect to see lots of elephants and lions up close. This is a wonderful place for children.
Hot Springs Baths: Dozens of local inns near the base of Mt. Fuji offer indoor or outdoor hot springs bathing for guests. If you are on a budget and don’t wish to book a room for the night, ask the front desk clerk about the hot springs cost for “bath only.” They’ll be glad to accommodate you.
Climbing Mt. Fuji
You need not be a world-class athlete to climb Mt. Fuji, it helps to be prepared with the proper supplies and knowledge. It’s also is a good idea to be in decent physical shape and climb with others, rather than alone.
Novices climb the mountain every day, so there’s no worry if this is your first time. Think about going with a small group and seeing the sunrise from the top of the mountain, taking a leisurely stroll around the crater on the peak, or even buying a souvenir stick to help you walk up the mountain. Along the way, you can have the stick stamped at each station. This makes an ideal remembrance of your trip to Mt. Fuji.
If this is your first time:
Consider going with a group, hiking during the later hours of the day when there aren’t so many crowds, stopping to rest at the half-way point and spending the night at one of the huts for a rejuvenating sleep. Officially, the mountain opens to walkers and climbers on July 1 and remains open until the last day of August.
Remember that the trails are sometimes closed due to bad weather, thick fog, intense wind or rain. The key point is: be prepared with supplies for wet and extreme weather, even though you’ll likely be climbing during the summer months. At the peak, you will experience temperatures between 5 and 8 degrees Celsius, and that’s during the hottest months of the summer!
If you plan to hike in the dark:
It’s not smart for first-timers to hike after dark, but those who do should plan carefully. Be sure to bring some “emergency” food because you will get hungry as you acclimate to the thinner air. It’s wise to stay overnight and let your body get used to the conditions so that you don’t suffer from exhaustion or altitude sickness.
The three basic rules that the park employees emphasize to everyone are important and good to remember: Drink plenty of fluids, eat enough to avoid hunger, and pace yourself. It’s tempting to want to walk fast or even run, but avoid the impulse and you’ll get to the top in good shape.
Equipment and Supplies:
Huts, where you can spend the night are stocked with plenty of water and basic supplies, but there is no running water available. Whenever you hike, be sure to bring along two or three liters of your own water, money, some of your own food even if you plan to buy meals along the way, a solid walking stick, several large plastic bags, fast-dry undergarments, a good pair of hiking shoes, warm but flexible gloves, two hats, rain garments, a lightweight jacket and a heavier one, and a flashlight with fresh batteries.
Last but not least, decide which trail you will be taking to the top of Mt. Fuji. There are four of them. Here’s what you need to know to choose the one that’s best for you:
This is the most popular path for every level of hiker. It takes about six hours to go up and three to come down. There are lots of huts and amenities along the way. By far, this is the main trail for the majority of people who ascend Mt. Fuji, especially first-time visitors.
Shorter than Yoshida, this trail is steeper and takes about five hours to ascend, and 2.5 hours to descend. Only try this one if you’ve been up to the mountain before.
Subashiri is not as crowded as Yoshida but does connect with it after the eighth station. There are fewer people and fewer amenities on this trail. Many experienced climbers prefer it.
For experienced climbers only, the Gotemba Trail has no huts until the eighth station and fewer amenities than the main trail. Fewer landmarks and sometimes heavy fog can cause novices to lose their way, so don’t try Gotemba unless you have ascended Fuji before.
Things to Think About
Mount Fuji is one of the most popular tourist sites in the world, so remember to leave it in better shape than you found it, give generously to the voluntary donation boxes as you climb, don’t take anything with you from the grounds, like plants, soil, or rocks.
The Mt. Fuji area is a natural wonder of the world and for millions, it’s a very sacred place, so treat it with complete respect and care. You’ll never forget your trip to Mt. Fuji and will no doubt begin planning another sooner than you think.