The highest peak in Japan at 3,776m, Mt Fuji is stunning for its elegant, perfectly symmetrical shape. It is the icon of Japan, one that many tourists want to see on their trip to Tokyo. While it’s possible to get a glimpse of the mountain in the capital – when the weather is super clear – you should travel slightly out of the city to the areas surrounding the mountain for the perfect view.
Of course, the best is still to go hiking up the mountain in summer from July to September. But if you’re not keen on the physical workout, these five scenic spots in Yamanashi and Kanagawa – easily reachable from Tokyo as a day trip – are your next best bet for a spectacular view of Mt Fuji. Just try to get there early in the morning or late afternoon as the mid-day clouds tend to block the view (especially in the summer).
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The five best spots to see Mt Fuji
This marvellous view of the famous Chureito Pagoda overlooking Fujiyoshida city and Mt Fuji is almost as iconic as the aforementioned peak. Set against a slope, the five-storey structure belongs to the Arakura Sengen Shrine and was built in 1963 as a peace memorial.
Regardless of the season, you can expect great views year-round. You’ll find the pagoda surrounded by pastel pink cherry blossoms in spring, lush greens in summer and fiery red leaves in autumn. In winter, the roofs turn white with snow. Get your cameras ready.
Saiko Iyashi-no-Sato Nemba is a former farming village turned open-air museum, situated not far from the shores of Lake Saiko, which is one of the Fuji Five Lakes. Its quaint countryside setting provides an ideal photo op, with the towering Mt Fuji acting as a backdrop to charming traditional thatched houses.
Nemba village was destroyed by a massive landslide in 1966. The twenty ‘heritage’ houses that you see today are true-to-original reconstructions, now home to craft shops – think pottery, incense-making and weaving. The site as a whole is a museum, documenting the daily lives of the farmers back then, as well as the tragic disaster that occurred over half a century ago.
Make sure to take a souvenir photo on the little bridge that overlooks the scenic village, with Mt Fuji in the background – you can even dress up in a kimono or samurai armour, available for rent nearby at ¥1,000 per person. Art enthusiasts should check out the on-site gallery for its regularly changing exhibitions by local artists. During our visit we met famous illustrator and producer Kosei Maeda of the hit anime ‘Manga Nihon Mukashi Banashi’, which aired from 1975 until the early ‘90s.
If you’re feeling peckish, order the hoto noodles at the little eatery near the entrance. A Yamanashi speciality, these flat noodles are served in a hearty miso-flavoured broth with meat and seasonal vegetables.
9am-5pm (Mar-Nov), 9.30am-4.30pm (Dec-Feb). ¥350, children ¥150.
Oshino Hakkai fulfills all your requirements for that Instagram-perfect shot of Mt Fuji – imagine a rural Japanese village featuring small thatched huts and little ponds of crystal clear water, with the star mountain in the distance.
A small sightseeing village between Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Yamanakako (two of the Fuji Five Lakes), Oshino Hakkai’s ponds receive their water straight from the slopes of Mt Fuji. For nearly a century, the mountain’s snowmelt is filtered through porous lava layers, turning it into clear spring water. You can take a sip of this pure water at pond Waku.
At the thatched houses, you can shop for souvenirs, local produce and crafts. Some of them are restaurants, serving soba, udon and other Japanese dishes. There’s also a museum on-site, displaying old farming tools, household goods and even samurai armour and weaponry.
Free admission, except for the area around Sokonuke-ike that belongs to the museum: 9am-5pm, ¥300, primary school students ¥150, younger children ¥100.
You’ll find this jaw-dropping panorama at the northeastern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko, right next to the Kawaguchiko Music Forest. It’s especially popular in spring, when shutterbugs flock to the site looking to capture the sacred mountain within a frame of pink sakura, courtesy of the dozens of cherry trees by the shore. On windless days when the lake is exceptionally still, you could even take an Insta-worthy shot of the majestic mountain with its reflection mirroring on the lake surface.
If you’re not afraid of heights, board the Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway at the eastern shore, which goes up to an observation deck near the summit of Mt Tenjo. From there you can look out to Lake Kawaguchiko on one side and Mt Fuji on the other.
Ropeway: Mar-Nov 9am-5pm, Dec-Feb 9.30am-4.50pm. ¥900 round trip, primary school children ¥450, free for younger children.
Hakone is not only known for its many onsen (hot spring) resorts, it’s also home to the expansive Lake Ashi, the symbol of this mountainous region formed about 3,000 years ago. There are a few ways to take in Mt Fuji here: from the southern shore at Moto-Hakone, where you’ll also get a perfect trifecta of the aforementioned lake, the mountain range at the back and Hakone Shrine’s famous red torii gate, or from the deck of the fun but kitschy sightseeing ‘pirate ship’ plying the lake several times a day.
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