Four lessons of Mount Fuji

The magical Mount Fuji has been charming her visitors for many a millennia. Every year millions of tourists travel to small towns at her foot to climb or just admire the landscapes and her snowy peak.

For centuries Fuji inspired artists and poets, but this mysterious mountain is also able to influence less pretentious matters. For example, today we are going to learn from her how to travel and do sightseeing correctly =)

So what can Mount Fuji teach us?

Wait for the right moment

Everyone has heard that Japan is the “country of the rising Sun” but not many know why. The day in Japan is actually shifted compared to, for example, European countries: both sunrise and sunset happen very early. Better get a habit of setting your alarm for earlier times =)

First of all, many tourists cannot or do not want to do that so you will only have to share your panoramas with a few lonely photographers and not a crowd like this:

Secondly, the light conditions on Fuji are much better in the early morning when the Sun is not applying its full strength yet:

This picture was taken in the afternoon =(

Thirdly, Fuji is an incredibly shy mountain and always tries to hide in the clouds. The best chances of getting an unobstructed view are – you would never guess – at sunrise.

What you would normally see midday


Since we started on the clouds… Even if you got unlucky and Fuji is hiding from your sight, you still have a chance to see her.

Get on your zen wave and wait. Sometimes you would have to wait for a couple of hours to finally see the clouds dissolve.

Same place, an hour later

Find a new angle

Unbelievable amounts of people are hunting juicy views of Fuji these days, especially when the sky is clear. Do you enjoy being pushed around by a crowd of selfie-takers? I don’t.

Surprisingly, next to many popular viewing spots there are additional platforms with just a handful of people. For example, this great spot is located just behind the Kachi-Kachi platform from the picture above:

The spot is as great as the main platform, and it also has many sakura trees of multiple species:

Another pleasure is to see Fuji rising up from the lake. If you stay around lake Kawaguchi, you can do that from a cruise boat:

A similar view is available from the Northern shore of the lake along with expensive ryokans and hundreds of cherry blossom trees.

Notice fleeting beauty

Sakura blossoms are one of the most recognizable symbols of Japan, on par with Fuji herself, and are even harder to catch than the shy mountain, because the period of their full bloom lasts for just one week.

At lake Kawaguchi, which is a popular base for Fuji watching, cherry trees bloom around the middle of April.

Come here at that time to lose yourself in a sea of white blossom clouds.

A slight breeze is enough to make the petals fall and create a “snowfall” in the middle of the spring.

But if you are just a bit too late for sakura, pay a visit to Shibazakura flower festival to see Mount Fuji rising above a carpet of colorful flowers.

The best time to come here is early May – even though the festival starts in April, not all flowers are yet open at that time.

Boring details

You might have guessed already that my pictures were taken in the super-touristic area of lake Kawaguchi. The best connection here is by train from Tokyo (from Shinjuku station).

Kawaguchi train station

If you are coming from Kyoto, take a shinkansen to Mishima, then change to an express bus. It makes sense to book it ahead to avoid hours of waiting at the station (obviously, the buses departing close to the shinkansen arrival are booked out in advance).

When on the bus you can already see Fuji… if you’re lucky

Kawaguchiko hotels differ a lot in a sense of price and facilities. The most expensive option is a ryokan on the lake’s Northern shore (view on Fuji and the lake included). If you are willing to sacrifice the view, you can drastically reduce the price by going to the Southern shore instead (ryokans there are still amazing!).

This is from the Southern shore

I would recommend spending at least one full day in the area (two nights): this is enough to use Kachi-Kachi Ropeway, climb to Chureito Pagoda for the most famous view of Japan, and have a boat cruise on the lake. It is also possible to plan for a longer stay and include such places as Fuji-Q Highland amusement park or volcanic caves next to a neighboring lake. And, of course, don’t miss out on Shibazakura festival – even in mid-season the flower fields are well worth seeing!

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