The question most people ask in almost all the travel groups I’m in is:
Should I DIY or just get a tour?
Mount Fuji has been on top of anybody’s travel bucket list.
I’ve only visited Mt. Fuji twice. Of those two, I tried a day trip and an overnight stay. Deciding whether to DIY or get a tour really depends on your priority and preference as a traveler.
If it isn’t too obvious, I’d rather choose to DIY since I want more control of my time. But not all would prefer to DIY because they either don’t have the time to plan, they’re directionally-challenged, or they’re just simply lazy (no offense meant).
There are several options to see the glorious beauty of Fujisan. I briefly wrote about my experience several months ago.
- Yamanashi prefecture – Get a closer view of Fujisan at the most famous Five Fuji Lakes, Chureito Pagoda, Oishi Park, Fuji 5th Base, Momiji Tunnel, Ski resorts, etc…
- Shizuoka prefecture – The southern half of Mt. Fuji stands in Shizuoka.
- Hakone prefecture – From a distance, not as far as Tokyo, you can catch a clearer view of the glorious Fujisan from there.
- Tokyo to Osaka / Osaka to Tokyo – You can ride a shinkansen from Tokyo to Osaka or vice-versa. Visibility gets better during the colder season of the year than in summer.
- Tokyo (Odaiba Ferris Wheel or Docks, Tokyo Tower) – If lucky, you can see a faint view of Mt. Fuji from there.
- Up in the Sky – We got lucky we were seated at the side where Fujisan can be seen from our window.
The closest international airport to Mount Fuji is Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita. The nearest gateway would be Tokyo. Now the next question would be…
How to Get To Mt. Fuji?
I’d only be sharing how to see Fujisan up close if you are planning to visit Yamanashi or the Five Fuji Lakes.
The easiest way to see Mt. Fuji is by riding the bus. You can ride a bus from either Shibuya, Shinjuku, and Ginza. Just make sure to check the schedules and/or reserve your seats for a smoother excursion. The roundtrip bus transfers could cost 3,000 – 4,000 PHP per person.
By JR Train
If you’ve read my previous blog posts, you would know we came from Tokyo, specifically Oji. To reach Yamanashi, we rode the train from Oji Station (JR Station) to Otsuki. If you have a JR Pass, this journey will be covered by the pass.
After arriving in Otsuki, you will have to transfer to another train under the Fujikyu Railway which will bring you to Kawaguchiko Station. This train will also stop in Fujisan and Fuji-Q Highland. The Fujikyu Railway is not covered by the JR Pass. You will have to buy separate single tickets unless you decide to buy a Fuji-Hakone Pass.
This access to Kawaguchiko, the area right around the mountain, involves longer travel time and multiple transfers.
By Fuji Excursion Train
Since March 16, 2019, Japan launched the Fuji Excursion Train which connects Mt. Fuji area directly to Shinjuku Station, one of Tokyo’s busiest transit hubs.
This newest mode of transportation is the result of a partnership between Japan Rail (JR) and Fujikyu Corporation, the major rail operator in Mt. Fuji Area. According to the new timetable, if you choose to ride the Fuji Excursion Train, travel time will be shortened to 1 hour and 50 minutes compared to the usual +/- 3 hours.
There will be two trains operating on weekdays from Tokyo and three on weekends. These trains will make brief stops at Otsuki and Fujikyu Highland before reaching Kawaguchiko. If you plan to switch to the JR line and head further west or hop on a bus, alight at Otsuki station. If you are a thrill-seeker and you want to see Japan’s largest amusement park right at the foot of Mt. Fuji, alight at Fujikyu Highland.
How/Where to Reserve Tickets?
Tickets for the normal JR Line and Fuji Excursion may be purchased at the JR ticket counter (green window), at the JR ticket machine, or online.
Given the popularity of the Fuji Excursion, reserved seats are advisable.
As for the bus, you can also reserve seats online.
Getting Around Mt. Fuji
Taking one of the Omnibuses is the easiest way to get around the majority of the Five Fuji Lakes. The Retro or Omnibus has three different lines: Red Kawaguchiko Line, Green Saiko Line, and the Blue Narusawa Shojiko Motosuko Line.
The Red buses stop in Kawaguchiko Station every 15 minutes. It runs along the eastern and northern parts of Lake Kawaguchiko. The Green bus stops every 30 minutes and runs along the southern parts of Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Saiko. The Blue bus stops every two hours at Kawaguchiko Station and serves Lakes Shojiko and Motosuko. You can get a pamphlet or a travel map/guide at the Kawaguchiko Station.
The bus fares vary depending on where you want to go. They also offer an unlimited bus pass which covers the three lines. This particular pass can be used for two consecutive days and costs 1500 yen for adults and 750 for kids.
More details here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/heritage-tour/detail/id/1/
Another bus network travels between Fujiyoshida, Oshino Village and Lake Yamankako. The Fujikko buses run eleven times or once every one or two hours every day, almost similar to the Omni Blue bus line. It also has a 2-day pass which costs 1500 yen for adults and 750 for kids. There is a cheaper alternative but it only covers the areas between Oshino Village and Yamankako. You can ask the driver about it.
More details here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/heritage-tour/detail/id/2/
Mt. Fuji World Heritage Loop Bus
You can learn more about Mt. Fuji’s history and culture just by riding this bus.
This particular tourist bus departs from Kawaguchiko Station every 1.5 hours and stops at several sites near the famous Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida and some spots near the Oshino Village before it loops back to Kawaguchiko Station. There are 6 services every day but during winter they cut down their trips to 5. Don’t be confused about their free coupons, you still have to pay for it so you can ride the bus for 2 consecutive days. This 2-day pass costs 1030 yen for adults and 310 for kids.
More details here: http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/heritage-tour/detail/id/3/
Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station
This line will bring you to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji where you can start your ascent to the mountain.
Can’t find which bus to take? Don’t fret! There is a network of regular buses that access the more remote areas of Lake Shojiko and Motosuko, as well as Oshino, Lake Yamankako, and Gotemba.
Fares and Passes
So far Japan is the only country I know which has TONS of passes for different kinds of purposes. And yes, Japan definitely has passes for Fuji!
Fuji Hakone Pass
This pass can be used within the Fuji Five Lakes region and the neighboring Hakone area. It costs 8000 yen.
Fujigoko Enjoy Ticket
This ticket combines a roundtrip bus ticket from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko or Yamankako and a 2-day pass for either Omnibus or the Fujikko bus. It is valid for seven (7) days and can be purchased in Shinjuku for 4350 yen.
Fuji Q Highland Plans
If it’s not that obvious, this can be used in the amusement park, Fuji Q Highland, BUT it includes access to buses with park passports and in some cases accommodations.
Fujisan Fujigoko Passport
This pass allows unlimited use of the Fujikyu buses around the Fuji Five Lakes. This covers both the Omnibus and Fujikko buses. You can purchase this pass at the ticket counters in Kawaguchiko Station, Fujisan Station, Mishima Station, Shin-Fuji Station, Fujinomiya Station, Gotemba Station, and the Asashigaoka or Yamankako bus stop. There are two variations – one that includes the entire Fujikyu railway line and the other one includes Fujikyu trains ONLY between Kawaguchiko and Shimoyoshida stations. It costs 3550 yen and 2550 yen respectively.
If you have a Japan Rail Pass, you may ride all JR lines, including the newest Fuji Excursion. However, at present only the JR portion of the ticket (Shinjuku <=> Otsuki) would be covered.
Passengers would be responsible for the Otsuki <=> Mt. Fuji, Fujikyu Highland, Kawaguchiko portion of the ticket plus express fare.
・Otsuki→Kawaguchiko: 1,140 yen (one-way)
・Express fare (one-way): 600 yen for adults; 400 yen for children
・Total: 1,740 yen (one-way)
JR Tokyo Wide Pass
Express fare plus ticket is included with this pass. However, it is recommended to speak with a JR ticket counter (green window) staff to make a seat reservation, given the popularity of the train. Reservations are free.
Fuji Excursion Fares
Shinjuku <=> Mt. Fuji, Fujikyu Highland, Kawaguchiko
Express fare, one-way: 1,600 yen (900 yen for children)
Ticket, one-way: 2,460 yen
Total cost, one-way: 4,060 yen
Shinjuku <=> Tsuru-bunkadaigaku-mae
1,400 yen (800 yen for children)
Otsuki <=> Mt. Fuji, Fujikyu Highland, Kawaguchiko
600 yen (400 yen for children)
Otsuki <=> Tsuru-bunkadaigaku-mae
400 yen (300 yen for children)
Unless noted otherwise, prices above are one-way express fares only. Prices are current as of April 3, 2019.
Sights and Activities
Below are some of the tourist attractions in Yamanashi Prefecture:
You can enjoy the majestic view of Mt. Fuji while strolling in Oishi Park or dining in one of their outdoor restaurants.
Just by its name, you will only enjoy this place come Autumn. Although most would prefer the Kawaguchiko Music Forest where you can find the Momiji Tunnel, the maple corridor is easier to access. Just ride the Red Omnibus and stop right in front of the maple tree covered street.
Opening Hours: 9:00 to 17:10, 9:30 to 16:40 (between December and February)
Admission: 800 yen (roundtrip)
The Kachi Kachi Ropeway ascends to an observation point near the summit of Mount Tenjo, where Lake Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji can be seen.
Kubota Itchiku Museum
A unique museum showcasing kimonos created by Kubota Itchiku who spent his lifetime reviving the lost art of Tsujigahang silk dyeing. One of his notable and yet unfinished masterpieces is the “Symphony of Light” which comprises 80 kimonos that form a picture of Mt. Fuji.
Yamanashi Gem Museum
Opening Hours: 9:00 to 17:30 (between March and October), 9:30 to 17:00 (between November to February)
Closed: Wednesday, unless it’s a national holiday
Admission: 600 yen
The Yamanashi Gem Museum displays gems, precious stones and large quartz crystals collected from Japan and other parts of the world. The museum also has a store where you can purchase pieces of jewelry and other trinkets made with the same types of gems on display.
After 398 steps, you’ll reach the hilltop facing Mt. Fuji in Arakurayama Sengen Park.
Fujiten Snow Resort (and other Ski Resorts)
Opening Hours: Weekdays 8:30 to 17:00, Weekends and Holidays 9:00 to 17:00, Night Skiing 16:00 to 22:00
Lift Tickets (1day)
Adult Lift Ticket 4,000yen
Junior Lift Ticket 3,000yen
Senior Lift Ticket 3,000yen
Ski Set 4,500yen
Snowboard Set 4,500yen
If you’re visiting during the winter, consider going to any of the two ski resorts in Fuji area. I only visited Fujiten Snow Resort on my last visit. Fujiten Snow Resort is a snow park equipped with 4 lifts, 7 courses, sledding slopes and more. It’s the most suitable location to ski for beginners. More info here.
Aokigahara, also known as the Jukai which means Sea of Trees, is located at the Northwestern part of Mt. Fuji and can be accessed by riding the Retro or Omnibus. Its entrance is in the parking lot of the Lake Sai Bat Cave.
Some tourists visit the area because of the two caves – the Ice Cave and the Wind Cave but some visit because of its macabre side. Unfortunately, it happens to be coined as the world’s second most popular suicide location.
Locals say there are three types of visitors who dare to visit Jukai: the trekkers, those who are interested in scenic vistas of Mt. Fuji; the curious, those who are hoping for a glimpse of the macabre; and those souls who don’t plan on leaving Jukai.
If you plan to visit the forest, be respectful. Contact the local authorities if you spot something so they can appropriately handle the situation. Anything you experience or witness in the forest should not be taken lightly.
Day Trip or DIY?
If pressed with time, a DIY trip would do but it’s a totally different experience if you stay in Fuji for a night or two!
Just a rough estimate for everything I’ve spent for a 3D2N stay in Fuji:
Transportation: 5,000.00 PHP (includes Tokyo-Fuji-Tokyo transfer)
Accommodation: 2,200.00 PHP (per person, for two nights)
Food: 2,500.00 PHP
Entrance Fees will depend on where you plan to go/visit. A total budget of 10,000.00-15,000.00 PHP would be enough.
I will try to update this article from time to time. Hopefully, this could help you plan your visit to Mt. Fuji.
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