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Tokyo to Mount Fuji Day Trip

January 12, 2020

Sometimes spontaneous decisions result in the best outcomes. Our Tokyo to Mount Fuji day trip was no exception! We weren’t sure if we’d get crystal-clear skies, however, life is too short. It’s better to take your chances instead of being left to wonder “what if?”

An Idea

As Alex and I sought shelter from the rainy day at Ichiran, an idea popped into my head. We had finished a full day of traveling throughout Tokyo in the pouring, cold rain and the rich, tonkotsu ramen was perfect on a evening like this. It was even more convenient that it was a five minute walk from our hotel.

I turned to Alex and explained the idea I was contemplating: What if we went to Mount Fuji for a day trip tomorrow??

The more I thought about it, the more compelled I felt to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site. I saw on my phone that the next day was projected for sunny, clear skies. It was a good start.

Finally, I was able to convince Alex that we should at least do a bit more research then make a decision. This is one of the many reasons why I love Alex, he’s always on board if I can connect the logistics!

Midnight Research

While Alex played his Nintendo Switch for the next few hours, I hopped on my laptop and started researching the traveling details for a day trip from Tokyo to Mount Fuji. I had no knowledge on where to go or how to get there, but I saw it as a fun challenge. Once I set my mind on something, I find a way to a make it happen.

During my research, I read tips from a variety of travel blogs, JR Pass, Trip Advisor and Japan’s national tourism site. I read data from weather forecasts over the last three years to see trends on the best time to visit.

As it turned out, December was one of the best months for visibility (more info on this below). December typically had around 24 days of full visibility. I figured that was great. Additionally, I discovered it is possible for the clouds to roll in around 11:30am.

Although we could use our JR Pass, I found it more beneficial for us to take the express bus from Shinjuku. I asked some of my friends what their thoughts were on “what if it’s cloudy” but ultimately decided to go. I would rather take the chance and see Mount Fuji, especially since our odds looked pretty good.

To get at least a few hours of sleep, I went to bed at 1:30am. Alex was asleep at this point but before he went to bed, I told him we would most likely go. We would leave for Fujiyoshida, one of four surrounding towns of Mount Fuji.

The Morning to Mount Fuji

Around 4:00am I woke up to get ready. Our morning was soon filled with adrenaline. Alex wanted to sleep in a bit more but I urged him it would be worth it! We’re opposite with how we function with sleep, he needs eight hours, while I can function on four hours. We left our hotel at 5:50am. The station was at least 15 minutes away and we still needed to buy our tickets.

We ran to Shinjuku station and followed the signs for the express bus (Japan has the best and easiest signs in the world). When we arrived, it was two minutes before the bus was going to leave. The desk reserved the two last seats on the bus for us and we graciously kicked back in the reclining seats.

Fujiyoshida

It was exciting to see Mount Fuji in the distance as we headed south and out of Tokyo! In less than two hours, we found ourselves at Kawaguchiko Station before 8:00am.

To beat the crowds, we opted to save time by taking a taxi from the station to the Chureito Pagoda at Arakurayama Sengen Park. While you can take a the local line to nearby station, it would take at least 40 minutes; whereas the taxi would take only 10 minutes.

Chureito Pagoda

We thanked our taxi driver for dropping us off. He didn’t speak too much English but beamed brightly about Mount Fuji. He told us it was better we arrived today instead of the yesterday since the view was completely covered with rainy clouds.

Arakurayama Sengen Park is home to the Chureito Pagoda and Arakura Sengen Shrine. For this particular shrine, there were several stairs leading to the main lookout. But after climbing the 12,000 steps at Fushimi-Inari in 2018, the 398 steps was nothing in comparison.

Once we reached the top, Alex and I gazed out past the five-storied Chureito Pagoda. The Mount Fuji view was worth everything: the early morning dash to catch the bus, the three hours of sleep and the previous night’s research.

I wish we would’ve brought a morning picnic since the view was so beautiful. But after 45 minutes, we started in the direction to our next destination in the town. We were surprised to see the amount of people and tours that had arrived in this short time frame. Chatter and footsteps now filled the serene environment.

I found it interesting that the Chureito Pagoda was built in 1963 as an addition to the Arakura Sengen Shrine. The pagoda represents a peace memorial commemorating the citizens of Fujiyoshida who died in wars from the mid-1800s until World War II. The Arakura Sengen Shrine was originally built in 705 AD.

Lake Kawaguchiko

To see more views of Mount Fuji, we hopped on the local bus line from Kawaguchiko Station to Oishi Park. The park was relatively crowded and I regret not getting off at one of the earlier stops that had less people but overall, we felt happy with our take of Mount Fuji Views.

If you decide you want to stay in town longer, there are plenty of ryokan and hotels around the lake.

Overall Thoughts

A day trip was good enough for us in the winter season, but I would like to visit again and stay the night in a warmer season. Lake Kawaguchiko was so beautiful and looks like it’d be fun to experience in the spring or summer. I would love to hike Mount Fuji as well!

But, if you can only visit in the cold months, I would absolutely recommend this excursion. There’s plenty of tour groups if you prefer that, but we found it easy to get around on our own.

In the rest of this post, I shared a summary of my travel costs, itinerary and tips. I hope you can use this information on your upcoming trip to Japan!

Mount Fuji Visibility

To help with your planning, I included information on months that feature days with visibility. Something else to note is that during the summer months, the sky is hazy. Generally speaking, many sources recommended to arrive to your view spot by 9am, and your next stop in the mid-afternoon.

I broke the months up into increments to further help you. They are ordered from lowest to highest in the visibility of each increment. I.e.: In the “High Visibility” increment, November has the least days and January has the most days.

  • High Visibility (19-25 days): November, February, December, January
  • Mid Visibility (11-15 days): October, May, March
  • Low Visibility (2-8 days): July, June, April, August, September

Travel Itinerary for Tokyo to Mount Fuji Day Trip

Below is a quick and easy travel itinerary focused on getting to the Chureito Pagoda for your postcard-like photos. The itinerary worked for us since this was a day trip and we wanted to take advantage of the morning. Mostly because the morning is the best time to see Mount Fuji.

If you decide to follow our Tokyo to Mount Fuji day trip schedule and take the bus, then I recommend booking it in advance at the Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal. All seats are assigned. We were incredibly lucky they happened to have exactly two seats left for us!

Once in Fujiyoshida, be aware that the Fujikyuko Line runs about every 40 minutes from Chureito Pagoda, but you can view times in advance on Google Maps.

To explore the Fuji Five Lakes around Fujiyoshida, you can take the local bus lines. If you plan to use the local bus lines (more than one twice), then I would recommend purchasing the Unlimited Ride Pass for ¥1500 ($13.70). It is valid for two days and grants you unlimited access to the three lines. The Red line is every 15 minutes and the Green line is every 30 minutes. Use this route map to figure out the cost and location.

Itinerary

Tokyo
  • 6:05am Depart Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal to Kawaguchiko Station (Fujiyoshida). No transfers.
Fujiyoshida
  • 7:49am Arrive to Kawaguchiko Station
  • 7:50am Take a taxi to Chureito Pagoda/Arakurayama Sengen Koen
  • 8:00am Arrive to Arakurayama Sengen Koen and go to the pagoda
  • 9:00am Walk to Shimoyoshida Station
  • 9:40am Arrive to Shimoyoshida Station
  • 9:53am Take the Fujikyuko Line to Kawaguchiko Station
  • 10:08am Arrive to Kawaguchiko Station and purchase bus tickets
  • 10:08am-12:05pm This part varies depending on where you want to go, but we just took the Blue line to Oishi Park and back.
  • 12:05pm Depart Kawaguchiko Station to Shinjuku Station
  • 12:57pm Transfer at Ōtsuki Station for JR Chuo Line
Tokyo
  • 2:04pm Arrive Shinjuku Station

Transportation Costs

We spent a total of ¥10,720 ($97.94 USD) on our Tokyo to Mount Fuji day trip. The costs may vary slightly due to the JR Pass. Refer to the * for more details.

  • ¥2000 (x2) Express Bus from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station
  • ¥1800 Taxi from Kawaguchiko Station to Chureito Pagoda
  • ¥310 (x2) Train from Shimoyoshida Station to Kawaguchiko Station
  • ¥980 (x2) Local Bus, round trip from Kawaguchiko Station to Oishi Park
  • ¥1170 (x2) Train from Kawaguchiko Station to Shinjuku Station

*Our ¥1170 fare from Kawaguchiko Station to Shinjuku Station represents the base fare for the Fujikyuko Line. If we didn’t have the JR Pass we would’ve had to pay a difference of ¥1660-4760 ($15.17-43.49 USD).

Fast Tips

  • Fujikyuko Line is not included in the JR Pass since it’s an independent line.
  • Purchase the Unlimited Ride Pass for the local bus line if you plan to stay overnight because it’s good for two days.
  • Withdraw cash in advance since there is no ATM at the station. Otherwise you can walk down the streets (7 minute walk) to the nearby convenience store.
  • Arakurayama Sengen Koen / Chureito Pagoda is open 24 hours.
  • If you stay overnight in Fujishida, get to Chureito Pagoda at sunrise. The sun will hit Mount Fuji perfectly.
  • For a less-crowded view, leave Chureito Pagoda by 9am.
  • Fujishida local bus lines: Red line= 15 minutes, Green line= 30 minutes, Blue line= less frequent
  • Take the JR train back to Tokyo instead of the bus to avoid rush hour traffic.
  • Grab onigiri or something from a convenience store to snack in your two hour train ride.
  • Enjoy the moment of being in front of the majestic Mount Fuji!

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