Mount Fuji is an iconic mountain and now an UNESCO World Heritage site. Mt Fuji has been central to the Japanese spirit for hundreds of years and has been a site of pilgrimage. The climbing season of Mt Fuji is short, just two months in July and August each year because the conditions on Mt Fuji are quite inhospitable. If you are not visiting during these times or don’t wish to climb, Mt Fuji is still a draw and many tourists want to see it from as close as possible.
You can see the diamond shape peeking from the distance at sunrise or sunset even from Tokyo, from observatories like Mori Building in Roppongi, Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building in Shinjuku and many more. However, there is no guarantee you’ll see it, and even if you do, it is a tiny silhouette. So, where do you go for those iconic views and photographs of a majestic towering Mount Fuji capped with snow?
Here are some of the best ones, and all of them easily accessible from Tokyo.
Some iconic pictures of Mt Fuji are actually taken from onboard a train. The shinkansen line running from Tokyo to Osaka (also Kyoto) runs along an open plain with a perfect view of Mt Fuji. If you are travelling from Tokyo sit on the right side of the train to get the view, and on the left from Osaka to Tokyo. The train does travel very fast so be ready, however, Mt Fuji does stay in view for long, so your finger needs to be on the shutter and ready!
A great spot for taking a truly stunning picture of Mt Fuji with the Chureito Pagoda in shot, and one of the most famous shots from Japan. When you Google “Japan” and hit images, it is bound to be the among the first photos that will pop up. This is a unique place to get a photo, not only because there is the pagoda, but also a viewing platform to get a shot with Fujiyoshida city.
Tip: Arrive early in the morning to try and get a photo without too much cloud cover. Be prepared to wait during cherry blossom season and autumn leaves season. Also, beware of wild boars!
One of the great five volcanic lakes surrounding Mt Fuji, Kawaguchiko is the most easily accessible of all the lakes and offers some stunning views and shots! It is in the same area as Chureito Pagoda, so if you start early you might do both in a day!
Not only is the view across the lake beautiful but both cherry blossoms and maple trees have been strategically planted so you can get some great photos of Mt Fuji with the sakura blossom or red leaves. You can snap photos from anywhere on the coast, or go on a boat ride and snap a photo of Fuji with its reflection in the water! This location is a treat for all the seasons.
If you prefer a photo from higher up then travelling up the Kachi Kachi Ropeway to the top of Mt Tenjo might be for you. The Kachi Kachi Ropeway is on the shores of Kawaguchiko and goes up to 1000m above sea level. Aside from the views, the ropeway also offers some adorable characters in the form of a vengeful rabbit and a naughty tanuki. From where the ropeway drops you off you can either hike to the top of Mt Tenjo, descend down or join a hiking trail to Mitsutoge. If just admiring the views, there is a platform, a shrine, and several shops serving ice cream, mitarashi dango etc.
Another one of the 5 Fuji Lakes, Lake Motosu is less easily accessible than Kawaguchiko, but it is rather famous as they say it is the exact location of the Fuji view pictured on the 1000 yen note. Many people try to recreate the landscape in a photo, but the water needs to be quite still for that. But even on windy days with waves, Mount Fuji itself is still beautiful, just without an inverted reflection.
Hakone is a national park near to Mt Fuji, but it also has its own unique draws such as a variety of top class onsen and Lake Ashinoko. Hakone is very popular for both national and international tourists as it is a place of natural beauty that is easily accessible from Tokyo. Taking a short cruise on Lake Ashinoko is a popular past time, you can even go on a pirate ship! One of the perks of his cruise is a beautiful view of the peak of Mt Fuji across the mountains in between.
These are just a few examples of popular spots to take some photos of Mt Fuji. Basically, anywhere in the five lakes region (Yamanaka, Kawaguchi, Saiko, Shōji and Motosu) is a good bet. Other places around Yamanashi prefecture are worth looking into, where the Fuji view would not be as close as near the five lakes, but also not as far and tiny as from Tokyo rooftops.
On the other side of Fuji lies Shizuoka prefecture, so travelling there is a good idea too, especially in the city named Fuji. Shizuoka is also known for tea, so going to some tea plantations like Imamiya (今宮) and Obuchi Sasaba (大淵笹場) will provide you with an opportunity for an iconic photo.
Note that even if you visit one of these locations you are not guaranteed that perfect photo, as Mt Fuji is often shrouded in clouds and quite elusive! Fuji likes to hide!The best time of day to take a photo is in the very early morning when cloud cover is much less! Sometimes, sunset provides a clear view too.
When it comes to seasons, winter is the best for clear views as the air is crisp and dry, and Mount Fuji is covered with snow. Summer is more humid, and the snow cap is melted, so that season is at the bottom of the list. Spring and Autumn are extraordinary beautiful for the blossoms and the red leaves, respectively.
Finally, even if you travel to these spots and don’t see Mount Fuji in all its glory – you are still sure to have a great trip as all of these places are wonderful by themselves!