Mount Fuji, which is the highest volcano and the highest peak in Japan, is one pride of Japan. It is considered one of the 3 Holy Mountains in Japan, along with Mount Tate, and Mount Haku. It is exceptionally symmetrical in shape, making it into a famous symbol of Japan, and an important element in Japanese art.
So, you are traveling to Japan, and you definitely want to enjoy the view of Mount Fuji with your own eyes. Instead of going to Hakone like most people do, why not try to go to Kawaguchiko? It is located at the base of Mount Fuji, about a 2-hour bus ride from Shinjuku, Tokyo. Here, you can get an unobstructed view of Mount Fuji, the place is not crowded with people despite being one of the famous spots to view Mount Fuji, and it is easily accessible by trains or buses.
I went there in March, by train, from Narita International Airport. The train ride to Kawaguchiko Station was a memorable one, as you can see the view changing from the metropolitan cityview to the countryside of Japan. As the train was approaching Fujikyu Highland Station, the majestic Mount Fuji can already be seen clearly. That first view of the mountain was definitely an exciting one!
Tenjo-Yama Park Mt. Kachi-Kachi is actually known officially as Kawaguchiko Mt. Tenjo Ropeway. The ropeway climb at the edge of Lake Kawaguchi for about 3 minutes, taking you to the observatory in Tenjo-Yama Park. The name Mt. Kachi-Kachi actually came from a Japanese folktale which is a story about a rabbit and a Tanuki (Japanese raccoon). You can read the story on the wall (only in Japanese, but you can understand the general storyline by the pictures attached) along the staircase, going up to the ticketing counter. At the observatory, you can enjoy the view of Mount Fuji, Fujikyu Highland, Lake Kawaguchi, and Aokigahara forest.
At the observatory, you can enjoy some ‘Tanuki Dango’ (sweet, ball-shaped, charcoal-fired rice dumpling), ‘Mt. Kachi Kachi Sweet and Salty Potatoes’ (provincial dish consisting of potatoes boiled in a pot), and original Peach Tea, sold at the Tea House. They also sell souvenirs relating to Mt. Kachi-Kachi and Mt. Fuji.
You can also see the Bell of Tenjo at the observatory. It is placed facing Mount Fuji, making it a great place to take photos, or ring the bell for fulfilling love or to get good health. You can also try ‘Kawarake Throwing’ (an earthenware sake cup made from bisque clay) at a target to make wishes to the goddesses of Mount Tenjo (goddess of marriage, and goddess of beauty). It was said that these two goddesses help the birth of all things through their noble souls, and they are regarded as guardians of peace and prosperity by the local people.
There is also an Usagi (Rabbit) Shrine, where you can rub the head of the ‘Dreaming Rabbit” (head down) to get clever wisdom, and rub the leg of ‘Fuji Rabbit’ (standing on its hind legs) to get strong legs.
One thing that you should not miss is to take photo with the Rabbit and the Raccoon character, with Mount Fuji as your background! There is an official photographer that will take your photo for free, and there are props that you can take pictures with. They will give the postcard (with a small photo of you) for free! If you want your photo in 2L size, you will have to pay 1,000 yen per photo.
There is a Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Boat ‘Ensoleille’ in front of the Mt. Kachi-Kachi Ropeway. You can either buy the ticket for the boat separately, or you can buy a package of Mt. Kachi-Kachi Ropeway ride and the sightseeing boat ride for a cheaper price.
The boat will take you for a 20-minute ride at Lake Kawaguchi. Lake Kawaguchi is the second largest lake among the five lakes that surrounded Mount Fuji. Other than enjoying the view of Mount Fuji, you will be able to enjoy the view of the mountains that circle the lake, and the scenery of the town. The announcements on the boat are made in Japanese, English, and Chinese language.
The Kawaguchiko town is very serene as it is surrounded by mountains and the lake Kawaguchi. You can definitely feel the breeze and breathe in clean air. So, why not explore the town while riding a bicycle, and make your trip more memorable by having Mount Fuji as your background as you cycle?
There are bicycle rental services provided in Kawaguchiko. There are many types of bicycle ready to be rented such as electric bicycle, mountain bike, power-assisted bicycle, or just the normal bicycle. Most of the hotels in Kawaguchiko provide bicycle rental services.
So, if you want to have a clear view of Mount Fuji, and want to explore the countryside of Japan, Kawaguchiko is definitely the place to go! There are a lot of other activities that can be done here such as going to the museums, hiking, and have a taste of the famous Kawaguchiko famous cheesecake, but the best experience is having the majestic Mount Fuji, which has been declared as one of the World Heritage Site by UNESCO, right in front of your eyes!