I’ve lived in Japan for a long time, but for some reason, I’ve only ever seen Mount Fuji a handful of times. Most of those have been from relatively far away, so when the opportunity came to visit Lake Kawaguchi and the Fuji-Kawaguchiko area, I jumped at the chance. But, was it worth visiting?
The Lake Kawaguchiko area is well worth visiting if you’re looking for some stunning views of Mount Fuji, a number of hikes, and an area removed far enough from the cities to feel a little more at one with nature. That said, it’s worth remembering that Kawaguchiko is a popular area and will likely be filled with tourists at any time of the year.
After visiting the area last month, I’ve been able to gain first-hand experience about whether it’s worth it for you to put Kawaguchiko into your itinerary or not. Let’s get into it!
What Is Kawaguchiko Known For?
So, why should you even consider coming to Kawaguchiko in the first place? Honestly, there are a number of reasons that make this area so tempting for tourists and locals alike.
- Mount Fuji Views: Kawaguchiko is renowned for its unrivaled views of Mount Fuji. On clear days, you can witness the immortal mountain reflected in the waters of Lake Kawaguchi. As you’ll see a little later, we weren’t that lucky when we went… Damn clouds…
- Hot Springs (Onsen): The area is dotted with hot springs resorts, offering visitors the chance to relax in soothing geothermal waters while taking in stunning vistas of Mount Fuji. Many accommodations have private onsen baths for a truly intimate experience.
- Outdoor Adventures: Kawaguchiko is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. Hiking, fishing, and cycling around the lake are popular activities. The Fuji-Q Highland amusement park also offers some of the coolest-looking coasters I’ve seen – unfortunately vb
- Chureito Pagoda: This iconic five-story pagoda provides one of the most iconic views of Mount Fuji, especially when surrounded by cherry blossoms in spring or colorful foliage in autumn.
How To Get To Kawaguchiko:
Getting to Kawaguchiko is relatively straightforward:
There are a number of easy ways to get to Lake Kawaguchiko and the surrounding area from Tokyo, we chose to drive but public transport is a perfectly acceptable alternative. It can get a little complicated if some of the trains arent running, but you should be alright most of the time.
Assuming you leave from somewhere around Shinjuku, you’ll get the train up to Ōtsuki Station, then another local train to Kawaguchiko Station, and then a bus (or perhaps walk) to lake Kawaguchi. The whole thing shouldn’t take more than 2 hours 30 minutes.
If you left Tokyo in the morning early enough, you could definitely make this a day trip. It’s also worth pairing it with Oshino Hakkai if you’ve taken a car because that place is extremely close and damn beautiful!
Things To Do In Kawaguchiko
So I’m able to give you the most up to date and helpful information for planning your trip to Japan, I’m going to take in depth about two of the things I personally did, and then give you a list of other tours that are near lake Kawaguchi that may be of interest.
Lake Kawaguchi boat trip
I love boat trips, so I wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to experience one on one of Fuji’s famous 5 lakes. Even though we were standing up for the whole this, it was miles more comfortable (though a little less fun) than the one we went on in Nikko.
There were a number of different piers and boat in the area of Kawaguchiko, and we ended up booking a trip from the 4th one. Not the one that’s pictured, for some reason I just forgot to snap a photo of it! It’s literally just the one to the right of this one, you can see it on the side 🙂
While I preferred the boat in Nikko, this one still had a lot of character and looked really cool. Most of it was made from wood, and it made the experience a lot better than if it had just been any old boat that did the lake tour.
They definitely pack people tightly onto these boats, but it wasn’t too bad for us as we were first in line which meant we could chose where to stand. However, if you don’t get here early enough, you’ll find that out the hard way.
As the boat departed, we were facing the shore where it left off which gave us a nice view of the area. I didn’t realise it was covered by so many trees, but I’m all for anywhere that makes me feel like I’m a little off the beaten track (even though this Kawaguchiko technically isn’t).
Depending what side you’re on, this is where you’ll get a nice view of Mount Fuji. Don’t be surprised if he decides to be all shy behind a cloud, though. I’ve been to many areas where we were supposed to have great views of Mount Fuji only for it to be almost completely covered due to bad weather…
The boat chuggs around to the end of the lake and then doubles back on itself. It’s fairly short, but it’s really nice to see the little buildings dotted around the shore.
We were standing at the back left of the boat (top floor) as it left the dock, and the views were better for us on the way back. Completely uninterrupted ones of the mountain, though make sure to get onboard early because like i said, it was very busy!
Need some more convincing? This was the queue to get on the boat just as we got off it.
In case you’re after something a little faster, we also saw the boat in the photo below wizzing itself and adrenaline-filled passengers around during our trip. I’d imagine it does cost quiet a fair bit, but I also think it looks like a pretty fun thing to do on Kawaguchiko!
Mt Fuji Panorama Ropeway
When we bought the tickets for the boat, we had the option to purchase ropeway tickets at the same time. As we were in the area, we made the choice to do both (I’d recommend them both as well!)
By buying both tickets at the same time you’ll save money and be given a time slot for the ropeway. As with the lake kawaguchi boat trip, make sure you turn up earlier rather than later because as you can see by the picture below, it can get really busy.
According to the board, the waiting time was 40 minutes and we knew the ropeway was going to close in 50 minutes. I mean, we made it on, but it wasn’t ideal to be continuously thinking about it.
The journey up to the top of the mountain was relatively short, but the views were pretty darn incredible. The cable cars weren’t filled up too much, so despite the heat it was totally fine.
When we arrived at the very top, the views down to the valley below and the lake we’d just been on were awesome. I didn’t have time to take as many photos as I would have liked to, but that’s something we managed to do on the way back.
As you can see from this illustrated map, the area at the top isn’t a big one, but it’s more than enough to admire the view. It was quite busy when we were there, so just be prepared for that.
I kind of geeked out at this point as I didn’t realise you’d be able to see FujiQ Highland from up here, but you can!
Waiting for the gondola to collect us gave me some much-desired time to shoot some photos. It feels a little like you’re standing on the very edge of a diving board about to fall in, I loved it!
Oh, and not that this makes me recommend the area more, but I love that there are two bunnies on top of the cable car! I think it’s because the area is full of them, especially if you’re walking back down instead (something you can do if you miss the last gondola down).
FAQs about Kawaguchiko
Are there any tours around/near Lake Kawaguchi?
The tour company that I recommend, Viator, has a few tours that are in and around the area of Kawaguchiko. As you can see, a lot of them are fairly similar but still come highly recommended.
Should I visit Hakone or Kawaguchiko?
This is a tricky one. If you’re looking for some of the best views of Mount Fuji that Japan has to offer, go with Kawaguchi. If, on the other hand, you’re looking for an onsen town with accommodation where you can relax in the mountains of one of Japan’s most breathtaking locations, go with Hakone.
If you’re looking for the place that’s easiest to get to, Hakone takes the win again. While they’re both relatively easy to get to, Hakone is the simpler of the two, especially if you take the Romance train.
How Long Should You Spend In Kawaguchiko?
The ideal length of your stay in Kawaguchiko largely depends on your interests. For instance, we managed to explore everything in this article, plus Oshino Hakkai in one day.
Granted, they were all fleeting visits, but I felt on the whole, like it was enough to experience the main attractions. Of course, there’s plenty more to do in both areas, and I for one really enjoy walking – that’s the only thing I would have done if I’d had more time.
Can you see Mt Fuji from Kawaguchiko?
Yes! And perhaps the best view in the entire country.
However (and it’s a rather large however), the weather can make or break your view of the mountain so please don’t base your entire trip on seeing it. It’s a little bit like the cherry blossom, if you see them then great, and if not, better luck next time.
Is Kawaguchiko worth visiting?
Absolutely! Kawaguchiko offers a unique blend of natural beauty, cultural experiences, and outdoor adventures that make it a worthwhile destination for travelers of all kinds. It’s somewhere that definitely can get crowded depending on when you visit, so don’t expect to have the whole place to yourself. I’d consider it a solid area to visit for first-time tourists to Japan, not the top 10 necessarily, but certainly well worth it if you’re after some nice views and a boat ride.