Oshino Hakkai: Japan’s Crystal Clear Pools

oshino hakkai

If you’ve used this quiz to help you decide on where to visit in Japan, and this calculator to make sure it’s affordable, I’ll bet you’ve got one of two visions in mind. The first is probably the loud, noisy, and cyberpunk-esque images of Japan’s capital cities that are often paraded in the media, and the second is of its zen countryside, bamboo forests, and gardens. Oshino Hakkai falls squarely into the second category and is definitely worth considering adding to your itinerary.

Oshino Hakkai, near Mount Fuji, is a collection of eight crystal clear ponds formed by the mountain’s melting snow, each with unique spiritual significance. Perfect for photography and serene walks, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone who’s looking to explore a less-visited natural spot of the country.

I loved it, but is it right for your itinerary? Let’s find out together!

How to get to Oshino Hakkai

Unlike places such as Nikko and Hakone, Oshino Hakkai is a little more difficult to get to. Not terribly, but it does require a couple of changes.

From Shinjuku station, you’re going to want to take the Chuo Line to ōtsuka station, change onto the Fujiyuko line (for the Fujisan View Express which is actually a very cute train!), and then finally grab a bus at Mt.Fuji Station to Omiyabashi.

From there, it’s just a simple five-minute walk. The whole thing should take under 2.5 hours depending on what trains you get.

Cost: ¥4,450 ($31.44)

We decided to drive instead, which I know won’t be an option for a lot of you. If however you do have a car and decide to drive from Shinjuku, it should take about an hour less.

It was fairly quick and painless, though there was quite a big traffic jam on the way back that made the journey take way longer than it should have…

The 8 pools

Oshino Hakkai koi in pool

When you eventually arrive at Oshino Hakkai, the first thing you’ll be greeted with will be the crystal clear pools. Other than the continuously photographed thatched roofs, these are what drew me towards visiting the area.

However, these are definitely not your ordinary swimming holes; they are a collection of eight magnificent ponds, each with its own distinct charm and character. The picture below shows some of the main pools, each being just as clear and blue as the photo above.

Oshino Hakkai main pool

I’ll be honest it was HOT, and I kind of wish I could have taken a dip. That said, I don’t think the koi fish would have been too impressed…

The main area with all of the pools was a lot smaller than I thought it would be, but it still wasn’t anything like some of the bigger crowds in Japan that I’ve seen.

To the right-hand side of the photo, you should be able to see people looking down over the wooden railings. They’re looking down into an 8-meter pool, accessible via the shop, and I’ve honestly never seen a pond/pool so clear.

Plus it’s filled with koi fish which makes the whole area look super zen!

Oh, I did also notice a phone that had fallen in, so make sure you keep hold of yours haha.

Oshino Hakkai pool

The walk

As the area with the pools was smaller than I thought it would be, we decided to go for a short walk around the area. If you love the Japanese countryside this is the place to come!

We’ve been craving some sort of sea or lake or something to dip our feet in to get away from the stupidly hot and humid Japanese Summer. Unfortunately, the closest beach is about 3-4 hours away, so we took the chance to dip our feet (and my hand lol) while we were here!

Oshino Hakkai river

Oshino Hakkai is famed for its clear water pools where the water comes down from Mount Fuji. As far as I’m concerned, the river is just as spectacular.

Tip: Walk up on the left-hand side and pop your head into two more pools that are often missed. The water is equally as clear, and it absolutely makes me want to buy a house in the countryside… There’s also a little area near the start of the river where you can have a paddle if the weather is warm enough!

If you’re looking for inspiration, or looking to have that quintessential view of Japan, Oshino Hakkai is definitely worth visiting. The image below looks like it could have inspired any of these games set in Japan.

Except maybe Katamari Damacy… I have no idea what could have inspired that!

Oshino Hakkai river

If you follow the river from the main area with the pools, you’ll come across this road. Normally we would have followed the trail for a much longer walk (and perhaps a better view of Mount Fuji), though we were with some other people who weren’t so up for the walk.

I’d expect it to be really beautiful, and well worth doing if you’ve specifically come out to Oshino Hakkai looking for an escape from Tokyo. And yes, you absolutely should imagine yourself in your very own anime film!

Oshino Hakkai countryside

The shops

There are a few different shops worth mentioning here. Other than the main street which we’ll get to in a minute, there are a couple of food stops located by the pools.

Oshino Hakkai pools

Directly behind the pools, this thatched roof building sells fish food (to feed the koi), drinks, and other snacks.

Oshino Hakkai food market

To one side of the crystal clear pools you’ll find a seating area and what looks like a market with a collection of shops inside. They sell fruit, fish, omiyage, sweets, ice cream, and anything else you could reasonably want to eat.

Oshino Hakkai seating area

There are also a few vending machines dotted around the seating area, though expect to pay a premium compared to the konbini.

Oshino Hakkai pools

Even if you’re not interested in eating or buying anything, you should still venture through the shop.


Because you’ll be able to see that 8-meter pool that we talked about earlier.

Oshino Hakkai main pool

Once you step onto the island in the middle of one of the bigger pools, you’ll be able to walk around the main one that’s 8 meters deep. Also, you’ll be able to see one of the coolest Chōzuya (washing stations) I’ve ever seen in Japan.

Anyway, back to the shops! Just past the entrance to the open-air museum (which we’ll discuss soon) is a row of shops selling food, souvenirs, and a few handmade homewares.

Oshino Hakkai stores

It’s a pretty cute little street, though you can see that a lot of the stuff here is aimed at tourists. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad, but perhaps not as authentic/traditional as you could get in Japan.

Oshino Hakkai stores

On the bright side, there are even more places to get ice cream! And stay away from those vending machines damn it!

Oshino Hakkai stores

I’m almost certain there was kakigori here as well, though we didn’t grab any this time. I think I was still riding the high of finding ¥100 kakigori in Yanaka Ginza. That’s another wicked place to visit by the way!

Oshino Hakkai food

I decided to get arty with these next 3 photos and did a bit of color grading. I quite like them, but it doesn’t even begin to do justice to how good this fruit looked on a hot Japanese day.

Oshino Hakkai food
Oshino Hakkai food

The museum

Since researching Oshino Hakkai, I knew that the one view of this historic area I wanted to see was from the open-air museum. It said online that it was open every day from 9-7, but of course, the one time we chose to go, it says that it was closed…

Oshino Hakkai museum

I don’t know kanji well enough to tell you what the Japanese says in the white square, but a quick Google translate suggests something about it ending today. Who knows, it’s a shame for sure.

Oshino Hakkai museum photo

To be honest, I was less disappointed when I saw this photo because it means I may just try again in the winter. It snows a lot in Japan, and it also happens to produce some of the most jaw-dropping scenes like that in the process!

The views

Oshino Hakkai views

Just like the last time that I came close to Mount Fuji in Hakone, the immortal mountain decided to be a little shy and hide behind a cloud for the day. You can kind of see it in one of the photos from the pools section of this article, but it wasn’t the best.

On the bright side, there are lots of wonderful views around here which is to be expected from a historic town such as Oshino Hakkai. You’re pretty much surrounded by mountains, and you’ll also get an incredible view over the valley when your car/bus winds its way up the hill to get you here.

Oshino Hakkai houses

Is Oshino Hakkai Worth Visiting?

If you’re looking for a place in Japan that makes you feel like you’re either in a Studio Ghibli film, have gone back in time hundreds of years, or simply somewhere that’s a far cry away from the noise of Japan’s big cities, Oshino Hakkai is worth visiting.

You’ll get the most out of it if you like walking. The main attractions are the 8 pools, but there’s so much more to see if you go walking out of the area.

Not only is it a great chance to see the real side of Japan, but you might bump into a few locals during your travels as well!

FAQs about Oshino Hakkai

Is Oshino Hakkai open year-round, or are there specific seasonal closures?

Great news – you can visit this zen-like retreat throughout the year! Oshino Hakkai doesn’t hibernate during winter as we saw from the photo above; it’s open and welcoming all year round.

Are there any entrance fees or admission charges to visit Oshino Hakkai?

Good news again! There’s no need to break the bank to experience this place. It’s absolutely free to enter apart from the ¥300 ($2) it costs to view the open-air museum. However, that’s completely optional 🙂

Can I visit Oshino Hakkai on a day trip from Tokyo or other nearby cities?

Absolutely! It isn’t far at all from Tokyo, though as I said at the beginning of the article, it’s not as easy to get to as some of the other day trips from Tokyo. However, if you don’t have to be anywhere later in the evening and you can take your time, it’s a fantastic option!

Is Oshino Hakkai suitable for families with young children or elderly visitors?

I think so! The walkways are well-maintained and accessible, making it a pleasant experience for families and seniors alike. Whether they’d actually enjoy it or not is another matter that only you’ll know!

There isn’t anything in the way of children’s activities, but as you can see from one of the pictures above, there’s a big shaded area of seats to rest and relax either after or before you walk.

Are there any restrictions or rules I should be aware of when visiting Oshino Hakkai?

Just a few simple rules to keep the magic alive! Respect the natural beauty and don’t jump into the ponds (no Japanese surfing adventures, I’m afraid), and avoid picking flowers to keep the landscape pristine.

We came across quite a few sunflowers in the village. It’s a really beautiful place for anyone who likes things like that ^_^

What is the best time of the year to visit Oshino Hakkai?

Well, I’d say any time is a good time, but if you want to catch Mount Fuji photobombing your pictures, spring and autumn are your best bets. The blooming flowers or colorful foliage make it extra special!

Also like we’ve seen from the photo outside the museum, winter look phenomenal!

Can I swim in the ponds or lakes in Oshino Hakkai?

Like I mentioned above, as tempting as it might be to take a dip, swimming is a no-no. The ponds are sacred, and we want to keep the waters crystal clear for everyone to enjoy.

Is it possible to see Mount Fuji from Oshino Hakkai?

Absolutely! But only if you’re lucky 😉 The view of Mount Fuji from Oshino Hakkai is like a postcard come to life. You won’t be able to resist snapping a zillion photos even if it’s covered with clouds!

Can I take photographs at Oshino Hakkai, or are there any photography restrictions?

Snap away! Oshino Hakkai is one photogenic wonderland, and they’re more than happy for you to capture its charm on camera.

Just be careful to respect other peoples privacy in the process, something very important in Japan. Other than that, enjoy it!

My Top Japan Travel Resources:

What’s the best way to get cheap flights to Japan?

Going is BY FAR the best way to secure dirt-cheap flights to Japan. We’re talking as much as 90% off!

Should I live in Japan?

Maybe – I’ve made this quiz specifically for you! Who knows, perhaps you’re closer to those bowls of ramen than you think 😉

Where should I visit next in Japan?

It depends – To help you figure it out, I’ve made this quiz just for you!

I can’t afford to go to Japan, what can I do?

Honestly, it might be cheaper than you think. I’ve made a Japan budget calculator to help you work things out!

Can I get online in Japan?

You can! – The eSIM is the one I’d recommend using, plus it’s perfect if you’re planning to travel somewhere else afterward.

Can you help me plan my trip to Japan?

Yes – I’ve got a Japan bucket list just for you! Simply download the PDF, print it out, and tick off some of the things you’d like to see, do, and eat. 

Can I get money out in Japan without getting charged?

Yep – The Zero-fee card  I use to get money in Japan hasn’t steered me wrong yet. Highly recommended to any traveler!

Jonny Gleason

Jonny is the founder of A Day of Zen and has an unhealthy obsession with Japan. In 2022 he moved to Japan on a mission to give his audience the best possible information. He's helped over 300,000 plan their trip so far, and is eager to make that number much bigger!

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