Mount Fuji is one of the most iconic postcard images in the world, and the tallest mountain in Japan. Nobody who visits Japan should miss it – it’s only ninety minutes drive outside of Tokyo and is quite simply one of the best things I’ve ever seen.
Firstly I should mention that if you want to climb Fuji then you better visit during the summer. I obviously didn’t, so November was fine. Jordan and I booked return coach tickets from Tokyo Shinjuku bus terminal to Kawaguchiko Station near the base of Fuji, the closest point that buses from Tokyo drop off in winter. Just pulling up in the coach we were in awe of the majesty of Fuji; the views from down here were unreal. Seriously, I could barely believe my eyes.
We went inside the station to see what our options were and saw that there was a bus that went partway up Mount Fuji. Of course we thought this would be best, so we shelled out £40 for two tickets and walked back outside. Alarm bells probably should have rung when we noticed a ginormous queue of tourists waiting at the opposite bus stop (while about five people were stood at ours) but we just went with it. Our bus was destined for Fuji’s third station, the highest point that can be reached during winter. We boarded with the other enthusiastic tourists, eagerly awaiting the views of a lifetime as our bus ascended Mount Fuji.
Unfortunately, I can’t describe the anticlimax as we reached Fuji 3rd station. As we stepped off the bus, all Jordan and I could say was “is this it?!” and “we paid 40 f*cking quid for this?!!?”. All that was there was a small souvenir shop and a load of trees which totally blocked any sort of view. We were FUMING. And to make it worse, when we entered the shop their television announced the news that Donald Trump was about to win the election. Dream trip to Fuji almost ruined!
After much swearing and sulking we got on the next bus back down to see what we could salvage of our trip. We soon realised that the big crowds were waiting for the buses that circulate Fuji’s five lakes, and reluctantly we paid out yet again for another pair of tickets. All I can say is, WHY DIDN’T WE DO THIS IN THE FIRST PLACE!? These tickets allow visitors to get on and off the buses all day, at any stops around the breathtaking lakes of Fuji.
These were the views we came for; the Japan of my imagination, but so much better than I had ever hoped. We had front-row seats to enjoy Fuji in all its glory, and barely saw another person as we walked around. There aren’t really the words to do this place justice, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking:
We were amazingly lucky to have clear skies this day. Mount Fuji is notoriously known as the ‘shy mountain’ because of its tendency to hide behind clouds, so make sure you check the weather forecast and plan accordingly. We knew this day was supposed to be the clearest of the week, so arranged our visit around it.
There’s so much to see around Fuji aside from the main event. Predictably, the area surrounding the station is a tourist trap, but you can encounter the loveliest local communities if you venture further afield.
We walked miles because we refused to pay £10 for a ham sandwich, and were rewarded with a tiny outdoor food market that we found totally unexpectedly. Nobody spoke any English here but everyone was so lovely and so amused by our presence (this happens a lot in China and Japan). We ate fish burgers in sticky rice buns made by the nicest man, who despite the language barrier brought us more free food from his stall to try afterwards. We also had some kind of soy bean buns which were like sweet play-doh, and kind of gross but for 1 Yen each, we had to try! We ended our afternoon with some fried potato croquettes eaten around a fire, before catching the bus back to Kawaguchiko. Sounds cheesy but it was absolutely perfect!
It would be easy to spend a few days at Mount Fuji, especially in summer. I hadn’t expected there to be so much there – I mean, there’s an actual theme park, WTF?! We didn’t go anywhere near this though; the area we explored was far more quiet and serene. In summer, people go there to camp, take out boats on the lake, cycle, or go fishing, all in front of one of earth’s most incredible backdrops. Sounds like a dream to me!