It's no secret that Japan has just too many beautiful places to visit and it's impossible to conquer them all in just one trip, or many trips for that matter. Among the majestic shrines and surreal landscapes of the Land of Rising Sun, there's one place that holds a special place in my heart - Mt Fuji.
Mt Fuji has been synonymous with Japan and Japanese culture for a thousand years. It's not a stretch to say that it's the most prominent symbol of Japan. You can find depictions of the mountain in Japanese art and literature and it's also regarded as a sacred spot by the Japanese. But as someone who never had Japan on my bucket list for the longest time, naturally, I never thought of visiting Mt Fuji. But somehow, it was part of God's plan that I would visit Japan's tallest mountain not just once, but three times. So, here's why I think you should visit Mt Fuji at least once in your life.
Note: In this article, I'll be using the term "Mt Fuji" to refer to the mountain itself as well as areas surrounding Mt Fuji which tourists usually visit like the Fuji Five Lakes area.
1. It's an indescribable feeling when you're face to face with the mountain
It's a blessing that out of all the 3 times that I've visited Mt Fuji, I've managed to see the mountain every single time. In case you're wondering why I consider it a blessing, it's because it's not that easy to spot Mt Fuji. Factors like atmospheric visibility, the weather and clouds greatly affect your chances (find out more about this in our guide to Mt Fuji here!)
But when you do see it, the moment is glorious ☺️
My first memory of visiting Mt Fuji is a little fuzzy as it was almost 7 years ago. But what I remember vividly was seeing it from the plane while I was on my flight from Singapore to Tokyo! As it was my first visit to Japan, it was definitely a warm welcome ?
During that trip, I visited the Mt Fuji 5th Station and other sights in the nearby Hakone region. The next time I visited Mt Fuji in 2017, I didn't go up the 5th station but only spent time in the Fuji Five Lakes area (more on that later!)
My most memorable moment in Mt Fuji was definitely my most recent visit in November 2018. I was there for a work trip and before the trip, I didn't think it was going to be a big deal because I've seen the mountain before.
I booked a day trip from Tokyo to Mt Fuji and Hakone on Klook. The tour included a visit to the Mt Fuji 5th Station, Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Ashi. The trip took almost 2 hours and while we were on our way, Mt Fuji graced us with its presence ? It was at this moment that I started to feel excited. But I didn't think that it would enchant me the way it did.
The first stop of the tour was the Mt Fuji 5th Station. In case you're wondering, this is the closest spot you can get to Mt Fuji without actually climbing it. While there are a total of 10 stations on the mountain, this is the highest station (2300 metres) that’s accessible by bus or car.
Once I arrived at the Mt Fuji 5th station at around 11am, I was greeted with an unobstructed view of Mt Fuji’s peak. As the sun was on point and there were no clouds covering the peak of Mt Fuji, I could see it super clearly. It wasn't my first time here but I had never felt closer to the mountain until this time. The feeling was indescribable and it felt so surreal to be that close to the gorgeous mountain. All I was reminded of at that moment was the beauty of Allah's creations. I remember feeling so lucky and thankful to be able to witness this magical sight ?
It didn't matter that I've been at the exact same spot before or witnessed Mt Fuji's beauty several times; I was still in awe of the mountain and it felt like I was seeing it for the very first time.
2. Picture-perfect views everywhere
Fuji Five Lakes
What I love about Mt Fuji is that it's a different experience every time I visited. During my second time, my friends and I decided to explore Lake Kawaguchi in the Fuji Five Lakes area. We even spent 2 nights in the area just to get ourselves away from the hustle and bustle of the city for a bit.
Needless to say, the experience was lovely! The view of the magnificent lake with Mt Fuji in the background was a sight to behold ?
Visiting in the second week of May meant that the weather was pleasant (around 18-23 degrees) and we could do some outdoor activities like cycling. We cycled around Lake Kawaguchi and it was amazing that we could admire the stunning mountain from different perspectives. We never got tired of it ? Make sure you head to the north shore of the lake for the best views of Mt Fuji!
P.S. We rented our bicycles from a store called Sora no Shita near Kawaguchiko train station. It cost JPY1200 for 3 hours!
View of Mt Fuji from the viewing point on top of Mt Fuji railway station
Spending more than a day near Mt Fuji also meant increasing our chances to snap the perfect picture of the mountain. The best time to spot the mountain is in the mornings when there aren't many clouds. Sometimes, it's like playing a game of hide-and-seek with the mountain but it was a sweet surprise whenever we did see it!
#HHWT Tip: It would be even better to book an accommodation which has great views of Mt Fuji so you can wake up to the lovely sight of Mt Fuji. As my friends and I wanted a budget-friendly option, we opted to stay at this guesthouse called Fujiyama Base located about a 5-minutes' walk from Mt Fuji railway station.
Hakone and Lake Ashinoko
While the Fuji Five Lakes area is located north of Mt Fuji, the volcanic town of Hakone southeast of the mountain also has impressive views! Hakone is best known for its hot spring resorts which are very popular with both locals and tourists alike.
I thought I had seen it all at the Mt Fuji 5th station and Fuji Five Lakes area until I went to Lake Ashinoko. As the caldera lake was formed after a volcanic eruption of Mt Hakone 3000 years ago, the view of Mt Fuji from Lake Ashinoko is surrounded by dozens of other smaller mountains - it's even more breathtaking! In autumn, it'll be even more impressive as the foliage across the mountains would turn into shades of red, brown and yellow ?
#HHWT Tip: To fully take in the beauty of Lake Ashi, be sure to hop on a sightseeing cruise which takes about 30 minutes and cost around JPY1000.
3. It's beautiful in any season
The best part about visiting Mt Fuji is that it's beautiful in any season! If you're chasing cherry blossoms or autumn foliage, there are plenty of awesome sights around the Fuji Five Lakes area where you can do so. I've been lucky enough to visit Mt Fuji in 3 different seasons - the first time was early winter, the second was late spring and most recently, during autumn.
When I was at Lake Kawaguchi in May 2017, my friends and I didn't time our visit with the sakura season but to our pleasant surprise, there were a few cherry trees which were still blooming with pretty pink petals ? As I had never experienced cherry blossoms before, this was definitely a treat! I was just thinking to myself how incredible the views would be during the peak sakura season.
Credit: チョシム チョシム on Facebook
Here's a picture of Mt Fuji from the Chureito Pagoda if you're wondering how it'll look like in the sakura season! Stunning, isn't it? Together with Lake Kawaguchi, the Chureito Pagoda is a must-visit if you're here during the cherry blossom season. This is definitely one place I'll add to my list the next time I'm visiting Mt Fuji ?
Credit: Julita Maria Ponczocha on Facebook
If you've missed the cherry blossom season in Mt Fuji completely, another season that'll captivate you is autumn. On my most recent trip to Mt Fuji, I made a stop at Lake Kawaguchi. While the autumn foliage was at its peak, it was a pity that I didn't manage to make it to the northern shores of the lake to capture the mountain with the autumn leaves. If you do make it to the northern shore, you can expect views like this picture above!
4. It's becoming increasingly Muslim-friendly
With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics happening later this year, it's good news for Muslim travellers as there has been an increase in Muslim-friendly food options and prayer spaces in Japan ?
Back when I visited Mt Fuji in 2013 with a Muslim tour group, the tour guide made special arrangements for us to have Muslim-friendly meals. But when I visited Mt Fuji on my own in 2017 and 2018, it was heartening to see Muslim-friendly options, especially around Lake Kawaguchi!
Alladin Indo Restaurant
One of the most prominent Muslim-friendly restaurants here is Alladin Indo Restaurant. Located near the Lake Kawaguchi carpark, you can easily spot it by its huge signboard with a halal signage. They have a selection of curries, naan and briyani.
Halal status: Halal-certified
Address: 288-1, Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko-machi Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0301
Opening hours: Open daily; 11AM-3PM, 5PM-8.30PM
Tempura Restaurant Ninja
During my trip in May 2017, my friends and I also stumbled upon an eatery called Tempura Restaurant Ninja which serves only seafood and vegetarian tempura. The tempura batter was really light and prices were really affordable too. It tasted so good that we actually visited twice ?
Halal status: Only serves seafood and vegetarian dishes. As the tempura sauce and soy sauce might contain alcohol, you can ask the staff to not add those sauces. As the eatery is not halal-certified, we recommend that you dine at your discretion.
Opening hours: Open daily; 11AM-3PM, 5PM-8PM
Address: 3729-1 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi 401-0301, Japan
Contact: +81 555-72-0440
#HHWT Tip: For those of you who are planning to take Klook's day trip to Mt Fuji and Hakone from Tokyo, there's also an option of a halal-certified lunch. What's more, a prayer space is provided too!
Syariah Hotel Fujisan
If you're planning to stay overnight at Lake Kawaguchi, you'd be pleased to know that there's a Muslim-friendly hotel called Syariah Hotel Fujisan. They provide halal breakfast and dinner and you can also request for prayer mats in rooms!
Address: 山梨 県 南都留 郡 富士 河口湖 町 船津 ６７１３−１, 6713-1 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi 401-0301, Japan
Muslim-friendly options in Lake Saiko
Muslim-friendly options used to be concentrated around Lake Kawaguchi, but recently an eatery in Lake Saiko (one of the Fuji Five Lakes) started serving Muslim-friendly meals like ramen, beef yakiniku and Japanese curry rice! There's even a prayer space so Muslim travellers can perform their prayers easily. Find out more in our article here.
5. It's very accessible (2 hours from Tokyo!)
Last but not least, Mt Fuji's location is perfect as it's only about 2 hours away from Tokyo by train and bus! So it's perfect if you're thinking of making a day trip, even if you're not spending a night or two there. Its accessibility is one of the reasons why I love Mt Fuji so much - it's super convenient if I want to slot in some time to immerse myself in scenic views and get a respite from the crowd in Tokyo.
Credit: Visit Mt.Fuji - The Top of Japan on Facebook
With a new limited express service line from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko station launched last year, you can get to Mt Fuji in just 1h 50m. What's more, part of it is covered under the JR Pass - perfect for those of you who have it! Check out the timetable here.
By highway bus
If you don't have a JR Pass, I recommend taking the highway bus from either Shinjuku or Shibuya to Kawaguchiko. Personally, I prefer this route as it's cheaper than taking the train and the seats are comfortable too. Tickets cost from JPY2000 and the journey takes around the same time as the train, depending on traffic.
If you don't have much time to spare but want to fit all the sights around Mt Fuji in a day, I recommend booking Klook's Mt Fuji and Hakone tour! What I loved was that the tour brought me to not only the Mt Fuji 5th station but also the magnificent sights in Hakone like Lake Ashinoko. As mentioned earlier, the tour also comes with an option for a halal lunch (with a prayer space!) so that makes it even better ? But even if this tour isn't for you, there are dozens of other tours from Tokyo to Mt Fuji, and some of them will bring you to more places than others, so take your time to choose!
P.S. Check out our Mt Fuji and Hakone guide to find out more about transport options!
After reading my experience in Mt Fuji, I hope you're now more inspired to visit this majestic mountain. For someone who didn't have Japan on his bucket list, it was by a stroke of fate (and blessing!) that I got to visit Mt Fuji 3 times ? And I think everyone should get to see its beauty and be enchanted by it at least once in their lifetime. I don't know when I'll be back to visit Mt Fuji, but till then, I'll keep my fond memories of it close to my heart.