I've been to Mt Fuji 3 times but it never fails to amaze me (: There's just a magical feeling when you see the majestic mountain right in front of your very eyes, which makes it a truly breathtaking sight! My favourite and most memorable time was my second visit in May 2017. Here are some tips that I'd like to share from my trip:
1. Stay at least a night in the Fuji Five Lakes area
One of the reasons why I fell in love with Mt Fuji was because I stayed 2 nights near Lake Kawaguchi, one of the Fuji Five Lakes. I could spot the mountain from multiple angles and trust me, you'd want as many chances as possible to admire the mountain as it's not always clearly visible.
I picked Lake Kawaguchi as it's the most accessible out of the five lakes and there are basic amenities like 7-11, eateries and so on. The highway bus from Shinjuku (more on that later!) and trains also stop at Kawaguchi so if you're a first-timer, I think this is the best place to stay.
2. Mid-May is a good time to visit Mt Fuji
I visited in mid-May which is after the spring season. This meant that there were not that much crowds as cherry blossom season and Golden Week were over but the summer peak travel season hadn't kicked in yet. Make sure you don't visit during Golden Week (usually first week of May) as that's when a lot of locals will be travelling so tourist sights will be really crowded and accommodation might be more expensive!
The weather was pleasant; it was around 18-20 degrees in the day and temperatures dipped to around 12 degrees at night which was still bearable. Perfect if you can't stand cold weather but don't want to be sweating!
The only downside about travelling to Mt Fuji around this time is that the foliage will be green. If you're chasing cherry blossoms or autumn colours then by all means, time your visit as such(: Winter might be very cold but it's the time when Mt Fuji is the most visible so you can consider it too.
That said, I was lucky to spot a few cherry blossoms when I visited Lake Kawaguchi in mid-May but of course, this doesn't happen all the time!
3. Visiting Mt Fuji 5th Station is not necessary
In case you're wondering, Mt Fuji 5th Station is the highest point you can get to the peak of Mt Fuji without climbing it. If you're already staying in the Fuji Five Lakes area, I personally don't think that it's necessary to include a visit to the 5th station as the view isn't that much different. Plus, you'd need to factor in time and spend around 2500 yen to take the bus from Kawaguchi to the 5th station.
4. If you only have 1 day for Mt Fuji...
However, if you are strapped for time and only doing a day trip to Mt Fuji from Tokyo, then yes, I say head straight to the 5th station. There are buses from Shinjuku but I'd recommend booking a day tour. On my third visit, I booked a tour from Klook which brought me to the 5th station, Lake Kawaguchi and Hakone, inclusive of a Muslim-friendly meal! I highly recommend that tour.
5. Best way to travel to Lake Kawaguchi
The best way to travel to Lake Kawaguchi is by taking the highway bus from Shinjuku. It's the cheaper alternative to taking the train - 2000 yen for a 2h bus ride and the bus is super comfy and has very few stops, all at the end of the bus ride.
Recently, JR started the Fuji excursion train service from Shinjuku to Lake Kawaguchi which makes it the fastest route (1h 50min) but the price is really expensive at 4130 yen and it has several stops along the way. It only makes sense if you have the JR Pass then you'd only need to pay 1740 yen.
6. Getting around Fuji Five Lakes area
The Fuji Five Lakes area has their own public bus system called the Fujikyuko omni bus and it's not included in any rail pass, so note that you can't use your JR pass. If you get the Mt Fuji Pass, you can hop on the buses without any additional fees. Otherwise, it's 1500 yen for unlimited use of the bus routes for 2 consecutive days. You can get more info from the Fujikyuko bus website.
7. Things to do in Fuji Five Lakes area
If you're looking for more activities to do in the Fuji Five Lakes area other than admiring Mt Fuji, I recommend going cycling. I rented a bicycle from a shop near Kawaguchiko Station and it cost about 500 yen per hour which was pretty reasonable! There are a few shops around so take your pick. Cycling around Lake Kawaguchi was very manageable but just be careful as you'd need to cycle on the road sometimes. Remember to wear a helmet for safety!
If you're up for an adrenaline rush, I recommend heading to Fuji-Q Highland! It has several record-breaking roller coasters and you can take all the rides with a view of Mt Fuji ? Queues can be quite long for some of the rides so do set aside at least half a day for the theme park.
8. Muslim-friendly food options around Lake Kawaguchi
Unfortunately, there aren't many halal eateries in Lake Kawaguchi but here are some of the places that I've tried:
1. Alladin Indo Restaurant
This is probably the only halal eatery in the area. It's right by the main area of the lake where the swan boats are and you can easily identify it by the halal signage. They sell decent Indian food like naan, butter chicken and briyani. Prices are around 1000-1500 yen which is pretty reasonable. Taste-wise, it's not fantastic but not bad either.
2. Tempura Restaurant Ninja
This is located on the way from Kawaguchiko station to the main area of the lake. It's a small shop but with a pretty cosy interior. They only sell seafood and vegetable tempura. It was so crispy and light that my friends and I went here twice! Do note that they are not halal-certified so do dine at your own discretion. My friends and I didn't have any was-was so we didn't check the sauces thoroughly but if you'd like, you can ask them if their sauces have alcohol and opt to not eat with the sauce. I think it'll still be yummy!
3. Convenience store food
For some meals, my friends and I decided to get some onigiri (riceballs) from convenience stores. There's a 7-Eleven and Lawson near Kawaguchiko station and a Lawson near the main area of the lake. We used the Google translate image function to check the ingredients for the onigiri. Generally, the salmon and tuna mayo onigiri are Muslim-friendly but do still check the ingredients while you're there!
Okay, that pretty much sums up all the tips I have about travelling to Mt Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. Hope it'll be useful in helping you plan your trip ☺️