Cycling JapanBy Takashi Niwa
A Ride Up and Around Mt. Fuji
Enjoy views of Mt. Fuji that change against different backgrounds as you cycle around the mountain. The climb up to the fifth station takes you to a world above the clouds.
Mount Fuji is special to Japanese people – perhaps to all people who visit the country. While hikers aspire to standing on the summit, many cyclists also dream of riding around and up the mountain.
In planning a ride around Mt. Fuji, you can start and finish a counterclockwise loop (recommended) at any point en route, but make sure you give good thought to when you will do the three major climbs: R138 to Kagosaka Pass in Oyama Town, R71 to Jukai Lookout in Narusawa Village and R469 to Mt. Fuji Children’s World in Fuji City. Finishing these difficult sections in the morning (while your battery is fully charged) makes the rest of the day easier, and you definitely do not want to tackle any of them at the very end of the day.
The route first visits three of the five lakes to the north of the mountain and crystal clear Oshino Hakkai Springs where water flowing from under Mt. Fuji wells up some 80 years later. You then pedal on to the deep jukai forest, or “sea of trees,” where new greens of spring and colored leaves of autumn are especially beautiful. Thick and dark, the untouched forest is still profoundly mysterious, and you will begin to feel in awe of the mountain long worshipped as a deity.
As you enter Shizuoka Prefecture, pastures spread out on either side of the road, while the peak of Mt. Fuji stands out from the hillside meadow. Then, on the south side of the mountain, you will bike through a beautiful cedar forest. In addition to the varying faces of Mt. Fuji revealed from different angles, the terrain, vegetation and scenery change, making this a special route.
(Distance） 124 km.
(Best time to go） 4～11月（April to November）
There are three routes to the fifth station of Mt. Fuji—Fuji Subaru Line, Fuji Azami Line and Fujisan Skyline. Fuji Subaru Line (distance: 25 km., elevation gain: 1,284 meters) is the most gently sloped of the three and recommended for first timers.