fbpx
    • Spring
      • video

        Finding the Flow from Kansai to Kochi

        Shikoku’s many mountains, valleys and proximity to the ocean has made it a hidden gem for rafting, kayaking and canyoning enthusiasts willing to take a step or two further from the Golden Route of Kyoto and Osaka.

        Solace and Giant Salamanders in Akiota

        Just beyond Hiroshima City is a tranquil outdoor destination home to some of Japan's last remaining oosanshouo, the elusive giant salamander.
        Kyoto Oni Trail Outdoor Japanvideo

        The Oni Trail: Hiking Coastal Kyoto

        The mystical oni is prevalent in Japanese children’s stories, usually as a way to scare kids straight. Adventure Travel Kyoto is shedding a new light on this folklore and developing a new hiking route in the countryside of Kyoto.
    • Summer
      • the nomad pasche family

        The World is Our Playground

        The Pasche family has been cycling and living out of a tent in remote corners of the planet for the past 13 years on four continents spanning 50 countries.
        adventure travel world summit in hokkaido

        Adventure Travel World Summit in Hokkaido

        The ATTA will host their first Adventure Travel World Summit in Asia in Hokkaido, Japan. We caught up with ATTA Director Shannon Stowell to find out more about the adventure travel industry and how it continues to grow and evolve.
        mead brewing in japan

        The Sweet Secrets of Brewing Mead

        Wander into the world of mead brewing and find yourself immersed in a fascinating journey spanning centuries and continents.
        the knights in white lycra

        The Knights in White Lycra

        Each year a group of cyclists head to the deep north towards Tohoku’s vast rice fields and coastal trails to help transform the lives of neglected children.
        sea to table yamagata

        Sea to Table in Yamagata

        An unforgettable way to intimately explore the Shonai Region in Yamagata is a culinary experience bringing bounty of the sea straight to your table.
    • Autumn
    • Winter
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokkaido

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
    • Near Tokyo
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • River and Lake
      • ainu tour daniel moore outdoor japan hokkaido

        Heritage Hunting in Hokka...

        Travelers venturing beyond Hokkaido's popular winter resorts will discover a land with a rich cultural and natural history, a proud indigenous people and a community striving to preserve their heritage.
        getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
      • getting dirty in japan

        Getting Dirty in Japan

        “Getting Dirty in Japan” is about getting out of your comfort zone and into some exciting outdoor adventures and destinations in Japan.
    • Snow and Ice
      • camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
        shizukuishi skiing snowboarding outdoor japan

        Shizukuishi

        Northern Honshu’s Iwate Prefecture, known for heavy snowfall, features Shizukuishi—a powder-rich resort area with views of Mt. Iwate. Snow enthusiasts seeking lesser-known gems can enjoy exceptional snow quality and uncrowded resorts, including Shizukuishi Ski Resort, Amihari Onsen Ski Resort, and Iwate Kogen Snow Park, offering affordability and traditional hospitality.
        togari onsen outdoor japan

        Northern Shinshu’s Secret Stash

        A weak yen, revenge travel, and excellent ski conditions have led to high demand, booking out popular resorts like Hakuba and Nozawa Onsen this year. Fortunately, lesser-known gems like Togari Onsen, near Nozawa Onsen and Madarao, offer charming alternatives for powder seekers.
    • Travel
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Okinawa’s Treehouse Oasis

        Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.
        video

        The Spirit of the Kuma Valley

        Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.
        camp3 clubhouse madarao keith stubbs outdoor japanvideo

        CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madarao

        Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.
        shiretoko hokkaido outdoor japan

        New Horizons in Shiretoko

        During another epic powder season, two seasoned winter sports enthusiasts traded their snowboard bags for camera bags and traveled to Eastern Hokkaido to explore the frozen landscape and broaden their winter horizons.
        sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.
    • Races and Events
      • sayuri matsuhashi double role curling athlete japan outdoor

        Silent Resilience

        Curling athlete Sayuri Matsuhashi’s journey to the top of her sport is an inspiration to deaf athletes and women juggling their roles as mothers while also pursuing their professional dreams.

        Winter News and Notes

        Check out the latest news and winter events held at ski resorts all over Japan in 2024!
        dd4d brewing

        DD4D Brewing

        In nearly e...

In and Around the Fuji Five Lakes

What is 3776.24 meters tall, weighs a gazillion tons, is revered by millions and is the quintessential symbol of Japan? If you answered “Sky Tree,” it may be time to head out of Tokyo and get a fresh perspective on things. Fuji-san awaits.

The first time I heard the name “Fuji-san,” I thought the locals respected the mountain so much they referred to it with an honorific title. San, however, is the Chinese reading of yama or “mountain.”

There are a few theories as to the origin of the name with some believing the original name to be Fuji-yama, which means “second to none in size,” or Fujin-yama, “mountain surpassing all others.” Another popular theory is the name came from the Ainu (original inhabitants of Japan) word funchi, meaning “god-of-fire.”

Every year, Mt. Fuji attracts more than 200,000 climbers, with 30 percent of them being foreigners. Climbing the mountain usually begins at the Fifth Station, of which there are four, the most popular being the Kawaguchi-ko Station, at 2,300 meters, also the highest. From here it is just a five-to-eight-hour hike to the top.

The official climbing season runs from July through the end of August. The station hosts a number of shops and eateries as well as a shrine to protect trekkers. Take the time to tuck into a Fuji-sized plate of curry rice or a Fuji-shaped melon pan (bun) on offer…delicious.

Synonymous with the mountain is Fuji Goko, or the “Fuji 5 Lakes,” each offering its own perspective from which to enjoy the view.

The largest is Yamanaka-ko. Here, there are plenty of places to pitch a tent, eat a good meal or enjoy a resort-style vacation. You can enjoy water sports and fishing activities as well as the many vantage points from which to see Mt. Fuji.

Kawaguchi-ko, a 30-minute drive from Yamanaka-ko, is the area’s central hub. The shore of the lake hosts numerous eateries and attractions, and it is the center of the area’s sport fishing. With easy access from Tokyo, and to the mountain, here is where many begin their close encounter with Mt. Fuji. It is also home to Fuji-Q Highland Park. The theme park hosts some of the fastest rides in Japan and offers some interesting views of the mountain.

Kawaguchi-ko is great place to try the local delicacy, hōtō. It’s a miso-based dish made of thick, wide noodles, veggies galore and sometimes game meat such as boar or pheasant. I can vouch for the pheasant version which I enjoyed at the Kijizuku restaurant in town.

Between the two lakes lies the small village of Oshino. It is a national treasure famous for the pure water that flows out of the eight springs. The springs are fed from the melting snow from atop the mountain. After an 80-year journey through rock and pumice, the water emerges in the village where it is noted for its purity and high mineral count.

Sai-ko sits about 15 minutes (by car) west of Kawaguchi-ko. One of the smaller lakes, it is famous for the pleasant campgrounds as well as easy access to nearby caves popular to explore. Here you’ll find caves with icicles, wind caves noted for the year-round warm temperatures, some home to large colonies of bats.

Aokigahara Jukai, or the “sea of forest,” lies between this lake and the foot of Mt. Fuji. The forest itself has a morbid history, due to the number of suicides, second only to the Golden Gate Bridge. Venturing into the forest, your unease may be heightened as your compass goes haywire if it responds at all.

Traveling farther west, we find ourselves on the shore of cheerful Shoji-ko, the baby of the Fuji Five Lakes family. It is noted for its upside-down view of Mt Fuji reflected in the still water.

The last of the five lakes is Motosu-ko. It is the deepest of the lakes with a depth of 138 meters. The lake’s main claim to fame is the fact it adorns Japan’s ¥1,000 note, yet is it also well-known by windsurfers. All five lakes are in Yamanashi Prefecture and can be found along Rt. 139 from the west or 138 from the east.

Continuing west, we say goodbye to Yamanashi and hello to Shizuoka Prefecture, as we make our way onto the Asagiri Kogen or Asagiri (Morning Fog) Plateau. From here, forests and wild lands give way to pastures, and the scene becomes rural. The plateau affords many uninterrupted views of the great cone.

The Asagiri Road Station is also a great place to savor local dairy and meat goodies. Music lovers come to the area each autumn for the Asagiri Jam, a more intimate event from the organizers of the Fuji Rock Festival, which attracts some big names.

There are some spectacular distractions here such as Jinba-no-taki, a six-meter waterfall that sits off the main road in the village of Inakoshira. Despite its charm, it isn’t featured in many travel rags yet, and it can be quite difficult to find. It is best to ask locals who should be able to point you in the right direction. Not only is it a stunning little waterfall, but also the water tastes delicious.

The pièce de résistance of a sojourn around Fuji is Tanuki-ko. The small man-made lake, used to drain surrounding rice fields, is considered by many as the best place from which to view Mt Fuji. Photographers flock to the area, particularly around April and late August, hoping to immortalize Fuji Diamond, when the sun rises directly over the mountain. Depending on the weather, the sunrise from here is stunning in any season.

Tanuki-ko hosts the government-run hotel Kyukamura Fuji. There are 36 similar establishments across the country that make up the National Park Resort Villages of Japan. As the name suggests, they are all found in and around national parks, and they offer a little bit of luxury at very reasonable prices.

Kyukamura Fuji is the most popular, and it can be booked solid all year ’round, so you need to reserve a room well ahead of time. The rate includes a room with a panoramic view of Fuji as well as a buffet style dinner and breakfast featuring local cuisine.

There is a magnificent onsen bath (indoor) from which to watch the sunrise over Fuji. The hotel is a hop, step, jump away from the lake and the surrounding park. Camping is also available. Another treat to the south is the Shirai-no-taki, or the “falls of white thread.” It is one of the area’s prettiest attractions and a great place to soak up some minus ions.

Temperatures range from mild, during the day around the foot of Mt. Fuji, to really cold up at the Fifth Station. Evenings are chilly at this time of year (fall) so dress in layers.

Getting Around

Buses run daily from Shinjuku directly to Kawaguchi-ko 5th Station. Frequency is dependent on the season, and the 140-minute trip costs ¥2,600 one way. Check timetables for trains to Kawaguchi-ko.

To Kyukamura and Tanuki-ko: From JR Fuji Station, take the Minobu Line to Fujinomiya Station. Take the bus bound for Kyukamura Fuji. About a 45-minute ride. Get off at the last stop.

Buses also run from Kawaguchi-ko and Fujinomiya stations to Shiraito Falls, but you need to check locally for times.

Useful Information

Kyukamura Fuji
Address: 634, Saori, Fujinomiya-shi, Shizuoka-ken
Tel: (0544) 54-5200
E-mail: fuji@qkamura.or.jp
Web: www.qkamura.or.jp

Kijizuku Restaurant (Kawaguchi-ko)
Tel: (0555) 72-0610

Useful Links

[novo-map id=2 individual=”yes”]

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Latest posts

Okinawa’s Treehouse...

Tucked away in the lush jungles of Okinawa is an eco-conscious retreat called Treeful Treehouse. This sustainable resort is an immersive experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.

The Spirit of the Kuma Va...

Travelers to Japan undoubtedly view sake as the traditional liquor of Japan. Histori-cally they wouldn’t be wrong, since Sudō Honke, the world’s oldest sake brewery (and one of the oldest companies in the world), was founded in 1141 in Ibaraki Prefecture, just north of Tokyo. However Southern Japan is home to another authentic Japanese spirit—shochu, which was first produced about 500 years ago, its roots firmly planted in Japan’s warmer southern climes.

CAMP3 Clubhouse in Madara...

Keith Stubbs, a veteran in the snowboard industry, transitioned from rider to coach and instructor trainer for Snowboard Instruction New Zealand. After coaching in various Japanese resorts, he has established a permanent base in Madarao, outlining his plans for the area and future snowboard endeavors.

Categories