Kawaguchiko has some of the best views of Mount Fuji in Japan — reflected across a lake, or foregrounded by fields of lavender — and there’s no shortage of things to do there, either. Here are a few Cheapo tips for a day trip from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko.
The second biggest and most accessible of the Fuji Five Lakes, Kawaguchiko has a wealth of natural resources, with stunning autumn leaves, cherry blossoms, and flower festivals galore. With direct transport — a two-hour bus or train — from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko, it’s an unsurprisingly popular spot, and well worth a day trip.
The need to escape city streets can be strong, and there is nowhere better to get in touch with nature, as well as tick off the biggest sight in Japan. If you are planning to size up the beast before you climb, there are buses to Fuji’s 5th station available from Kawaguchiko too. With onsen, art museums, and seasonal delights, there are plenty of things to do throughout the year, so add Kawaguchiko to your bucket list!
Getting from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko
We’ve given a quick overview below but for more information, please see our Tokyo to Mount Fuji transport guide.
From JR Shinjuku Station, you have three options. The fastest is the direct Limited Express Fuji Excursion service, which takes 1.5 hours and costs ¥4,130. For a middle option on price and time you can take a Limited Express Kaiji to Ōtsuki and then hop on the Fujikyū railway to Kawaguchiko — this takes just over two hours and costs ¥3,530. If you want to save your cash, you can catch a local train (possibly changing at Takao, depending on the times) to Ōtsuki instead, which brings your travel time up to about 2.5 hours but costs ¥2,510.
To avoid the inevitable line at Kawaguchiko Station, you could catch a highway bus from stations across Tokyo, including Shinjuku, Shibuya, and Tokyo. Tickets start around ¥1,900 and the ride takes about two hours, stopping at Fuji Q Highland on the way. You can book the return trip here.
Tours from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko
If you can’t be bothered to delve into the intricacies of public transport, then it’s worth hopping on a day tour from Tokyo. This one starts at just ¥6,299 and includes the must-see Oshino Hakkai park, Lake Kawaguchi and Gotemba Outlets (for shopping).
Getting around Kawaguchiko
The easiest option to access most sights around Kawaguchiko is to make use of the sightseeing buses. There are three main bus lines: Red, Green, and Blue, all departing from Kawaguchiko Station. You can purchase a one-day ticket for all three lake sightseeing buses for ¥1,200 or a two-day ticket for ¥1,500. There are also passes that include the ropeway and sightseeing boat for ¥2,500. IC cards also work on trains and local buses. Another option is to rent a bicycle — there are a few stores dotted around the area.
Top things to do in Kawaguchiko
Since everything in Kawaguchiko comes with the added bonus of Japan’s most famous mountain in the background, you can’t really go wrong, no matter what you decide to explore. If you decide there’s too much to cram into a single day, then check out the options for spending a night in the shadow of Mount Fuji. There’s plenty to see in the area, but here is a selection of some of the top spots.
Mt. Fuji Panoramic RopewaySightseeing Boat/Ropeway Entrance Stop (No. 9) via the Red Line Bus
The ropeway gives fantastic views of both Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko, reaching an altitude of 1075 meters (3527 ft) at its highest point. It runs up to Fujimidai Station on top of Mt. Tenjō within three minutes. The observatory has grown in recent years and has plenty of photo spots and even some games to try out. The ropeway is the setting for a story written by one of Japan’s literary masters, Osamu Dazai, which describes raccoons and rabbits being placed on gondolas and around the observatory to welcome guests.
If you’re looking for more views of Fuji, we have some great alternative hikes with stunning vistas to consider!
Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway
Oishi Park and Kawaguchiko Natural Living CenterKawaguchiko Natural Living Center Stop (No. 20) via the Red Line Bus
To view Mt. Fuji from fields of lavender and blueberries is a pretty awesome experience and one you can get at the Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center and nearby Oishi Park. The lavender is in peak bloom in mid-June, which is also when the nearby herb festivals take place. From July to mid-August, you can pick your own blueberries and other fruit at nearby farms. This can be organized by the center. But no matter when you go, the view will still be spectacular.
Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center
Itchiku Kubota Art Museum and The Maple CorridorItchiku Kubota Art Museum Stop (No. 17) via the Red Line Bus
The museum has numerous examples of work by Itchiku Kubota, a world-renowned specialist in the ancient art of fabric dyeing. This includes beautiful kimono, as well as a tearoom with stunning views across the lake of Mt. Fuji. There are gardens surrounding the museum, with mini waterfalls and forests. The museum is also close to the Maple Corridor, one of the best spots in the whole area for autumn leaves — it even has its own festival. The Momiji Tunnel is a little closer to the lake.
If you fancy more day trips for autumn leaves, see our guide to fall day trips from Tokyo for ideas.
Itchiku Kubota Art Museum
Fuji-Q Highland Amuseument ParkFuji-Q Highland Stop (No. 105) via the local route bus (included in bus pass) or train to Fujikyu Highland Station
A theme park so dedicated to breaking world records it builds a new rollercoaster every five years just to do so, Fuji-Q Highland is a great place if you want to be scared out of your wits. There are multiple ways to achieve this, of course, from the terrifying drops and knee-buckling speeds of the rides, to the horrifying haunted house. With views of Fuji-san as you rocket at speeds of up to 172km/hr, this is a different way to enjoy the greatest sight of Japan. A direct bus from Tokyo is also available.
Tip: If you’re keen on Fuji-Q, it’s worth considering a Mt. Fuji Pass — this covers your entrance, plus a bunch of other attractions and transport.
Fuji Q Highland
Kawaguchiko Music Forest MuseumKawaguchiko Music Forest Museum Stop (No. 15) via the Red Line Bus.
A slightly strange attraction but popular nonetheless, the Music Forest Museum is dedicated to a mostly European collection of automatic musical instruments. The biggest attraction is the French fairground organ from 1905 which plays every 30 minutes. There are European-style gardens with views of Mt. Fuji, as well as shops, a chapel, rose garden, and restaurant. The stylized design of the museum and gardens creates quite a surreal setting and it’s very pretty — reminiscent of a fairytale cottage.
Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum
Eat hōtō noodles: the local specialtyVarious spots on the Red Line Bus route, including at Kawaguchiko Station
While you’re in Yamanashi Prefecture, you’ll want to try the local noodles to complete your experience. These unusually flat noodles are cooked in a miso soup with vegetables to create a nourishing bowl of hearty goodness, similar to a stew. Despite looking like udon (albeit flatter), the noodles are prepared similarly to dumplings. There are plenty of places to try the dish — just keep your eyes peeled as you pass restaurants. If you want to plan ahead, the restaurant chain Hōtō Fudō have restaurants around the lake, and a great reputation for high-quality noodles.
Houtou Fudo Kawaguchiko Station
Soak in the sights at a hot spring
There are two primary onsen towns on the Red Line Bus route: Funatsu-Hama and Azagawa, each with plenty of hotels and public onsen which welcome day guests into their relaxing baths. Hotel Mifujien has good views of Mt. Fuji, although it is not the fanciest of onsen. Entry costs ¥1,200. Yurari has great views from the second-floor baths, with a range of bath types and entry from ¥1,100 to ¥1,500 depending on day and time — they also have private onsen bookable from ¥2,500 for one hour, with views of that mountain we keep mentioning. You can also try Yamanakoka Hot Spa-Beni Fuji no Yu, which has good views and a nearby morning market to boot.
Things to do around Kawaguchiko
Chūreitō PagodaTrain from Kawaguchiko Station to Shimoyoshida Station
No doubt you’ve seen this photo a thousand times in research for your Japan trip. It’s a photo that can’t be shared widely with fears that people will accuse you of mishandling Photoshop. But you deserve to take it — I mean you did have to climb 400 steps to get there. This spot is so popular that they have recently built a large platform — no more elbowing people out the way — and there’s free Wi-Fi.
Tip: If you board a limited express train to Shimoyoshida, it costs ¥400 extra on top of your regular ticket. Alternatively, if coming from Tokyo, you can hop off the train early and put your luggage in the station’s lockers.
Ice and Wind CaveNarusawa Hyōketsu Ice Cave Stop (No. 80) via the Blue Line Bus
Fugaku Fūketsu Wind Cave Stop (No. 51) via the Green Line and Blue Line Bus.
For an interesting geo-thermal phenomenon check out the Narusawa Hyōketsu Ice Cave and Fugaku Fūketsu Wind Cave. It takes around 30 minutes from Kawaguchiko Station to reach the caves, and they are both within a 10-minute walk away from each other. The ice cave is the more interesting of the two and is cold all year round with icicles sprouting from the ceiling. You’ll need to wear a helmet in both. They are also right next to Aokigahara Forest; you’ll get a glimpse when you walk from one cave to the other.
Narusawa Hyoketsu Ice Cave
Saiko Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba Healing VillageSaiko Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba Stop (No. 48) via the Green Line Bus
Visit the Saiko Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba Healing Village with thatched buildings, each containing a local craft demonstration. You can wear samurai armor, dress as a geisha, buy some wind chimes, and chow down on local delicacies (wasabi ice-cream, anyone?).
Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nenba (Healing Village)
Fuji Moss Phlox Festival40-minute shuttle bus from Kawaguchiko Station
Carpets of over 800,000 shibazakura cover the ground before Mount Fuji from mid-April to late May, creating stunning views with contrasting colors from flower to mountain to sky. There are good-value, all-in-one tour packages available during the festival period, but if you’re not keen on those you can easily access the site by shuttle bus from Kawaguchiko Station (approximately 40 minutes).
Fuji Shibazakura Festival
Oshino Hakkai30-minute local bus from Kawaguchiko Station
Oshino Hakkai is known for its magical eight ponds, quaint windmills, and stunning views of Mount Fuji. In the past, devout individuals would cleanse themselves in these ponds before making their way up Mount Fuji. Nowadays only the Waku Pond holds great significance, with visitors encouraged to bottle up the water and drink.
While it can get quite busy during tourist season, heading there will treat you with a breathtaking vista, especially during the Diamond Fuji phenomenon.
In case that wasn’t enough for you, there is plenty more to see dotted along the lake shore and in the main town of Kawaguchiko.
- The area is known for its museums, so if you fancy it, visit the Yamanashi Gem Museum, Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, and Kawaguchiko Konohana Museum.
- Head indoors and escape the heat or cold at Fuji-san World Heritage Center.
- For shrines, you could visit the Fuji Omuro Sengen Jinja Shrine on the east side of the lake, a few stops down from the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum listed above.
- And for atmospheric fire-pit cooking (robotayaki), we recommend the restaurant Sanrokuen — only a 10-minute walk from Kawaguchiko Station.
Where to stay in Kawaguchiko
If you’ve just realized that 24 hours isn’t enough time to see everything in and around Kawaguchiko, then there are many fabulous places to stay over at — and some come with unforgettable views of Mount Fuji. One such hotel is Fuji View Hotel, but we have plenty more in our dedicated article.
While we do our best to ensure it’s correct, information is subject to change. Post first published in April 2017 and last updated in January 2023.
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