A few times a year, a beautiful phenomenon called Diamond Fuji occurs when the rising or setting sun aligns with the peak of Mt. Fuji, causing Mt. Fuji to shine bright like a diamond, hence its name. While the exact dates vary yearly, the first date for 2015 was forecasted to be January 26th. Most times, though, the Diamond Fuji phenomenon can be seen a few days before and after that. Fortunately, there are still a few spots in and around Tokyo where you can catch this magnificent wonder. Read on to acquaint yourself with all the best Diamond Fuji sightseeing spots.
If you don’t want to go too far… (a.ka. the cheapo option)
Go to one of Tokyo’s observatories to see Mt. Fuji. This is highly dependent on the weather, though, so you might just go home disappointed if you decide to visit on a cloudy day. This year, Konica Minolta’s planetariums in Sunshine 60 (in East Ikebukuro) and in Tokyo Skytree Town (in Asakusa) are holding a Diamond Fuji sunset-viewing event from January 26-February 4. If you miss the upcoming events, they should offer another round of viewing sessions in early to mid-November. Admission to Manten, the planetarium in Ikebukuro, starts at 1,200 yen for adults (high school age and older), 1,000 yen for senior citizens, 600 yen for children in elementary and junior high school, and 500 yen for children above 4 years old but below elementary school age. Tenku, the planetarium in Tokyo Skytree Town, charges 1,100 yen for adults and 500 yen for children above 4 years old but below junior high school age.
On a clear day, Mt. Fuji is also viewable from the observatories at Tokyo Sky Tree, Tokyo Tower, and Roppongi Hills’ Tokyo City View. But since admission at these establishments can be expensive (Tokyo Sky Tree, for instance, charges 1,030-2,060 yen for its observation decks), if you want to go full cheapo, visit the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building‘s two observatories in Shinjuku, which are free of charge. These latter options offer a high chance of viewing Diamond Fuji in early February.
If you want to go on a trip…
1. Mt. Takao
Mt. Takao isn’t actually that far from Tokyo, as it can be reached from Shinjuku via the Chuo Line in less than 50 minutes. Take a snowy hike up the mountain and be rewarded with a view of Diamond Fuji from the observatory at the top, or the nearby Momiji-dai. Just be sure to keep warm and comfortable in such chilly winter weather! Although the Diamond Fuji-viewing season here occurs in December, it still makes for an excellent place to take photos. February is the best time of year for a stunningly clear view of Mt.Fuji.
This is the largest of the Fuji Five Lakes, and, over here, it’s not yet too late to catch the first Diamond Fuji phenomenon of 2016, as there are still forecasts for sunset (anywhere between 4:00-5:00 pm) for January 26, January 30, February 5, February 8, February 12, February 16, February 22, and February 27. Highway buses can take you from Shinjuku or Tokyo Station to Lake Yamanaka for more or less two hours, for about 2,000 yen one-way. The best viewing places in this area vary according to the date, but some examples of specific spots around the area are Hirano Village, the Hirano Panoramic Viewing Platform, and Nagaike Lakeside.
To maximize your trip, why not spend the night at one of the many resorts around the area? A small pension lodge called Isolana offers a great view of Diamond Fuji, and you can even view it while soaking in their open-air bath! With prices that start at 9,800 yen a night, inclusive of two meals, it’s cheaper than the large hotels.
Address: 2612 Hirano, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanakako-mura, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan
3. Lake Tanuki
An artificial lake in Shizuoka Prefecture, to the northwest of Mt. Fuji, Lake Tanuki is known for being a place to see the Double Diamond Fuji, because its clean, clear waters reflect the Diamond Fuji. The best times to see Diamond Fuji from here are between April 20 and August 20, which are also good opportunities for camping, fishing, biking, and boating.
Hakone is a popular hot-spring resort town to the south of Tokyo, and is a popular choice for day trips. Many Mt. Fuji-viewing tours are offered from there. If you have cash to spare, an expensive alternative place to view Diamond Fuji is Hotel Green Plaza on the base of Mt. Fuji. It’s home to Sengokuhara, considered to be one of Hakone’s major hot springs. It also has open-air baths with a breathtaking view of Mt. Fuji.
These locations are recommended for viewing Mt. Fuji not only to see this phenomenon, but also all year round. So whether it’s just to see Mt. Fuji on a budget from an observatory window, or to go on an outdoor trip, check them out!