So you want to see Mount Fuji, that 3,776-meter-high icon of Japan? It’s a volcano, but let’s not think too much about that. Depending on what it is you plan to do there (climbing to the summit, exploring the surrounding lakes, soaking in a hot spring or shopping—yes, seriously), your choice of transport is going to differ. Here’s an overview of how you can get from Tokyo to Mount Fuji, in or out of season, looking at the various train and bus options.
Easiest way of getting from Tokyo to Mount Fuji: Highway buses
Most visitors to the mountain seem to go for this option. In season (July to September), you can take a bus directly from the Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal to the 5th Station (the Fuji Subaru Line one), which is the starting point for the popular summer sunrise hike that follows the Yoshida Trail. Bus tickets cost 2,700 yen one way, and the trip takes about 2.5 hours. You can reserve tickets here.
Outside the climbing season, your choice of bus is limited to the regular services that operate between Shinjuku/Shibuya/Tokyo and the broader Fuji area. Kawaguchiko Station, Fuji-Q Highland (the theme park for thrill-seekers), Fuji-San Station and Lake Yamanakako are the major get-off points. Where you alight depends on what it is you want to explore. Kawaguchiko and Yamanakako give you access to some of the lakes around Mount Fuji, which make for excellent walking and hot spring-ing spots.
A bus ticket from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko Station or Fuji-Q Highland will set you back about 1,750 yen (one way), and the journey takes 1 hour and 45 minutes on average. From Shibuya it costs 50 yen extra. If you’re going to Lake Yamanakako, you’re looking at 2,100 yen each way. You can make reservations here. Buses run once an hour from Shinjuku and approximately once every two hours from Shibuya. From Tokyo Station, there are one or two buses a day, and tickets cost roughly 2,000 yen.
From Kawaguchiko Station, you can hop onto a local bus and get up to the Fuji Subaru 5th Station, as long as the roads aren’t snowed under. It takes about 50 minutes and costs 1,540 yen (or 2,100 yen for a return ticket). Buses leave once an hour off season, and slightly more frequently during the climbing season. You don’t need a reservation.
Taking a train to Mount Fuji
If you aren’t so keen on a bus, you can take a train from Tokyo to Mount Fuji—but note that they are a bit more expensive than the buses. Your year-round options are as follows:
- Take a JR Limited Express train (Azusa or Kaiji) from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki, then transfer to the Fujikyuko Railway for Kawaguchiko. The journey takes approximately 2 hours and 20 minutes, and costs between 3,290 and 3,910 yen one way, depending on whether a transfer in Takao/Tachikawa is required, and whether you’re traveling on a weekday or weekend.
- Take the JR Chuo Special Rapid Service instead, following the same route. It takes 10-20 minutes longer, but only costs 2,460 yen each way.
Note that some trains on the Fujikyuko Railway stop at Fuji-Q Highland too.
On weekends and public holidays, you can also take advantage of the special Holiday Rapid Fujisan train that runs from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko. It departs at 8:14 am and gets you to Kawaguchiko Station in about two hours and 15 minutes, costing roughly 2,500 yen one way. You can also take the similar Rapid Fujisan service on Fridays. These trains head back to Tokyo in the late afternoon.
On weekends and public holidays, there is also, we have been told, a once-a-day Narita Express (N’EX) train running directly from the airport to Kawaguchiko Station. It leaves Narita Airport at 9:15 am and gets to Kawaguchiko at 12:43 pm. A one-way ticket costs somewhere in the region of 7,000 yen—you’re paying for the convenience. It’s tricksome to find online, but ask at JR ticket offices about availability.
Another rail option is to take the JR Tokaido Line for Atami from Tokyo Station, then transfer to the JR Gotemba Line for Mishima at Kozu Station. The trip takes about two hours and the fare is 1,940 yen. From Gotemba Station, you can catch a free shuttle bus to Gotemba Premium Outlets (a mega mall) for some retail therapy, or take a local bus up to Subashiri 5th Station (in climbing season). This tour makes your Gotemba shopping adventure easy, and adds in a hot spring, too.
Cheapo tip: Between July and November, you can buy a Mount Fuji 5th Station Pass, which gives you rail access from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko, as well as hop on/off bus access up to the 5th Station, for 3,620 yen at Otsuki Station. This saves you around 700 yen.
Note that the train times/routes listed in this article are subject to change from October 2017.
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