At the base of Mt. Fuji is the Fuji Five Lakes, named such for the five lakes in the area surrounding Mt. Fuji. They’re a great place to visit if you are looking to enjoy the great mountain without actually climbing Mt. Fuji. The most famous and easily accessible of the lakes is Lake Kawaguchiko. The many things to do there plus the great views of Mt. Fuji makes it a great day trip from Tokyo. Check out this comprehensive Lake Kawaguchiko day trip itinerary for all the great things to do there!
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- Guided Kawaguchiko Day Trips
- Self-Guided Kawaguchiko Itinerary
- Getting from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko
Guided Kawaguchiko Day Trips
Probably the easiest way to enjoy Kawaguchiko is through a guided tour. Many of the guided tours arrange most, if not all, of the transportation (some have hotel pickup, others have a meetup location in Tokyo), plus any admission fees that may be involved. You don’t have to deal with the hassle of creating an itinerary and have a knowledgeable tour guide on hand for any questions you might have along the way.
- Mt.Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi Scenic Spots Day Tour from Tokyo
- Fuji, Lake Kawaguchi, Oshino Hakkai, and Gotemba Premium Outlets Day Trip from Tokyo
- 10-hour Fuji Area Private Car Charter from Tokyo
- Mt. Fuji 5th Station, All-You-Can-Eat Fruits & Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway Day Tour from Tokyo
- Fujiten Snow Resort and Lake Kawaguchi Day Trip from Tokyo
- Private Half-Day Mt. Fuji and Surrounding Area Tour
Self-Guided Kawaguchiko Itinerary
I personally have always preferred self-guided trips over guided trips. It requires a little bit more work on my part to build an itinerary and arrange transportation, but to me the freedom to spend as little or as much time at a particular attraction as I want is worth the additional hassle.
We started off at Chureito-pagoda, which is an extremely famous place for taking photos of Mt. Fuji. We had to climb 400 steps to get there, but it was really cool being able to look out over the city and see Mt. Fuji in the background. All the houses looked like ants next to the gigantic mountain. I’d been through different mountainous areas in Japan, but seeing the size of Mt. Fuji was absolutely amazing.
After that we went to Music Forest, which is a European garden near the lake. The outside has a rose garden, and inside were many more flowers and some European style buildings. There was a high point in the garden where you could look out over the flowers and buildings and see Mt. Fuji towering over it all. It was refreshing to visit a European style garden instead of the traditional Japanese gardens I’ve been visiting.
They also had a sand art performance, where they had a projector with sand that somebody drew in while music played in the background. If you’ve never seen a sand art performance, I highly recommend watching the video below. I’d never seen it before, but apparently it’s pretty popular in Japan and other countries. It’s a continuous drawing on the same screen and it tells a story. For this performance, they did the story of Cinderella. It’s amazing to me how talented the artists are. When I draw something, I always need an eraser, but in this performance, all of the lines seemed so perfect. It’s such a unique art style, and I’m glad I got the experience to see it done live.
Stroll Around the Lake
Lastly we decided to simply walk around the lake. It was nice to just take a stroll and hang out, although a lot of it consisted of making jokes and fooling around. It was a super enjoyable experience being able to be in such a beautiful place and just have fun with some of the people I love the most. Plus the pictures we got of the mountain and the lake were pretty cool too. We also tried to do a jumping picture, but it proved to be quite the challenge.
Getting from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko
If you decide to do a self-guided tour (or choose a guided tour that for some reason doesn’t include transportation), you’ll find that you have a couple of different options for getting to Kawaguchiko.
Taking the Train
Option 1: JR Narita Express (N’EX)
By far, the fastest train between Shinjuku Station and Kawaguchiko station is the JR Narita Express (N’EX) train, taking only 2 hours. Unfortunately though, this train only stops at Kawaguchiko Station during peak travel season and on specific days, so it’s sort of hit or miss as to whether or not you can catch this train. One-way tickets cost ¥4,560, but you can ride for free if you purchased the Japan Rail Pass (JR Pass).
If this train is running when you take your day trip to Kawaguchiko, Just keep in mind that seats on this train are 100% reserved, so you’ll need to buy tickets in advance either at Narita Airport or at one of the JR Ticket Offices (usually located with JR Stations such as Shinjuku Station)
Option 2: JR Chuo Line Limited Express & Fujikyuko Line
This option takes closer to 3 hours, but is available year round.
Taking a Highway Bus
If you plan to take a Highway Bus to the Mt. Fuji area during the weekend, I recommend booking your bus tickets in advance. When I was planning a trip to Mt. Fuji, I had originally planned to take a highway bus, but was disappointed to find that they were all sold out.
One-way highway bus tickets from Shinjuku station to Kawaguchiko Station are ¥1750. One-way tickets from Shibuya Station to Kawaguchuko Station are ¥1800.
Reserving Highway Bus Tickets
You can reserve tickets in advance through the Keio Dentetsu Bus Company. In the departing from section, select “Tokyo.” You’ll have the option to specify whether you want to depart from Shinjuku or Shibuya later. In the arrival section, select “Yamanashi,” the prefecture in which Mt. Fuji is located.
Once you click “search”, you’ll see several different route options, showing the departing location and the final destination. If you are departing from Shinjuku, you’ll want to select the “Shinjuku – Fujigoko・Mt. Fuji 5th Station Line.” If departing from Shibuya, you’ll want the “Shibuya – Kawaguchiko Line.”
On the next page, you’ll have to enter the specifics of where you are departing from (Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal or Shibuya Station/Shibuya Mark City) and where your final destination will be (Kawaguchiko Station). You’ll also have to input the date of your trip and the number of passengers.
The rest of the reservation process will step you through specifying the type of seat you would like, gathering basic personal information such as name and phone number, and collecting payment information.
More information about reservations, cancelations, and refunds can be found on their FAQ page.
Highway Bus From Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station
To catch the Highway bus from Shinjuku, head over to the Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal located just outside the South Exit of Shinjuku Station.
I highly recommend giving yourself some extra time to get lost. Despite having been to Shinjuku Station a significant number of times, it always took me forever to figure out where I was and which was I was supposed to be going. You can find a map with directions to the bus terminal here.
If you chose not to get your bus tickets in advance, you’ll find the ticket counter and ticket machines on the fourth floor, just before the bus stops.
Highway Bus From Shibuya Station to Kawaguchiko Station
To catch the Highway bus from Shibuya, head over to the Shibuya Expressway Bus Terminal location on the 5th floor of Shibuya Mark City (its connected to Shibuya Station).