The most common question I heard when I was at JTB Sunrise Tours’ office in Tokyo was: When is the best day to see Mt. Fuji? Like everyone else, I was there to ask the same question and to book a tour that gave me the best possible ways to view it.
There’s nothing more frustrating than leaving Japan without having a glimpse of Mount Fuji.
Japan’s sacred mountain and national symbol is also the world’s most famous symmetrical stratovolcano. Known to the Japanese as Fujisan and Fujiyama, Mt. Fuji is 12,388 feet (3,776 meters), about 60 miles from Tokyo and is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
I visited Japan in early March and was very fortunate to view Mt Fuji at its best in five places, all in a day. According to Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO), you get the best opportunities to see Mt. Fuji on sunny days from December to February, or on the day after a strong wind day. And the ultimate experience is during Diamond Fuji, which occurs sometime between the end of December and early January when the sun meets the summit of Mt. Fuji for a moment.
If you’re planning a trip to Japan and viewing Mt. Fuji is at the top of your list, here are the places where you can have a chance to do so:
About an hour after the tour bus left Shinjuku Tokyo, Mt. Fuji came into view on the left side of the bus. We were close to Fujiyoshida, a city at the foot of the northern side of Mt. Fuji.
Those who have time to explore should visit Fujiyoshida City. Mt. Fuji is visible from every corner of the city. Located over 2,000 feet above sea level, Fujiyoshida is called the gateway to Mt. Fuji. In Fujiyoshida, the most famous spot to view the mountain is at Arakurayama Sengen Park, home to Chureito Pagoda, a monument built to commemorate those who died in battle.
2. Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park
Fortunately, my quest to view Mt Fuji was on a bright and sunny day. As the bus makes a turn further south, the Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park and Mt. Fuji were visible on the left side of the bus again.
Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park is known for its anime-themed rides and attractions, Guinness World Record roller coasters and it is the amusement park with the best views of Mt. Fuji. The best Mt. Fuji photo spots in Fuji-Q are:
- Takabisha roller coaster
- Shining Flowers Ferris wheel
- Mad House area
- Lagoon Restaurant
- Parking Lot 1
- Parking Lot 3 Overpass
3. Fujisan World Heritage Center
Fujisan World Heritage Center, located near the entrance of Mt. Fuji has a viewing platform, coffee shop and exhibition room where you can learn about the Five Fuji Lakes and Mt. Fuji including the eruptions.
It’s free to enter the North Hall, and you must pay to enter South Hall. It features a 15-meter wide model of Fujisan made of washi paper.
4. Fuji Subaru Line 4th Station Osawa Parking Observation Deck
Our Mt. Fuji tour included a stop at the Fuji Subaru Line Osawa Parking Observation Deck 4th Station. The Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station (one station up) is where Mt. Fuji climbers start their journey to the summit. Per JNTO, the best time to climb Mt. Fuji is from late July to late August. Avoid August 13 to 17 as its Japan’s long holiday week.
Viewers are only allowed up to 4th Station at 6,627 feet (2020 meters) elevation. Timing is everything for viewing Mt. Fuji. At the 4th Station, we could see the Japanese Alps too.
I recommend taking the Mt. Fuji World Cultural Heritage Site Loop Bus if you’re exploring the area on your own. For additional information check out Fujikyuko Bus.
5. Mt. Komagatake
From Motohakone, at Lake Ashi, take a 15-minute catamaran ride to the Hakone Komagatake Ropeway station at the foot of Mt. Komagatake. From the ropeway on the way up (and down too), you can view Mt. Fuji. On Mt. Komagatake, we got the unobstructed views of Mt. Fuji, the Pacific Ocean, Lake Ashi and the surrounding forests.
Besides the views, Mt. Komagatake has several hiking trails and an old Shinto shrine.
On a clear day, Mt. Fuji is visible from Tokyo Metropolitan Government Office Observatory, Tokyo Skytree Town, Roppongi Hills and Park Hyatt Tokyo. JNTO has a list of places for the best views including ways to get there. Read it at View spots for enjoying diverse expressions of Mt. Fuji.
Photos and article by Claudia Looi