From the flat summit of the Kirigamine Highland, Mt. Fuji can be seen in the distance
Rising to an impressive 3776m in height, Mt. Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and an instantly recognisable icon. Thousands of people climb to the summit during the short main climbing season, which runs from early July to the end of August. In truth however, it can be a rather long and dull climb (especially if the weather is not cooperating), and is arguably at its most beautiful when viewed from afar. It is often said that the best time to catch the mountain is in the early morning or late afternoon, and winter tends to have more clear days than summer. So here are ten of the best places from which to view the fabled mountain, meaning there will be no reason to rely on those blurry pics taken from a bullet train window!
1. Chureito Pagoda – A famous five-storied pagoda perched on a mountainside in the ‘Fuji Five Lakes’ region. During the cherry blossom season it is possible to take the ultimate ‘Japan’ photo featuring the pagoda, a snow-capped Mt. Fuji and delicate pink blossom all in one shot!
2. Lake Kawaguchiko – The largest lake in the ‘Fuji Five Lakes’ area and easy to reach by train or bus from Tokyo. Most places along the northern shore of Kawaguchiko offer fantastic views of the mountain, and a good chance of catching its reflection in the water too.
3. Izu Peninsular – A popular weekend getaway for Tokyo residents, famed for its hot springs and nature. The west coast of the peninsular has a picturesque coastline from where the best views of Mt. Fuji are to be had.
4. Hakone – Another popular resort region, full of forests, mountains and hot springs. When the weather is good try catching a memorable view of Mt. Fuji from Moto Hakone on the southern shores of Lake Ashinoko.
5. Miho Beach – Not far from Shizuoka City lies this 3km long stretch of pebbly beach, lined most of the way by pine trees. It provides such a unique view of Mt. Fuji that it was recently designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
6. Mt. Ryuu-ga-take – If you fancy a nice hike with wonderful views of Mt. Fuji then you could do a lot worse than Mt. Ryuu-ga-take, located close to the secluded Lake Motosuko (the westernmost of the Fuji Five Lakes). Transportation there can be a bit awkward, but the views make the effort all worthwhile. Allow 5 or 6 hours for a full loop of the mountain.
7. Kirigamine Highlands – A highland plateau located in Nagano prefecture, and not very close to Mt. Fuji at all! However, on a clear day, the views from the high point of Kurumayama encompass not only Mt. Fuji, but the pointy peaks of the Yatsugatake mountain range and most of the Japan Alps too. There is also a popular ski resort nearby!
8. Kamakura – A popular day trip from Tokyo, this interesting coastal town is well-known for its giant Buddha, as well as countless shrines, temples and cultural attractions. There also some nice beaches, which as well as offering sunbathing and surfing, provide splendid views of Mt. Fuji.
9. Tokyo – The capital of Japan doesn’t offer the closest views of Mt. Fuji, but on a clear day the iconic mountain is certainly visible in the distance. The viewing deck of the Bunkyo Civic Center has possibly the best views, as Mt. Fuji looms behind the towering skyscrapers of Shinjuku. The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is also a good option. Best of all, both are free!
10. From the shinkansen – If you really do insist on taking pics from a speeding bullet train window, then on the Tokaido Shinkansen which runs to Kyoto/Osaka, sit on the right side of the train (if leaving from Tokyo) and look out for the mountain about 40 minutes into the journey, around Shin-Fuji station. Good luck!