Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain at a little over 3,776 meters high and its beautifully symmetrical cone is widely recognized as a symbol of the nation. Snow-capped for five months each year, this sacred mountain has long inspired both poets and artists, and it is a center of pilgrimage for mountain climbers each summer. Mount Fuji stands on the boundary of Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures. At the foot of the mountain on the Yamanashi side there is an arc of lakes collectively known as the Fuji Five Lakes area. These lakes occupy a region of great scenic beauty and are a popular holiday resort destination.
Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes area can be reached from Osaka by train, highway express bus, and car. In this article we will look at this area’s top attractions, and the easiest travel routes from Osaka.
The Main Attractions
Climbing Mount Fuji
Climbing Mount Fuji is an unforgettable experience and many people choose to climb through the night in order to see the sunrise from the summit. However, as this is a popular activity and the climbing season is limited, the mountain can get quite crowded. If you can, it is a good idea to go on a weekday, as both the slopes and summit are most crowded at the weekends. The official annual climbing season for Mount Fuji is from early July to early September. Outside of this season members of the public are not permitted to climb the mountain. There are four trails up the mountain with four trail heads (or starting points). These are:
- The Yoshida Trail from Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station
- The Subashiri Trail from Subashiri Trail 5th Station
- The Gotemba Trail from Gotemba Trail New 5th Station
- The Fujinomiya Trail from Fujinomiya Trail 5th Station
Of these four trails, the Yoshida Trail is the most popular as it has the best facilities. The Yoshida Trail is also more easily accessible if you are traveling from Osaka. Each year the exact opening and closing dates may be different for each of these trails. Also, bad weather or poor trail conditions may cause some trails to be closed temporarily during the climbing season. For this reason before you go it is a good idea to check the current situation for the trails at the official Mt. Fuji Climbing website. This website also has plenty of advice for climbing the mountain safely and comfortably. Although the climb is not particularly difficult, it is a long climb, and the air gets thinner and colder the higher you get. It is a good idea to bring warm clothes that you can change into as you get higher up, as well as drinks and snacks to keep your energy levels up. To avoid suffering from altitude sickness you should climb at a relaxed pace, taking plenty of breaks at the mountain huts along the trails.
The scenic Fuji Five Lakes area lies at the base of Mount Fuji, and provides the perfect setting from which to view the mountain. The five lakes in this region are called Yamanaka, Kawaguchi, Saiko, Shoji and Motosu. Of these five, Lake Kawaguchi is the easiest to reach from Osaka and the best developed. Here you will find hot spring resort hotels, art museums, pleasure boat cruises, windsurfing facilities, and an aerial lift called Lake Kawaguchi Mt. Tenjo Ropeway which offers stunning views of both the lake and Mount Fuji.
Fuji-Q Highland is a popular amusement park near the base of Mount Fuji which has over 40 different rides and attractions. These include roller coasters, haunted labyrinths, a Ferris wheel, a merry-go-round, a Thomas the Tank Engine area for small children, and a variety of manga and anime themed attractions. There are also plenty of souvenir shops and dining facilities on site. This amusement park is easily accessible via the Fujikyuko railway line.
Fujiyama Onsen is a natural hot spring spa located beside Fuji-Q Highland amusement park. The spa has traditional wooden bathhouses with both indoor and open-air baths, with natural mineral waters that are said to have health-giving properties. From some baths you can also enjoy a view of Mount Fuji. Among the spa’s facilities there is also a sauna, and a restaurant on the 2nd floor which also has a view over Mount Fuji. For more information check the Fujiyama Onsen website.
Traveling to Mount Fuji
There are various points from which you can access Mount Fuji. For this article we have chosen Kawaguchiko Station on the Fujikyuko Line as our destination, because it is convenient both for Mount Fuji itself and also for the Fuji Five Lakes resort area. During the summer climbing season shuttle buses from Kawaguchiko Station run directly to the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station and there you can begin your climb.
Probably the simplest route between Osaka and Mount Fuji is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station as far as Mishima Station in Shizuoka Prefecture and then transfer to a highway express bus bound for Kawaguchiko. However, there are other routes that you may suit you better, and all of these are listed below.
There are two main train routes between Osaka and Kawaguchiko. One way is to travel via Shinagawa and Shinjuku in Tokyo, and the other way is via Yokohama, and Hachioji in Tokyo. A third alternative is to travel by train as far as Mishima in Shizuoka Prefecture, and then transfer to a highway express bus for the rest of the journey.
Route 1: Shin-Osaka > Shinagawa > Shinjuku > (Otsuki) > Kawaguchiko
One possible route is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, and then travel via the JR Yamanote Line to Shinjuku Station. At Shinjuku Station you can then transfer to the Limited Express Kaiji which travels on the JR Chuo Line to Otsuki Station. At Otsuki Station you would transfer again to the private Fujikyuko Line which goes to Kawaguchiko Station. This journey would take around 5 hours and cost around 17, 250 yen depending on the train times and the particular services you use.
If you can get to Shinjuku at the right time, then you can take the Limited Express Fuji Excursion (also called the Fuji Kaiyu) instead of taking the Kaiji. The Fuji Excursion goes directly to Kawaguchiko Station so you would not need to change at Otsuki. However, this train only makes two departures from Shinjuku per day: at 8.30 and 9.30.
Route 2: Shin-Osaka > Shin-Yokohama > Hachioji > (Otsuki) > Kawaguchiko
The second way is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station to Shin-Yokohama Station, and then take a Rapid train on the JR Yokohama Line to Hachioji Station in Tokyo. At Hachioji Station you can board the Limited Express Kaiji bound for Otsuki Station, and at Otsuki Station you can transfer to a service on the private Fujikyuko Line bound for Kawaguchiko. This route takes about 4 hours and 38 minutes and costs around 17,000 yen.
You can also board the Limited Express Fuji Excursion at Hachioji Station if you can be there on time for its departure. On weekdays it departs at 9.08 and 10.09 and on weekends and holidays at 9.07 and 10.07. Again, if you take the Fuji Excursion you can travel directly to Kawaguchiko Station with no change at Otsuki.
The Japan Rail Pass will cover most of these two routes. However, the Japan Rail Pass does not cover Nozomi services on the Tokaido Shinkansen, and it does not cover the Fukikyuko Line section of the trip because that is a private railway.
Route 3: Shin-Osaka > Mishima > Kawaguchiko
An alternative route is to take the Tokaido Shinkansen from Shin-Osaka Station as far as Mishima Station in Shizuoka Prefecture. From Mishima Station you can catch a highway bus that travels directly to Kawaguchiko Station. Train fares and travel times vary but you can expect the full trip to take around 4 hours and to cost around 14,180 yen.
The Mishima Kawaguchiko Liner Express Bus makes eight departures each day from Mishima Station and takes 1 hour and 35 minutes to reach Kawaguchiko Station for a fare of 2,260 yen. This bus also makes a stop at Fuji-Q Highland amusement park. For more details about this bus you can check the Fujikyuko Bus website.
Which route you take will probably depend on the time of your departure. To simplify your planning we recommend using the Japan Transit Planner.
The Fujiyama Liner is a night bus jointly operated by Kintetsu Bus and Fukikyuko Bus companies. This bus runs directly between Osaka and Kawaguchiko Station making stops on the way at Fujisan Station (also called Mt. Fuji Station) and at Fuji-Q Highland amusement park. Passengers who wish to climb Mount Fuji can get off at the Fujisan Station stop and there they can catch a shuttle bus to the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station. From the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station they can begin their climb on the Yoshida Trail.
There are three locations in Osaka where you can board this bus: the Abeno Harukas building by Tennoji Station, the OCAT bus terminal in Namba, and the Higashi-Umeda Bus Stop in Umeda. From its Umeda stop the bus takes 10 hours and 22 minutes to reach Kawaguchiko. There are two buses running every night which differ by their seating. The earlier “Normal Service” bus has more comfortable single seating in three rows, and so it costs more at 8,900 yen for a one-way ticket or 16,100 for a return ticket. The later “Discount Service” bus has paired seats in two rows. This bus costs 6,900 yen for a one-way ticket or 12,100 for a return ticket. Here are the current timetables:
|Service||Abeno Harukas||OCAT||Higashi-Umeda Bus Stop||Fuji-Q Highland||Fujisan Station||Kawaguchiko Station|
There is only one scheduled return service:
|Service||Kawaguchiko Station||Fujisan Station||Fuji-Q Highland||Higashi-Umeda Bus Stop||OCAT||Abeno Harukas|
Tickets can be bought directly at these locations:
- Kintetsu Highway Bus Center in Kintetsu Osaka-Uehommachi Station 2F
Open: 9.00 – 19.00
- OCAT Bus Terminal in Namba
- The following Kintetsu Railway Station Offices: Osaka Namba Station, Osaka-Uehommachi Station, Kintetsu Yao Station, Yamato-Saidaiji Station, Kintetsu Kyoto Station, Kashiharajingu-mae Station, and Osaka Abenobashi Station.
To enquire about reservations call 0570-001 (Japanese). For more detailed information please visit the Kintetsu Bus English language website.
You can drive between Osaka and Kawaguchiko Station in about 5 hours and 30 minutes via the following route:
Hanshin Expressway > Kinki Expressway > The Second Keihan Highway > Keiji Bypass > Meishin Expressway > Shin-Meishin Expressway > Isewangan Expressway > Shin-Tomei Expressway > Tomei Expressway > Higashi-Fujigoko Road
This journey will cost 13,050 yen in toll fees.
It is also possible to access the Fuji Subaru Line from the Shin-Tomei Expressway and drive directly to the 5th Station on Mount Fuji. The Fuji Subaru Line is a toll road and costs 2,060 yen. However, the Fuji Subaru Line is closed to private vehicles during the summer climbing season. At that time you will need to access the 5th station by shuttle bus.
In addition to toll fees you should also include the cost of renting a car and paying for gasoline into your overall expenses. However, if you are traveling in a group and you can share the cost then this could be an economical way to travel. For information on car rental businesses in the Umeda area, please see our article Car Rental at Osaka Station.
Article by Michael Lambe. Photos by matya1234/pixta (1), Graphs/pixta (2), azusa/pixta(3), tackune/pixta (4). All rights reserved.