Miho Shimizu is a Japanese freelance writer settled in Shizuoka with her husband and two rabbits. Fascinated with travelling at the age of 18, she has spent most of her long holidays exploring incredible spots around Japan. She also loves to listen to music, draw, and read novels over a cup of green tea.
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At the foot of Mt. Fuji, there are five iconic lakes that are widely known as the “Fuji Five Lakes” and have held a great place of admiration by the Japanese since ancient times. Originally formed by lava offshoots from the eruption of Mt. Fuji, these beautiful lakes have fascinated visitors for centuries with their stunning scenery.
What you can find there is not only crystal-clear waters but also a wide range of activities and memorable experiences. From major railway stations in Tokyo, there are regular highway bus services to the Mt. Fuji area, making them an ideal day trip or weekend destination from Tokyo. Here is the ultimate guide to the Fuji Five Lakes!
- What are the Fuji Five Lakes?
- 1. Lake Kawaguchi
- 2. Lake Sai
- 3. Lake Yamanaka
- 4. Lake Shoji
- 5. Lake Motosu
- Japan Wonder Travel Tours
- Other articles you might be interested in
What are the Fuji Five Lakes?
The Fuji Five Lakes, or Fujigoko in Japanese, are a collection of five different lakes at the base of the Mt. Fuji area. These lakes are spread out through Yamanashi prefecture and are each unique in their own way. The five lakes are Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Sai, Lake Yamanaka, Lake Shoji, and Lake Motosu. From each lake you will have a stunning yet different view of the beautiful Mt. Fuji, making it feel like it is almost a different mountain each time. They are all designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites and are a great way to experience some of the nature that Japan has to offer.
1. Lake Kawaguchi
Lake Kawaguchi is the second largest lake of the Fuji Five Lakes and is located at the lowest elevation of 831 meters. Thanks to the low elevation, it is easily accessible by public transport and offers comfortable weather, particularly during the summer months. It is also designated as a part of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.
Along the scenic lakeside, there are a number of souvenir shops, restaurants, cafes, and traditional Japanese Ryokan. One of the top tourist attractions nearby is Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway which allows you to enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Fuji with seasonal changes all year round.
Things to do at Lake Kawaguchi
For a family trip, there are a wide range of activity options available around Lake Kawaguchi. Canoeing and kayaking are exciting ways to explore the natural beauty of Lake Kawaguchi leisurely. If you are planning on spending the night here, why not consider booking a campsite for an unforgettable memory? Nearby is Fuji Q Highland, one of Japan’s most popular amusement parks, which boasts a large variety of exciting rides and attractions.
Cycling is also a great way to travel around Lake Kawaguchi at your own pace. You can easily rent a bike around Lake Kawaguchi Station, and it takes about an hour ride to complete the approximately 20 km cycling route around the lake. Along your refreshing journey, you can stop by Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum, Oishi Park, Itchiku Kubota Art Museum, and Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine. From Kawaguchiko Station, it is about a 16-minute train ride to Shimoyoshida Station, which is the nearest station to Arakura Sengen Shrine. Transit is also easy so learn more on How To Travel To Kawaguchiko, Mt. Fuji area.
2. Lake Sai
Lake Sai is the second smallest lake of the Fuji Five Lakes. It is located west of Lake Kawaguchi and is surrounded by giant mountains, making it a secluded getaway that is perfect for a peaceful weekend trip. Thanks to the location, this lake and the surrounding areas remain undeveloped, and the abundant nature has been perfectly preserved for centuries. From Kawaguchiko Station, it is about a 40-minute bus ride from Lake Sai.
Lake Sai is widely famous for its incredibly clear water, which is home to a large variety of creatures and plants. Fujimarimo is a kind of moss ball that exclusively inhabits the Fuji Five Lakes. They are also officially designated as a natural treasure of Yamanashi prefecture.
Things to do at Lake Sai
There are three striking caves around Lake Sai that attract numerous visitors with their distinctive features. Bat Cave is a 350-meter narrow cave where you can enjoy an adventurous exploration in a comfortable temperature that remains cool even during the summer season.
Narusawa Ice Cave was originally formed by the eruption of Mt. Nagao, and the inside is full of giant ice and icicles, which naturally grow about 3 meters long over a long period of time. Fugaku Wind Cave is located about a 15-minute walk from Ice Cave and also features a similar icy inside, which remains the average temperature around 3℃ throughout the year. Thanks to the cool temperature, this cave was historically used as a natural refrigerator to store silkworm eggs.
3. Lake Yamanaka
Lake Yamanaka is the largest of the Fuji Five Lakes and has the highest elevation of 980.5 meters. Thanks to the high elevation and the shallow water depth, the surface of the lake completely gets frozen in winter easily.
Lake Yamanaka is located at the east foot of Mt. Fuji and is accessible by highway bus, and is 2.5 – 3 hours from Tokyo. Along with Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Yamanaka is probably the most visited lake of the five, making it a perfect destination for your first trip to the Fuji Five Lakes area.
Things to do at Lake Yamanaka
When it comes to adventurous experiences around Lake Yamanaka, there are countless numbers of options to choose from, depending on your interests. Popular water sports options include fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, SUP, and much more.
The well-maintained cycle route covers the distance of approximately 14 km around the lake, which was officially used as a part of a course for the cycling road races at the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics. If you prefer spending time in the midst of trees and mountainous plants, however, trekking or hiking is the best way to make the most of your time there in nature.
One of the best tourist attractions around Lake Yamanaka is Oshino Hakkai Village. This lovely village is best known for the group of eight ponds that wow visitors with the crystal-clear water sourced from Mt. Fuji. As you look into the incredibly beautiful ponds, you will be able to see a school of small fish peacefully swimming around the transparent waters. The water is safe enough to drink, and visitors can take the water home as they like.
There are also traditional thatched roof farmhouses across the village. At souvenir shops and food stalls, you can try a variety of local specialties which are perfect for taking home or are otherwise suitable to eat while exploring the quaint village. The view of Mt. Fuji from the village is stunningly beautiful, particularly in early spring when cherry blossoms are in full bloom!
4. Lake Shoji
Lake Shoji is the smallest of the Fuji Five Lakes, and it shares the same water source as Lake Motosu. During the Meiji Period (1868 – 1912), a British surveyor visited here and introduced the beautiful setting as a perfect summer retreat to the world, which resulted in an increase in the number of international tourists.
In recent years, Lake Shoji and the surrounding areas have been less developed compared to Lake Yamanaka or Lake Kawaguchi. Therefore, it is an ideal destination for people who want to spend a peaceful time away from the crowds of tourists.
Things to do at Lake Shoji
Lake Shoji offers plenty of unforgettable experiences which allow you to deeply connect with the untouched nature. From the calm lakeside, you can enjoy the spectacular views of Mt. Fuji with no artificial buildings which block your sight. At night, the dark sky is filled with bright stars, which makes it a perfect stargazing spot. There are also several hiking trails for different levels of hikers, from small children to advanced mountain lovers. All these experiences will help you stop thinking for a while, take a deep breath, and refresh yourself while immersed in nature.
5. Lake Motosu
Lake Motosu is the 3rd largest of the Fuji Five Lakes as well as the deepest, with a water depth of 121.6 meters. It is located west of Lake Shoji and, therefore, the farthest from Tokyo. The view of Mt. Fuji from the northern shore might seem familiar, as it is officially depicted on the back of Japan’s ¥1,000 bill.
Things to do at Lake Motosu
All year round, many photographers flock here to capture the impressive scenery which changes appearance and color from season to season. It is also a popular windsurfing spot during the summer season. The best time of year to visit probably falls when the vivid autumn colors create stunning scenery along with the crystal-clear water and Japan’s symbolic peak in the background!
The average temperature at Fuji Five Lakes stays around 20 – 23℃ even in summer, which makes it a perfect getaway from the summer heat in big cities. If you are eager to plan a trip to the area during the summer season, avoid the long summer holiday week called Obon Week in Japanese, which annually starts in the middle of August. The climbing season of Mt. Fuji also runs from early July to late August, so make sure to carefully check the updates in order not to miss the great hiking opportunity at Japan’s tallest mountain!
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