Lake Kawaguchiko 1-Day Itinerary: Mt. Fuji, Cherry Blossoms, and Local Gourmet Dining!
Cherry blossoms announce the arrival of spring after the cold winter in Japan. The pink flowers blooming in their full glory are spectacular, and a sight you definitely have to see if you’re taking a trip to Japan in the spring. In this article, we'll cover some of the highlights of the Lake Kawaguchiko area in Yamanashi Prefecture, just a 2-hour train trip or express bus ride from Tokyo. We’ve put together a morning-to-night sightseeing itinerary for maximum enjoyment of the Lake Kawaguchiko area, including visits to scenic spots with a view of Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms, Shinto shrines with a traditional Japanese atmosphere, and restaurants where you can get a taste of local gourmet masterpieces. Some of these restaurants we will introduce can be booked through SAVOR JAPAN, a multilingual restaurant reservation site, which is a lifesaver if you’re not confident in your Japanese! We hope you'll use this article as your spring Japan travel guide.
Mar 04 2020 (Sep 09 2020)
*This article was written in collaboration with SAVOR JAPAN.
About Multilingual Restaurant Booking Site "SAVOR JAPAN"
During the cherry blossom period in the spring and the foliage-filled autumn season, many domestic and international tourists travel to Japan's famous sightseeing destinations. The Lake Kawaguchiko area near Mt. Fuji, with its majestic natural landscapes and exquisite local cuisine, is no exception. At popular restaurants, it can be impossible to guarantee a seat, and you may have to wait a long time in line to get a table. Because of this, making a reservation beforehand is essential. You can make a reservation for both of the restaurants recommended for dinner in this article, Sumibi Yakiniku Himawaritei and Izakaya Hokkai, at SAVOR JAPAN.
This site provides information about restaurants in Japan in multiple languages, and is so popular it became Japan's number one tourist-orientated restaurant website as of May 2019. SAVOR JAPAN also allows you to make reservations in languages such as English and Chinese in a few simple steps. You don't want to spend a long time waiting when you're hungry, or for your trip to end without getting to try any delicious food, so use SAVOR JAPAN for a smarter and more enjoyable experience in Japan.
What Kind of Place Is Lake Kawaguchiko?
Lake Kawaguchiko is the northernmost of the Fuji Five Lakes (Lake Yamanakako, Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Saiko, Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko) located at the foot of Mt. Fuji which straddles Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture. Of the Fuji Five Lakes, Lake Kawaguchiko is situated at the lowest height above sea level and features the longest lake shoreline. This lake is famous as a perfect spot for appreciating the view of Mt. Fuji, Japan's tallest mountain.
Time, weather, and other factors can change how Mt. Fuji appears. Some particularly beautiful scenes have nicknames, like Red Fuji (when the light of dawn illuminates Mt. Fuji and makes it appear to be dyed a shade of red), Diamond Fuji (when Mt. Fuji appears to be glittering like a diamond the moment the sun rises above or sinks below the mountain's peak), and Inverse Fuji (when Mt. Fuji is reflected upside-down on the surface of water). These are all scenes you can see in the area around Mt. Fuji, particularly around Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Yamanakako.
▼Information for Restaurants in the Mt. Fuji Area
15 Must-Try Restaurants When Visiting Mt. Fuji
10 Restaurants to Visit After Sightseeing Around Mt. Fuji
How to Get to Lake Kawaguchiko
There are many ways to get to the Lake Kawaguchiko area from Tokyo. Here are details about three main ways to get there: bus, train, or car.
The Fujikyuko Bus is the most economical means of public transport for getting to Lake Kawaguchiko. Multiple buses a day depart for Lake Kawaguchiko by way of Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro, and Narita Airport, making it easy to choose one that best suits your accommodation location and schedule. The bus is not just an affordable way to get to Kawaguchiko Station from various parts of Tokyo, but it will also get you there in only about 2 hours! You can depart from the capital's shopping districts and arrive at your destination without ever having to leave your seat, so this is an extremely convenient method of transportation.
You can make reservations for Fujikyuko buses to Lake Kawaguchiko up to a month in advance at the website below. Just fill in the required information, check the confirmation email, and your reservation is complete. When it’s time to board, just show the driver the booking confirmation email you received.
The only train line connecting Tokyo to the Lake Kawaguchiko area is the Fujikyuko Line. The westernmost station on this line is Otsuki Station in Yamanashi Prefecture, and the easternmost station is Kawaguchiko Station.
Below are a few ways to get to Lake Kawaguchiko from Shinjuku Station, a major station in Tokyo that many different train lines pass through.
Limited Express Fuji Excursion (Direct train to Kawaguchiko Station)
This is a limited express train that does a round-trip from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station. This route doesn’t require any transfers, and there are four round-trips a day on weekdays and six a day on weekends. The trip takes about 1 hour 50 minutes one-way and costs 4,130 yen (basic fare ticket + limited express fare ticket). All seats on this train are reserved seats, and reservations can be made from up to 1 month prior to your trip. Tickets can be purchased from the following websites, reserved seat ticket vending machines at major stations around the country, JR ticket offices, and travel agencies. Along the way, the train also stops at places like Mt. Fuji and Fuji-Q Highland, so it’s also convenient for anyone wanting to take the chance to visit other locations in the area.
- Official Website (Japanese): https://www.fujikyu-railway.jp/fujikaiyuu/information.php
- Official Website (English): https://www.jreast.co.jp/hachioji/fuji_excursion/en/
JR Limited Express + Fujikyuko Line
Another option is to take the JR Chuo Line limited express train from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station (all reserved seats), then transfer to the Fujikyuko Line to Kawaguchiko Station. A one-way ticket costs 4,130 yen. The JR Chuo Line runs every day, with trains departing every 30 minutes, so it’s easy to choose a departure time that suits your travel plan. This makes this option the most popular way to get to Lake Kawaguchiko. Limited express tickets can be purchased from the following websites, reserved seat ticket vending machines at major stations around the country, JR ticket offices, and travel agencies.
- Official Website (English): https://www.jreast.co.jp/e/index.html/
JR Local Train + Fujikyuko Line
Finally, you can choose to take the JR Chuo Line local train from Shinjuku Station (towards Takao), then transfer at Takao Station to Otsuki Station. Then, transfer to the Fujikyuko Line at Otsuki Station and ride to Kawaguchiko Station. One-way, this route takes about 3 hours, but you can save on the cost of tickets with this option. You don't need to make a reservation either, so if you're unable to get a ticket during peak travel seasons, this is the way to go.
If you’re using public transportation, you may find yourself chasing train timetables and running out of time for fun! If you take a rental car to Lake Kawaguchiko, you don’t have to worry about any of that.
If you’re departing from Shinjuku, you should take the Metropolitan Expressway Route No. 4. There are tolls from Chuo Expressway Otsuki Junction to the Kawaguchiko Interchange. If there’s no congestion on the road, you will reach your destination in about 1 hour 20 minutes. If you don't take any toll roads, it will take about 2 hours. The type of cars and rental times available varies throughout the year, but typically you can rent a smaller kei car or a regular passenger car for 12 hours for 5,000 - 6,000 yen (excluding insurance, gas, and tolls), so this is a good choice for people with a lot of luggage or those traveling in bigger groups.
The real pleasure of traveling by car is that on the way to Lake Kawaguchiko, you can take a break at one of Japan's great rest areas for souvenirs and local foods.
How to Get Around the Lake Kawaguchiko Area
We recommend using a sightseeing bus for getting around the locations introduced in this article. This will let you tour the Fuji Five Lakes area with Lake Kawaguchiko as your arrival and departure point.
Fujikyuko Sightseeing Bus
The base fare for the sightseeing bus is 160 yen. This increases based on distance traveled. If you want to go around to a lot of tourist attractions, we recommend the Unlimited Ride Pass that allows unlimited bus trips in the area for two days from the day of purchase. This ticket costs 1,500 yen for adults and 750 yen for children 6 - 11 years of age. The following sightseeing buses are most frequently used by sightseers.
Lake Kawaguchiko, Lake Saiko, Narusawa, Lake Shojiko, Lake Motosuko Area
• Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus (Red Line): Departs from Kawaguchiko Station at 15-minute intervals. This route covers sightseeing destinations such as the Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway, Kawaguchiko Museum of Art, Kawaguchiko Music Forest Museum, and Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center.
• Saiko Sightseeing Bus (Green Line): Departs from Kawaguchiko Station at 30-minute intervals. This route covers sightseeing destinations such as Saiko Iyashi-no-Sato Nenba, Saiko Bat Cave, Fugaku Fuketsu (Wind Cave), and Saiko Yacho-no-Mori Park.
• Narusawa/Shojiko/Motosuko Sightseeing Bus (Blue Line): Five connecting buses from Kawaguchiko Station to Lake Motosuko every day. This is a convenient bus for traveling to the Lake Shojiko shore and for sightseeing around Lake Motosuko.
Fujiyoshida, Oshino, Lake Yamanakako Area
• Fujiyoshida/Oshino/Yamanakako Sightseeing Bus (F-Line): This bus makes a round-trip around Fujiyoshida, Oshino Hakkai, and Lake Yamanakako, and departs from Kawaguchiko Station 11 times a day. This is convenient for sightseeing around the Lake Yamanakako area, including locations such as the Mt. Fuji Radar Dome, Benifuji-no-Yu Onsen, Oshino Hakkai, and Hana-no-Miyako Park.
If you want to enjoy your day without having to keep an eye on bus timetables, why not rent a bike? There are several rental bicycle shops around Kawaguchiko Station and the Lake Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Boat jetty. You can rent a bike for an hour, 3 hours, or a full day at the reasonable price of around 3,000 yen per day. You can also rent electric bikes and bicycles with child seats attached. The route around Lake Kawaguchiko is fairly level with only a few slopes, so you can visit the various attractions in the area without breaking a sweat.
Get the Most Out of the Lake Kawaguchiko Area! 1-Day Sightseeing Itinerary
There are many tourist attractions in the Lake Kawaguchiko area, so we've put together an itinerary for a 1-day trip from Tokyo to make your planning a little easier. Have your fortune told at a shrine where you can feel the history of Japan in the air, see the beautiful Mt. Fuji and cherry blossom scenery, and finish your day off with a delicious meal like wagyu beef or fresh seafood. This travel plan has it all!
Experience Cherry Blossoms and Fortune Telling at Mt. Fuji’s Oldest Shrine, Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine
First stop on the itinerary is Mt. Fuji’s oldest Shinto shrine, Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine. Take the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus (Green Line) from Kawaguchiko Station and get off at Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine. Follow the signs to the shrine path entrance.
This shrine is near Lake Kawaguchiko and is surrounded by greenery, giving it a tranquil charm. Cherry trees grow on both sides of the approach to the shrine, and in cherry blossom season, you can see a row of 200 beautiful Yoshino cherry trees in full bloom, making this a popular spot in the spring. The deity enshrined here is called Konohana no Sakuyabime, to whom people pray for prosperous business, easy childbirth, and safe travel.
After paying homage to the shrine’s deity, try picking an omikuji (fortune slip) which will tell you your fortune. This shrine’s omikuji, called “hanasaki mikuji” or "flower-blossom fortunes", are a triangular pyramid shape. Pull the string to tear open the paper’s edge. Once opened, its shape resembles lovely flower petals. Inside is a small bell you can carry with you for protection.
Inside the shrine precinct, you'll spot statues of the guardian deity Bato (Horse Head) Kannon, and a stone folding fan decorated with a Japanese national flag pierced with an arrow. These statues are related to a traditional event held here every April called Yabusame. This is a martial art in which targets are shot with arrows from horseback.
One of the many statues, the statue called Momofuku no Ryu Houju, is a sphere of entangled dragons engraved with countless Japanese characters for "fortune". Those seeking to improve their fortune should rub the statue for good luck!
Try Local Yamanashi Dish “Hoto” at Hoto Fudo Higashi Koiji Store
Hoto is a noodle dish that was brought to Japan from China in the Nara Period (710 - 784 AD). Legend says it was invented by chance when legendary military commander Shingen Takeda was simmering ingredients together for a midday meal. Shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu then added miso to the mix, creating the dish people know today.
There are no exact ingredients needed to make hoto, but pumpkin is a common addition. Other than that, ingredients differ from household to household, including carrot, Chinese cabbage, spring onions, shimeji and shiitake mushrooms, taro, potatoes, and pork or chicken. The noodles and other ingredients are simmered together in a pot to allow the miso flavor to really infuse all the ingredients. If you eat this dish when it’s cold out, it will warm your body and soul.
There are many restaurants selling hoto in the Lake Kawaguchiko area. Of these, Hoto Fudo, which runs four restaurants here, is a popular group specializing in just hoto (1,100 yen). This restaurant ensures a delicious flavor year-round by sourcing their produce from different areas season to season, and their generous serving of thick, handmade noodles have the perfect bite. You won't soon forget this delicious dish!
The North Lake Kawaguchiko Head Store has a charming folk atmosphere, while the South Lake Kawaguchiko Store is designed in the style of a historical Japanese warehouse. Both have a lovely traditional Japanese feel, but we particularly recommend the Hoto Fudo Higashi Koiji Store, conveniently located near Kawaguchiko Station.
What makes this branch so unique is its unusual architecture, as seen in the picture above. The pure white dome is designed by famous Japanese architect Takeshi Hosaka, and with Mt Fuji in the background, it looks just like a piece of art. Seen from afar, the building seems to be a part of the distant white clouds surrounding Mt. Fuji. This fusion of modern architecture and local traditional cuisine has caught the attention of both Japanese and international tourists.
Designed in loose, curved lines, the restaurant is extremely spacious and can seat up to 300. In the right seat, you can appreciate the view of Mt. Fuji as you enjoy your hoto piping hot straight from the pot.
Ubuyagasaki, a Secret Spot for Inverse Fuji and Cherry Blossoms
After lunch, head to this picturesque spot for cherry blossoms and a gorgeous view of Mt. Fuji reflected in the waters of Lake Kawaguchiko. Take the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus (Red Line) from Kawaguchiko Station to Kozantei Ubuya and you will arrive directly at Ubuyagasaki. This is a famous flower viewing spot on the north side of Kawaguchiko Ohashi Bridge. The name of this area translates to "delivery room cape". This unusual name came to be because in Japanese mythology, the goddess Konohana no Sakuyabime gave birth here.
The surface of Lake Kawaguchiko is fairly still, making this the best spot to see the view of Mt. Fuji reflected in the lake. This has made this area a favorite spot among artists and writers since ancient times. If you have time, try climbing to the top of Ubuyagasaki, where you'll find Ubuyagasaki Shrine, a small shrine that offers an unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji. The cherry blossoms in spring and the changing leaves in autumn here are also extremely beautiful. This is a great hidden spot that even most Japanese people don’t know about. Don’t forget your camera!
Get the Ultimate Shot of Cherry Blossoms and Mt. Fuji at Nagasaki Park
After Ubuyagasaki, jump back on the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus (Red Line) to the Sunnide Resort/Nagasaki Park Entrance stop, then walk for five minutes to Nagasaki Park. This area juts out from the north side of Lake Kawaguchiko in a way where there is nothing to obstruct your view ahead and to the sides, giving you a sweeping view of Mt. Fuji and its ridgelines.
In the spring, you can get gorgeous photos of Mt. Fuji framed by the vivid blooming cherry blossoms here. Hunt for that perfect shot!
Restaurants for Dinner in the Fuji Five Lakes Area
A delicious meal is essential to finish off your day enjoying cherry blossom viewing at Shinto shrines and other picturesque locations. We have two dinner recommendations for you: a yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) restaurant near Lake Kawaguchiko, and an izakaya (Japanese-style pub) offering fresh seafood and traditional Japanese dishes near Lake Yamanakako. Both these restaurants are popular with locals and visitors alike, and we guarantee you will enjoy the warm hospitality just as much as the food.
You can make online reservations for both of these restaurants using SAVOR JAPAN, a multilingual restaurant booking site. It’s easy to use and you don’t have to worry about waiting in line on the day. It's easy to pick a restaurant that suits your plans and tastes!
* Please inform restaurants in advance in the case of cancellations.
Satisfying Prices and Genuine Wagyu Beef: Local Favorite "Sumibi Yakiniku Himawaritei"
Sumibi Yakiniku Himawaritei is a Japanese BBQ restaurant located on a narrow residential side street off the main road. The reason so many people visit this slightly-out-of-the-way restaurant is that you can enjoy high-quality kuroge wagyu beef at very reasonable prices here. This restaurant offers popular cuts like beef tongue and skirt steak as well as some more unusual cuts, too. Whether you prefer firm red meat or tender marbled meat with juicy, melting fat, you're sure to be satisfied here.
You can order a la carte, but we recommend ordering a course menu if you're new to yakiniku and don't know where to start. Sumibi Yakiniku Himawaritei’s course menu prices start at 2,000 yen - an extremely reasonable price compared to other yakiniku restaurants in Japan.
There are courses at various price points ranging from 2,000 yen to 4,000 yen, but this time we ordered the restaurant’s recommendation, the Family Set (2,400 yen). This is a very satisfying course that includes salty beef tongue, Korean-style marinated ribs, diced skirt steak, fatty offal, pork ribs, pork jowl, chicken thigh, sausage, kimchi, salad or Korean-style choregi salad, seaweed soup, and rice. Pictured here is a two-person serve.
You also really have to try kuroge wagyu beef when you're in Japan! We added an order of kainomi (the part of the chuck short rib closest to the tenderloin, 1,490 yen) and zabuton (a part of the shoulder roast cut from the side closest to the rib bones, 1,800 yen) to our meal. (Photo shows a 1-person serving). The kainomi was juicy without being overly fatty, leaving a clean aftertaste. Zabuton is a rather rare cut, with only a few kilograms produced per head of cattle, and it was extremely tender. Both had an unforgettably delicious flavor.
In Japan, beer is an indispensable part of any yakiniku experience. Certified as a Premium Cho-Tatsujin Restaurant by Suntory, a major Japanese beer brand, Sumibi Yakiniku Himawaritei has passed rigorous inspection certifying they serve delicious, expertly-poured beer. Try a beer paired to the flavors of yakiniku here! Of course, there are plenty of soft drinks also available, as well as both tatami mat and table seating options, so this restaurant suits any number of occasions, including dining with family, friends, or even a special date.
Sumibi Yakiniku Himawaritei is visited by international tourists and locals alike, and there are tablets available for ordering in English, Chinese, and Japanese. The menu includes photos and is easy to understand, so you can order your favorite dishes with no communication issues!
Seafood, Skewers, and Cheap and Cheerful Local Foods: Spacious and Relaxing "Izakaya Hokkai"
The area around Lake Yamanakako is located around 30 minutes by bus or car from Lake Kawaguchiko. This area attracts crowds for its plethora of outdoor facilities that allow for activities like fishing, trekking, cycling, golf, and tennis. At night, the lake takes on a magical atmosphere illuminated by lanterns from restaurants along the lake shore. Out of these restaurants, Izakaya Hokkai is a perfect place for a meal after a day of sightseeing around Lake Kawaguchiko.
The number one charm of this izakaya is its vast menu that is sure to satisfy the tastes of anyone who visits. The izakaya offers so many options, just choosing from the extensive menu is fun. You'll find options like fresh sashimi, a variety of grilled skewers made with local ingredients, piping hot oden (a type of Japanese-style stew) infused with the flavor of dashi stock, and local dishes unique to the area. Choosing what you like from the fresh seafood and steaming oden pot on the counter has a charm of its own, but the grilled skewers ordered “half self-service” style are particularly popular. Choose what you like from the refrigerator and the staff will skewer and grill them for you. (600 yen for 5 skewers, 1,200 yen for 10 skewers.)
The above images show the Assorted Sashimi (2,500 yen), the Stew of Koshu Chicken Innards (500 yen), and the Oden Assortment (550 yen). Koshi chicken innard stew is a local Yamanashi "B-grade gourmet" (read: inexpensive and unpretentious) dish made with chicken liver, hearts, gizzards, and other offal simmered in a rich broth of sugar and soy sauce. The salty-sweet aroma of this dish will excite your appetite. Be sure to try this beloved regional specialty!
This restaurant also has a broad selection of choice sake from around Japan. Sake is an obvious choice for seafood dishes, but it also pairs beautifully with char-grilled skewers. If you’re not sure which to order, ask the staff to suggest the best sake to go with the food you want to order.
There are tablets on the tables that you can use to order in English, Chinese, or Japanese. There is also counter, table, and tatami mat seating that can accommodate groups of 20, so you can relax in comfort no matter the size of your group. Recharge after a busy day of travel with some delicious food and good sake.
Visit Lake Kawaguchiko This Cherry Blossom Season!
We hope you enjoyed our itinerary for getting the most out of a spring day in the Lake Kawaguchiko area! This region not only has some of the best scenic spots for seeing both Mt. Fuji and cherry blossoms, it also has plenty of delicious gourmet food to enjoy, so it’s the ideal place if you’re visiting Japan in the spring.
This area is full of places to enjoy leisure and shopping, including Fuji-Q Highland, Gotemba Premium Outlets, art galleries, hot springs, and more. If a day isn't enough, there are plenty of places to stay in the Lake Kawaguchiko area, so why not spend a few leisurely days sightseeing around Mt. Fuji and enjoying the beautiful natural scenery?
We hope you'll use this article to enjoy a fun spring vacation at Lake Kawaguchiko in a smart way!
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The information in this article is accurate at the time of publication.