Mount Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain. It is not surprising that this perfectly conical volcano has been worshiped as a sacred mountain for centuries. Fuji-San dominates the skyline of this part of Kanto, and can even be seen from Tokyo and Yokohama on clear days. Every year, thousands of tourists want to climb the mountain and begin planning their ascent from the bottom. Yet they all seem to forget one thing: how exactly do they reach Mount Fuji in the first place?
If you are planning to stay in the Fuji Five Lakes region for a few days, including making a stopover in Hakone, then one thing you should definitely consider purchasing is the Fuji-Hakone Pass. This special pass, available only to Non-Japanese passport holders, allows you a return trip from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo to Kawaguchiko Station near Mount Fuji on Odakyu Railways and the Keio Highway Buses (one journey on each), plus unlimited use of local buses, local trains, boats, and cable cars in the Fuji Five Lakes region for 3 consecutive days! And if that wasn’t enough, you will also get discounted admission to some tourist attractions in the area, including the marvellous Churieto Pagoda. The Fuji-Hakone Pass costs 7,400 YEN per person (£43), which may seem like a lot, but it is such a weight off your shoulders to have your travel arrangements AND transport within the area for 3 whole days all paid for effectively before you leave Tokyo! Don’t forget about your accommodation, though!
For regular visitors to Mount Fuji, you will be pleased to know that Fujikyu and JR Kanto Bus operate nearly half a dozen direct buses per day from Tokyo Station (Yaesu South Exit) to Kawaguchiko Station in the Fuji Five Lakes region. There is such a marked difference in the appearance of these bus stations, and upon arrival in Kawaguchiko, it lets you know that Tokyo is well and truly forgotten as you pull up in the countryside! This one way trip takes between 2-3 hours (depending on the time of day) and costs around 1,800 YEN per person. Unfortunately, the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on these buses.
Train travel from Tokyo to Mount Fuji is also a popular option. Despite the fancy photographs, the Shinkansen, while passing the mountain on its way to Kyoto, does not stop anywhere near Mount Fuji, therefore regular trains must be taken. The best way by rail is to take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station. This journey will take approximately 70 minutes and set you back around 2,500 YEN by direct limited express train. Other trains on this route are slower and cheaper, but you will get to Otsuki Station eventually, so it’s really not that difficult. From Otsuki, you will need to take the Fujikyu Railway to Kawaguchiko Station, and this should take not more than an hour, for 1,140 YEN each way). Much like on the buses, the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on these train journeys. In terms of journey time, however, the train (even with the change at Otsuki) can get you to Kawaguchiko up to 1 hour faster than the buses!
So now you’ve arrived, it is now time to climb Fuji-San! The official climbing season for Mount Fuji is between early July and the end of September. This is when the trails and mountain facilities are open. During this period the mountain is usually free of snow, the weather is mild, and access by public transportation is easy. Anyone without hiking experience is advised to tackle the mountain during this official climbing season, as there have been reported deaths at other times of the year. The absolute peak season for climbing Mount Fuji is during school vacations, which last from around late July to late August. At this time, you will literally have to stand in queues at some passages to begin your ascent up this sacred mountain.