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Enjoying Mt. Fuji

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Japan In-depth

Enjoying Mt. FujiFrom public baths to mountain climbing

The very symbol of Japan, Mt. Fuji, is with its 3776 meters both the country's highest mountain and its most beautiful. It's a currently dormant volcano, but as recently as 300 years ago it was still belching smoke and fire.

In the backstreets of Japanese cities there are plenty of public bathhouses, called sento in Japanese. These days, virtually all homes have their own private bathrooms, of course, but 40 or 50 years ago everybody went to the local sento. A sento is usually not an onsen (hot spring), but it has the same kind of large, communal tub where several people can soak at the same time. As the sento was a place where the local people gathered every night, it also became a natural communication center.
On the wall behind the large tub, there is invariably a large painting and the most common motif by far is Mt. Fuji. To the Japanese, nothing could be more soothing for the body after a long day of hard work than relaxing in a hot tub with a view of Mt. Fuji.
This is an experience you shouldn't miss when you come to Japan. Ask anybody where the nearest sento is, and they will surely be very happy to tell you. A sento is divided into one section for men and one for women, but either way Mt. Fuji will be there waiting for you.

If you feel that just a picture is not enough, you can also go to an onsen at the foot of Mt. Fuji itself, stay at a traditional ryokan inn and soak in an outdoor pool with a view of the real mountain. At the ryokan you can also enjoy dining in Japanese style and sleep on a futon on the tatami-matted floor. A one-night-stay including dinner and breakfast can be found for around 15,000 yen per person, while larger rooms with their own onsen may cost around 40,000 yen. However, if you just want to visit a hot spring, there are also plenty of places open for daytime visitors around the foot of the mountain.

If you are not staying at the inn, the entrance will cost about 1000 yen, but then you can relax in their outdoor pool to your heart's content, and if you can like, you can also order food, a massage or just take it easy in their relaxation room. Actually, Mt. Fuji is especially gorgeous in the late afternoon when the colors are shifting.

There are several amusement parks in the Mt. Fuji area as well. Fuji-Q Highland features the screaming roller coaster Eejanaika, which is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having the highest total number of spins in the world, and Fuji Safari Park has free-ranging African lions and elephants. You can also find strange caves (some of which are frozen) in the mountain, back from the time when it was an active volcano. These are mysterious places, cool in summer but warm in winter.

However, the top attraction is probably the Five Lakes around Mt. Fuji. Particularly Lake Yamanaka and Lake Kawaguchi are lined with resorts, inns and lots of things to see and do, but each of the lakes offers its own unique of the beautiful Mt. Fuji.

The ultimate experience is of course to climb the mountain. The most popular program is to take a bus up to the fifth station in the summer months of July and August, and then climb up at night when it's comparatively cool. Near the summit, at the eighth station, are mountain huts where you can rest before making the final hike up to the top just before dawn. Remember, however, that climbing Japan's highest mountain is far from easy. Proper equipment is essential. Above the eighth station, the air gets thinner to the extent that the mountain huts sell oxygen.
The temperature also gets 20 degrees lower than down below. Make sure you are well prepared before you set off. But once there, the view from the top is outstanding. The Japanese call watching the sunrise from a high mountain “worshipping the sun." Mt. Fuji is a god, and so is the sun. Such is the Japanese view of nature. The excitement of standing on the summit of Mt. Fuji is something you will never forget.

Want to know what Mt. Fuji looks like right now? Here are a couple of live cameras.
Fixed-point observation cameras of Mt. Fuji
Related Information in JNTO website

Related Information

Fuji-Q Highland

5-6-1 Shin-Nishihara. Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture
From Shinjuku, take the JR Chuo Line to Otsuki, and transfer to the Fujikyu Line to Fuji-Q Highland (approx. 2 hours in total).


Fuji Safari Park

2255-27 Suyama, Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture
35 minutes by Fujikyu bus from JR Gotemba station
15 minutes by car from Susono Interchange on the Tomei Expressway


Daytrip Hot Springs

Benifuji no Yu
865-776 Yamanaka, Yamanakako-mura, Minami-tsuru-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture

Ishiwari no Yu
1450 Hirano, Yamanakako-mura, Minami-tsuru-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture

4261 Kamiyoshida, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi Prefecture