Ask people to name one symbol of Japan and undoubtedly Mount Fuji will be up there as one of the top answers. While the country’s largest peak is climbable only one season of the year, there are plenty of things to do around it all year round.
With family-friendly activities such as crafts and camping, to baths and cycling, there is something to please everyone, from culture vultures to outdoor lovers. Let’s take a look.
1. Art Attack at Kawaguchi Craft Park
Lake Kawaguchi is the most tourist-friendly of the Fuji Five Lakes, offering visitors a brilliant view of the mountain. Kawaguchi Craft Park features many different crafting opportunities, all available while gazing upon the majestic peak.
It has a range of craft activities on offer, from making snow globes, complete with a mini-Mount Fuji, through to suncatchers and jewelry.
Each craft course is bookable online, lasting from 15 to 90 minutes, with a range of crafts suitable for young children and adults.
When finished, visitors can relax by soaking their feet in the free footbath, looking out over Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi.
2. Explore One of Aokigahara’s Hidden Caves of Wind and Ice
Aokigahara, otherwise known as ‘Sea of Trees’ or the ‘Suicide Forest’ is best entered with an experienced guide. When Fuji erupted over 1,000 years ago, many caves were formed in the forest, that are explorable to this day.
The Wind Cave is one of the best known, and depending on the tour, visitors need to don helmets and protective boiler suits before venturing down into its depths. Many tours start at Narusawa Michi-no-Eki and English-speaking guides are on hand to explain the sights down below.
The other famous lava cave is the Ice Cave, where visitors are treated to impressive ice formations in its cavernous depths. Start your adventure here.
3. Museum Hopping Around Kawaguchi and Yamanaka
For those who love a bit of culture, the five museums around Mount Fuji have a surprisingly rich selection of museums. The interesting (or maybe creepy for some) Teddy Bear Museum at Lake Yamanaka is very close to the Literature Forest, which includes a Yukio Mishima Museum.
From there, head to Lake Kawaguchi for the hands-on Music Forest area, the Itchiku Kubota Museum and one of the several Mount Fuji Museums. For novel souvenirs, the Gem Museum and Herb Garden make excellent stop points.
4. Become a Swan (on a) Lake
Lake Yamanaka is known for its boat rides, and these boats are not your average river cruisers. Its most famous is the Swan Boat, a luxury liner designed by Eiji Mitooka, which offers guests the chance to appreciate impressive Fuji views from relative comfort.
Gliding around the lake in a double-decker swan bus, admire the view and even feed the (real) swans. Each ride lasts around 25 minutes, with child-friendly features including binoculars and steering wheels. Swan food is also purchasable.
5. Savor Fuji Food
As one of the most recognizable symbols of the Japanese archipelago, Mount Fuji has been replicated in almost every way possible. This includes food such as Mount Fuji-shaped shoku-pan, curry bread, curry, hamburgers, desserts and ice cream. Some of the most popular examples include Mount Fuji bread from Fujisan Shokupan bakery in Kawaguchi and blue Mount Fuji curry.
6. Woosh Down the Kachi Kachi Ropeway
Officially known as the Lake Kawaguchi Panoramic Ropeway, the top of this 400-meter-long ropeway features a special kachi kachi mountain view swing.
Suitable for grownups (up to 100kg) and children over 100cm, swing high over the mountain and back again, heading to one of the shops on the plateau. The shops sell snacks such as rice cakes, ice cream and souvenirs including Mount Fuji-shaped rice crackers, amulets and omamori. Buy a gift before heading to the bottom via the ropeway.
7. Soak in a Hot Spring with Mount Fuji Water
The hot springs around Mount Fuji provide some of the most relaxing places to gaze at the mountain. One of our favorite ones is the Hottarakashi Hot Spring in Yamanashi Prefecture.
Suitable for those with tattoos, Hottarakashi is a simple hot spring, known for its incredible views of Mount Fuji and a top-quality souvenir shop. Its most interesting point is that visitors pick one of two baths upon entry, either ‘Here’ or ‘There.’ Many guests flip a coin to decide.
8. Seek Thrills at Fuji-Q Highland
Mount Fuji’s local theme park, Fuji-Q Highland offers riders spectacular views of Mount Fuji. Speed by at breakneck pace down one of its roller coasters, while catching a quick shot of the mountain. Perch in a tiny carriage at the top of a big drop, with a moment to take in the breathtaking view before shooting down again.
Fuji-Q is the perfect spot for thrill-seekers who enjoy nature too. Younger guests will enjoy Thomas Land and Gaspard and Lisa. More details here.
9. Cycle Around the Five Lakes
Keen cyclists or even just those who fancy a short pootle can take their bikes or rent one for the weekend at one of the many rental places around the lakes. It’s predominantly flat which makes for an easy cycling course while taking in the beautiful scenery.
It’s especially popular come fall, when the temperature is perfect and autumn leaves are in their full glory.
10. Barbecue by the Lake
One of the most popular activities at the lakes is to camp, with a myriad of camping sites across all five, each with its own characteristics. For glampers, campers or even cottagers, there is something for everyone.
No matter what the day, kick back and relax with a barbecue by one of the lakes. Take equipment or borrow some. There are sites that even offer full, food-included deals to take the stress out of planning and ensure guests can relax properly, after a fun-filled day.