IT’S ONE of Japan’s Holy Mountains, a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, a Historic Site and a World Heritage Site. It has inspired poets and artists for centuries.
But I have only seen the hazy figure of Mt. Fuji’s perfect cone from the viewing decks of Tokyo’s towers. I said I will see it up close from one of the Fujigoko (or the Fuji Five Lakes: Yamanakako, Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Shojiko, and Motosuko) at Mt. Fuji’s northern foot in the Yamanashi prefecture. These lakes were formed when the lava flow from a volcanic eruption dammed up rivers. That went into my bucket list.
The Universe granted my wish. On my recent Sakura-viewing trip to Tokyo, my hosts, John & Mitos, arranged a Mt. Fuji viewing road trip. Luck was on my side. It was a chance to see the mountain with cherry blossoms on its foreground.
However, Yamanashi’s cold temperature didn’t allow the sakura to bloom yet. But let me count my blessings—I got to view the magnificent snow-capped cone from, not one, but two lakes—Kawaguchiko and Yamanakako. Plus, the sunny and almost cloudless day in spring offered an unobstructed view of the Mt. Fuji. It was perfect.
The first stop was lake Kawaguchiko. It’s the most accessible of the five lakes (Kawaguchiko Town, southeast of the lake, is the region's transportation hub) and the most developed (ryokans and hotels populate the eastern shore). It’s the second largest of the Fuji Five Lakes, located at the center and has the lowest elevation. The northern shores offer the best view of Mt. Fuji.
More exciting was the stop at lake Yamanakako. It is the largest, the easternmost of the five lakes and the second most developed. The small towns at both ends of the lake are popular destinations for water and lakeside sports. The northern coast offers a good view of the mountain.
Perhaps I will check out the other three lakes someday.
Lake Saiko’s is a small lake and its area is barely developed. However, the place is still considered to be a good destination for outdoor activities. The lake’s western tip is a good place to view Mt. Fuji. The other parts have other mountains partially blocking the view of the perfect cone.
The smallest of the lakes is Shojiko. Its development is limited to a few hotels along the northern shore. Unlike Saiko, Shojiko presents nice views of Mt. Fuji from all around.
Also a good place to view Mt. Fuji is the lake Motosuko, the westernmost of the five lakes. Except for a few campgrounds, the lake is also barely developed. It’s edge among the other lakes? This lake’s view of Mt. Fuji is printed on the 1000 yen note.
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