Do you know Japan’s tallest mountain? It’s hard to get this wrong. But if you said Mt. Fuji (富士山), congratulations! Standing at 3,776m, Mt. Fuji is Japan’s tallest mountain and one of the country’s most recognizable symbols, often referenced in works of art, and likely the most popular attraction on the island next to the many buzzing metropolises. This colossal mountain is just 100 short kilometres south-west of Tokyo and is popularly hiked at night so as to catch the infamous morning light or 御来光 goraikō, meaning “arrival of light”.
Of course, you cannot take a camper on Mt. Fuji and while that sounds amazing, we don’t actually think it’s a wise choice. Instead there are five lakes that surround Mt. Fuji—known as the Fuji-goko or the Fuji Five Lakes – where we will introduce some great scenic spots and campgrounds where you can experience one of Japan’s most inspirational images.
The first lake is the one closest to Tokyo—Lake Yamanaka. Of the five lakes, Lake Yamanaka has the largest area. Located near this lake is Hananomiyako-koen, a beautiful flower garden perfect for a morning or afternoon wander. Every season, different flowers bloom in this garden. The combination of the beautiful flowers and Mt. Fuji in the background make for a postcard-perfect photo to send back to your jealous friends and family at home.
The second lake is Lake Kawaguchi, which has the second largest area. Ōishi-koen, which is located on the shores of the lake, has a host of delightful shops where you can buy souvenirs, food, and some fresh vegetables that were picked from nearby. You can’t put up tents here, but we highly recommend taking a nice break in a campervan.
Up next is Lake Sai. One of the items on the to-do list of many people visiting Japan is to visit the onsen, or hot springs. Located next to the Jiyū Campgrounds is a hot spring called Izuminoyu. It’s within walking distance from the campgrounds so you can visit it either during or after enjoying nearby activities and hikes. Enjoy camping as you gaze the panorama of the blue waters and the greenery. Most campgrounds ban open flames, so make sure you light your fire on a stand or in an approved canister.
And just when you’re getting tired of the scenery, be sure to visit one of Japan’s old villages nearby called Saiko Iyashi No-sato Nenba. If you have time, we highly recommend you visit it. The site of an old farming village is neatly packed with relics, reconstructed homes and other buildings, brimming with locals selling their wares perfect for gifts and treasures.
The fourth lake is Lake Shōji. Of the five, it has the smallest area. This lake offers you a view that none of the other lakes can offer. Can you see that there is another smaller mountain in front of Mt. Fuji? This scenery is called Kodaki-fuji, or “child-holding Fuji.” It’s such a famous photo that it has its own name! If you decide to stop by the Lake Shōji campgrounds, you can enjoy this rare view, which we highly recommend pulling the big camera out for.
Lake Motosu has a campground called the Kōan Campgrounds that allows you to see Mt. Fuji from a close distance. In fact, the view of Mt. Fuji from this lake is the exact same image that is found on the 1,000 yen note! It’s a relatively quiet place that allows campers to enjoy Mt. Fuji up close while gazing at the majestic Lake Motosu. When you wake up, you’ll be greeted by an enormous panorama of the lake and Mt. Fuji we think is best seen during sunrise. Also, if the wind is not strong, you’ll be able to catch an “upside-down Fuji” – called sakasa-fuji. An upside-down Here, you can enjoy activities like windsurfing, canoeing, SUP, diving, and fishing to your heart’s content.
And finally on our list of camping spots around Mt. Fuji is a campground 15km south of Lake Motosu, known as the Fumotoppara campground. What separates this campground from the others is the large open field and the up-close view of Mt. Fuji. You can run all you want in this seemingly endless grassland where new friends and memories are made.
No doubt there may be more places that we haven’t discovered or shared yet in the Mt. Fuji area. While there, try using the following phrase: “konohen ni osusume no camp-joo, arimasuka?” (Are there any recommended campsites around here?) and be sure to report back to us with any findings. Good luck and happy trails.