A Day Exploring the Fuji Five Lakes Area - Chureito Pagoda


The typical tourist takes a day trip from Shinjuku to visit the Fuji Five Lakes. To beat them, do not start the trip from Tokyo. I started from Numazu although an even better alternative was Gotemba, but the budget hotel chain I liked didn't have a choice there. I got a Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Area Tourist Pass Mini, which costs 5080 yen and covers JR lines in Shizuoka and Fujikyu buses that take an hour from Gotemba to Kawaguchiko.

At This Stop

Mount Fuji can be elusive at times and the tourist literature says the clearest times are early morning or sunset. Even when it is blue sky all around you, there may be a wandering cloud that covers up the top. Research the weather forecast the night before and watch the skies as you start your day.

One of the postcard shots of Fuji is from a pagoda uphill from Shimoyoshida station. This train ride from Kawaguchiko is not covered by the pass as this is not a JR line.

Shimoyoshida is a small train station but is used to seeing many tourists. There are a few trains parked here permanently, forming a miniature museum that is worth a peek as you wait for your train.

The Thomas train has details down to the seat back.

Upon arriving, follow the signs through the residential streets and the long series of staircases that rise up to the Chureito Pagoda. There is also a service road hugging next to it which would be slightly better for your legs.

After an exhausting hike up, you will get a very nice view of the urbanized area and the surrounding mountains.

The Chureito Pagoda is actually a memorial to the war-dead. The structure itself is not open to the public but the crowds head up the observation area behind it to get that postcard shot of a Japanese pagoda with Mount Fuji. However, since it is on a slope and forested, getting the right light for a portrait photograph is difficult, but if you are looking for a scenery-only picture, this place won't disappoint.

Paved paths lead further uphill to a few pavilions with an even more serene vantage point of Fuji.

Watch the train schedule and budget your time heading back downhill, which should take under 15 minutes from pagoda to the train station.

I was lucky to catch another Thomas-themed train for the short ride back to Kawaguchiko station.

This pagoda is heavily touristed as the postcard photo is famous around the world. However, riding the interesting train here is as much worth the experience as the nice hike up to the vantage point. Expect to set aside 2 hours for a quick visit as a side trip from the Five Lakes.

My Day in the Fuji Five Lakes Area

Depart From


Arrive at

Covered by the Pass?

Kawaguchiko 1:20pm

Fujikyu Railway

Shimoyoshida 1:34pm


Shimoyoshida 2:47pm

Fujikyu Railway

Fujisan 2:52pm


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