I did a trip to Japan in 2013. I specifically went in the beginning of April as that was the time of the famous Sakura Festival at Mount Fuji. I was staying in Tokyo, and Mount Fuji is about a 3 hour drive away from the city. The festival and blooming of the cherry blossoms are very specific to these two weeks in April. I was so intent on capturing those photos of the scenery.
How to get to Mount Fuji
I took a bus at Tokyo at the busiest metro stop, Shinjuku. No need to pre-book a bus ticket, I simply bought one on the spot and waited for about 15 minutes to board. You can also take the train to little town called Fujiyoshida at the foot of the mountain.Seeing the famous snow covered peak looming outside the window, was pretty breathtaking!
The bus drops you off at the metro stop in the little town. There’s not much transport going on and the town is really small. I could walk to my hostel, but I asked for a pick-up instead.The town is dead quiet, nothing happening at all. I stayed at K’s Hostel Mount Fuji, in fact they have several of their budget friendly hostels around Japan. I loved staying with them, clean facilities, friendly staff and comfortable. At the Mount Fuji hostel, they had a huge kitchen, a lounge, dining tables and a traditional styled tv area.
I took the train to Chureito Pagoda. You have to climb a steep hill up the mountain where it’s located. The pagoda is bright red and boasts the best views of the town and of the mountain. The steep walk was worth it. It was covered with beautiful cherry blossoms. The best times to get great pictures are in the early morning before 11 am or at dusk.
I really wanted to take those iconic pictures of Mount Fuji amidst the cherry blossoms, so I had to wake up super early. I wanted my perfect pictures! So I was up at 6 am o.o! I walked down to the serene Lake Kawaguchiko which also offers pretty views of the mountain while being surrounded by cherry blossoms. You can still see wisps of smoke rising out form the volcano top throughout the day.
The lake is a must see and a delight for any photography enthusiast!
The Cherry Blossoms
Let’s not forget the amazing blossoms found all over the charming little town and along the mountains. Cherry, plum and apple blossoms all litter the trees and roads everywhere. The variety of blossoms all bloom different flower shapes and hues from white to shocking pink!
My short stay at Fujiyoshida was very relaxed. Not much happens around this sleepy town which lies at the foot of this iconic mountain. The evenings are really quiet. My hostel had a large area in traditional Japanese design and style, where me and the other hostel guests chilled out in and watched movies in the evening. If you’re not going to do any of the hikes up the mountain, then you can keep your stay here short. Two days was more than enough. Hiking this mountain is def next on my list.
- I originally planned 3 days at Mount Fuji, but I didn’t realise how far it actually was from Tokyo. So I had to leave a day earlier and spend my last day in Tokyo. If you have an early morning flight to catch, staying over at Fujiyoshida is not a good idea. The drive alone is 3 hours, you still have to wait for the bus, then travel to the airport outside of Tokyo.
- Fujiyoshida is still pretty cool during this time, especially in the mornings and evenings. Bring a warm jacket.
- You’ll be doing lots of walking to get to the nice spots. There is a train, but to walk to the lake and pagoda mean you’ll have to wear comfy shoes.
- To get more helpful info on traveling to Japan check out Japan Guide. I found all sorts of cool advice on when and where to take the best pictures on your visit! (Check out their website: http://www.japan-guide.com/)
- There are a few restaurants in town, but for a budget traveller like me I opted for cooking my own meals by getting some groceries at the supermarket. The supermarket was well stocked too.