Yamanashi prefecture’s Fuji Five Lakes are Lake Yamanaka, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Shojiko, Lake Saiko and Lake Motosu. They are well known for the brilliant views to Mt Fuji – the World Cultural Heritage Site which inspired many products of art, religion and culture. Mt Fuji looks different seen from every different lake, therefore this place is suitable to discover the many faces of Japan’s best known symbol. There is even a pilgrimage route for the old Shinto sect dedicated to appreciating the beauty of Mt Fuji. Let me introduce some of the best observatories around Fuji Five Lakes which also contributed to the registration of the mountain as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
From Lake Yamanaka Mt Fuji looks massive
Lake Yamanaka is the biggest and closest lake to Mt Fuji, therefore the mountain spreads out wide like an open fan seen from here. The so-called “Diamond Mt Fuji” is a famous view from October to February when the setting sun colours the top of the mountain and makes it shine like a precious stone. In the beginning of February the weather is rather stable, so there are many opportunities to enjoy the view of the setting sun. In that period the “Diamond Fuji Weeks” are held with various fireworks, ice candles and other illumination events. You can check the timetable of the sunset and the best observation spots from Lake Yamanaka’s Diamond Fuji website linked in the memo below.
The best spots at the shores of the lake are “Nagaike Shinsui Park” (there is a parking lot) and “Hiranohama”. A bit away from the lake are “Panorama observatory” and “Hana no Miyako Park” (both have parking lots) where you can see great views of Mt Fuji and seasonal flowers. Lake Yamanaka is famous also for its swans. At “Oikehama” you can feed them and if you’re lucky you might even see the gorgeous view of swans swimming in the lake against the background of Mt Fuji.
From Lake Kawaguchi Mt Fuji looks nice and symmetrical
Lake Kawaguchi is the easiest one to access from Tokyo and is also the local tourism and accommodation center. Here the panoramic views of the beautiful symmetrical Mt Fuji have been famous since ancient times. From “Oishi Park” (with a parking lot) and “Nagasaki Park” on the northern shore you can enjoy great seasonal sceneries of Mt Fuji. Various events are held all year round so you will always have interesting things to do and see.
From Lake Shojiko Mt Fuji looks like it’s embracing a child
Lake Shojiko is the smallest among Fuji Five Lakes, but the panoramic view from here is special. Mt Fuji looks like it has embraced its satellite cone Mt Omuro and is therefore called “Child-embracing Fuji”. There are no visible buildings from here and the scenery is rich in nature. The best observatory spot is “Seigan” (with a parking lot). The shore is quite big and you can enjoy your time freely.
The silent and mystical Lake Saiko
Also known as the “Maiden Lake”, Saiko has a peculiar silent and mystical atmosphere. In recent years it has gained popularity as the habitat of an almost extinct species of sockeye salmon.
The best observatory spot here is “Nenbahama”, where Mt Fuji is seen behind the forested hills of Mt Ashiwada’s ridgeline. There is an open-air museum called “Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nenba” (admission fee required) with traditional old thatched-roof houses. The view of Mt Fuji from that village is very peaceful and relaxing. “Saiko Wild Birds Forest Park” is another place where you can enjoy seasonal views of Mt Fuji embraced by the sea of trees. Both of those places are within a few minutes ride from Nenbahama so I recommend stopping by.
From Lake Motosu you can see a view of Mt Fuji that became the model for the image on the thousand-yen bill
Lake Motosu is known for the reflection image of Mt Fuji which was featured in the old five-thousand-yen bill and the current thousand-yen one. The best observatory spot is in front of “Koanso” villa where many photographers and tourists come to enjoy the splendid scenery. The image on the back of the bill is based on Okada Koyo’s photo “Spring near the lake”. In fact that photo was taken about 20 minutes away from Koanso villa, after climbing up a hiking path. I recommend going there too.
Each of the Mt Fuji views seen from Fuji Five Lakes has a peculiar and different charm. I only introduced several observation spots, but there are many others I couldn’t list. Nevertheless, I hope this article can be used as a reference for your trip to Fuji Five Lakes.
You might find useful the “Fuji Five Lakes Are Guide” made by the local Tourism Association to introduce the various hiking trails and maps in the region. Check also “Fujiyama Navi Guide” for more information about the public transportation. In any case be sure to discover for yourself the different natural faces of the majestic Mt Fuji!