Mt Fuji was registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site in June 2013. Topographically, it is a single stratovolcano peak (a single conical mountain) in a big rift valley, so you can see its pretty conical body until the mountain foot from everywhere. Especially in winter when the air is dry and there are no clouds you can see the entire mountain from many different places. I will now introduce several such observatories close to parking lots where you can see Mt Fuji and take a photo of it using even some large equipment.
First let’s go to Tozawa campsite on the north shore of Kawaguchiko lake and see the red Mt Fuji and its reflection in the water right after the daybreak!
Lake Kawaguchiko is located on the north side of Mt Fuji. From its northern shore you can see both the mountain and its upside down reflection in the water. The best place is at Tozawa center campsite which is close to the lake, there are no reeds and you can take a clear picture of Mt Fuji, the opposite bank and the water surface. You can do that directly from the parking lot, so take only the most necessary things if you’re carrying large equipment. In fact there is a more popular observatory at Oishi Park about 500 meters to the west, but I recommend the Tozawa center campsite.
If you consider the early time of the photo shoot, then it is pretty difficult to go there if you don’t take a car. In order to take a picture of the red Mt Fuji, you need to come before the dawn and would wish to have some time to set the equipment and wait for the best opportunity. In winter you’d want to come before 6 in the morning. As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm.
Collaboration between Mt Fuji and the mist on the lake surface. The backlighting composition with the mist is beautiful!
In the early cold hours the lake surface is warmer than the ground and when it comes in contact with the chill air, water vapor begins to rise. In sunny days the strong sunbeams make this mist look orange and this is known as “kearashi”. Mt Fuji is beautiful behind this natural phenomenon. The “kearashi” view is well visible near the lake, so I recommend a place where you can drive car almost to the water. One such observatory is at Kangakuen campsite on the northern shore of Lake Saiko. Drive westwards from Tozawa center campsite to Saiko and Shojiko for about 8.6 kilometers.
Around this place there are hot springs, so the water is warmer and “kearashi” phenomenon occurs easily. However, the backlighting can be a problem for taking photos in the morning. I cannot go in details, but for good photos you need underexposure.
By the way, there is a hot spring called “Izumi no yu” nearby. It’s great for warming up your body after an early morning observation of Mt Fuji. Think about it.
A view of Mt Fuji’s flat western summit and its symmetrical ridgeline. See it together with the mystical beauty of the morning mist.
From the west side Mt Fuji’s ridgeline looks ideally symmetric and there are horn-shaped parts where the ridge meets the flat summit, so the mountain looks like drawn in a picture. A popular observatory is Lake Tanuki in Fujinomiya city, but I want to introduce a relatively more accessible place near National Route 139.
First, drive to Fujinomiya city’s “Michi no Eki Asamoya Kogen”. Park the car, take the equipment and head towards “Fujimi observatory” near the parking lot. You will see Fuji to the west. Of course, this is just one suggestion, and because the forests are rather thick here you can only see the upper side of Mt Fuji’s body. But let me introduce another good observatory.
It is located on the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, about 500-600 meters north from “Michi no Eki” along National Route 139. In the early morning you can see quite a big part of Mt Fuji’s ridgeline, as shown on the photo, and the mountain’s foot is covered in mystical morning mist while the upper body is lit by the sun so that the horns are clearly visible. However, the sunlight from the right can be really strong, so taking a photo will be rather hard. If you don’t mind missing the morning mist, then you can easily take a photo in the afternoon.
In cold and windy days you can see Mt Fuji not covered in any clouds from the south. Let’s see its rising figure from behind Lake Ashinoko.
South of Mt Fuji is Mt Ashitaka (1504 m), so if you look from Numazu the mountain’s foot is covered by Mt Ashitaka. I will now introduce one such place where you can avoid Mt Ashitaka. First take Hakone Turnpike and head towards Daikanzan drive-in. There is a big parking lot with a rest house so you it’s easy to find. Actually, even from here you can see Mt Fuji across Lake Ashinoko, but the lake appears quite to the left and Mt Futago to the right obstructs the view. From Daikanzan drive-in continue about one kilometer westwards to Hakone town and you will find a small parking lot called Fujimi-toge. It is right in front of Lake Ashinoko, so Mt Fuji is well visible exactly behind it. As this is the south side, the morning sunlight falls directly on the mountain and makes the snow shine. It is direct light, so taking a photo is easy. But I only recommend cold and windy days, because there are often clouds from this side.
Let’s put our hands together in a prayer upon seeing the majestic view of Mt Fuji and its long ridgeline lit by the sun
A little east of Hakone’s Fujimi-toge you can find a place high up the Hakone mountains from where the entire ridgeline of Mt Fuji is visible together with the surrounding plains. That is Gotenba’s Otome pass. Exit Tomei highway from Gotenba IC, continue along National Route 138 to Hakone and at the border of Shizuoka and Kanagawa prefectures you will find the mountain pass. The actual pass is a tunnel, but right before it there is a parking lot called Fujimi-chaya which is the observatory. I recommend going on cold and windy days, so that you can see the entire body of Mt Fuji with Gotenba city in the plains – a splendid wide panorama. You will be impressed at how well visible Mt Fuji is from this south-east side and you will put your hands together in a prayer! The snow shines at the direct sunlight. It is easy to take a photo from this place.
The observatory is best accessible by car, but the parking lot is quite small so there is also the option of taking a bus from Gotenba city.
A real World Heritage Site! There are many more great observatories
Here I introduced 5 observatories from which to see Mt Fuji, but there are many other recommended places. All of them depend on the weather. The best time is early morning till noon, when the air is dry and the north wind is cold in the winter, so that there are no clouds and you can see Mt Fuji’s best appearance. Don’t you wish to see Mt Fuji’s many different faces? Please use this article when you plan your Mt Fuji trip.
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