Rising 3776 meters above sea level, Mount Fuji is Japan's tallest mountain and most iconic landmark. Images of the nearly perfect, solitary volcano have appeared in paintings, wood block prints and other artworks for centuries. Some collections even attempt to capture the essence of seeing the mountain from various viewpoints, Hokusai's popular "36 Views of Mount Fuji" being a prime example.
There are many opportunities for travelers to enjoy views of Mount Fuji. Of course, the most obvious would be to climb the mountain, as you cannot help but see the slopes as you plod along the trails up to the peak. But the climbing season only lasts for a few months and frankly, Mount Fuji looks better from afar than from close up.
Mount Fuji can be seen from countless points in the surrounding regions, seemingly assuming a different character from each perspective. On the clearest of days, its white capped peak may be visible from hundreds of kilometers away; however, more often than not the view of the mountaintop is obstructed by low hanging clouds or poor visibility. To increase your chances of success, try to see the mountain in the early mornings or late afternoons, especially during the colder winter months when visibility tends to better than during summer. The mountain's famous snow cap is typically visible from around November to around May.
The Fuji Five Lakes region on the northern slopes of Mount Fuji offers visitors the highest chance for good views of the mountain due to its proximity. The more distant Hakone is also a popular place to see the mountain, but odds of catching clear views are lower there since it needs to be clear both in Hakone and around the mountain. The following list includes these and other good spots from which to get a nice view of Mount Fuji:
On clear days, many of Tokyo's observation decks offer interesting views of Mount Fuji in contrast with the urban skyline of Tokyo. Thanks to an improvement in air quality, the number of days that Mount Fuji is visible from central Tokyo has steadily risen over the past decades and now stands at over 120.
Bunkyo Civic Center
Hours: 9:00 to 20:30
Closed: 3rd Sunday in May, December 29 to January 3
Of the numerous observation decks in Tokyo, the centrally located Bunkyo Civic Center provides some of the most striking views of Mount Fuji, as the mountain can be seen looming large behind the skyscrapers of the Shinjuku district.
Mount Takao (Takaosan)
Takaosan is a wooded mountain in western Tokyo and one of the closest places to the city where you can enjoy nature and hiking. On clear days Mount Fuji is visible from the the mountain's summit and from the trail that continue westward along the ridge.
The Tokaido Shinkansen runs south of Mount Fuji allowing travelers a view of the mountain from the trains as they whiz by. The fields south of the track also offer nice views of the trains and the mountain together.
From the train
Mount Fuji can be seen from the Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Osaka. When coming from Tokyo, the mountain appears on the right side of the train and is best viewed around Shin-Fuji Station, about 40-45 minutes into the journey.
Together with the train
The famous view of Mount Fuji in combination with shinkansen trains can be enjoyed from the farmland east of central Fuji City.
Just north of the mountain, the Fuji Five Lake region offers some of the best views of Mount Fuji. There are several vantage points around the lakes from which to get beautiful views of the mountain. The area is also one of only a few places in Japan were you can see the rare "Double Diamond Fuji", i.e. Mount Fuji together with its reflection just as the rising or setting sun touches the mountain's peak.
Northern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko
The northern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko offers some of the most breathtaking views of the mountain that sometimes come with a reflection in the lake. The shores offer views of the lake and mountain in combination with cherry blossoms usually around mid April and in combination with autumn colors usually around mid November.
The Chureito Pagoda is a five storied pagoda on the mountainside overlooking Fujiyoshida City. The pagoda is one of Fujigoko's most popular cherry blossom spots where you can get beautiful views of Mount Fuji rising up through a sea of cherry blossoms.
Lake Yamanakako is the easternmost, largest and second most developed of the Fuji Five Lakes. There are good views of the mountain from the lake, especially along the northern shore.
Oshino Hakkai is a small, touristy village northeast of Mount Fuji between Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Yamanakako. Visitors can enjoy views of the mountain together with the thatched roofs of the Hannoki Bayashi Shiryokan open air museum from an observation deck near the entrance to the museum.
Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway
The Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway leads to an observation deck overlooking Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchiko from 400 meters up the side of Mount Tenjo. A hiking trail leads from here to Mount Mitsutoge, a popular day hike with good views of Mount Fuji.
Lake Motosuko is the westernmost of the five lakes and largely undeveloped. A famous view of the mountain from the lake's northwestern shore appears on Japan's 1000 yen bill. Unfortunately, it is rather difficult to reach by public transportation as many buses only stop along the eastern side of the lake.
Fuji Shibazakura Festival
Held between mid April to early June near Lake Motosuko, the Fuji Shibazakura Festival is one of the best places to see pink moss (shibazakura). The flowers usually looks best around the first three weeks of May.
Hakone offers some of the most beautiful views of Mount Fuji... when you can actually see it. Unfortunately visibility is often poor, especially during midday when fog and low clouds may gather on the mountain.
The Moto Hakone area along the southern shores of Lake Ashinoko offers the classic Hakone view of the lake in combination with Mount Fuji. Nice views can also be enjoyed from the Hakone Detached Palace and from the sightseeing boats that ply the lake.
Owakudani is an active volcanic "hell valley" on the northern slopes of Mount Hakone. On clear days Mount Fuji can be seen from the walking paths that lead around the area's fuming hot spring fields and from the ropeway that connects Togendai with Owakudani.
Gotemba Premium Outlets
Outlet shoppers can enjoy views of Mount Fuji from the Gotemba Premium Outlets, one of the most popular outlet malls in Japan. The outlet mall features over 200 international and domestic brand stores located down in the valley between Hakone and the mountain.
The Miura Peninsula is a small peninsula south of Yokohama that is popular for its beaches. On a clear day, Mount Fuji can be seen from the beaches on the western side of the peninsula.
Western coast of Miura Peninsula
From Zushi to Miura, the beaches along the western coast of the Miura Peninsula offer good views of Mount Fuji across the bay.
The Izu Peninsula is a popular hot spring and resort area south of Mount Fuji. The best views are from the peninsula's western coast where you can see the mountain together with coastal scenery.
Western coast of Izu Peninsula
The western coast of the Izu Peninsula offers good views of Mount Fuji, especially from around Heda where you can see the mountain in combination with beautiful coastal scenery.
Parts of Shizuoka City offer nice views of Mount Fuji, especially from around the Shimizu Port area.
The Nihondaira Plateau offers an elevated view of Mount Fuji together with the rolling green tea fields and urban Shimizu Port town below. It is often combined with a visit to Kunozan Toshogu Shrine.
Miho Beach is a three kilometer long, pine tree lined beach along a peninsula on the western coast of Suruga Bay. Famous for the views of its pebbly shoreline in combination with Mount Fuji, Miho Beach was recently added to the list of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites together with Mount Fuji for this very reason.
Some flights to/from Tokyo's Haneda Airport closely pass by Mount Fuji, offering passengers a bird's eye view.
From the Airplane
The best views of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed on domestic flights heading from Tokyo's Haneda Airport to destinations in western Japan, when the planes often fly very close to - if not right above - the mountain. Flights from western Japan in the direction of Haneda Airport usually pass further south, but can still provide nice views.
One of the most relaxing ways to see Mount Fuji is from an onsen bath. There are a few popular hot spring resort towns around the mountain; however, there are surprisingly few ryokan and public baths from where you can actually view the mountain while relaxing in the steaming hot water.
Hot springs around the Fuji Five Lakes
Many hot spring baths are scattered around the Fuji Five Lake area, but surprisingly few of them have views of Mount Fuji from their pools. Several ryokan along the northeastern shores of Lake Kawaguchiko offer baths with that luxury, as do the public baths Yurari south of Lake Saiko and Benifuji no Yu at Lake Yamanakako.
Hot springs around Hakone
The number of hot spring baths with views of Mount Fuji in Hakone is even lower. Among the exceptions is the Green Plaza Hotel near Togendai whose outdoor baths allow the mountain to be viewed when visibility is good. The baths are also open to non-staying guests for an admission fee during limited daytime hours.
Two small ski resorts can be found on the lower slopes of Mount Fuji that offer skiers and snowboarders a unique view of the mountain as they barrel down its slopes.
Fujiten Snow Resort
The larger of the two ski resorts on Mount Fuji, Fujiten Snow Resort lies along the northern base of the mountain and its facilities offer some nice views of the peak. The park has a good selection of runs for its size, as well as a large kids park with sledding, innertubing, ski lessons, and other snow related activities suited toward children.
Snow Town Yeti
Located on the south slopes of the mountain, Snow Town Yeti is far from being the largest ski resort in Japan. However, considering that it is the earliest ski resort in the country to open each season (opening around mid October, albeit with manmade snow) and one of only two ski resorts on the slopes on Mount Fuji, it may be well worth it for snow fans to keep Snow Town Yeti on their radar.
information source: japan-guide.com