Majestic Mt. Fuji

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 An iconic image of Japan, the majestic Mt. Fuji, can be seen for miles.  Admiration for Japan’s highest and most famous peak dates back to the country’s earliest recorded literature.  Today, the active volcano, which erupted most recently in 1708, continues to captivate both Japanese and international visitors. Its nearly perfectly-shaped peak is often only visible in the morning, before ducking behind the clouds. However, it’s been said that the mountain’s elusiveness is part of its charm. Visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons, when the beautiful peak is snow-capped.

Recently, Mt. Fuji was added to the World Heritage list as a Cultural Site on June 22nd, 2013. It was selected as a cultural site rather than a natural one because UNESCO found that the mountain is an inspiration for artists and poets and has been the object of pilgrimage for centuries.

For those wanting to climb it, the mountain is divided into ten stations, from the base to #10, the summit.   Official climbing season runs from July 1- August 31st. Outside of the relatively short season, be sure to check weather conditions before setting out, as snow and icy conditions can quickly turn the mountain into a serious hazard.

If mountain climbing isn’t really your thing, the area surrounding Mt. Fuji is definitely still worth a visit.

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Nearby is Lake Kawaguchi, with a quiet, peaceful town surrounding it.  Here, you can rent a swan-shaped pedal boat and get out on the water, taking in the scenery. There are also numerous gift shops and restaurants to wander through.

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You can also take the Kachi Kachi Yama Ropeway up to a Mt. Fuji viewing area. The cable car ride takes about 3 minutes to travel the 220 metres up to the observation area.

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A roundtrip ride in the cable car costs 700 yen. Or, you can opt to buy a one-way ticket for 400 yen and take a 45-minute hike the other way. (You can also get package deals with other attractions in the area.)

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If hiking is your thing, there are numerous trails you can take from the observation area. During the summer, the lookout area becomes a beautiful garden covered in huge purple hydrangeas and other native plants.

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Aside from the mountain itself, the observation area is one of the top tourist spots in the region. There are several photo sites set up where you can turn your photo into your own souvenir postcard with Mt. Fuji standing (or hiding) in the background. The Bell of Tenjo is a heart-shaped statue where lovers come to get their photo taken and ring the lucky bell.

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It’s said your wish will come true if you ring the bell while looking at Mt. Fuji. The Tanuki shop has souvenirs and snacks, including their specialty – Tanuki (raccoon) dumplings baked over charcoal.  The Usagi Shrine is dedicated to the rabbit, which comes from an old Japanese story titled “Mt. Kachi Kachi.” Here, you can stroke the Fujimi Usagi to get strong legs and the Yumemi Usagi to gain wisdom.

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The Mt. Fuji region is a great place to explore and leave behind the hustle and bustle of busy Tokyo. Transportation is easy, with numerous buses making the 2.5-3 hour journey from Tokyo to the mountain region daily. Kawaguchiko Station hosts a tourist shop to help you plan your day, as well as a gift shop to take home memories of the mountain.

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At the end of your day exploring what the Kawaguchi area has to offer, head back to the station’s restaurant and grab a delicious bowl of Udon noodles and a cold Fujiyama beer to toast your trip to Japan’s majestic mountain.

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