Having climbed Mt. Fuji 3 times, I can understand many wanting to get out of anything to do with Mt. Fuji! “Want to go to Mt Fuji?” “Not, if you are climbing it…………….!!”
However, there is actually much more to do around Mt. Fuji than just climb it or take photos of its beauty and perfect form in the distance.
Did you know that Fuji is also famous for the 5 lakes that surround it; Lake Motosuko, Lake Shojiko, Lake Saiko, Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Yamanako, known in Japanese as “Fuji Go-ko” (ko being “lake” and go being “five”)? If you are into walking there are many wonderful walking courses around all of the lakes that offer stunning views.
On the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko sits Fuji’s best hotel; Fuji Lake Hotel. You can choose views of the lake or views of Mt. Fuji; both are scenic, picturesque, and beautiful. They offer great breakfast and dinner packages, and the hotel is used to and comfortable with foreign guests. The hotel is centrally located and a convenient starting place from which to visit the many museums in the area.
If you are looking for a bit more excitement than a walk-in by the lake or a cup of coffee under the mountain you might enjoy some roller coasters and amusement park fun! One of Japan’s most popular, and apparently “scary,” amusement parks is “FujiQ Highland” The official website is here; http://www.fujiq.jp/en/. Just be ready to spend the day with a lot of very young people!
All of the above can be accessed very reasonably from Nagoya by FujiQ bus (the Nagoya part is not on their English website) for just 4,000 yen (one-way). There are only a couple of buses per day, but the rate of 4,000 yen is very reasonable. In summer, camping in the area is fantastic. There are a variety of places to camp available, especially around Lake Yamanako. Though it hardly needs to be mentioned, like anywhere else of note in Japan the area boasts a number of great onsens to choose from.
If you can go by car, do so. there is much more to do and see by car! Fuji Safari Park is a really fantastic place to get your Japan jungle experience. I have never seen lions and tigers up so close! After driving through the safari zone there is a really good “interactive zoo” to wander around that your kids will really enjoy! Half a day is probably a good amount of time to spend at the Safari Park.
Just up the road from the lions and tigers, there is a very kid-friendly amusement park called “Grinpa.” While FujiQ is more adult orientated, Grinpa is aimed at younger children. There is a great indoor “playpen” for toddlers and pre-elementary kids that is chocker full of all sorts of kids toys, books, games and more. These two parks are over the other side of Mt. Fuji towards Gotenba, and can be easily accessed from the “New Tomei No. 2 Highway”. The “Shin-Tomei (New Tomei) is a pristine highway with state of the art rest areas and some of the best tunneling infrastructure you have ever seen.
If you are looking for a great weekend getaway location why not make the trip to Mt Fuji and experience some of these lesser-known, but absolutely fantastic locations? Mt. Fuji; it’s not just for looking pretty and climbing any more!