On the north side of Fuji-san, the honorific title given to the majestic form of Mount Fuji, are five small lakes that comprise the Fujigoko region in Japan. Also known as “Fuji Five Lakes” in English, this area is popular not just for those looking to conquer the beautiful mountain, but also for the natural beauty that has sprung up along the foot of Fuji-san. From the five lakes themselves reflecting the perfect peak of the stone giant, visitors enjoy taking strolls along the forest trails, eating the region’s famous udon noodles, and playing out on the lakes in boats both motorized and man-powered.
The subject of much admiration in literature and art throughout the past few hundred years, Mount Fuji, or Fuji-san, is one of the most iconic symbols of Japan besides the kimono and the blooming of the cherry blossoms. This volcanic cone is over 12,300 feet tall and still active, though the last known eruption occurred in the early 18th century. To climb the mountain, visitors have the option of starting from the base and hiking up the entire mountain through all 10 “base stations”, or taking a bus to one of the fifth stations and beginning about halfway up the mountain. From the fifth station, it takes about six hours to ascend and three hours to come back down again, plus an extra one to two hours to walk the entirety of the crater at the top of the mountain.
Lake Sai-ko is a popular resort area in Fujigoko, with stunning lakeside resorts dotting the shorelines. The lake is rich in important local seafood supply, including Kunimasu, Japanese crucian carp, and wakasagi. This lake is less developed than some of the other lakes around Fuji-san, so it’s perfect for those looking to do some serious camping, fishing, hiking, or boating in the lake’s deep waters. The trees here have especially vibrant leaves during the autumn season, and for any of the more adventurous visitors, there are three caves (Ice, Wind, and Bat) that can be explored if one is not prone to bouts of claustrophobia.
The Northernmost of the five lakes, Lake Kawaguchi-ko is a delightful blend of both natural scenery and wildlife mingling with the convenience of tourist-focused amenities. At the lake itself, you’ll bask in the serene picture of the reflection of Fuji-san as locals and visitors alike take out their boats for a swim or to try their luck catching some local black bass. The area around Kawaguchi-ko also has some of the best accommodations and attractions in the Fujigoko area, including onsens (hot springs resorts), the Tenjoyama Park Ropeway, the Kawaguchi Music Forest, and the Fuji-Q Highland theme park.
The smallest of the Five Lakes is Lake Shoji-ko, a perfect lake for windsailing, jet-skiing, and boating excursions set against a backdrop of the soaring Mount Fuji. If you’re looking to take some of the most dynamic shots of the mountain, then this is the absolute best spot you could hope for; the views are completely unobstructed by trees or buildings, giving you unfettered access to Fuji-san’s good side. In the spring, the sakura (cherry blossoms) blooming and falling in a shower of pink petals are a mesmerizing sight to behold.
The Westernmost lake and the most undeveloped, Lake Motosu-ko is famous for its place on the back of the current 1000 yen bill and the former 5000 yen bill. The deepest of the Five Lakes, Lake Motosu-ko also has the clearest waters, providing a refreshing swim for advanced swimmers. Fisherman will find both rainbow and brown trout here, ready for the taking.
The largest and highest of the Five Lakes, Lake Yamanaka-ko has some of the best immersive activities in the entire region. Whether you’re looking to take heart-stopping photos on the Panorama Platform or walk through the colorful Hananomiyako Flower Park, visitors will be enthralled with every area around the lake. Watch the elegant swans glide across the water over the reflection of Fuji-san, a tranquil and serene sight in itself, or sit down to an organic meal or rent a bike to enjoy the mountain air at PICA Yamanakako Village.
There is no shortage of amazing things to do around the mountain, and it’s no wonder the Japanese take so much pride in its steady presence!
For more information on Super Value Tours, visit them online at www.supervaluetours.com.