A bus tour with VIP Japan and booked through Viator.com was the perfect way for me to get to see the fabulous view of Mt Fuji from Chureito Pagoda. I had wanted to see this view in person since first our first to Japan in 2017, so when I saw this tour would take me there, I jumped at the chance.
Of course, Mt Fuji has a reputation of being elusive and hiding in the clouds if the weather is not just right. But this tour had a cancellation policy up to 24 hours beforehand. This gave me the opportunity to check the weather and decide whether to gamble on going, or cancel if it looked bad. Thankfully, it dawned a great day, and so I walked the short distance from my hotel, the Tokyo Hyatt Recency, to my chosen meeting point for the Tour in Shinjuku.
The bus ride out to our first stop, Arakura Sengen Shrine was approximate an hour, but on the way you keep getting little glimpses of Mt Fuji, which gets the anticipation going.
From where our bus dropped us, we walked about 10 minutes to the entrance of the Shrine, then it is a steady slog uphill to get to the Chureito Pagoda which is part way up Mt Arakura. There are 2 options, a winding steady incline path, or the direct route which is straight up multiple flights of steps, nearly 400 to be more exact! Having sat on a bus for an hour, I was game for the steps. This was a good workout, but a multiple points it’s nice to take a breather, and turn around and see the mountain peeking through the trees.
Once at the top, I went to the viewing area behind the Pagoda, to beat the crowd following me up, and also to see Mt Fuji before any clouds moved too far across the view. It really is a stunning view and does not disappoint, as long as you can see the Mountain! I know many make the trip, and then don’t get to see Mt Fuji which must be very disappointing, I know it would have been for me.
As you can imagine, with such a great view I lingered, took lots of photos and just took it all in. While we watched, the clouds drifted in from the side, and by the time I left to make my way back to the bus the view of the mountain was becoming obscured, so thankfully we got there just in time really. You can walk around the Pagoda and it’s interesting to see the detail when you look at it from below.
The bus tour continued on, stopping briefly at one spot by Lake Kawaguchi, then continuing on to the area by the lake that was hosting the Autumn Leaves Festival. This festival is held annually, through most of November, and celebrates the Autumn colour, especially the lovely Maple trees in the area. Here we were shown to the small restaurant where we could buy our lunch. I enjoyed a quick tasty bowl of Ramen, and was then able to spend a good amount of time walking beside the lake, catching glimpses of Mt Fuji through the clouds. We could admire the Maple trees, and browse the stalls of the festival. I took the opportunity to enjoy a delicious Grape flavoured ice cream as that area of Japan is known for it’s growing of grapes.
Back on the bus for just a few minutes and then we stopped at Oishi Park. This is a pretty little park, with flower trails next to the Lake. It is normally a great spot for photos of Mt Fuji with whatever flower is in season, but when we got there the mountain was hiding behind clouds. There are also flowerbeds of Ragweed, which goes a vivid pink colour late in the year. We were visiting just after the best of their colour faded unfortunately, but with the mountain hiding, a great photo at this spot just wasn’t to be! So after a little walk around we got back on the bus and headed off to our last stop of the day, Saiko Lyashi no sato Nenba, a traditional Thatched Japanese village.
Saiko Lyashi no sato Nenba is an ancient restored Japanese Village, with about 20 Thatched houses which you can explore. Some of them are shops and if you have time you can rent Japanese clothing to wear. We didn’t have enough time for me to consider renting a Kimono, so I just walked a loop through the village admiring the construction of the houses. By now Mt Fuji had reappeared and there were great late afternoon views from the village.
This turned out to be a great day trip tour. Bus tours are often a bit too rushed for my liking, and this was no different really, but not too bad. I got to see the view of Mt Fuji from the Chureito Pagoda just like had hoped I would, and plenty of other good views of the mountain too. I hadn’t known that the Festival would be at Lake Kawaguchi, so that was a bonus. You can get to Lake Kawaguchi on public transportation from Tokyo, but I felt that being on my own, I was more comfortable with a bus tour.
Date visited; November 2019.