Following an exhausting yet superbly fun and memorable time in the snow at Fuji Q Highland, our next goal for our winter trip was to, once and for all, witness the splendor of Mt. Fuji. After much research, considering it was Christmas Eve and we wanted to get to Kyoto with enough time for our traditional Filipino ‘Noche Buena’ and countdown, we set our sights on the nearest opportunity to do that – Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway.
Access From Fuji Q Highland Station
Our accommodation the night before was Hotel Mystays Fuji Onsen Resort. This meant that our journey would start from Fuji-Q Highland Station which is just a five-minute walk away. From there, we took the train to Kawaguchiko Station (1 stop away and cost us ¥180). Then, our next ride was the Number 1 Bus bound for Shizen Seikatsukan. The bus ride took about 11 minutes and the fare was ¥160. If you have a JR Pass, unfortunately it can not be used for any of the rides mentioned above.
Access From Tokyo to Kawaguchiko Station
From Tokyo, the route you will be taking to get to Kawaguchiko Station will start from Shinjuku Station.
Take the train from Platform 9 or Platform 10. These are the Chuo Line’s Limited Express Train towards Kofu or the Chuo Line’s Limited Express Fuji Excursion 3 towards Kawaguchiko. Both options will get you to your destination in about 2 hours and cost ¥4160.
There is also the cheaper option (¥2000) of taking the Expressway Bus Terminal to Yamanakako. Just be mindful of the time as they offer a lesser number of trips.
For JR Pass Users
To take advantage of your JR Pass, traveling to Kawaguchiko by train really makes more sense.
Depending on your schedule and timing however, you could be be paying an extra ¥1500 to get to your final destination.
The Limited Express Fuji Excursion offers fewer trips (only 2 morning trips during weekdays or 3 during weekends and holidays, to be exact) but will get you straight to Fuji-Q Highland Station on a single JR train which is of course covered by your JR Pass.
Offering more frequent trips, however, is the Chuo Limited Express Line for Kofu. Technically, you just stay on your seat and also don’t have to change trains throughout the entire trip. But courtesy of the route the train will be taking, your JR Pass only covers the portion from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station. The travel from Otsuki Station to Fuji-Q Highland Station is what will be costing you the additional ¥1500.
If heading out early is not an issue for you, I suggest planning your trip around the timeline of the Fuji Excursion trips which you can find here in JR’s official site. You get to save more not only on the train ride to Fuji Q Highland but on the one heading back to Tokyo as well.
At Kawaguchiko Station
Once you’ve successfully made your way to Kawaguchiko Station, you have a couple of choices regarding how to travel to around.
If you are just like us, who really did not have the time to travel more extensively throughout the area and only had Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway in mind as the destination, hopping on a standard bus and paying the regular fee would be perfect. The Number 1 Bus bound for Shizen Seikatsukan will take you there in about 11 minutes and the fare (which is not covered by the JR Pass) is ¥160.
On the other hand, if you are planning on exploring the Fuji Five Lakes Area a little bit more, the Omni Buses are a great budget option. For only ¥1500, you can get 2 days of unlimited rides. The Red Line is the bus that covers the area including the Ropeway. For more details on this, check out their official website.
Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway
Also known as the Kachi-Kachi Ropeway, this destination is perfect throughout the year if you are looking for a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. For ¥900, you get to ride the ropeway up to the observatory (which sits at 1,075 meters above sea level) and back.
To be honest, the ropeway ride itself is not something that I found enjoyable. Although the view is undeniably great, the gondola can be quite packed. After the climb, however, your dissatisfaction is quickly forgotten as you immediately come face to face with the arresting Mt. Fuji. Be sure to go up the wooden deck to get a truly panoramic 360-view of the bountiful nature that surrounds you.
Access From Kawaguchiko Station To Kyoto Station
I realize that there are probably not a lot of people going this route but this is what we had to do because we were looking to maximize our JR Pass and followed a path of Tokyo-Yamanashi (Fuji Q Highland and Kawaguchiko)-Kyoto-Osaka.
If you are on the same boat, here’s how you go about traveling. Back at Kawaguchiko Station, look for the ticket counters – they’re pretty easy to spot courtesy of the people lining up. There, get a ticket for the bus to Mishima Station. Tickets can run out and there are only about 8 trips a day so it would be a good idea to secure one even before sight-seeing around Kawaguchiko. This bus, again, will not be covered by your JR Pass and would cost you ¥2300. Expect to get to Mishima Station in a little under 2 hours.
From there, you finally get to reuse the JR Pass which has just been collecting cobwebs during your time at Kawaguchiko. The Shinkansen stops at Mishima Station and you can ride on that to get straight to Kyoto Station. Just secure your seat by showing your pass at the ticket office.
Being a resident of Japan, I am not eligible to buy a JR Pass and had to pay the ¥11,100 Shinkansen fare to Kyoto. Sit back and relax in the Shinkansen for about 2 hours and before you know it, the bullet train is pulling up at Kyoto Station.