We saved the best for the last. Wish we could say that about this day of our trip. It was put as the last activity day not really because we wanted to. Here, we have to talk about weather forecast again if you love nature and enjoy traveling to see beautiful creations by God. Originally, we planned to visit Mount Fuji the day before. However, the weather forecast showed up a cloudy and potentially snowy/rainy day in the area, which means all the clouds would block or cover the Mount Fuji fully. Thus, we delayed our visit by one day. goandroam.com is a great website that has live webcams around the world for nature sites. Here is the link for Mount Fuji webcams
Breakfast at Prince Hotel at Shinjuku was wonderful. Plenty of options with fresh and delicious food. We walked to the bus terminal next to the JR Shinjuku station to get bus tickets for Mount Fuji. We arrived at around 8:30am but all early morning bus tickets to Lake Kawaguchiko were sold out. We spent some time searching on the ticket terminal and found 2 tickets leaving before 10:50am. There are different routes to go to Mount Fuji and very diversified transportation you can take. Check out guide like this one for more details. We chose Lake Kawaguchiko as we would like to see the whole Mount Fuji from far before we got up and also because there is direct bus from Shinjuku where we stayed most time at Tokyo. it took about 1 hour and 20 minutes from the bus terminal at Shinjuku to Lake Kawaguchiko. We arrived around 12:15pm and the latest bus back from the 5th station in the mountain was 4:50pm in the afternoon. This means we only had about 4 hours at the foot the mountain and also for a quick round trip to half-way of the mountain. Very tight schedule as there are a lot things to do and see in the area. We strongly recommend you to buy tickets at least one day earlier so you can get to the mountain area early in the morning.
The bus trip was very easy and pleasant. Bring some light snack and took a nap on the way. The bus went through the city area, countryside a little bit and then started climbing up but only a small distance. If you went during late November or warm early winter time, you probably will see more fall foliage colors than snow on the way. We were at the tourism center of Lake Kawaguchiko before we even noticed. Check out the video clip below for a view of the tourism center + bus terminal
Since we had only 4 hours so we went to get red line bus ticket to the Kawaguchiko Tenjozan Park, where you can see the whole view of Mount Fuji as well as the beautiful lake. Praise the Lord that the staff at the ticket center was super helpful. It was a super busy place where you can buy bus tickets to the mountain, different color bus lines at the foot of the mountain area, as well as JR or railway lines to go outside to other cities. We were in the wrong line and got called out by a staff who guided us to the right line. For those sightseeing buses in Kawaguchiko area, you just need to hop on and pay when you get off, so make sure you bring enough cash. The buses usually have a machine at the front that will change bill into coins for you. After you insert a bill, coins will come out and you can ask the driver's help to pick the right amount as payment. Keep the rest as your change. There are different colors of lines going through several routes in the area. Make sure you get on the right one. Check this website for more details
Red line took us to the Tenjozan Park quickly. It parked at the bottom of the park so just go up and you will see the entrance for cable car, which will take you all the way to the top of the park. This park has an interesting story about a rabbit and a leopard cat (see details at these travels' post). High level, it was not a fairy tale or fun story but more a terrifying sad story. Surprisingly, many tales in traditional Japanese cultures are like this. The rabbit in the story became a hero so you will find a shrine on top of the park worshiping the rabbit. And yes, the leopard cat was bad guy. One cable car can take probably 15-20 people so the line might look long but the wait is not bad at all. You can buy the tickets at vending machines or ticket office at the entrance. It's cool they have two versions of the ticket, one with the rabbit and one with the leopard cat.
While waiting in the line, we saw this funny post. Basically it was a drawing of a staff working in the area. If you could find the real person and take a picture with him and then posted on social media, you would get a prize. We didn't find that guy during our very short time but this kind of activity shows a considerate heart to keep visitors entertained which we truly appreciated.
The rope way was at good speed but it was crowded as there was no seat. Everyone stood inside and it had to be packed to go. Beautiful view along the way and it will save you a lot of energy and time from climbing up from the bottom. The park is on top of a hill so not very challenging either if you'd like to walk all the way up. The ropeway's website has quite helpful info here
Ropeway video clip below
There is a small shop on top of the park and it has a view deck on its top where you will see the whole park, Mount Fuji and lake like the following pictures
and this quick video clip below. You will find pretty good mochi (sticky rice cake) snack at the small shop. Enough resting space on top as well if you feel hungry and tied after climbing. Recharged, we went down via the ropeway and took the same red bus (opposite direction) back to the bus terminal where we would change the bus to go up to Mount Fuji.
The tickets of bus to Mount Fuji were purchased inside the terminal and the bus has a schedule from morning to the afternoon. Make sure you remember when the last bus is. Otherwise, you may not be able to get down as there is very few taxi or other transportation once you get up. Once it gets to the snowing season, all stations above the 5th station will be closed so when we visited, 5th station was the highest we could go. Beautiful snow started showing up half way while we were on the bus. Check out video clip below before the pictures. The 4th station was famous for being embraced by clouds. The bus drove through the clouds and took us all the way up. It was cold outside but there was heater inside the bus so very comfortable inside. Mt. Fujiyama Komitake shrine could be the first thing you notices once you got off the bus, except for the close look of Mount Fuji itself. It was not that big but actually the colors and architecture provide wonderful photo scenes for tourists. We took quite a few nice photos there. TripAdvisor has some good info about it here.
The restroom line was long on the top as that's the peak site before everyone went down. There were plenty souvenir shops or restaurants for you to stop and check out. We had late ramen lunch in one of the restaurants. Food was good and it had nice Mount Fuji decorations as thin fish cake in the bowl. Warm soup like that was great relief during a cold day.
On the way back to Shinjuku, nature's beauty keeps coming to our minds. The snow rainbow we saw the first time among the clouds. How amazing that the creator touched everything with His word. Back to JR Shinjuku station, Christmas light was getting up. Nice city view reveals human intelligence as part of the creator's plan as well. It was a satisfying day before we departed back home.