Lake Kawaguchiko is one of the spots that is rising in popularity, largely due to its accessibility and gorgeous panoramic views of Mount Fuji. We also found out that it is one of the only few places in the vicinity of Tokyo that was still offering views of beautiful sakura blooms in late April.
I’ve been to Lake Kawaguchiko twice, despite the long journey between the lake and Tokyo. Once was in late autumn, and everything was in hues of blue and deep green with specks of reddish-brown.
Another time was in late April and I managed to catch the last cherry blossoms. It was a bonus for us since we weren’t expecting to see so much cherry blossoms anywhere in Tokyo at that time. So if anyone is asking where to see cherry blossoms in Japan in late April, it will be Lake Kawaguchiko! Granted it may change from year-to-year, but if you will only be in western Japan in late April, Lake Kawaguchiko may be a good option. 😛
Starting from Tokyo, we took the train to Otsuki via Mitaka (Shinjuku works as well) then transfer to Fujikyu Railway for Kawaguchiko station.
Our journey stretched for 3 hours because we missed connecting trains, but it’s possible to complete in 2.5 hours.
From Kawaguchiko station, we took the red retro bus to Kachi Kachi Ropeway. Before you set out for the ropeway, stop by the lake and catch this scenic view.
Kachi Kachi Ropeway
The Kachi Kachi Ropeway takes you near the peak of Mount Tenjo.
Besides allowing you to take in an amazing aerial view of Lake Kawaguchiko, you will also get to see Mount Fuji and its iconic snow-capped peak on a clear day.
We were also pleasantly surprised to find some cherry blossoms still in bloom on the mountain in late April.
The weather is generally colder than Tokyo so we bought ourselves a cup of hot tea (nothing fancy) and dango (a kind of Japanese dumpling) from the Tanuki teahouse at the observatory deck to warm ourselves before heading down.
Sight-seeing boat around the lake
We bought the combo tickets for both the ropeway and the pleasure boat. Yes, the boat has a rather risque name but it really is just a normal sight-seeing ride. After descending Mt Tenjo via the ropeway, we headed for the boat ride around the lake. I wasn’t particularly fond of the ride mainly due to the biting winds in late Autumn. In fact, we had to retreat to the enclosed cabins shortly after the ride began to escape the cold. 😛
Strolling along Lake Kawaguchiko
Rather than engaging in the typical tourist activities planted around the lake vicinity, we took our time to stroll along the lake, breathe in the fresh air and soak in the serenity.
And we discovered this stretch of cherry blossoms (!!!):
It was such a pleasant surprise as we did not expect to see one entire, pristine stretch of cherry blossom trees in late April! The sakura blooms in its delicate hues, arching over the walkway, were simply magical.
I literally felt like royalty walking through this stretch.
Lured by the rows of pink blossoms, we continued walking along the lake.
Blessed with clear weather that day, we were treated to unimpeded views of Mt Fuji. The view was incredible, with the magnificent mountain overlooking the pristine waters of Lake Kawaguchiko.
The mountain felt amazingly close and insurmountable.
Along the way, we also came across children living nearby and folks just going about their daily routine. The children were extremely polite and welcoming, greeting us with “Konnichiwa” as we passed by.
Must be nice to live there and wake up to such amazing sights every day.
We made it to the last stop of the red line bus route, Oishi Park, on foot. Unfortunately, we weren’t there at a good time and the gardens were pretty bare, save for some specks for spring blooms.
Shortly after countless mandatory tourist shots of the areas, we hopped on the bus and returned back to Kawaguchiko station.
Returning to Tokyo from Lake Kawaguchiko
You can either take the trains back (same route to Lake Kawaguchiko but in reverse) or get yourself a seat on a highway bus.
My preference is the highway bus to any of the stations on the Yamanote line so you can rest your sore legs on the bus. Besides, I feel it’s kinda stressful to catch train transfers and whatnots. The traffic at night is typically not congested, so you can expect a little more than 2 hours on the bus.
Tip: Get the return bus tickets at the station before you set off for sight-seeing; buses back to Shinjuku station is especially popular.
Given the chance, I would love to visit Lake Kawaguchiko again and perhaps, even stay overnight at a hot springs ryokan. What are some other activities that you would recomend or wish to do at Lake Kawaguchiko? Let me know in the comments!
Read the full trip online:
More coming soon!