My trip to Kyukamura Fuji was a part of a personal mission to discover onsens that had great views of Mt Fuji. There are a number of hotels and ryokan offering onsens with views, but very few in the area are open to day travelers. I was therefore excited to discover Kyukamura Fuji which provided this option. As a bonus, I also had some unexpected adventures along the way.
Kyukamura Fuji is a 3.5 star hotel located on the shores of Lake Tanuki, on the western side of Mt Fuji in Shizuoka prefecture. Arriving at around 11:00 after a 3 hour journey from Tokyo, I was quite surprised that there were very few people there. It seems that this area has remained a hidden gem as it is slightly off the beaten tourist track in the Mt Fuji area. Furthermore, the timing of my visit was just after all of the overnight guests had departed for the day.
The lake view from the hotel was absolutely stunning especially with Mt Fuji providing such a picturesque backdrop. Unfortunately though, the peak of Mt Fuji was shrouded in cloud so I decided to go for a walk first in the hope that the clouds would clear in time for my bath. The walk was so peaceful, and offered plenty of places to stop and rest to take in the amazing views. One of the most memorable moments I had was the sight of two white cranes flying up from the semi frozen surface of the lake.
Along my walk I came across a sign explaining “Diamond Fuji” which is a phenomenon I had not heard of before. The term describes an event which occurs twice a year (around April 20 and August 20) whereby the sun aligns with the peak of Mt Fuji to create an image of a shining diamond. Lake Tanuki is apparently the best viewing spot for this so photographers come from far and wide around this specific time period to capture the moment. On a clear day, you would also be able to see the reflection in the lake. The image below gives some idea of the spectacle.
Following my walk I returned to the hotel, paid my bath fee and headed up to the bathing area. The noren handing in the doorway further whet my appetite for the potential view awaiting me.
Alas, the picture perfect onsen view was not quite to be, however I was able to see the beautiful lake and the lower slopes of Mt Fuji. As I was soaking in the bath, I placated myself by recalling that Mt Fuji’s elusive nature is all part of the charm, which make the moments you can actually see her even more breathtaking! I sighed with sweet relaxation as I let all of the worries of life evaporate.
It was soon time to consider heading back to Shin Fuji where I was staying for the evening. On the bus ride to Kyukamura Fuji earlier in the day, I had discovered there was a stop called Shiraito no Take (waterfall of white thread), so I took the opportunity to stop and visit.
I wasn’t disappointed. The weather falls were stunning! The falls are 20 metres in height and span 150 metres in width, creating an image of white thread. It is a very popular spot, and the waterfalls are listed as one of Japan’s top 100 waterfalls.
Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre, Shizuoka
Soon after I was back on the bus on my way to Fujinomiya station. Just before I got to Fujinomiya station, I was drawn to stop at another location which was the Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre. Being so close to Mt Fuji, how could I at least not call in for a quick look.
As I arrived not long before closing time, I only had about 30 minutes to glean as much as I could from my visit. There were a number of exhibits within the centre offering extensive insights into the culture and heritage surrounding Mt Fuji. My favourite exhibit was the picturesque central spiral which you can walk up within the building. On the surrounding walls there were moving projected images showing the changing views at each level of the Mt Fuji climbing experience.
At the peak of the simulated climb, there was a viewing platform facing directly toward the real Mt Fuji. How ironic that even from this purpose built centre that Mt Fuji decided to stay hidden which meant that I did not end up seeing a thing! On a clear day however, I would imagine the view would have been quite spectacular.
Shizuoka Tea Plantations
After staying the night in Shin Fuji, I was interested in finding out if I could visit any of the famous green tea plantations which Shizuoka prefecture is renowned for. Again, it took a bit of digging to work out if it was possible to get there by public transport but eventually I discovered a local bus that took me to Obuchi.
The bus driver told me where to get off but unfortunately it was still the middle of nowhere! Feeling completely lost I decided to pop into a nearby home, that had a tea sign on the front gate, to see if they could point me in the right direction.
As it turned out this home belonged to the Hattori family who have been cultivating tea for over 5 generations. A beautiful old “obachan” (grandma) came out to greet me and sat me down on one of the old tree stumps in her backyard for a cup of green tea. Soon after she suggested we get in a little ute to visit their family plantation just up the road!
She then kindly drove me a few more kilometers to the famous hillside views of the tea plantation with Mt Fuji as the backdrop! Not long after, the beautiful obachan dropped me at the bus stop and I was no my way back to the station.
What an amazing adventure for the day! I was so incredibly grateful to have had such a special experience. Never had I thought that my heart and mind would connect with such a beautiful lady through such a random encounter. I will never forget her warm country hospitality.
There was one last surprise in store on the way home. The weather had continued to clear and I was treated to magnificent views of Mt Fuji from the Shinkansen! Ironically I had missed my longed for views of Mt Fuji from the onsen, but my special experiences and the amazing views the following day had well and truly made up for it!
From Tokyo, take the Tokaido Kodama Shinkansen from Tokyo to Shin Fuji (68 minutes). Transfer to JR Fuji station (20 minute walk or a quick bus/taxi ride). From JR Fuji station, take the Minobu line to Fujinomiya (20 minutes). Finally, transfer to the local Fujikyu Shizuoka bus bound for Kyukamura Fuji which is the last stop (approximately 45 minutes).
Alternatively there are direct express buses leaving from Tokyo station which take approximately 2.5 hours, however the schedule is very limited so it is important to check your times carefully.