Maybe the Best Road Trip from Tokyo: Fujiyoshida

On our last day in Japan, we went to Fuji-yoshida, which is a town at the foot of Mt. Fuji. The image of Mt. Fuji with Chureito Pagoda in the foreground is one of the most iconic images of Japan. Go figure, I decided to go get the image for myself even if it involved driving through Tokyo and finally getting the picture in the midday light.

Getting to the Chureito Pagoda using public transportation is a 2.5 hour affair (at minimum) from the Conrad Tokyo and then connections and the ride back could take hours. Furthermore, it was the Saturday in Tokyo making traffic quite manageable. All these factors made it seem to me like a no brainer to rent a car and drive the 1.5 hours to Mt. Fuji.

I rented a compact car from Toyota Car Rental near Shimbashi station for around $70 all in. Finding the rental car office was the hardest part of the adventure because the location was inside a tiny hidden parking garage in the middle of one of the busiest intersections in Tokyo. Luckily, Japanese people are extremely helpful and someone I met on the street found out where it was and walked me right to the rental car center. I did eventually see a sign outside pointing me in the right direction:

 

I don’t know how I did it, but I managed to navigate the labyrinth of concrete on my first try without too many detours. After getting out of the city driving was fairly easy (if you have driven on the left before) and about an hour into the drive we were rewarded with fantastic views of Mt Fuji from the highway:

The Pagoda is actually located on top of a hill so the hike up is not exactly for the feint of heart or the physically unfit. Somehow my adrenaline got me up the steps fairly quickly with very little exhaustion. I had the entire place to myself for a good 15 minutes before the other visitors made it up the hill. The downside to the image I took was the mid morning light and lack of Cherry Blossoms.

After coming halfway down the hill, we decided to relax on the park bench and take in the views of Mt. Fuji before the sun was high enough to burn us (it was quite hot on that day in Tokyo).

Farther down the hill next to the bench are a couple of fantastic shrines, which include the photogenic Arakura Fuji Sengen Jinja, and some other named ones, which are a mouthful to say. Views of Fuji from these shrines are just as fantastic as up the hill, though you won’t get the pagoda in the foreground.

Sweaty from our little hike, we decided to get a drink and a bite to eat at a nearby 7-Eleven. There weren’t that many restaurants in the area serving vegetarian food outside some desserts and snacks so we decided to wait until we got back to Tokyo for dinner.

We drove around the area for a good bit, until we came upon Lake Gawaguchi, which is best seen during the morning when Mt Fuji is reflected on its waters.

I was planning on sticking around until sunset, but the clouds suddenly swept over Mt. Fuji as I was driving to a photography spot. This alongside the rest of the family being tired from the trip as a whole made me turn around and drive back to Tokyo. Exploring more of this region will have to wait until next time.


Bottom Line:

Visiting Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida was certainly at the top of my bucket list of things to do in Japan and I’m glad I got to mark it off with a pencil. If I were to return to Japan, this would be where I would spend most of time because it really is where Japan shines as a destination for landscape photographers. Now that I have driving in Japan under my belt, it will also make things easier the second time around. Anyway if you are in Tokyo, go ahead and try to get out to Fujiyoshida for some of the best views of Mt. Fuji. If you are renting a car from the city, I highly recommend Toyota Car Rental, which appears to be the best the city has to offer.


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The Best Road Trip from Tokyo: Fujiyoshida

2 Comments

  1. Nicolas

    Hi Teja!
    I will be in Tokyo in April and I plan on doing the same day trip to Fujiyoshida.
    I wanted to know certain things and was wondering if you could help me figure them out.
    Is the drive in fact 1.5h from Tokyo and at what time did you leave the city?
    Parking lots in Chureito Pagoda and Fujiyoshida area are free?
    Do you remember how much did you spend in tolls? Did you pay for an ETC on your rental car? And last question: do you remember price of gasoline?
    I am still deciding if I go by car o by train.
    Than you 🙂

    1. Hi Nicolas,

      So the drive will be around 2 hours each way. I actually started early in the morning around 8 am or so and drove through rush hour in Tokyo (I was lucky that Japanese are so courteous in letting me switch lanes because Tokyo rush hour is chaos).

      So the parking lots were free when I went back in 2017, but I cannot say if they are now or not. However, parking will not be a problem or that expensive if you get there early.

      Tolls: I didn’t pay anything for tolls because the toll tag was included with my rental car.

      Gasoline: Price was around $8/$9 per gallon which was a tad on the expensive side, but given that I got a compact and fuel efficient vehicle, I didn’t spend that much on gas (maybe $30 RT).

      Does it make sense to drive? Well that totally depends on how much time you have. I had only a day to cover Fuji so I would drive there everytime. Taking the train and bus are far too inconvenient and can run you over 3-4 hours RT. With 4 passengers, driving was the perfect decision for me.

      I hope that helps, send me a message on Instagram (@pvtejasvi) if you need a response fast.

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