As you know, Mt. Fuji is the highest mountain in Japan. Sometimes we can see it even from downtown Tokyo. And when you travel to west from Tokyo by Shinkansen, you will be able to see this beautiful shaped mountain through the window on your right side.
*If you want to see Mt. Fuji on Shinkansen, when you reserve the ticket for Tokaido Shinkansen, try to get D which is isle side, or E which is window side unless you travel as party of 3. The seat configuration on Shinkansen is 3 (A,B,C) + 2 (D,E). (If you take Green seat, C and D are the right place to see it.) Even if you travel to opposite direction (from Osaka to Tokyo), the seat configuration is same. D and E are always on the mountain side.
Of course Mt. Fuji is one of most popular destination for the tourists. We have several choices to enjoy Mt. Fuji. Let’s see how much you can use Japan Rail Pass to get Mt. Fuji.
View How to get Mt. Fuji in a larger map
This is the most well known place to see Mt. Fuji and also is known as the famous hot springs resort. When you go to Hakone, you can take “Kodama” on Tokaido Shinkansen to Odawara. Then transfer to Hakone Tozan Railway. Hakone Tozan Railway is the private railway company. So you cannot use Japan Rail Pass and need to pay the extra. If you need more information about access to Hakone, please refer the post, How to get Hakone from Tokyo. Compare Japan Railway and Odakyu lines. And also, Hakone Navi (external link) the following site gives you lots of information too.
Kawaguchiko (=河口湖=Lake Kawaguchi) area
This is the most popular area at the base of Mt. Fuji. It is located the north side of Mt. Fuji. We have another four lakes, such as Lake Motosu (=本栖湖), Lake Sai (=西湖), Lake Shoji (=精進湖) and Lake Yamanaka (=山中湖) around Lake Kawaguchi. So these lakes are called Fuji Goko (=富士五湖=Fuji five lakes).
You can access from Otsuki (=大月) on Japan Railway Chuo line to get Lake Kawaguchi. JR East operates Limited Express trains “Super Azusa (=スーパーあずさ)”, “Azusa (=あずさ)” and “Kaiji (=かいじ)” from Shinjuku (=新宿). It takes just 1 hour from Shinjuku to Otsuki. But you have to take Fuji Kyuko line from Otsuki to Lake Kawaguchi. I will explain you about the trains and rates to take Fuji Kyuko line.
If you need more information about transfer from JR train to Fuji Kyuko train at Otsuki station, please see the post, Otsuki station guide. How to transfer from JR train to Fuji Kyuko train.
Fuji Kyuko operates the railway from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko via Fuji-Yoshida and a lot of the bus lines. When you get Kawaguchiko, you need to take the trains from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko. They have Limited Express train “Fujisan Tokkyu” (=フジサン特急=Mt. Fuji Limited Express), Rapid train “Fuji Tozan Densha” (=快速富士登山電車=Rapid Mt. Fuji climbing train) and many local trains.
I wrote about Otsuki station in other post. Please see the details about transfer between JR train and Fuji Kyuko train at Otsuki station guide. How to transfer from JR train to Fuji Kyuko train.
Limited Express “Fujisan Tokkyu”
This train takes you to Kawaguchiko station in 45 minutes. They have 4 round trips between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko on weekdays. They have 6 trips to Kawaguchiko on weekend and holidays, and 8 trips to Otsuki on weekend and holidays. Basic fare is 1,100yen and Limited Express surcharge is 300yen.
This train is operated by 2000 series. It has the observation seat on car#1 with the huge glass windows. If you want to take the seat on car #1, you need to pay the extra 100yen for securing your seat. This extra charge is not for the seat assignment. You are guaranteed to get the seat on car#1, but it is first come, first serve. If you want to get the front row, come to the station as early as possible.
And also this train has a compartment room on car#2. If you want to take this room, the extra charge is 1,000yen. This compartment can accommodate up to 6 passengers.
Rapid train “Fuji Tozan Densha”
This train takes you to Kawaguchiko station in 1 hour. They have 1 round trip between Otsuki and Kawaguchiko on weekdays except Thursday. They have 2 round trips on weekend and holidays. They do not operated this train on Thursday. Basic fare is 1,100yen and Express surcharge is 200yen. This express charge is not for the seat assignment, but you are guaranteed to get the seat on this train.
This train is operated by specialized train 1200 series. This train is designed by Eiji Mitooka who designed many express trains of JR Kyushu. This train gives you very nostalgic atmosphere and traditional culture of Japan.
Reservations and Local trains
Unfortunately they take a reservation on the phone only. (Of course it’s in Japanese!) If you really want to take these trains, you have to use the travel agency. As long as they have a seat, you can get the ticket at the station. But if you cannot make it, take the local trains. They have the local trains every 20 to 30 minutes. It takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes to get Kawaguchiko.
Japan Railway operates some Rapid trains “Holiday Rapid Kawaguchiko” to Kawaguchiko directly from Tokyo via Shinjuku on weekend and holidays during summer season. When you take this train, you don’t need to transfer the trains at Otsuki. But you still need to pay for Otsuki to Kawaguchiko if you use Japan Rail Pass. They usually have 1 or 2 round trip(s) between Shinjuku and Kawaguchiko. Travel time is about 2 hours. Sometimes JR East operate same type of train between Yokohama and Kawaguchiko. Please check the details at “Seasonal trains schedule“.
Bus line from Kawaguchiko station
If you want to go to Lake Kawaguchi or Lake Sai, you can take Retro Bus. You can get more informations at Retro Bus info on Mt. Fuji and Fuji Goko Navi. If you want to go to Lake Yamanaka, you can take the bus “Fujikko-Go” at Fuji-Yoshida station. You can get more informations at Fujikko-Go info on Mt. Fuji and Fuji Goko Navi. And you can catch the bus to Fuji Skyline 5th station on Yoshida trail for Mt.Fuji climbing.
Gotenba (=御殿場) Area
Gotenba is accessible by Japan Railway. But you need to transfer the train twice. First of all, take Tokaido Shinkansen to Odawara (=小田原). Most of Hikari do not stop at Odawara. So you better take Kodama. After getting off Shinkansen, transfer to the local train to Kouzu (=国府津). Then transfer the local train on Gotenba line. It takes 35 minutes to get Odawara from Tokyo by Shinkansen, takes 7 minutes from Odawra to Kouzu and takes another 50 minutes from Kouzu to Gotenba. You will not have many trains on Gotenba line. It usually is operated every 30 minutes. Please be sure to check the timetable.
*Odakyu Railway (=小田急電鉄) has Limited Express train “Asagiri (=あさぎり)” from Shinjuku to Gotenba. This train takes you to Gotenba from Shinjuku directly. This is the easiest way to get there. But Japan Rail Pass does not cover from Odakyu Shinjuku to Matsuda. But from Matsuda to Gotenba, this express train go through on Japan Railway Gotenba line. So you don’t need to pay for this section. You need to pay 1,420yen (Base fare 750yen + Ltd Exp surcharge 670yen) to take this train by using Japan Rail Pass. If you need more info about Odakyu, please see Odakyu Railway website (English ver).
Fujinomiya (=富士宮) Area
If you want to take Fujinomiya trail to climb Mt. Fuji, Fujinomiya station and Shin-Fuji station are the place to get the bus. Shin-Fuji (=新富士) station is on Tokaido Shinkansen. So it is more accessible and easier. But if you want to save the money as much as you can, you have to take Shinkansen to Shizuoka, and transfer Limited Express train “Fujikawa (=ふじかわ)” to Fujinomiya.
*Actually the bus fare is only 340 yen difference between Shin-Fuji and Fujinomiya. If you access from Tokyo side, I think you don’t need to go to Shizuoka. Just get off Kodama at Shin-Fuji.
Hikari do not stop at Shin-Fuji. So you need to take Kodama from either side Tokyo and Nagoya. It takes 1 hour and 15 minutes from Tokyo. 1 hour and 30 minutes from Nagoya. If you take Fujinomiya via Shizuoka route, some of Hikari stop at Shizuoka. It takes 1 hour from both Tokyo and Nagoya. It takes another 40 minutes to get Fujinomiya by “Fujikawa”.