Kawaguchiko — Day 4 of a 5-Day Trip in Japan’s Kanto Region
We headed to Kawaguchiko, an ‘onsen’ (hotspring) town with a good view of Mt. Fuji, on Day 4. Lake Kawaguchi, which the town is named after, is part of the Fuji Five Lakes. It is the most easily accessible of the five making it a prime tourist spot and good base for those planning on climbing Mt. Fuji.
We bought tickets online for about 2000yen ($26CAD) one-way for the highway bus from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station. You can also leave from Shibuya Station as well. Seats are assigned and I recommend you buy tickets at least a day in advance to ensure you get your preferred bus time.
The trip took about 3 hours and it was lunch time when we arrived in Kawaguchiko. We headed to a restaurant called Hoto Noodle Kawaguchiko Station right across the street. Hoto noodle is a common dish in this region consisting of thick buckwheat noodles in a miso-based soup. It was colder in Kawaguchiko compared to Tokyo, and a bowl of hoto noodle really warmed us up!
Hoto Noodle Kawaguchiko Station
Our hotel, Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen Konanso, sent a car to pick us up from Kawaguchiko Station. You can also walk about 10 minutes to get to the city centre. It was still too early to check in, so we dropped our bags off at the hotel front desk and headed to the Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway to ascend Mt. Tenjo.
View from Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway
The top of the mountain was busy with a small store and a viewing area of Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan and remains an active volcano, but has not erupted since 1707. Unfortunately, it was really cloudy that day so we could not see Mt. Fuji at all. We headed further into the forest away from the people. The leaves had turned a nice autumn colour and the area was serene.
Mt. Tenjo Forest
Before heading back down, we bought some soft-serve matcha ice cream. It was so good and the bunny rice cracker was adorable!
We hopped on the local bus (you can pay using your PASMO card) and headed to the Kubota Itchiku Art Museum. The museum is dedicated to the textile artist Kubota Itchiku, known for his kimono tie-dying art. The gardens are pretty and the tie-dye art beautiful. No pictures are allowed inside the museum itself.
Kubota Itchiku Museum
We walked to the Maple Corridor just down the street from the museum. The autumn colours were subtle, but enjoyable.
We walked along the pathway to the lake and stopped at a stall selling chicken karaage for a snack. The chicken karaage was delicious — a perfect blend of spices and crunch.
Walking along the lake
We decided this was a good time to head back (about 4pm) and check-in to the hotel. We had to wait a few buses before we were able to board. It seemed this was prime time for travellers to be heading back to the main part of town for the evening.
Our room at Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen Konanso was a traditional ryokan. The room was spacious with a view of Lake Kawaguchi. We had our own private bath on the balcony. Upon arrival to our room, the attendant served us green tea accompanied by cookies. The attendant instructed us on how to wear a ‘yukata’, a Japanese garment, and asked for our preferred time to enjoy our ‘kaiseki’ dinner (a multi-course Japanese dinner prepared with care and the finest ingredients).
Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen Konanso
We had some time to spare before dinner (we requested dinner for 7:30pm). I had really wanted to try out Ide Sake Brewery which is a 7 minute walk from the hotel. The entrance to the store is a little hidden (or maybe because it was getting dark outside?). We were given an explanation of the different types of sake — daiginjo, ginjo, junmai, and honjozo — and taste tested 4 of their sakes. The plum wine was so good, we had to buy a bottle.
Ide Sake Brewery
After returning from the brewery, we headed down to the onsen, which was separated by gender. You must completely strip and wash yourself prior to entering the baths. The baths have varying minerals that are great for your skin. The baths were soothing and I really enjoyed my onsen experience. Highly recommended!
After returning from the onsen, we relaxed and prepared ourselves for our in-room kaiseki dinner. The meal was filling and delightful.
After dinner, we headed up to the hotel rooftop while the attendants prepared our tatami mats for the night. We dipped our feet into the foot bath located on the roof and took in the refreshing evening breeze before heading back to our room.
Complete Day 4 Itinerary
*Travel times may vary and do not include walking distances to and from train stations. Check Google Maps for most accurate travel details.
7:00am: Grab some breakfast and snacks from the convenience store for the bus ride. Catch an early bus from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station (3 hour highway bus). Note: If you have a day to spare, consider spending a day at Fuji Q-Highland, an amusement park near Kawaguchiko.
10:00am: Arrive at Kawaguchiko Station. Have an early lunch (Hoto Noodle Kawaguchiko Station is just across the street from the station).
12:00pm: Drop your bags off at your hotel and head to the Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway (6 minute walk from the hotel central area).
2:00pm: Visit the Kubota Itchiku Art Museum (10 minute bus on the red sightseeing route to Stop #19)
3:00pm: Walk along the Maple Corridor (4 minute walk from Kubota Itchiku Art Museum) and continue to walk along Lake Kawaguchi. Browse the stalls of the market if it is there and grab a snack (Chicken Karaage — yum!).
4:00pm: Check-in to the hotel and prepare for dinner. Hopefully you decided on a kaiseki dinner offered by your hotel. Head to Ide Sake Brewery (about a 6 minute walk from the hotel central area). The tasting room closes at 5:30pm. Alternatively, you can relax and go to the onsen before dinner.
7:00pm: After dinner, go to the onsen and spend the rest of the night relaxing.
16-Day Japan Itinerary
Click “Download” below for an excel version of my 16-Day Japan Itinerary. Feel free to use the excel file as a planning template for your own trip in Japan!