Mt. Fuji in Peak Autumn | Kawaguchiko

This is my 4th time in Kawaguchiko, prior times being in summer and winter. I'm so glad that I'm finally able to see Fuji surrounded by leaves bursting in colors of red, orange, and yellow. Fuji will always be such a classic, but autumn leaves definitely make everything more magical. 

When is the best time to go?

Mid November is usually close to peak foliage, in last year's case I went on Nov 16, 2021 and everything was as bright as it can be. If you are traveling internationally then you can aim for mid-late November

2022 Kawaguchiko Autumn Festival is from 10/29 ~ 11/23. Night time light up is sunset till 10pm. It's free to visit and there are food and drink stalls around it. 

To check more accurately closer to the date, these two webpages gives you live update of foliage by region. There are simple icons with leaves in green, yellow, red, brown to indicate the status of the foliage.

2. (this allows you to filter everything that is currently in peak foliage)

Getting to Kawaguchiko
There are several ways of getting there and each have their own advantage:
  • By Car: It's about a 1hr 20min drive without traffic from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko. The advantage is you can get around the different sites at Kawaguchiko faster, the disadvantage though is that it is subject to traffic and parking costs. With bad weekend traffic, the one way drive can take over 3hrs, and during peak foliage season the parking can cost as much as ¥1,000 per location. 
  • By Train: The Fuji Excursion is a 1hr 50min train ride from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko Station. It runs twice on weekdays and 3 times on weekends. The best part is the train is direct and there's no traffic so you'll always be on time. After getting to Kawaguchiko area though you still need to take busses to get around the lake. Or you can choose to rent bikes and ride around the lake. The one disadvantage is that this route is more expensive, around ¥4,130 one way. There are 2 sections of the route, Shinjuku to Otsuki and Otsuki to Kawaguchiko. The first is covered by the JR rail pass however the second part is not and it's almost always fully booked so you can't go on without a reserved seat ticket. 
  • By Highway bus: If you take the express bus from Shinjuku station, it will take you to Kawaguchiko in 1hr45min and it costs less than ¥4,000 round trip so it is half the price of the train. There's also multiple departures and returns a day so this is flexible on the schedule. One disadvantage though is that it will be subject to traffic. On weekends it can be up to 3hrs one way. When I returned to Tokyo on a 3pm bus, it was delayed by about 20mins due to rush hour traffic in the city. You can book the tickets online in English here
If you'd like to read more about the trains since it can get complicated, here's a detailed article: 

Getting around Kawaguchiko 
After arriving in Kawaguchiko, if not driving then the most common way to get around is with the Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus (Red Bus). You'll be able to see all the major autumn foliage spots by only using the red bus and some walking. 

If you'd like to see Lake Saiko or Lake Shojiko, you can use the Green and Blue Busses. All bus details can be found here

Major Spots to See Autumn Foliage

There are quite a few spots that are reachable by public transport where you can admire Mt.Fuji and beautiful Japanese maple or other autumn foliage such as ginkgo trees. If you are driving, please note that parking is ¥1,000 for each spot during the Autumn Festival period. 

Oishi Park
This park on the north shore of Lake Kawaguchi is known for its flowers. There's tulips, pink moss, lupins, and weeping cherry blossoms in spring; lavender, hydrangeas, and daisies in summer; Japanese maple, ginkgo, and kokia plants in autumn. It's a place where you can always go see flowers and I would recommend to put towards the top of your list of places to go to in the area. There's also a little gift shop which sell snacks and drinks as well. 

Momiji Tunnel (not to be confused with Maple Corridor) 
This tunnel is actually a road for cars to drive on and is further west from Oishi park. You have to walk there as there's no public transport, but it is more quiet because of that. Walk down towards the lake front to find more beautiful trees lined on the shores. 


Maple Corridor (Not to be confused with Momiji Tunnel)
This is the heart of where the Kawaguchiko Autumn Festival is at. A beautiful tunnel full of Japanese maple on display which are lit up at night as well until 10pm. It's free to enter and there are little stalls selling food, drinks, and little trinkets. 

Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway 
This ropeway takes you up to Kawaguchiko Tenjozan Park which gives you an incredible view of Mt. Fuji. You can actually take the ropeway up and hike down which only takes about 40mins. There's also two swings, however you need to pay ¥500 to use it. Fuji is directly in front of the swings but it was covered by clouds when I went. 

Still, the bunny shrine on top with Maple shaped Ema (wooden wish plaques) is really cute to visit. There's also a bell of love you can ring to bring luck to romance. 



Kawaguchiko Station
Lastly, there's a free foot bath at Kawaguchiko Station which is free from 10am-3pm.  It's perfect after walking around for a while in the autumn breeze. 


Kawaguchiko Area Map 


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