Mount Fuji, called Fuji-san by the Japanese, is one of Japan's iconic symbols so it’s not surprising that many tourists want to see it. However, not everyone dreams of climbing, since this is only possible in July and August. During the climbing season, the postcard views are a little different as the mountain isn't covered with snow. Some will say that experiencing the glory of Fuji-san is best during spring and autumn.
My first experience with Fuji-san was a one-day trip on a special bus from Tokyo. It turned out that I wasn't able to see the mountain well during such a short trip. Weather changes meant that it was easy to miss out on Fuji-san's beauty. Even when traveling from Tokyo, where the sky may be perfectly clear, Fuji-san can hide in the clouds. Of course, there are breaks in the weather and you can capture Fuji-san in pictures.
In order to have more opportunities to see the mountain, it is actually more economical to visit the Hakone area over a few days. This helps since the trip from Tokyo is long, about two hours in one direction, and so it is more reasonable to stay in a hotel in Odawara or in a Hakone ryokan (traditional Japanese inn).
A good travel option is the Hakone Free Pass, available for two or three days, from Shinjuku and Odawara. The three-day pass from Odawara is only ¥5,000. With it, you can enjoy unlimited use of buses, cable cars, old-style sightseeing ships, as well as the Tozan Train. For children, the pass is ¥1,250, a great bargain. In addition to travel, the Hakone Freepass offers museum discounts as well as some onsen (hot springs) and restaurant discounts too.
Beautiful views of Fuji-san can be had near Owakudani Station, Gotemba, and Ashinoko Lake. If you don’t have to return to Tokyo, you will get more opportunities to explore the beautiful nature of Hakone, visit interesting and unique museums and enjoy traditional onsen. In good weather, you can explore Ashinoko Lake by a swan pedal boat, visit Hakone Shrine, walk the ancient Tokaido highway along the avenue of ancient cedars and visit Chisuji Waterfall.
At Gotemba Station, you will find the Gotemba Premium Outlets shopping center, where you can buy goods at wholesale prices. In Odawara, you can learn about the history of the region and its once powerful Hojo clan by visiting the Odawara Castle and Samurai Museum. Near Hakone-Yumoto Station you'll find unique locations like the Venetian Glass Museum, and a museum dedicated to the book "The Little Prince."
Even if you miss out on seeing Fuji-san, you will visit one of the most beautiful places in Japan and get acquainted with the culture of the country, far from the big bustling cities. Of course, the longer you are there, the more chances you have of seeing Japan's most iconic beauty, Fuji-san.