Otsuki Station in Yamanashi

Gateway to Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji

By Cathy Cawood    - 3 min read

Fujikyuko Railway Connection

If you want to visit Lake Kawaguchi with its views of Mount Fuji by train, you will need to transfer from JR Chuo Line to Fujikyuko Railway at Otsuki Station. The journey from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko is 26,6 kilometers, and trains stop at the closest station to Mount Fuji in Japan. A Japan Rail Pass will get you as far as Otsuki, but is not valid for travel on this railway, however you can use the new 3 day Kanto Pass.

This cute train belonging to Fujikyuko Railway will take you from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko - a lake with great views of Mount Fuji
This cute train belonging to Fujikyuko Railway will take you from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko - a lake with great views of Mount Fuji

Attractions around Lake Kawaguchi include Fuji-Q Highland Park, Chureito Pagoda, Kubota Itchikyu Museum, Climbing Mount Fuji, and the Music Forest Museum.

Mount Fuji Views from Otsuki

You can also see views of Mount Fuji from Otsuki if the weather is clear. Apparently, the most symmetrical view of the mountain can be seen from here, and it was the view chosen to appear on the ¥500 note before it was replaced by a coin. Unfortunately the day I visited Otsuki, it was completely cloudy and there was no chance of seeing Mount Fuji.

Hiking

The area around Otsuki is a great place for hiking. Mountain villages, hot springs and Mount Fuji views can be enjoyed along the trail, in addition to the lovely natural scenery. The Mount Iwadono trail is the closest one to Otsuki - in fact you can see the bare rock face near the peak from the station. Mount Iwadono was once the site of a castle. There is a small museum halfway up. The route on the west side of the mountain takes about an hour, and rewards the climber with stunning views.

Low cloud touches the rock face of Mount Iwadono
Low cloud touches the rock face of Mount Iwadono

The Monkey Bridge

If you have time, you should definitely see Saruhashi, the famous Monkey Bridge. This remarkable example of medieval Japanese engineering is one of the most famous bridges in Japan. Although the bridge is located in Otsuki City the nearest station is Saruhashi (local trains only.) However, there are no lockers there, so if you want to stow your gear before exploring, Otsuki is the place to do it.

Saruhashi - the Monkey Bridge
Saruhashi - the Monkey Bridge

Fishing

The Katsura River that flows under Saruhashi attracts many fishermen, so I suppose it must be a good fishing area. I know you can catch much prized sweetfish there (ayu in Japanese) but I don't know what other fish there are.

Fishing in the Katsura River
Fishing in the Katsura River

Food and Drink

There are plenty of nice restaurants and cafes right outside the Station entrance, so there's no excuse for starving!

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Cathy Cawood

Cathy Cawood @cathy.cawood

 I came to Japan in 2003 to teach English. I lived in Shiga prefecture for one year, and it still holds a special place in my heart. I lived in Kyoto for nine years, then moved to Machida, Tokyo in 2014 after meeting my Japanese partner. I love to take photos, and my Japan in Pictures Facebook page has some 40,000 followers. I have been the Regional Partner for Yamanashi Prefecture since 2014. I am enjoying exploring the prefectures around Tokyo (I like to get off the beaten track), and I hope the photos and stories I share will encourage more people to discover this wonderful country.

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