Not ready to climb Mount Fuji, but still searching for a relaxing way to enjoy Japan’s highest mountain? Riders of a special Fuji-themed train can do just that. Sip famous Yamanashi wine and kick back in the viewing booth while enjoying the view of Mt. Fuji to the backdrop of Japan’s charming country side.
Take a ride on the Fujisan Express for a clear view of Mount Fuji, but also for a glimpse into Japan’s obsessive train culture. While there are many places to observe Fuji, the train ride allows you to get Fuji-fied with more than 100 Fuji characters. They plaster the train's interior and exterior. Before you board, take a photo with "sexy-Fuji," a blue and white Fuji-shaped character who wears a red bikini, with "octopus-Fuji," or with any of the other human-sized characters painted on the train.
To start the journey, head to Yamanashi Prefecture by train, and try to go on a sunny day to ensure the best view of Fuji. Take the Kaiji limited express train from Shinjuku (JR) Station to Otsuki Station (大月駅). The ride is little over an hour. It costs ¥2250 to get to Otsuki, where you can board the Fujisan Express.
Don’t forget to buy an additional ticket for the train on top the regular fare. (Note: You cannot use your IC Card to purchase it.) Non-reserved seats are ¥300 and reserved seats are an additional ¥100.
It’s recommended to buy a reserved-seat ticket. The small fee comes with the comfort of a viewing experience you can seldom find on other trains. The reserved-seat observation car has one spacious oval-shaped booth area and table that can seat about 6-8 people. Relax while sitting parallel to the window for optimal viewing and photography. Get there early to be lucky enough to get these seats, as they are first come, first served. There's also theater-style seating in the train’s front, with extra large windows.
Also available on the train are Fuji-themed gifts for sale, including a file folder with all 165 Fuji characters and their names, as well as snacks and beverages.
“Fujisan” refers to Mount Fuji. The Fujisan Express is a 6-car local train, despite its name. It’s about an hour-long ride from start to finish. The train stops at five stations: Otsuki, Tsurubunka Daigaku Mae, Mt. Fuji station, Fuji-Q Highland, and Kawaguchiko.
After the scenic train ride, check out attractions at each stop. For more about train times, routes and sightseeing, see the link on the side of this article under "contact."