“In Fujiyoshida, where is the best place to see the first sunrise of the year with Mt. Fuji?” a woman working for a nation-wide TV station asked me several years ago. At that time, they featured the official calendar of Fujiyoshida City in their show and the calendar used my photographs. So she asked me the question to give their audience some useful information.
“There is no such place.” I replied. Because Fujiyoshida is located on the northern slope of Mt. Fuji, it can never be an ideal place to see Mt. Fuji and a sunrise together. You need to go to the west side of Mount Fuji to see the first sunrise of the year with Mount Fuji. It’s a no-brainer.
So, I let me list 5 best places to see the first sunrise of the year and Mount Fuji. All of them are located on the western side of Mt. Fuji.
Ryujin-Ike Pond, Fuji Motosu Resort
This is the place where you see Shibazakura (pink moss) with Mt. Fuji in spring, and it is now gradually becoming a popular tourist attraction in winter as well. Because the pond is located within the premiss of Fuji Motosu Resort run by Fuji-Q Group, you gotta pay the entrance fee of 1,000 yen. But securing a parking space for 1,000 yen may not be a bad deal, since it is New Year’s Day. You’d need to go very early to secure your position in the front row by the pond.
It is a known fact that every scenic locations with beautiful views of sunrise is very crowded on New Year’s Day in Japan. The gate opens at 7 AM, but there must be many people already waiting in front of the gate. If you’re an enthusiastic photographer who are desperately trying to take the best shots, you need to arrive there even earlier than other photographers. Diamond Fuji occurs at 8: 02 a.m. because there is a time lag until the rising sun reaches the top of Mount Fuji.
GPS : 35.4435,138.6033
What you wanna see is the first sunrise of the year with Mt. Fuji, right? Then, it doesn’t have to be Diamond Fuji and you’ll have more choices. If you see the first sunrise from Lake Motosu, the sun comes up from the left shoulder of Mt. Fuji, which means, you can see the sunrise earlier than the case of Diamond Fuji. It shows up at 7:26 a.m.
The location is known as the 1000-yen view point. It is located near the entrance of Nakanokura Tunnel. There is a parking lot, but the capacity is relatively small, so I’d expected it will be full before dawn. Be sure to get there earlier.
If you like camping, it might be a good idea to stay one night at “Koan Camping Site” located just below the 1000-yen view point. If you don’t mind a bit of hiking, you can also walk up for 20 to 30 minutes to the Nakanokura Observation Deck. The trail leading to the deck starts at the parking lot.
Having said that, I don’t recommend this plan if you’ve never been there before and are not with someone who have been to the place before. If you decide to walk up, be sure to get a map showing trails. I use 山と高原地図 (Map of mountains and highlands), which is in my opinion trustworthy. Although it doesn’t show you English info, you still can see if you are on the right path.
If you have a smartphone and a trekking map, the risk of getting lost will be dramatically reduced.
When you see Mount Fuji from Lake Motosu, the round mountain you see on the right is Mt. Ryugatake. This place is famous for being able to see Diamond Fuji on New Year’s Day. The route to the top isn’t too tough, but to see Diamond Fuji, you’ll have to climb in the pitch darkness, so I recommend you to climb it during the day in advance or go there with an experienced person.
I again recommended you to install a decent map for hiking such as “山と高原地図（Map of mountains and highlands)” on your smartphone. Also, when you do a night hike, use a headlight so that you can use both of your hands while hiking. Diamond Fuji occurs at 7:44 a.m. when seen form the top of the mountain. There are also some other viewing spots on the way to the top.
GPS: 35.4468, 138.5836
So far, all locations I introduced here are in Yamanashi prefecture, so let me now introduce Asagiri plateau in Shizuoka prefecture. This is not because I live in Yamanashi prefecture and I partially favor places in Yamanashi, it is because you’d need to go to the north-west side of Mt. Fuji to see the sunrise and Mt. Fuji on New Year’s Day. I’ll mostly list places in Shizuoka if it were for Diamond Fuji in summer.
Asagiri Plateau is large. There are some nice spots in the plateau. if you want to secure parking, visiting the roadside station Asagiri plateau is probably a good idea. if you want to see Mount Fuji reflected in the water, Lake Tanuki would be a good choice, too, if you like camping and wanna see Fuji with the first sunrise, Fumotoppara Camping Ground is an ideal place.
One thing to note about Fumotoppara Camping Ground is that you are not allowed to enter for the purpose of taking pictures or just seeing the beautiful scenery. In the past, you could just pay a 300 yen admission fee to enter the place and shoot for two hours. But not anymore. To enter the place, you gotta camp there or stay at a lodge they provide.
When viewed from Asagiri plateau, the sun rises from the right shoulder in contrast to Lake Motosu and Lake Shoji. The sun shows up at 7:17 a.m. at Fumotoppara.
Google Map（Fumotoppara Camping Ground）
The first sunrise of the year from Lake Shojiko comes from the bottom of the left foot of Mt. Fuji. Since it is quit close to the horizon, it can be seen even earlier than Lake Motosu (7:09 a.m.). Normally, you can drive down to the lakeshore, but on New Year’s Day, I don’t recommend you to do so since there is a good chance of getting stuck on the slope, because there will be far too many cars trying to do the same. So it’s better to go early and park at the upper parking lot, and then, walk down to the lakeshore.
Google Map（Parking Near the Lake）
Wherever you go, the place will be crowded on New Year’s Day. Even if you arrive at your destination at night of New Year’s Eve, the place may be already crowded anyway.You won’t be able to do anything if you try to get to the destination just before the first sunrise. Perhaps the sun will rise while you are stuck in traffic. Be an early bird.
By the way, I don’t like crowds, so I will stay at home and play with my cats.