6 Best Locations to Shoot Mt. Fuji in Fujiyoshida

1. Arakurayama Sengen Park (Chureito)

The view of Mt. Fuji with the Chureito Pagoda has become internationally famous over the recent years. The place used to be only known by local residents and landscape photographers but now it attracts so many tourists from all over the world.

You could park your car right next to the pagoda until several years ago. But now you have to use the parking lot located under the 398-step stairs. The number of steps had been 397 but the city added 1 more step in 2017, because the name of the goddess enshrined in Sengen Shrine (goddess of Fuji) is “Konohana-no-Sakuya-hime-no-mikoto,” and 398 can be read as Sakuya in Japanese. There are restrooms at the parking lot and near the pagoda.

The nearest railway station to Chureito is Shimoyoshida on the Fujikyu Ootsuki Line. Because the place has become very popular, all express trains will stop at the Shimoyoshida station from March 14, 2010, including Fujikaiyuu that directly goes to Kawaguchiko Station from Shinjuku Station in Tokyo.

The parking lot is available for free except for the springtime. The cherry blossom festival (Sakura Matsuri) usually takes place in early April and it costs 1000 yen for a car and 500 yen for a motorcycle during the period.

The observation deck where you can see Mt. Fuji together with the pagoda is very crowded while cherry trees are in bloom. You are allowed to stay there up to 5 minutes and use of a tripod is prohibited during the cherry blossom festival.

That said, many cameras have good image stabilization functionality these days. It isn’t a big problem after the sun comes up. You can also use the fence to stabilize your posture. Image stabilization is getting more and more important nowadays as use of a tripod is usually limited or prohibited once a place becomes popular.

In a strict sense, this tower is not a real pagoda. Chureito was built as a monument to soldiers killed in war, so it has no Buddha’s ash in it. This building is constructed with reinforced concrete and the roofs have no real tiles. I speculate this was mainly because of the budget. Building and maintaining a real, traditional construction costs a lot of money. So if you’re familiar with Japanese traditional architecture, you instantly see that this building is not a real Buddhism pagoda or an authentic Japanese traditional construction. That’s why this place hadn’t been popular for so many years until it recently went viral on social media where visual first impression is most important.

In fact, there are a number of Chureito towers in Japan but this is the only Chureito tower adopted the shape of a Buddhism pagoda. In Japan, Shinto and Buddhism used to be merged almost completely into one. Most Shinto shrines had also served as Buddhism temples and vice versa. During the Meiji Restoration in the 19th century, the then government forcibly separated the two. Since then, new shrines have rarely adopted buddhism architecture. But this Arakura Sengen Shrine was an exception. They adopted the shape of a Buddhism pagoda when they built the Chureito. As a result, this place has become an international tourist destination. Maybe a good example of the hybrid theory.

If you turn right after going up the stairs, you’ll see a gazebo. This is another good vantage point in the park where you can see Mt. Fuji over the town of Fujiyoshida without any obstacles. There are cherry trees around the gazebo, too. You can experiment your own compositions around there in spring.

2. Noson Park

This park is also called “Nodo Park” at times. It spreads in the area adjacent to the city hospital. There are only rice fields in the area so that you have a very good view of Fuji.

There is a parking lot with restrooms in the park. Note that the restrooms are closed in winter (DEC till MAR) because of the cold temperature. In this area, empty rice fields are often filled with water even in winter. For this reason, you have a pretty good chance of capturing Sakasa Fuji (Fuji reflected in water).

3. Road Station Fujiyoshida

In summer, you can see Mt. Fuji reflected in a pool. The water is drained in winter before it is frozen. Since this place is a road station, it has a big parking lot, restrooms and a number of stores including an outdoor clothing/equipment shop Montbell. You can also get drinkable spring water for free at the road station.

Going up the stairs of the rader dome gives you a high angle view of Mt. Fuji over a forest. Watch out your steps when the place is wet or frozen as it can be quite slippery.

4. Pine’s Park (Suwa-no-Mori Natural Park)

It’s away from the central Fujiyoshida and located on the northern slope of Mt. Fuji. In the northern Fuji area, Ue (up) means south and Shita (down) means north because Mt. Fuji is located in the south of the area. Some local maps are drawn in this way and so they sometimes perplex tourists. But, as a local resident, I’d say it perfectly makes sense. Fuji has such huge presence in the area.

Photographers usually come to this place in autumn. Because the altitude of the park is higher, autumn leaves peaks earlier. So for example, if you visit Lake Kawaguchi but a little too early for autumn leaves, perhaps visiting this place is a good idea.

This park is away from the town and there is no source of artificial lights in the direction of Mt. Fuji, I sometimes shoot stars at this place. The facility has a parking lot and restrooms.

Some trees were lit up by the street lights so darkened in the post processing.

5. Fuji Sansaku Park

This park also has a parking lot and restrooms. Honestly speaking I don’t use this park very often as it is quite close to other good locations.

I haven’t tried yet but I bet this place is also pretty good to shoot stars with Mt. Fuji as there is no source of artificial lights in the direction of Mt. Fuji.せ

6. Fujimi Kotoku Park

This place is a hidden gem in Fujiyoshida. Honestly speaking I don’t want to tell you so I listed it at the end.

The name suggests that this is a public park but it is actually owned by a local citizen. The landowner developed his private land into a park and lets people use it for free. Much obliged!

This place is beautiful throughout the year. I particularly like spring and autumn. Fujimi Kotoku park is pretty close to Chureito. So it may be a good idea to escape from the crowds at Chureito and spend a quiet time gazing the beautiful mountain.

If you walk for a couple of minutes to this point, you can also see Mt. Fuji over the Chuo Expressway. I love the view from this point.

You can get to this location quite easily from Tokyo because Fujimi Kotoku Park is close to the Shimoyoshida highway bus station, and it takes only 95 minutes from Shinjuku when the traffic is good. The bus leaves from the bus station close to Yodobashi Camera near the Shinjuku station.

The parking lot at the top of the hill can accommodate only 3 to 4 cars, and it is impossible to pass each other up there. In spring and autumn, be sure to park your car at the temporary parking lot.

 

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