18 Meaningful Things to Do in Fujinomiya: The Unseen Side of Mt Fuji
“The seen is the changing, the unseen is the unchanging.” ~ Plato. Do you want to explore off the beaten path in Japan? Despite a huge number of tourists passing right by the city of Fujinomiya 富士宮 on bullet trains...
“The seen is the changing, the unseen is the unchanging.” ~ Plato.
Do you want to explore off the beaten path in Japan? Despite a huge number of tourists passing right by the city of Fujinomiya 富士宮 on bullet trains between Tokyo and Kyoto, very few actually stop off along the way and enjoy all the wonders the area has to offer.
The Fujinomiya area is home to gorgeous waterfalls, ancient shrines, some of the clearest water you’ll ever see, delicious street food and a community feel. Its less obvious location on the south-western side of Mount Fuji means it is often overlooked by foreign tourists when it totally shouldn’t be!
Dominating the landscape here is beloved Mt Fuji, affectionately known by locals as Fujisan. She is visible from almost anywhere if the clouds are taking a break, and her theme song played from speakers on the streets is known by local school children off by heart.
Just by looking at my table of contents below, you’ll soon see there is a LOT to experience here, especially over a weekend. If you want to explore the unseen side of Mt Fuji that hasn’t yet hit the mainstream tourist radar, Fujinomiya will be THE place for you – read on for more!
This guide to things to do in Fujinomiya will cover:How far is Fujinomiya from Mt Fuji? Where to stay in Fujinomiya Meaningful things to do in Fujinomiya Embark on a food and sightseeing tour Visit the Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre Indulge in Fujinomiya yakisoba, the local specialty Learn the history of Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha See the clear waters of Wakutamaike Pond Go for a spot of shopping at Showa-era stores Sample award-winning sake at a local brewery Satisfy your sweet tooth at a traditional confectionery store Wake up early and watch the sunrise over Mt Fuji Enjoy views of Mt Fuji over rooftops from Shiroyama Park Stroll along the Urui River to a beautiful cherry blossom spot Take part in a street festival Hop on a sightseeing bus out of the city to experience nature’s wonders & Mt Fuji culture Be left in awe at Shiraito no Taki Waterfalls Take a peek at Otodome no Taki Waterfall Enjoy the shores of Lake Tanuki, known for “Diamond Fuji” Learn about Mt Fuji’s ancient religious origins at Hitoana Fuji-ko Iseki Enjoy ice cream from the happiest cows at Milk Land
I experienced the Fujinomiya sightseeing and food tour segment of this guide as a press invite. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links, at no extra cost to you. I may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.Pin me to Pinterest for reference later! 📌
How far is Fujinomiya from Mt Fuji?
As the crow flies, the distance from Fujinomiya to Mt Fuji is about 18kms. By road, it’s 36kms and about 45 minutes.
The little-known gem of Fujinomiya is located at the base of Mt Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture. In actual fact, it’s the closest city to Japan’s most sacred mountain.
Featuring the shortest route to climb to Mt Fuji’s summit, the Fujinomiya Trail has been used by pilgrims for centuries as their starting point. This trail was the most popular when Kyoto was Japan’s capital (794 – 1868), as pilgrims would arrive from the west of the mountain.
Where to stay in Fujinomiya
I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Fujinomiya Fujikyu Hotel, in the heart of the city centre. It’s conveniently located right by JR Fujinomiya Station, a konbini (7-11) is around the corner, close to shops, restaurants and the main attractions are within walking distance. The best part? The view from my room was unbeatable!
I highly recommend staying a night or two in Fujinomiya, rather than just visiting as a day trip from Tokyo. Weather and clouds surrounding Mt Fuji can be a complete contrast from one day to the next, as you’ll soon see in my images down the page.
Why not maximise your chances of seeing Mt Fuji, especially when visiting Japan in summer? My first day was quite rainy, but my second was absolutely GLORIOUS.
18 Meaningful things to do in Fujinomiya
You can cover many of the local attractions with a friendly local guide during your first day on a customised tour, and use the second day to explore more on your own afterwards.
Embark on a food and sightseeing tour
Who better than an expert on the area to show you around, and help you sample delicious local specialties along the way? I was invited to enjoy a customised version of this Fujinomiya Famous Food Tour with Arigato Japan Tours, and we saw (and ate!) so much in our time.
There is the option to tour as a day trip from Tokyo, or stay overnight and your guide can meet you there.
Here is what we got up to on the tour around Fujinomiya. Note that I revisited some places the following day when it wasn’t raining, so I’m including a mix of rainy and clear shots.
Visit the Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre
Our first stop was the Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre just 10mins walk from JR Fujinomiya Station. Mt Fuji was designated UNESCO World Heritage status in 2013 as a “sacred place and source of artistic inspiration.” The World Heritage Centre was opened in 2017 to commemorate this special recognition.
TIP: Almost everywhere you look at the centre has been inspired by this great mountain peak. Even the little chairs are in the shape of Mt Fuji!
A striking wooden structure stands at the entrance, created from cypress grown on Mt Fuji itself. My expert guide Lauren explained this style of traditional Japanese wooden latticework doesn’t use nails and creates an inverted Mt Fuji. Just check the water for a reflection of Fujisan the right way up!
TIP: On a clear day, see if you can photograph what I call The Trifecta: Reflecting Mt Fuji, the Torii gate and the reflecting Fuji latticework in one shot!
We received our tickets for the permanent and temporary exhibitions. The centre has been very well thought-out and is quite impressive, allowing visitors to experience what it would be like to climb to Fujisan’s summit.
A 193-metre spiral ramp is centred in the building, with imagery projecting on the surrounding walls of the changing landscape of Fuji at different altitudes from the perspective of a climber.
Showcasing the cultural significance of Mt Fuji to Japan as well at its seismology, the centre also includes displays about:Native wildlife to be found in the region How Mt Fuji was formed, as well as the islands of Japan Indoor and outdoor viewing platforms to see Mt Fuji (plus photos for what she looks like when she’s hiding!); volcanic rocks created by eruptions are used on the outdoor terrace Other mountains around the world that look similar to Mt Fuji Special exhibitions: During my visit, there was a temporary display of artefacts, paintings, woodblock prints and more all depicting Mt Fuji in Japanese folklore throughout the centuries. They were each very beautiful.
TIP: It isn’t always obvious what you’re able and not able to take photos of here, so it’s helpful to have a local guide to confirm for you.
TOP: Origins of Mt Fuji ~ MIDDLE: Mt Fuji inspired artworks and artefacts throughout the centuries ~ BOTTOM: Mt Fuji World Heritage Centre Highlights: 1) Entrance ~ 2) Mt Fuji Viewing Platform ~ 3) Volcanic rock from Mt Fuji ~ 4) native wildlife in the region ~ 5) Worldwide look-alikes of Mt Fuji ~ 6) Spiral ramp with views from the perspective of a pilgrim climbing Mt Fuji.
Indulge in Fujinomiya yakisoba, the local specialty
Working up an appetite after the World Heritage Centre, our next stop was to the local yokocho (outdoor area of eateries and bars) for some famous Fujinomiya yakisoba やきそば and other snacks.
Consisting of fried noodles, cabbage, meat and a special sauce I’ll leave to your guide to explain, Fujinomiya yakisoba is simply delicious. I just loved the presentation from this local business, served with a triangular fried egg and nori (seaweed) in the shape of Mt Fuji!
TIP: Unique to Fujinomiya, this noodle dish even features on decorative drain covers dotted throughout the streets.
Other snacks we tried were:Crispy Japanese croquettes filled with meat Daikon (Japanese radish) Tendon skewers, fish cakes, special boiled egg I also chose a bottle of ramune for my drink (read my guide to Japanese snacks to find out what’s special about this!)
TIP: There is a fountain of spring water from Mt Fuji where you can try water filtered through its volcanic rock. These also feature on the streets, so keep an eye out for them!
Learn the history of Fujisan Hongū Sengen Taisha
Back on our feet after lunch, we then visited Fujisan Hongu Tengen Taisha 富士山本宮浅間大社. With a history dating back over 1,000 years, this shrine was built to protect the city and its inhabitants from volcanic eruptions.
Lauren explained how pilgrims would come here to pray for a safe journey, and pointed out a unique feature in construction of this shrine you don’t see all too often. The innermost grounds of the shrine, the Okumiya, are actually located on Mt Fuji’s summit, making it the most important shrine in the region!
Annually on the 5th May, the shrine hosts yabusame 流鏑馬, a famous and traditional archery contest held on horseback. This Shinto ritual was established 800 years ago and is a very impressive skill. I’d love to see this someday!
See the clear waters of Wakutamaike Pond
Fed by snowmelt from Mt Fuji and considered sacred, for centuries pilgrims would bathe in Wakutamaike Pond to purify themselves before making their lengthy climb to the summit.
The striking vermilion Kamiji Bridge spans the breadth of the pond and makes for a pretty reflection along with its accompanying torii gates.
Lauren explained how today there is a shallow area a little down the river for children to enjoy water play.
Go for a spot of shopping at Showa-era stores
Following on from the Shrine, we headed to Fujinomiya’s main shopping streets. Lined with all kinds of stores with retro Showa-era charm (1926 – 1989), I picked up some lovely fabric souvenirs from a store that creates textiles and clothing for the city’s traditional festivals.
TIP: Lauren reminded me to keep my eyes out for archery-themed symbols that are related to the yabusame I mentioned above!
Sample award-winning sake at a local brewery
Anyone who knows me knows I LOVE sake, so this award-winning brewery was a real treat! And may I suggest, if you don’t like sake, chances are you haven’t tried a good one (sometimes the common exported ones don’t taste that great).
TIP: Give it a try, I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Founded in 1831, this brewery is popular with locals as it uses spring water from Mt Fuji to create all its products, so the sake is very pure.
I was able to try four kinds of sake, my preferences lean towards sweet rather than dry. Your guide will explain the rice polishing and sake-making process so you know what to look for when purchasing.
Pictured below, I tried a sweet amazake 甘酒 sake (rice grains floating on top) and a yoghurt liqueur. My gosh, they were both so good I wanted to buy a bottle of each to take home! However, they need to be kept refrigerated. No way they would last the flight back to Australia unfortunately, so I bought a bottle of their award-winning sweet sake instead (red and silver label below).
TIP: This brewery has beautiful packaged gifts for very reasonable prices for the sake lover in your life (or for yourself). They even have non-alcoholic sake flavoured lollies that are delicious!
Satisfy your sweet tooth at a traditional confectionery store
And now to a lovely piece of local history. We arrived at a confectionery store that specialises in wagashi (traditional Japanese sweets). Having been in business almost 90 years, the gentleman running the store today continues his grandfather’s legacy.
Growing around the base of Mt Fuji, his grandfather discovered kokemomo こけもも, a Japanese cranberry-like fruit. He created his own recipe using rice powder and natural sugars to make wagashi (sweets) in the shape of Fujisan. I’d never realised before, but Mt Fuji’s summit features three bumps visible only from the Fujinomiya side, which is evident in the little sweets.
Other wagashi in the store also resemble Mt Fuji, for instance the chestnut-flavoured cake with a crumbly cream filling. It was so good.
As with all guided cultural experiences in Japan, a local guide can really help you to get beneath the surface and discover more to enrich your visit. Get in touch to arrange a bullet train day trip from Tokyo/Kyoto/Osaka, or to organise your own private transport around Fujinomiya. Book your tour here!
While this concludes my customised Fujinomiya food tour with Arigato Japan, I’m not quite finished yet! The following things to do in Fujinomiya were experiences I discovered on my own the following day.
Wake up early and watch the sunrise over Mt Fuji
By chance, I woke up at 4:00am. Expecting it to still be dark outside, my jaw dropped to the floor when I peeled back the curtains to reveal this view!
Remember I mentioned on my first day in Fujinomiya it was raining? This was my chance to revisit some places Lauren showed me, and explore new ones with Mt Fuji as a backdrop!
NOTE: I went exploring from 5:00am – 9:00am. At 7:30am, clouds began to swirl around the lower half of the mountain. By the time I’d returned to my hotel at 9:00am, Fujisan was almost completely hidden. This is why doing a day trip from Tokyo isn’t always a good idea. She can vanish before you even arrive.
Enjoy views of Mt Fuji over rooftops from Shiroyama Park
This elevated park is a cherry blossom spot favoured by locals. Enjoy hanami in the park, as well as clear views of Fuji’s summit over rooftops – find out when is the best time to visit Japan for cherry blossoms.
Fujinomiya also has some of the coolest drain covers, wouldn’t you agree?
Stroll along the Urui River to a beautiful cherry blossom spot
Have you seen images of this spot before? Believe me when I say foreigners don’t really know where it is! I had to do quite a bit of digging to find out the location as it’s not listed on Google Maps. Remember, Fujinomiya isn’t on the mainstream tourist radar.
This spot is about 40mins walk from Fujinomiya Station. If you’re staying at the Fujikyu Hotel, you can borrow a hotel bike for free and ride there.
Type “Fujifilm Onakazato” into Google Maps on your phone and head towards the Fujifilm building. From there you can venture into the park lining the river and enjoy the views! Obviously there were no cherry blossoms during summer, but you can just imagine the views!
TIP: See if you can find the abandoned shrine fighting off nature reclaiming it nearby.
NOTE: I went to the Urui River in the morning as I was doing a bus trip outside of Fujinomiya City in the afternoon. More on this down the page, and my thoughts about why a clear afternoon may be better to see Fujisan from here in my concluding comments.
Take part in a street festival
Will your visit coincide with a street festival? If it does, be sure to check it out!
By chance, there were 3 combined celebrations during my Fujimoniya visit (lucky, right?!): A festival to commemorate Mt Fuji being listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site; the Miyamachi Festival; and the Okami Denkaku Market.
It was here I was able to try the famous “Louis Vuitton” pork. Why it’s called this is a take on a clever Japanese pun Lauren told me about! Let me say, I do not eat pork at home (not a fan of the flavour).
However Lauren had highly recommended I try the premium yakitori pork from a particular store, and gosh she was right. It was DELICIOUS, like the wagyu of pork! I would never have tried this without her recommendation, and I’m so glad I did.
Hop on a sightseeing bus out of the city to experience nature’s wonders & Mt Fuji culture
If you don’t have your own transport when in Fujinomiya, I can recommend the 4 hour Goriki-kun Fujikyu bus trip that visits 6 stops I detail below. I paid for this trip with my own money and unbeknownst to the company or staff.
Here’s how to make the most of the Goriki-kun Fujikyu bus trip:Purchase your ticket from the bus depot beside JR Fujinomiya Station either the day before or morning of your tour. Tickets are for an all-day tour (7 hours), the morning tour (3 hours, leaves at 9:30am) or afternoon tour (4 hours, leaves at 1:00pm). These buses only run on weekends and public holidays. The afternoon tour I took departed from Stop 2. I was there 7 mins early and the bus departed just before 1pm. Don’t be late! If it’s not too packed, sit on the right side of the bus during the afternoon course to capture the best views of Mt Fuji from the bus.
NOTE: This bus tour can feel rushed. There is enough time to see the sights, but not at a leisurely pace. This is expected on these kinds of tours, though. For me, it was a pay-off for not having my own transport.
Be left in awe at Shiraito no Taki Waterfalls
Our first stop out of Fujinomiya was Shiraito no Taki Waterfalls 白糸の滝. Created by snowmelt that takes 10 years to filter through rock from Mt Fuji, Shiraito Falls is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
With the scent of minerals filling the air, I was absolutely awestruck by the sheer scale of the falls, they’re 20 metres high and collectively, their silk-like threads of water span 150 metres wide!
It’s very easy to see why this is considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Japan. So gorgeous and a lovely place to have visited in the summer, with some light spray reaching us.
TIP: There can be other tour groups here at the same time, mostly senior citizens and they can be a bit slow walking up and down the stairs. Factor this into your time in getting back to the bus.
Take a peek at Otodome no Taki Waterfall
Just opposite the staircase to Shiraito Falls is Otodome no Taki Waterfall. It’s a bit more difficult to see over the fence as it’s on a cliff ledge, however there is a small elevated platform you can take photos from.
TIP: You can pick up some Fuji-themed souvenirs from the stalls in this area. In true Japanese fashion, the vendors do not try to undercut one another with price – the same items will cost the same at different places.
Enjoy the shores of Lake Tanuki, known for “Diamond Fuji”
Our next stop on the bus trip was Lake Tanuki. Although this is a man-made lake, it has a gorgeous outlook!
Twice a year on 20 April and 20 August, a phenomenon happens when the sun aligns directly above Fujisan’s summit about 6am, in what the locals have nicknamed Diamond Fuji. If the lake is still, it creates a reflection known as Double Diamond Fuji.
Learn about Mt Fuji’s ancient religious origins at Hitoana Fuji-ko Iseki
Ticking off another UNESCO World Heritage site, we next visited Hitoana Fuji-ko Iseki. This site features a lava cave that a 1000-year old legend claims is the residence of the Sengen Daibosatsu, goddess of Fujisan, making it a sacred place.
As we entered the grounds, there were over 200 stone pagodas beside Hitoana Sengen-jinja shrine. These are dedicated to the founder of the Fuji-ko religion – worshippers of Mt Fuji that used their religious beliefs as motivation for climbing the summit in ancient times. Today, most people climb for leisure.
NOTE: Out of a dozen passengers on the bus trip, I was the only foreigner on this day so there were no English-speaking volunteer guides. There are Japanese signs to mark each attraction, so I used Google Translate on my phone to understand what the guides were talking about. I explain how to do this offline in my guide to renting wifi in Japan.
Enjoy ice cream from the happiest cows at Milk Land
Have you even visited Fujinomiya if you haven’t tried milk products from Japan’s happiest cows? Our next stop on the bus tour was Milk Land, where the cows bask in the grasses at the foot of Mt Fuji. They’ve got some of the best views!
I tried the local ichigo aisukurimu (strawberry ice cream). With flavour so rich and texture so creamy, definitely give it a try.
TIP: The final stop on the tour is the same sake brewery I visited with Arigato Japan tours. If there’s something you wish you had bought previously, this is your second chance!
Concluding what to do in Fujinomiya
This concludes the lengthy list of things to do in Fujinomiya! As you can see, it’s definitely worth staying overnight with a Fuji-view room to maximise your chances of seeing her at some point. 2 days is great because weather can be a total contrast from one day to the next. During summer at least, prepare for a downpour one day; sun and blue skies the next.
Doing a customised tour around Mt Fuji with Arigato Japan on your first day means you can revisit some places the following day if the weather is better. You’ll know where you’re going and have the best recommendations for what to eat!
The Urui River may be better on a clear afternoon. The sun can be a bit glary in the morning, but along the path I found some shady spots between trees where the glare was minimised.
Sending a huge thanks again to Arigato Japan Tours for showing me around Fujinomiya city!
While you’re here, why not check out all my travel guides and itineraries for Japan? I’ve also shared how to plan a trip to Japan, what to pack for Japan in every season, crucial Japanese etiquette, easy Japanese phrases for tourists (including a FREE cheat sheet) and much more!
Until next time,
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Australian-based Alyse has travelled "The Invisible Tourist Way" for thirteen years and hopes to encourage fellow travellers to do so, too. Based on her travels to 260+ cities across 32 countries, through her blog she shares passionate advice about responsible travel, history and preserving local cultures for more enriching experiences. Her dreams? Always about the next destination and how to make the most of it by "blending in".