This post was last updated on June 8th, 2020 at 02:20 pm
The iconic Mount Fuji can be seen from many places in Japan. One of those places is Fuji City, an important industrial city located in Shizuoka prefecture. If you walk there in the center and you look in front of you through one of the long streets, the huge volcano is visible. Together with Fujinomiya, Fuji City is the closest city to the mountain. This makes it a perfect base if you have plans to climb or view Mount Fuji.
Is Fuji City really a nice destination? Well, if we’re being honest we can think of better cities to visit. The city simply lacks fascinating sights and atmosphere. Still, especially in the surrounding area, there are some beautiful places to go to. We also ate one of the best bowls of ramen in all of Japan here.
Are you going to Fuji City? Then read on, because you will find our best tips in this article.
1. Hike in Iwamoto Mountain Park and View Mount Fuji
Near the city center lies the beautiful Iwamoto Mountain Park, which can be reached from two sides. We started on the temple side and walked through nature via a steep staircase. In the higher forests, there are small temples (torii’s) and there is a busy tea house. Every now and then you see someone passing by, sometimes walkers, sometimes runners. But you won’t bump into a lot of people.
The most beautiful part of this park can be seen from the Haridashi Deck. From there you have a view of Fuji City, the river of the same name and, with a bit of luck, Mount Fuji whose top is covered with snow. Unfortunately, we haven’t been lucky with the weather, so the mountain was hidden behind the clouds.
On the way down you will pass several tea plantations and trees full of oranges. And we couldn’t resist tasting one. You won’t get them any fresher than this.
If you visit during the cherry blossom season in the Iwamoto Mountain Park, it is extra beautiful. The cherry blossom season here starts, on average, on March 28 and is in full bloom on the 5th of April. About 30 species of plum trees are then in bloom, creating a fairytale-like setting.
Another great spot to check out Mount Fuji is the Fujinokuni Tagonoura Minato Park. There’s an observatory with a beautiful view of the sea with the mountain behind it.
2. Try a Traditional Fuji Snack: Manju
Google “都まんじゅう Fuji” and the result is a small bakery that sells delicious local snacks. To be precise, “Manju”, a kind of small pancake filled with sweet red bean paste. And besides the taste, the somewhat peculiar man who makes these snacks has thought of the smallest details. For example, a small figure is printed on every Manju, for example, a panda bear.
So give it a try, it only costs 35 Yen (~ US$0.30).
3. Eat Super Tasty Ramen
We’ve eaten a lot of ramen in Japan and we can tell you that we are most excited about one place in Fuji City: Sendai Shoten. A local gave us a tip about this place, and we’re still grateful for that. Upon entering this cozy restaurant, we had to wait a while before we could sit down, as more people had approached it.
The soup, unlike many other ramen restaurants, is quite thick. A texture that we personally like. And the taste is also very good.
Can’t make a choice from the rather large menu? We recommend the Hokkaido Spicy Miso Ramen. Choose an extra topping like a boiled egg or a piece of bacon and let your taste buds tingle.
4. Karting Through the City Center
Popular in Tokyo, now also possible in Fuji City. We’re talking about karting through the center. Officially started as Mario Kart, although this is (unfortunately) no longer possible due to the lawsuit that Nintendo won against the Japanese entrepreneurs. Driving around disguised as Mario, Luigi, Bowser, or Wario is a thing of the past.
Still, racing in a kart remains super cool to do, especially if you like a bit of excitement and sensation. We do recommend you put on a mask to protect yourself from the exhaust gases. Also know that an international driving license is mandatory, as is also the case for renting a car, scooter, and the like. The organization that organizes these rides is Akiba Kart.
5. Relax in an Onsen
As you may know, onsen are natural hot springs and an important part of Japanese culture. The medicinal water usually comes from a geyser. Sometimes you can find them outside in nature and sometimes in bathhouses. In some of these baths, you can even boil eggs. Japanese supermarkets sometimes sell these special eggs.
Since Fuji City is located in a volcanic area, there is also an onsen here. There are several baths, even one with electric shocks and two saunas. The complex has an indoor and outdoor area. It was immediately our fire trial in terms of onsen. Completely naked and as the only foreigners, it takes some getting used to. All those hairy men haha. But really, you can really relax there. And that for only 700 yen (~ US$6.40).
By the way, some of us had some unpleasant muscle pain in our lower backs, and we managed to relieve the pain with the help of the “shock bath”. The healing effect that they say onsen water contains has been confirmed! 😉
Ask for the “Public Bath House” or simply for “onsen”, because nothing is known about it outside of some Japanese articles on Google. And watch out, because tattoos are out of the question.
6. View the Shiraito Falls and Lake Tanuki
The Shiraito Falls are among the more beautiful waterfalls in Japan. They are no less than 150 meters wide and 20 meters high. The water, which flows from the mountains, falls down in thin rays. It, therefore, looks like silk threads. The green color of the trees and shrubs surrounding it mixes perfectly into a stunning scene.
Along the way, you will also pass the Otodome Falls, which is 25 meters high and 5 meters wide. This waterfall is less spectacular than the Shiraito Falls, although it is a lot more powerful.
Once you’ve seen the falls, hop on the bus toward Lake Tanuki. Here you have a magnificent view of the lake and, on a clear afternoon, you can see the imposing Mount Fuji behind it. In the evening it is completely magical with a twinkling starry sky. Compared to the much busier Kawaguchi, one of the most famous spots for viewing Mount Fuji, Lake Tanuki is a lot quieter.
7. Climb Mount Fuji
Are you in or around Fuji City from July to early September? Then Mount Fuji is open and you can climb the 3,776-meter high volcano. Late July through late August is known as the best time to climb this mountain. We wouldn’t go up the mountain out of season unless you are an experienced climber. There is a good chance that you will have to deal with extreme weather conditions like snow, ice, and perhaps even avalanches. Please be careful when taking photos or videos, for example, in October 2019 someone died who was live-streaming.
There are several trails you can hike, but from Fuji City, the Fujinomiya Trail is a natural one to choose from. It starts at an altitude of 2,400 meters and is open from July 10 to September 10. The hike to the top takes 4 to 7 hours and going down takes 2 to 5 hours.
Visit the Alternatives: Gotemba or Hakone
If you like to stay in a place full of hot springs, beautiful sights, and where you also have a view of Mount Fuji, then you should visit Hakone. Be aware that the accommodations here are quite pricey (on average). That is why you can also visit Hakone during the day and spend the night in Gotemba. No, this is not a great city, but it is the perfect base to go to Lake Kawaguchiko the next day.
Another stunning spot to view Mount Fuji is at the Chureito Pagoda in Fujiyoshida City, which you can see in the photo above. You can walk there from Shimoyoshida Station in 20 minutes.
Where to Stay in Fuji City
Fuji City is not touristy, so the range of accommodations is relatively small. Still, there are a few good and social hostels to stay at. We stayed at Running Bare, run by Vivek. He is a very nice guy from South Africa who gave us many good tips. Furthermore, this hostel is located near the station. A tip for breakfast is the Vie de France bakery that you will find there.
All other options to stay in Fuji can be found here.
The Next Destination
In any case, from Fuji City, it will be a while before you arrive at your next destination. We chose to head towards the Japanese Alps to Matsumoto, a 3-hour train journey. Hakone is about 2 hours by train and Kamakura takes about 3 hours.