If you’re in the market to find the best places for photography in Japan, then a trip to the Chureito Pagoda, located in Fujiyoshida within the Yamanashi Prefecture, is an absolute must-do. Anyone who is interested in Japanese culture and travel would have almost certainly come across an image taken at the Chureito Pagoda before. From amateur to elite photographers, anyone with a camera would be crazy to miss the opportunity to capture the views from all the way up there.
The Chureito Pagoda is a five storied pagoda that sits right on a mountainside, overlooking Fujiyoshida City. On a clear day, you’ll see the majestic Mount Fuji in the distance and the view will simply take your breath away. The pagoda itself was erected in 1963, as a peace memorial to commemorate the people of Fujiyoshida who served in wars from the mid-1800s until World War II. It is the most recent structural addition to the Arakura Sengen Shrine. To get to the top, you will need to climb 400 steps, but it’s much easier than you think!
Although it’s quite a popular destination for tourists to visit, it’s still quite a peaceful attraction. It does make for an excellent day-trip from Tokyo if you want to escape the massive crowds and high-rise building for a day, and be amongst nature and its serenity.
Chureito Pagoda – How To Get There
The Chureito Pagoda is an easy day-trip from Tokyo, but if you do plan to go, and don’t want to be rushed, we suggest dedicating an entire day to travel there and back. That way, you will have enough time in between to properly explore the area and stop for photo opportunities, just in time for dinner.
From Tokyo, you have two options:
- Take the train from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station. This will take just over an hour, and will cost 2,360 yen, but is covered by the JR pass. From Otsuki Station, change trains to the Fujikyuko Line to Shimoyoshida Station. This will take 45-minutes and cost 980 yen. This part of the travel is not covered by the JR pass. From Shimoyoshida Station, it is another 20-minute walk to get to the Chureito Pagoda.
- Take the highway bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko. This will take roughly 1 hour 45-minutes, and cost 2,000 yen. You can make a reservation following this link. From Kawaguchiko, you can take the train to Shimoyoshida Station. This will take 20-minutes and cost 310 yen. This is not covered by the JR pass.
Chureito Pagoda – Tips To Get The Best Pictures
Of course, like most landmarks in any country, there are certain times where you’ll be able to capture the beauty of the place in very unique surroundings, and with Chureito Pagoda, there are two times in the year when it just seems to shine even more beautifully. They are in the midst of Spring, when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, and during autumn, when the koyo brighten the landscape in warm colours. For the best photo, head to the top of the shrine, or, for a different perspective, try and walk around to the other side of the pagoda.
Literally hundreds of cherry blossom trees bloom around the Chureito Pagoda area during spring, allowing anyone with a camera to frame their images with the beautiful flowers. On a good day, you’ll get a clear, crisp view of Mount Fuji in the background, making it one of the best images you’ll capture during your trip in Japan. Springtime is also notoriously popular for its slightly chilly but otherwise great weather, so you’ll most likely get bouts of sunshine during your trip.
The autumn scenery in Japan is unlike most countries, with many of their lush forests in the countryside and trees in the urban jungle drying up for winter, blanketing the floors with their crusty leaves in all shades of red, orange and yellow. This is a legitimate attraction in Japan, and whilst domestic tourists have long included this in their agenda, it’s becoming more and more popular with foreigners now to travel in autumn to capture this unique natural landscape beauty. At the top of the pagoda, you will get unmatched views of the koyo across the city.
If you’re a photographer looking at getting uninterrupted views, we suggest going early in the day during the golden hours, as there will most likely be no crowd, and the soft hues of the sun will be enough to light up the entire area. Head there around midday and it will most likely be relatively packed, and the harsh sunlight will create shadows across your images. Sunset is also a great time to capture a stunning image of the Chureito Pagoda against the luminous orange sky – but be warned, this is also a popular time amongst the crowds.
Chureito Pagoda – Where To Stay
If you want to visit the rest of the area, it’s also a good idea to stay here overnight. For your accommodation, we advice you to stay at Kawaguchiko which is pretty close to the Chureito Pagoda. Please find below few places we recommend you to book in Kawaguchiko.
Hostel – kagelow Mt.Fuji Hostel Kawaguchiko
Rustic, yet contemporary; budget, yet chic; small, yet cozy. This hostel is a backpacker’s dream. Or, if you’re simply looking for an affordable, convenient, modern, stylish accommodation that’s close to the attractions around Mount Fuji, consider this hostel that’s part accommodation, part chic hangout.
Having been newly renovated in 2015, this hostel offers a funky bar onsite as well as a new kitchen. You can even hire bikes at a measly 500 yen. The accommodation itself is an attraction, with containers littering the outside, making for a very hipster entryway.
Why Guests Love It: The architecture of this humble hostel is amazing, from the bar to the rooms. The dormitories offered plenty of room for its guests which was a big plus. You can even see Mount Fuji (on a clear day) from the window. People were very nice there, from guests to the staff members.
Book It Now: kagelow Mt.Fuji Hostel Kawaguchiko
Hotel – Fuji View Hotel
One of the top voted accommodations in the area for couples, the Fuji View Hotel is a great option if a quality, clean, ambient hotel is what you’re after. Everything from the decor to the exterior, to the location and facilities screams ‘Zen’ (quietly) – exactly what you’d expect from a waterfront Japanese accommodation located near the mountainside.
It’s super spacious, surrounded by a well-maintained beautiful garden full of greenery and cherry blossoms. It offers luxe indoor and outdoor onsen baths for its guests, lakeside or mountain views from its guestrooms, and even boast a golf course and tennis courts onsite. For all staying guests, you will be offered free transportation services to and from Kawaguchiko Station.
Why Guests Love It: The view of Mount Fuji is amazing from the hotel. The free shuttle was wholly welcomed by the guests. The onsen is simply brilliant, especially after cycling around the lake for three days. The 6th floor common room provides a 360-degree view of Mount Fuji and its surroundings – head there in the morning and evening, stunning views.
Book It Now: Fuji View Hotel
Ryokan – Shuhokaku Kogetsu
For a premium ryokan experience, consider the Shuhokaku Kogetsu, located directly on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi and only ten minutes away from Kawaguchiko Station. This place offers uninterrupted views of Mount Fuji, meaning you can wake up to this wonder every night that you stay here. This ryokan boasts beautiful outdoor onsens with lakeside views – it’s one of the reasons why this place is so popular; the experience is unmatched.
All guestrooms are fitted with woven tatami mats and fluffy futon bedding. Book in a massage after a long, adventurous day, unwind in the sauna before dipping into the onsen, or, if you’re keen to party into the night, head to the onsite karaoke room to belt your lungs out.
Why Guests Love it: The huge rooms were unexpected but made the sleeping experience much more enjoyable. The staff made most guests’ stay memorable, as they were friendly, super helpful, and professional during their entire stay. The view of Mount Fuji (on a good day) was simply magical for most guests.
Book It Now: Shuhokaku Kogetsu
During any season of the year, we recommend putting Chureito Pagoda on your agenda. Whilst it’s becoming more and more popular, and therefore the experience may not be as uninterrupted as you would like, it’s still one of the most quintessential trip that you can easily do from Tokyo. We guarantee that the views will take your breath away no matter what, you’ll get some exercise out of this activity (to help digest all that food you’ll be consuming in Japan), and you’ll get to explore even more of the Mount Fuji area – it’s a win-win situation!
If you are looking for more spots to see Fuji-san, feel free to check out this article: The 10 Best Viewpoints To See Mount Fuji.