Ahh, the elusive Mt. Fuji!! This was one of the things I was most excited to see in Japan. Unfortunately, we did not realize that it often goes unseen. We traveled to Hakone to see the legendary mountain and were disappointed to find out that it is usually covered by the clouds. In fact, we asked someone where it was, and they told us we were facing it!
We came here in March, and despite being close to cherry blossom season, we did not get the postcard photo-op that we had envisioned. Nonetheless, we were lucky enough to see the very top of it on two separate occasions.
The first sighting was at Owakudani, which is famous for its hot springs and well-known black eggs. Just to give you an idea of how foggy it was, here is a photo of the lift that transported us to Owakudani. On a clear day, you would be able to see Mt. Fuji from here, but visibility is incredibly low beyond the first hill.
And this is what it’s “supposed” to look like. I took this picture from a magazine cover on the bullet train:
Once we arrived, we found a reference picture that shows us what we are looking at. Very helpful, indeed:
We found some helpful people who were able to point out that the very tip-top of the mountain was visible. While we could see it with the naked eye, our camera wasn’t able to produce a picture of the snow-capped summit.
After Owakudani, we boarded a pirate ship cruise which is supposed to offer stunning views of Mt. Fuji. By now, the top of the mountain had disappeared 😦
While we didn’t find too much success seeing Mt. Fuji in Hakone, we had an unexpected streak of luck while taking the Shinkansen from Hakone to Kyoto. I happened to be sitting on the right side of the train, when a student in the seat to the left of us pointed out that Mt. Fuji was out the side of my window! We looked out, and sure enough, we could see a decent part of it!
So, here’s my advice if you want to actually see Mt. Fuji: It is more likely to be seen in the winter-time, between December and February. Don’t visit during the rainy season, because moisture in the air is high, and visibility is very low. Also, plan a visit in the morning. It is more likely to be seen in the early morning than in the afternoon. If you want to see the mountain with snow, don’t come here in the summer. There’s no snow on top, but you are able to climb it (this actually can be a very good reason to visit in the summer). Lastly, if you want to see it from the bullet trains, sit on the right side when heading West from Hakone or Tokyo towards Kyoto, or vice versa if you are heading East towards Hakone.
Mt. Fuji is one of those places that’s on nearly everyone’s bucket list, yet no one knows how difficult it is to see! I find it to be one of the most misleading travel spots, because everyone expects that they will be able to see all of it, and that’s not often the case. Even though we didn’t see the mountain in its entirety, we had the most wonderful time in Hakone. It’s an awesome town, and we would really love to go back. Hopefully, we will have better luck next time and will be able to see all of Mt. Fuji on a clear, sunny day!!