Touring with Viator: Mount Fuji Day Trip from Tokyo

Touring with Viator: Mount Fuji Day Trip from Tokyo

Mount Fuji, the symbol of Japan.

An old Japanese proverb once said, “He who does not climb Mt.Fuji is a fool, but he who climbs Mt.Fuji twice is also a fool.”  The ascent to Japan’s highest peak truly is a once in a lifetime experience–  emphasis on the once since most wouldn’t care to repeat it.

Mount Fuji is officially open only two months of the year: July and August. However, year round people travel from all over the world in order to try to catch a glimpse of the iconic mountain.

One of the easiest, and most popular methods of visiting is by taking a day trip from Tokyo.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

Sneaking back into the clouds

It, too, had been my dream to visit this symmetrical beauty. So once we knew that we’d be spending a week in Tokyo, we also knew that we needed to make the journey!

Many tourism companies such as JTB, Viator and others offer various Fuji packages, bound to fit the needs of any traveler. Although a bit on the expensive side, we chose Viator’s Fuji Day Trip because their itinerary was the most convenient for us.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

2020m (out of 3776) up the Subaru Line

The package we went with included transportation to and from Mount Fuji, a cruise on Lake Ashi, a ride on Mount Komagatake cableway and an English-speaking guide. And even though the lunch they offered sounded deliciously tempting, we opted not to have it included because it was an extra $20 USD per person. (Japan’s already expensive, and we were trying to be at least a little budget conscious, come on!)

Your Transportation

You’ll be bused around on a giant motorcoach, with around 50 others.  But don’t worry, the ride was comfortable with padded seats and air conditioning. There’s no bathroom on board, but you’ll be making stops every hour or so.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

The journey home consisted of two options: continuing by motorcoach or taking the shinkansen back to Tokyo. We opted to ride the shinkansen because it was faster–and well, who wouldn’t want to ride a shinkansen?

We were cutting it close to departure time, so everyone was just handed their tickets, which were unreserved seating mind you, and then it was a bit of a free-for-all running, trying to find seats. Don’t expect to sit together with who you came. Just grab any seat available or else you may not get one at all. The shinkansen was far more comfortable than the motorcoach.

Inside felt like you were on an airplane… an airplane with a ton of leg room.

Tokyo, Japan

Your Guide

Viator uses a team of local guides—called “insiders”— who accompany you on your trip. You’ll be assigned one guide for the whole duration of your trip and they will help facilitate your tour by providing cultural information and by making necessary itinerary decisions.

Our guide was a middle-aged man who spent most the trip providing us with fun and educational information about Japan. You could tell he really enjoys his job, he was funny and helpful– a great tour guide!

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

Your Fellow Travelers

You could be traveling with up to 50 others who all come from a wide range of countries. Upon request, Viator will provide guests with audio guides in a variety of different languages. Some people in our group spoke mainly Spanish, Italian, or Russian, among other languages– so don’t expect that everyone will speak English!

But don’t worry, there’s still plenty of interaction to be had with one another, so have no fear if you’re a solo traveler. We had plenty of those on our tour, as well as couples, families, and small groups of friends.

Your Activities

The trip started out with a leisurely drive towards Mount Fuji. The drive took about an hour and forty minutes from downtown Tokyo (Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal), and our tour guide talked continuously for the entire hour and forty minutes! It was impressive. He told us all about Japan, it’s culture and it’s people. He would also point out significant buildings or places as we passed them. It was actually pretty interesting.

As we approached Fuji, we could only catch quick glimpses of the mountain– only for it to be hidden again in seconds. It was almost like a game, and people would start oohing and ahhing each time they could catch a glimpse.  In a way, it started to build even more anticipation to arrive at our destination.

And we finally did arrive at our first stop, Mount Fuji’s Visitor Center. We only spent a short 20 minutes here, but it was the perfect place to get shots of Mount Fuji in the distance, and to see some cherry blossoms.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

Once we all piled back on the bus, it was time to start our ascent up Fuji. Being early April, most of Fuji was still covered in snow. However, due to weather being abnormally warm this year, we were luckily able to reach the 4th station.

At roughly halfway up Fuji we were able to have quite the view looking out over Yamanashi and Lake Kawaguchi.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

We spent only 20 minutes on Fuji. Although I wished the time spent there was longer, it was pretty cold outside (I can’t ever seem to escape the snow!) so 20 minutes was plenty. It gave us just enough time to take in the views followed by scarfing down some delicious udon.

After, we headed back down Fuji to the hotel where everyone would eat. We had an hour of free time here before we got back on the bus for another hour drive to Hakone (pronounced: ha-co-nay).

Our first stop in Hakone was a short cruise on Lake Ashi– a crater lake that offers scenic views of Mount Fuji. Unfortunately for us, Fuji had already hidden itself in the clouds, where it stayed for the rest of our trip.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

The cruise docked near the lower terminal of the Mount Komagatake Ropeway.

This normally would have been the next stop on the tour, except today the high winds had the ropeway shut down. Our tour guide quickly made a few phone calls and then announced to everyone that we would be going to Hakone Ropeway instead.

At first I was a little bummed because Mount Komagatake Ropeway is famous for striking aerial views of Hakone and Fuji, though with Fuji no longer being visible, I think we lucked out with a better option in the end. Hakone Ropeway took us to Owakudani, “Great Boiling Valley”.

Owakudani has been a site of volcanic activity for the past 3000 years. It was pretty awesome to look down from our small cable car to see steam and sulfur leaking out from the Earth. And not only could we see the steam and sulfur, we could smell it too… the whole area reeked! 

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

Once at the top we were given an hour to explore to area of Owakudani. We trekked up the valley to see the sulfurous hot springs. The water was murky, yet so blue. It was actually really pretty despite the stench.

It’s here that the famous kuro-tamago, a regional specialty, is made. Every morning, eggs are hardboiled in the sulfurous hot springs until they turn black and odorous. Our tour guide encouraged us to try them since Japanese people believe that eating one is said to add seven years to your life.

They say you can eat up to two and a half for an extra seventeen and a half years… but eating a whole third egg is highly unadvisable!

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

The sun was quickly setting, which meant our time at Owakudani was almost done. As we were headed back to our bus, Mount Fuji decided to show itself one last time.

Our ride to the train station was a little nauseating, and apparently a lot of people get car sick during the journey. Riding a bus barreling down a narrow mountain road is enough to make anyone sick though. Sometimes looking down was scary. But finally we were dropped off at the last of our destinations– Odawara Station. This is where we departed from the rest of the group who opted to take the motorcoach back. Since we were running late everyone quickly ran to catch the shinkansen, and then spent the next 30 minutes speeding straight to Tokyo.

Your Meals

As I mentioned earlier, you can choose to have a meal included in your tour. If you do, you’ll be eating traditional Japanese food at the hotel. If you don’t want to pay the extra $20 USD for food, never fear! You won’t go without food all day.

The cheapest option (other than bringing your own) is to actually eat at whichever Fuji station you visit. We ordered a delicious tsukimi udon and karaage, which fed both of us and was only  ¥800 (around $8 USD).

If udon isn’t your thing, there are a few restaurants to choose from once you visit the hotel, but know they will be substantially pricier.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan

Drawbacks?

Apart from the whole stuck on a tight schedule problem that all tours have, the only real negative was the lunch situation. If you opted not to eat lunch with the group at the hotel, that was fine and you were able to spend the hour as you’d like. However… there was really nothing to do for an hour since you were stuck at the isolated hotel. Apart from wandering the gift shop or taking a nap, there was not much to do.

For us, most of the hour was spent waiting around (with a little gift shop browsing of course!). But it was an hour I would’ve much preferred spending at Fuji or even the visitor center for a bit longer.

Would I Recommend the Tour?

Absolutely!

The tour is super-convenient for those who only have a short time in Japan. If we had visited Fuji on our own it would’ve been much more expensive and time consuming. Getting to Fuji on your own is doable, but a little difficult due to a lack of trains in the area. This was a perfect introduction to Fuji and Hakone, and made me want to go back someday to get to know them further.

Hakone/Mt. Fuji, Japan
As for Viator, I would definitely recommend them. The itineraries are all planned to a T for you, which allows you to sit back and just enjoy the trip. Despite careful planning, sometimes unforeseen circumstances still arise. When a change needed to be made in our itinerary, I was pleased that they handled it very professionally. But best of all, I loved getting lead around by a local who was really passionate about his country.

I hope to experience more trips and tours through Viator in the future!

[toggle title=” Book Your Fuji Tour” state=”open”]If you’re heading to Japan and would like to experience the magic of Mount Fuji, I highly recommend this tour which runs all year round.

The tour offers a few different add-ons, such as bullet train tickets, lunch, or an overnight stay. Prices generally start at $120 per person, but it’s SO worth it.

Visit Viator and book your tours today![/toggle] [divider]

Would you like to see Fuji?

This post was not sponsored in any part by Viator. I paid full price because it was something I wanted to do! All opinions are honest and strictly my own.

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11 Comments

  1. MaryAnn, Phil, Joan & Bill
    May 1, 2016 / 11:18 am

    Where to begin: We booked three tours with Viator while in Asia.
    NEVER AGAIN!!!
    Our first bad experience was on the Hop-On-Hop Off buses. We were told the place to redeem our vouchers was a short walk away; We had to take a taxi!

    The evening tour in Singapore included dinner at a restaurant. It was a room cramped with tables and dirty as well. With so many nice places in such a beautiful city, this pick was expensive and way below par.

    The worst experience was our booking of Mt. Fuji/Lake Ashi/Bullet Train. This too was a pricey trip and we booked our hotel based on the fact that it was a pick-up spot for this tour, listed on their site.. When we called to re- confirm everything before the trip, we were told that the Shiba Park hotel was NOT a pick-up spot, but the bus station was only two blocks away and we could start the trip there,.All arrangements for arrival there were changed and confirmed.by Viator. We are four seniors who are now walking further than two blocks to arrive at the station. Once there, Sunrise Tours, who handle this tour, told us they had no reservation for us. In addition, we would need to pay an additional $10 per person as the trip was more expensive leaving from there. Having no way to reach Viator, we paid. They gave us the last four seats on the back of the bus…..all they had. Once seated, they told us that this was not the right bus and we had to wait for the next one, which, miraculously, also had only the last four seats in the back available. We are now in the terminal for close to two hours. We asked if we could wait for another bus to get better seats. We were told this was the last one out. On line, the bus coordinator told us that was not true, four more buses were after ours.
    And then there was lunch………………an ice cold meal which even our tour guide apologized for.
    The final straw came the next morning at our hotel. A group was waiting for a pick-up for the same Mt, Fuji trip we booked with Viator.
    The difference? THEY were picked up!
    Three booked tours…three bad experiences.
    There are many sites that have these tours. We strongly suggest you try one of them.

  2. Dion
    September 25, 2014 / 10:30 pm

    Hi,

    I plan to visit Mt Fuji this October and also want to use the viatour tour. How do you book the Viator tour, is it by online or did you buy ticket directly to their counter. Do they actually have counter in Tokyo, because I couldnt get any address from their website. I plan to buy the ticket direct from their counter instead of buy online because want to discuss the pickup point since my hotel is not in their list.

    Thank You.

    • Beth Williams
      September 25, 2014 / 11:23 pm

      Hi Dion, the ticket that Viator sells are through JTB Sunrise Tours. JTB does have a small booth at the meeting point for the tour in Hamamatsucho’s Bus Terminal, but it would be easier to buy tickets online.

      Most hotels are not on the list, and the hotel pick up only takes you to the bus terminal in Tokyo. It would be very easy to get yourself to the terminal, as it’s on the main green Yamanote line that circles through the whole city.

      If you want the exact tour we booked, including with the bullet train ride, you can find it here: http://www.partner.viator.com/en/13172/tours/Tokyo/Mt-Fuji-Lake-Ashi-and-Bullet-Train-Day-Trip-from-Tokyo/d334-2142TYO_F800_F820

  3. jeanne
    May 14, 2014 / 4:07 am

    hi thank you, its dedicated bloggers like you that is helpful for others to plan and decide what to do.

    we will be planning a tour either on 5/22 or 5/23 since its all day, dont know if we want to do it the day

    after we arrive from hawaii. good tips about getting car sick, I usually take a non drowsy anti naseau

    before the start of the bus tour, but if its not bad I may take it towards the end where you mentioned its very

    winding. also if you eat with the group tour do you sit on the floor, because I have two knee problems, cant

    sit on floor like that. hope its regular tables, and do I really have to run to get back on the bullet train again

    the problem are my knees. I can ask my family to run and grab seats, but will the train leave me if I am a bit

    slow. And also does it get cold, just in case we need to bring heavier jackets on the lake cruise, and is water
    to drink accessible, how are the restrooms I hear in japan you should bring your own amenities, like hand

    towels, toilet paper, ect ect, we were spoiled by the beautiful restrooms in seoul. If for some reason I miss

    the bullet train, will there be more or is it the last one, it sounded like everyone had to run to catch the train

    so not sure if it was the last one after the tour. Anyway thank you so much for the terrific blog, I write alot

    on trip advisor I am under JM mililani, if you ever want to know about hawaii, or places I have visited

    new zealand, australia, korea, hong kong, manila, delaware, new york, pennsylvania and a bunch of other

    states just email me anytime, sorry when I write I dont do the whole punctuation grammmer thing dont even

    really check my spelling, but you write beautifully, again thank you

    mahalo,

    jeanne

    • Beth Williams
      May 28, 2014 / 8:31 pm

      Thank you for your comment Jeanne. It won’t be too cold in May, but a light jacket would be good to bring. You won’t have to worry about sitting on the floor if you do the group dinner, and you should have no problems with restrooms in Japan. All are very clean and provide you with everything you need.

      We took the bullet train home, and our group did run as a train was just leaving– however, there are more trains running afterwards so don’t worry!

      I hope you have an amazing trip :)

  4. Gabriela Poapst
    March 1, 2014 / 4:56 am

    Thank you! for the amazing pictures and for the information. I have a question? how much that this trip to Mountain Fuji costs?

    thank you!

    • Beth Williams
      March 4, 2014 / 9:48 am

      I booked my tour through Viator, which was about US $150 per person.

  5. Lucas
    August 23, 2013 / 8:32 pm

    I’m excited to discover this page. I was looking for a good way to visit Fuji and this may be it! Thanks

  6. Lucas
    August 7, 2013 / 1:59 am

    Very helpful review, thanks a ton.

  7. Erin Sherril
    July 21, 2013 / 8:17 pm

    Woah! Good pics of Fuji. I think I may try taking this tour the next time I’m in Japan. Thanks for the info!

  8. Marcini
    July 11, 2013 / 12:50 am

    thanks for this information, I’ll take this tour into consideration.