Chureito Pagoda in Japan is a must visit attraction when traveling to the land of the rising sun.
When you think of Japan what is the first image that comes to your mind? For me it’s the iconic image of the Chureito Pagoda, a crimson pagoda watching over snowed capped Mount Fuji, which has captured my imagination. Believe me, once you experience this setting first hand you immediately understand why it has become the cover of countless travel guides and computer backgrounds.
The Chureito Pagoda is one of those rare attractions that no matter the season it is always picture-perfect; and attracts tourist from all over the world who want to capture the best view of Mount Fuji.
Any picture of Mt Fuji is stunning – whether standing sentry from the edges of Tokyo or reflecting its majesty on one of the many surrounding lakes. I have to say the view of Mount Fuji from the pagoda is beyond any photo you will ever see, as it is even more beautiful in person. In order to get this stunning view, the Pagoda was constructed on the top of a much smaller mountain which visitors ritualistically climb stairs through Tori gate entrances. The entire climb to the top lends an air of serenity, preparing visitors for the stunning views, and leaving you with a feeling of tranquil Zen.
The whole experience left us in such high spirits, we visited the pagoda twice! The first time, we took tons of pictures as it was a clear day, but the second day we needed to take it all in. There aren’t enough lifetimes to utterly understand how the setting, the harmony of manmade structures with the majesty of the mountain, leaves an indelible mark on your soul. We want to share a few helpful tips for you to get the most when planning a trip to this spectacular pagoda.
The Chureito Pagoda
A 5-story pagoda, the Chureito Pagoda offers breathtaking views of Mount Fuji and the city of Fujiyoshida. Since its 2013 inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, popularity has exponentially increased bringing a large number of both domestic and foreign tourists.
The pagoda is part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine which was constructed as a peace memorial back in 1963. To reach the top, you will need to climb nearly 400 steps. When you need a break from the fairly steep climb, you can rest up on one of the steps and have plenty of picture-perfect views. Remember to bring comfortable shoes – it may get muddy and slippery from overnight rain – as well as a bottle of water to stay hydrated.
Tip: I recommend you visit the Chureito Pagoda in the early morning. There will be less crowds and a better chance of seeing Mount Fuji. Keep in mind that clouds can cover the peak very quickly.
Once you reach the top, you will find a viewing deck located behind the pagoda where you can soak up the stunning view and take the iconic picture of the pagoda with Mount Fuji in the background. The Chureito pagoda is especially beautiful during the cherry blossom season in spring and the autumn koyo season when the leaves change color.
After you visit the pagoda, head to the Lake Kawaguchiko where the are plenty of attractions and beautiful sights to be enjoyed all under Mount Fuji’s shadow.
You can either reach the Chureito Pagoda by train or bus from Tokyo or Kawaguchiko. The pagoda is located on the outskirts of the city of Fujiyoshida.
Use your Japan Rail Pass to take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station. Once you arrive at the Otsuki Station, take the Fujikyuko Line (this leg will not be covered by the Japan Rail Pass, but is a charming old style train) to Shimo-Yoshida Station.
It’s a 15-minute walk to reach the Chureito Pagoda from the station. The whole journey will take you approximately 3 hours.
Alternatively, you can take a bus to Kawaguchiko station from the Shinjuku or Shibuya Stations in Tokyo.
Tip: Despite you can visit the Chureito Pagoda as a day trip from Tokyo, I recommend that you travel the day before so you can visit the Pagoda early in the morning which will increase your chances of seeing Mount Fiji. It’s best to have two days because the mountain is notoriously covered by clouds most days.
The Mount Fuji World Heritage Loop shuttle departs every 90 minutes from Kawaguchiko Station and makes stops at various places of interest included the Chureito Pagoda. From Kawaguchiko Station it takes around 15 minutes to reach the pagoda and the ride back takes approximately 45 minutes.
Another option is to take the train (not covered by the JR pass) from Kawaguchiko to Shimo-Yoshida Station. The journey will take you around 20 minutes.
Where to stay
There are plenty of accommodations nearby where you can stay. We stayed at the Fujisan Station Hotel and have no complains. When we arrived in Fujiyoshida, it was cold and rainy, with no mountain in site. The next morning when I opened the blinds, I was in awe to see the imposing Mount Fuji staring at me from our window. We quickly grabbed our cameras and walked for 35 minutes to reach the pagoda.
Opening hours and entrance fees
The pagoda is open 24 hours a day which gives you the opportunity to enjoy the sunrise and sunset. There’s no entry fee and parking is also free of charge. The address is 3353-1 Arakura, Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi 403-0011.
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