Activities Koshinetsu | Nagano

Viewing Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi from Mt. Tenjō

The view of Mount Fuji from Mount Tenjo, Yamanashi, Japan.

Mount Fuji, which is called Fujisan in Japanese, is a Japan’s highest mountain at 3,776 meters. It has been a physical, cultural, and spiritual symbol of Japan. Fujisan has evolved into something invaluable not only to Japanese but also to people all around the world. In 2013, UNESCO World Heritage Committee announced its approval of Japan’s Mount Fuji as a World Heritage. Visiting or viewing Mt Fuji is a must-do experience when you are in Japan, especially if you are around Tokyo. There are many places in Japan to view Mount Fuji. This article will share you an experience of viewing Mt Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi from Mount Tenjō.

Mount Tenjō

Mount Tenjō (天上山; Tenjōsan) is one of the best view spots of Mt. Fuji. It is a 1,104-meter high mountain located right next to Lake Kawaguchi, Yamanashi Prefecture. Mount Tenjō is accessible by cable car and offers spectacular views of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi.

spectacular views of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi from Mount Tenjo, Japan.
Lake Kawaguchi from Kachi Kachi Ropeway

The best time to view Mt. Fuji is in the morning, on a clear day during winter. Too bad I went to view Mt. Fuji in the afternoon. I couldn’t see it clearly because the sun was too bright.

The view of Mount Fuji from Mount Tenjo, Yamanashi, Japan.
I couldn’t view Mt. Fuji because the sun was too bright.

Kachi Kachi Yama Ropeway and Kachi-kachi Yama Folktale

Kachi Kachi Yama Ropeway, is a cable car which takes you up toward the top of Mt Tenjō. The name of the ropeway derived from popular Japanese folktale, Kachi-kachi Yama (Mount Kachikachi). I will try to tell you the story briefly:

A long time ago, there was an old married couple who lived at the food of a mountain. They had a vegetable patch for a living. One day, the husband went to the patch and saw a raccoon dog (tanuki) eating his vegetables. He scolded the raccoon dog and it ran away. However, the raccoon dog came back every day and ate all of the vegetables.

As the story goes, the husband caught the raccoon dog, and intended to cook it later. When he left for town, the raccoon dog cried and begged the wife to set him free, promising never to come to the patch again. The wife freed the animal, but it turned on her and killed her. The raccoon then committed an evil trick. In Japanese myth, a raccoon dog had shapeshifting ability. So the raccoon dog disguised itself as the wife and cooked a soup, using her flesh. When the husband came home, the raccoon dog served him the soup. After the meal, the raccoon dog reverted to its original appearance and revealed its treachery before running away and leaving the poor man in shock and grief.

The couple had been good friends with a rabbit living nearby. The rabbit came and told him that it would avenge his wife’s death. Then, the rabbit pretended to befriend the raccoon dog. One day, while the raccoon dog was carrying a heavy load of kindling on his back to make a campfire, he was so burdened that he didn’t notice when the rabbit set fire to the kindling. Soon, the crackling sound reached its ears and it asked the rabbit what the sound was. In Japanese, onomatopoeia of the sound a fire makes is kachi kachi. “It is Kachi-Kachi Yama” the rabbit said. “We are not far from it, that’s why you can hear its sound”. Eventually, the fire reached the raccoon dog’s back, and burned it badly.

Mt. Tenjō was the model of the mountain which appear in the story. This explains all the statues of the rabbit and raccoon dog found on Mt Tenjō.

Statue of the raccoon dog and the rabbit are welcoming you
Statue of the raccoon dog and the rabbit

There is also usagijinja (rabbit shrine) in Mt. Tenjō. This small shrine is dedicated to the rabbit form the story of Kachi Kachi Yama.

Here is Rabbit Shrine at Mount Tenjo, Yamanashi, Japan.
Rabbit Shrine

How to Get There and Around

From Shinjuku Station, you can take a JR Chuo Express Train to Takaosan, and change to JR Chuo Local Train toward Otsuki. You can also take the Limited Express Kaiji to Otsuki, but you need to make a reservation before or pay extra fee inside the train. If you have JR Tokyo Wide Pass or JR Pass, you can take this train without reservation and without needing to pay extra fee. From Otsuki, take a Fujikyuko Line (It is not JR line!) to Kawaguchiko Station. From there, take a walk for 15 minutes or take the Kawaguchiko Tour Retro-Bus for Kachi Kachi Yama Ropeway Entrance stop.

JR Tokyo Wide Pass also can be used for Fujikyuko Line.

Name Mount Tenjō
Category Mountain
Address 1163-1 Asakawa, Kawaguchiko-cho, Minami-Tsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0303
1163-1 Asakawa, Kawaguchiko-cho, Minami-Tsuru-gun, Yamanashi 401-0303
Opening Hours 09.00 - 19.10
Price Range Ropeway (200-800 yen)
Payment options Cash