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Cycling Mount Fuji | Subaru, Fujinomiya, Around Mt Fuji, and More
The iconic volcano of Japan, Mount Fuji is often the first search when travelers think of cycling in Japan. And, while Mount Fuji does have many roads up and around its towering peak, each of the routes offers vastly different views (or lack there of) of this Japanese icon.
In this guide I will explain where one can ride Mt Fuji, the pros & cons of cycling in and around Mt Fuji, and other areas cyclists should consider riding if they are looking at cycling in Japan.
Why Cycle Up Mt Fuji?
So, why cycle up Mt Fuji in the first place?
For many, cycling up Mt Fuji is first and foremost a bucket-list item. While I would encourage those in this camp to check out Mt Norikura, Mt Akagi, Mt Kusatsu-Shirane, and many other amazing (and massive) cycling climbs around Japan. I will go into it in more detail below, but the above mentioned climbs have much more enjoyable views, nature, and less traffic. I none the less completely understand the desire to scale this iconic volcano for the avid cyclist.
For those not as keen on climbing, the goal might instead be to simply ride near or even a lap around Mt Fuji. I would actually much more quickly endorse this idea as many areas around Fuji, such as the 5 Sacred Lakes of Fuji, are quite good for cycling and offer great views of Fuji up close.
So, naturally then one might ask, “What is the best way to ride Mt Fuji?”.
What is the Best Way to Ride Mt Fuji? Up/Down/Around/etc
While this article will try to take a nuanced view as to just which ways are best to experience Mt Fuji by bike, for those looking for a quick answer or summation on cycling around Mt Fuji the key points are below.
- My personal favorite way to experience Mt Fuji by bike is to ride around the west side of the mountain & around the northern lakes on the roads shown below. This is because the traffic is low, and there are decent view points somewhat regularly.
- If one must ride up Mt Fuji, the best route for the adventurous is the Fuji Yoshida Line, and for the more conservative the Fuji Subaru Line.
- For those that want “The biggest gain possible” they will want to ride from the ocean to the top of the Fujinomia Line. Though this route is far from ideal and, in my opinion, really only enjoyable for those that have this goal.
- Riding around the 5 sacred lakes of Mt Fuji are all in all a good ride, some with significantly more traffic than others.
- Climbing Fuji offers very few good viewpoints and is mostly forested. You will get way better views of Fuji from the surrounding area and way better views from summits of other mountains in Japan such as those listed below.
And there you have it, now in the next section I’d like to tackle a few misconceptions about cycling Mt Fuji before diving into all the routes below.
Misconceptions About Cycling Mt Fuji
It’s Not The Biggest Climb or Highest Road in Japan, and You Can’t Ride to the Top.
While some of the top queries by cyclist and road bike riders will be centered around phrases such as “cycling up Mt Fuji”, or “how to ride up Mt Fuji”, the reality is that while Mt Fuji does indeed have roads that go up the mountain they all stop well short of the summit.
The summit of Fuji is 3,776m above sea, however Mount Fuji’s most cycled road, the Subaru Line from Lake Kawaguchiko, reaches just 2,305m above sea. Along with the other bus ways up to Mt Fuji’s 5th stations, the Fujinomia Skyline (2,350m), the Fuji Azami Line (1,960m), and the Fuji Yoshida Line (2,220m), all of the roads up Mount Fuji stop at roughly the 2,000-2,300m mark.
And this makes a lot of sense, as these roads are all here for one real purpose, to send busses of hikers & supplies up to the start point of their hikes up Mt Fuji.
The Traffic around Fuji is Heavy Most All of The Open Season (With One Exception)
Locals in Japan are well aware of the amazing amount of epic climbs, car free roads, and beautiful summits one can find in many parts of Japan. And if you ask any local, they will almost certainly recommend just about any other mountain than Fuji for cycling.
With the exception of the “technically closed” Fuji Yoshida Line, the Subaru, Fujinomia, and Azami lines are very functional roads. Those who ride up during the hiking season (especially on weekends and holidays) will often be greeted by constant streams of cars and busses taking hikers up.
It is actually kind of amazing, in peak summer season on weekends and holidays there are literal human traffic jams on the mountain.
Mt Fuji Cycling Routes
Use the map below to jump to the route you want to read more about!
Cycling Up Mt Fuji
The Most Popular & Safest Way
For those who are set on cycling up Fuji, by far the most common way is the Fuji Subaru Line from Kawaguchiko. This makes sense as this is the least elevation gain way, and also leaves from the resort town of Kawaguchiko, easily accessible from Tokyo.
From Kawaguchiko you start at 860m above sea and climb just over 1,480m to the summit at 2,305m above sea at Fuji Subaru 5th Station.
If you go on a weekday and leave early you will have the best odds of beating the traffic & crowds. If you go on a weekend or holiday weekend there is very little one can do to avoid the congestion.
The Not So Clearly Allowed “Locals Route”
While not officially endorsed, the aforementioned Fuji Yoshida Line is a favorite amongst locals. Thanks to the two gates blocking essentially all traffic except service vehicles, this route is frequented by locals. That said, it is not clear if this is in fact “allowed” in the strictest sense of things. There are two gates that clearly state the road is closed to traffic. That said, cyclists & hikers are regularly spotted on the route and seem to (at least up to 2021) not be given trouble for it.
This route up is typically paired with a quick jaunt across the hiking trail / gravel road that connects it to the Fuji Subaru Line, and then a much wider road to descend on the more main road.
Again, this route is certainly on the radar of locals, but its true legality is questioned by some. One for the adventurous not the conservative cyclists.
The Big Kahuna Way | Ocean to 5th Station
For those who want the biggest possible gain cycling up Mt Fuji you will want to ride from the ocean in Fujinomia to the top of Fujinomia Line’s 5th station. This route boasts an impressive 2,300m+ gain over 50km of climbing! Not for the feint of heart, and certainly one of the more traffic heavy routes, this is in my opinion very much a bucket list purposes only climb.
Riding Around Mt Fuji | Cycling Routes Around Fuji
For those interested in cycling around Mt Fuji the main difficulty is the east side. On the west side traffic is easily avoided taking Rt 71 out of Fujinomiya area up to Lake Kawaguchiko in the north. From here down and along the east & south side of the mountain there is really just a few roads you can choose for large stretches, and naturally those roads get decently heavy traffic.
I would recommend doing the route clockwise as that means much of the busy east and south sides will be generally downhill sections and the west and north sides with less traffic will be the uphill sections.
Riding Around Mt Fuji’s 5 Lakes
Cycling Lake Kawaguchiko & Lake Saiko
Probably the most popular of the 5 Lakes of Fuji to ride around Lake Kawaguchiko is often paired with its nearby neighbor Lake Saiko. Together they make for around 32km & 150m gain all of which comes in the climb up from Lake Kawaguchiko to Lake Saiko. While riding around the lakes is quite flat and can be quite pleasant on weekdays and especially at early hours of the morning, traffic can also be very heavy with motor tourists along much of this route.
I would recommend going on a weekday and leaving for a sunrise ride for the best experience for those willing to wake up early.
Cycling Lake Yamanakako Cycling Path
For those looking to soak in the views and be on a dedicated cycling path this is by far the best option. Now the path is right next to the lake but also right next to the road, so expect great lakeside views but also a decent steady hum of car noise.
The full loop is only around 14km but it’s certainly a great one for those with children and less experienced cyclist looking to stay safely away from cars all day.
Cycling Lake Motosu & Lake Shoji
Probably the least visited of the 5 Lakes of Fuji Lake Motosu & Lake Shoji are also probably the most enjoyable to ride around. The downside is their remoteness makes accessing them without a car difficult or a decently long ride from hubs like Kawaguchiko.
Cycling All of Mt Fuji’s 5 Lakes
For those looking to ride around all 5 lakes in one day a simple stitching together of the above routes gets you a great long day loop. But be warned the traffic between Lake Kawaguchiko and Lake Yamanakako is pretty rough most days.
Alternative Climbs to Mt Fuji
For those who it want to see Mt Fuji from nearby on bike I would highly recommend the Misaka Pass. Just behind Lake Kawaguchiko the less traveled road takes you up to a small mountain pass where great views of Fuji & Lake Kawaguchiko can be had as well as some awesome forest road riding Japan is known for. See the article below for more details.
Feel free to check out the below link to my favorite cycling climbs in Japan, route files, how to get to, and full descriptions of each.
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