Iconic Views of Mount Fuji: Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival



Iconic Views of Mount Fuji: Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival


Autumn leaves are almost as revered as cherry blossoms in Japan. From bright red maple leaves to wavy yellow ginkgo leaves, people are always on the lookout for the perfect spots to enjoy the colorful foliage.
What's considered even better than fall foliage, is fall foliage with Mount Fuji as a background. Lake Kawaguchi in Yamanashi Prefecture is a classic sightseeing spot that features beautiful panoramas in every season, including autumn. What's more, an autumn leaves festival is held here every year. This and the easy access from Tokyo makes it the ideal one day getaway from the city.
Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival

The Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival takes place every fall, usually throughout the month of November. Numerous stalls selling local food and crafts are set up along the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchi, and the maple trees in the area are lit up at night.

Autumn Leaves Spots

The Momiji Corridor

Momiji corridor at Lake Kawaguchi

This small river becomes very popular in November, when the Japanese maple trees that line its banks give full show of their yellows and reds. The promenade is about 2km (1.2 miles) long, providing visitors with a magnificent "red carpet" of leaves and a dream-like atmosphere.
Night illumination of the momiji corridor

At night, lanterns line the sides of the river and the trees are lit up from below. Thousands visit every year to see this magical scene. The night illumination starts at 4:30 pm.

The Momiji Tunnel

Momiji tunnel at Lake Kawaguchi

If you're like me and you like exploring lesser-known places, you might want to venture further along the lake side to this much less crowded spot. Maybe because there's no bus stopping right in front of it, the momiji tunnel sees less crowds, but it's just as beautiful as its "cousin".
View of mount Fuji from the momiji corridor

As the name suggests, the momiji or Japanese maple trees form a tunnel over this stretch of road, and from a conveniently placed parking lot on its side you can enjoy beautiful views of Mount Fuji through the autumn leaves.

Festival Food and Local Specialties

Once you've had your fill of colorful leaves and triangle-shaped mountains, you might want to check out the festival stands around the momiji corridor area. Many of them sell local products and crafts, along with delicious street food that is often themed after Mount Fuji or autumn leaves.
Matcha with Mt. Fuji bean jelly

Why not warm your hands and body with a nice cup of green tea? This one comes with two adorable slices of yokan (sweet bean paste jelly), in the flavors of matcha and peach.
Momiji manju

One of the most popular snacks of the festival is the momiji manju. This soft cake is filled with sweet red beans and it's shaped like a maple leaf.

Fujizakura craft beer


Peach chu-hi

Browsing around I found some interesting local drinks as well. A local craft beer from the Fujizakura Heights Brewery and a chu-hi made with peaches from the Yamanashi Prefecture.
Houtou noodles

Drinks and snacks are great, but you can't leave a place without trying its typical dish! Houtou is a staple of Yamanashi Prefecture consisting in flat, thick noodles, seasonal vegetables, meat, and mushrooms in a miso soup. You'll see quite a lot of restaurants advertising it in the area, and I have to say it lived up to its hype. After a day out in the cold the steaming hot bowl was warm and soothing, and the ingredients fresh and tasty. Highly recommended.

You'll find restaurants that serve houtou along the lake shore or near Kawaguchiko train station. During the festival, food stalls also serve houtou in a smaller size. Just look for signs that say ほうとう (houtou).

Getting There and Getting Around

Getting to Lake Kawaguchi from Tokyo

The cheapest and quickest way to get to Lake Kawaguchi is by bus. There are direct buses leaving every day from Shinjuku Station (1 hour and 45 minutes, 1,750 yen one way) or Shibuya Station (2 hours and 30 minutes, 1,800 yen one way).

Fujikyuko Bus
Buses from Shinjuku, Shibuya, Narita Airport and other stations

Tokyu Bus / Tokyu Transsés
Buses from Shibuya

You can also get there by train. From Shinjuku, take the Chuo Line to Otsuki and then the Fujikyu Railway to Kawaguchiko. This takes almost three hours and about 2,500 yen one way.

Tip: If you care about seeing Mount Fuji make sure you plan your trip on a clear day. That mountain is really sneaky and it can get covered by clouds even on slightly overcast days.

Getting Around Lake Kawaguchi

Lake Kawaguchi is quite big. There are two main ways of getting around: by bus or rental bicycle.
Red line bus at Kawaguchiko Station

Three cute sightseeing buses leave from Kawaguchiko Station every 15 minutes. The red bus is the one you want to take if you're touring Lake Kawaguchi. The green and blue bus take you respectively to the neighboring lakes Saiko and Shojiko. One ride costs 150 yen, but if you're planning to ride the buses multiple times you might want to get a one-day pass for 1,500 yen. The buses stop at major sightseeing spots around the lakes (make sure you grab a map at the station).

To get to the Momiji Corridor and the festival: ride the red bus to the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum stop.

To get to the Momiji Tunnel: ride the red bus to the Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center stop and walk further along the road for 15-20 minutes.

Bus information and route map: Fujikyuko Retro Bus / Omnibus
Renting a bicycle at Lake Kawaguchi

If you prefer autonomy and fresh air, you'll find bicycle rentals right outside Kawaguchiko Station. You can rent a bicycle for about 1,500 yen for the whole day (about 2,500 yen for a power-assisted one). Make sure you grab the sightseeing guide at the station; if you show it at some of the shops you will get a small discount. 
With a bicycle you can easily ride along the lake coast, stopping wherever you want and exploring. I chose this option on my visit and I found it a great way to find lesser-known autumn leaves spots away from the crowds.
Bicycle parking lot at Lake Kawaguchi

A few tips: The momiji corridor and festival area tends to be crowded and you might not be sure where to park your bike. On my visit there was a small bicycle parking spot right at the beginning of the momiji corridor. Alternatively, you can park your bike outside one of the restaurants or cafes if you are planning to go in.
Make sure you wear warm clothes and dress in layers. It's November so the temperatures are starting to get low, but if the sun comes out it can also get hot when you ride around.
If you're planning to stay for the night illumination, please keep in mind that it's going to be quite dark on your way back and street lights are scarce in some places.  My bike had a flashlight and I was perfectly fine, but if you're not comfortable riding a bicycle in the dark you might want to take the bus instead.

Enjoy the Many Views of Autumn

Mid-November is usually when the leaves are the prettiest. Don't forget though that trees are not the only ones showing off in this season. I had fun finding alternative views of Mount Fuji with cosmos flowers and susuki grass, two other stars of the Japanese autumn.

Cosmos flowers and Mount Fuji


Susuki grass and Mount Fuji



Fuji Kawaguchiko Autumn Leaves Festival | 富士河口湖紅葉まつり
Dates: early to late November
Fujikawaguchiko Tourist Information Website:

About the author
Laura is an Italian living and working in Tokyo. She loves exploring hidden and unknown places, taking pictures and listening to Punk Rock music. When she’s not busy doing the above, she might enjoy a craft beer or play the sanshin (an Okinawan instrument similar to a shamisen).

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