The most easily accessible of Mt. Fuji’s spectacular five lakes is Kawaguchiko, reachable in just a few hours from central Tokyo. The area’s biggest claim to fame is its spectacular viewpoints for Mt. Fuji, the best of which can be found perched 220m high, at the top of Mt. Tenjo on the lake’s eastern flank.
Sure, you could spend 45 minutes hiking up the trail to the summit, but there’s really no need when the Kachikachi Ropeway can do all the hard work for you. The base station is located among a cluster of hotels and restaurants on the southeast shore of Kawaguchiko, just a short walk from the town’s station.
At the top, you won’t just find expansive views of Fuji-san towering in the distance, but also some historic cultural attractions too. The Bell of Tenjo is said to grant wishes to those who ring it while looking at Mt. Fuji.
The mountain is also the site of a famous Japanese legend about a feud between a murderous tanuki and an especially sadistic rabbit. The story goes that the tanuki tricked a farmer into eating his own wife, so the couple’s friendly neighborhood rabbit set out to get back at the tanuki by any means necessary.
These included, but were not limited to, burning, a bee attack, and rubbing pepper in the tanuki’s wounds; Watership Down this ain’t. Eventually the rabbit finally got its revenge when it drowned the tanuki during a boat race. And the moral of the story is… don’t mess with rabbits?
Okay, so maybe it’s not so easy to draw positive messages from Japanese folklore, but the story does add some mythological color to the mountaintop, with statues of the two main characters dotted around the area. The observation deck cafe even sells snacks themed around the tale: a kind of sweet skewer called dango made from balls of crushed rice paste.