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Going to Mount Fuji? Check Out These 3 Quirky Sightseeing Trains!

Going to Mount Fuji? Check Out These 3 Quirky Sightseeing Trains!

Date published: 5 September 2018
Last updated: 26 August 2020

Hello, everybody! My name is Atsumi, and today, I’m taking you on a trip on the Fujikyu Railway! There are three unique tourist trains for us to check out.

On the Fujikyu Railway, the first thing that comes to everyone’s mind surely is Fuji-Q Highland, the huge amusement park at the foot of Mt. Fuji. Besides the amazing roller coasters, it is also famous among train fans as a line that boasts beautiful views of Mount Fuji!

That’s why I am joined by train expert Takeyuki Tsuchiya today to look at this line and three quirky sightseeing trains, while Yuta Murakami will shoot stunning photos for us!

1. Fujisan Express and its cute characters

1. Fujisan Express and its cute characters
Adjacent to JR Ōtsuki Station is Fuji Kyuko Ōtsuki Station.

We start our trip to Mount Fuji at Ōtsuki Station in Yamanashi Prefecture. From here, the Fujikyuko Line runs all the way to Kawaguchiko Station. To get here from Tokyo, we took JR Chūō Main Line’s “Azusa” limited express from Shinjuku Station. That trip takes about an hour.

Fujikyuko Line boasts a number of fun tourist trains.

Atsumi: “Mr. Tsuchiya, thank you for joining me today!”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “My pleasure! So, what are we doing today?”
Atsumi: “We’re going to check out different trains!”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Ah, because the Fujikyuko Line has so many nice sightseeing trains, right? The access from Tokyo is also convenient, so it’s good to know more about them.”
Atsumi: “Indeed! I made a schedule for us to ride in all of the most representative trains of the Fujikyuko Line.”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “How long is that going to take, I wonder?”

The Fujisan Express is a former Odakyu Romance Car.

Atsumi: “Our first trip is on the Fujisan Express!”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Alright.”
Atsumi: “That’s my favorite train of the Fujikyuko Line. It’s decorated with all kinds of Fuji characters and looks super cute!”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Ah, that’s why you like it. I have to be honest, I don’t quite get what that’s about.”
Atsumi: “I don’t know, I just like it. However... some characters... I don’t know what’s up with them either.”

There are all kind of Mount Fuji characters on the Fujisan Express!

Mr. Tsuchiya: “There are 165 of these Mount Fuji characters. The ones that are drawn on the train are the 58 that were chosen by the public.”
Atsumi: “That is a lot of characters. It’s fun to spot them all and choose your favorite. Hm, which one’s mine...”

Atsumi: “I think I like these two the most.”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Well, one of them kind of looks like you.”
Atsumi: “...what? In what way do I look like a mountain?”

Fujisan Express has panorama seats that offer a great view all around.

Mr. Tsuchiya: “The big draw of this train is the panorama seats. There are large windows both in the front and on the sides of the seats.”
Atsumi: “This could be called the main car of the Fujisan Express. Can you see Mount Fuji on the left or the right?”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “The tracks have some curves before Fujisan Station, so you get to see it from either side.”
Atsumi: “Oh, that’s fantastic!”

Car No. 1 has reserved seats.

The Fujisan Express has three cars in total. I especially recommend Car No. 1 and its reserved seats, although you’ll need a seat ticket on top of your express ticket. A reservation is invaluable during holidays and weekends, however!

The panorama car has six rows of 2 plus 1 seats from the driver side. There’s a folding table under the window of the second row – it really is a sightseeing train!

Even the curtains feature a Mount Fuji character!

This is what impresses me about this train so much.
Even the curtains are adorably designed, decorated with a little Mount Fuji character!

The attention to detail is amazing.

Furthermore, the headrest covers are woven in the city of Fujiyoshida from a fabric called fujiyama-ori. Of course, the little mountain character can be found here as well.

The solo seats.

This really feels like a luxurious trip. The chairs don’t only recline, they also offer footrests for premium comfort. Yup, luxury through and through! Wooden tables provide for extra space.

Mr. Tsuchiya: “Why, you seem terribly relaxed. This is work, remember?”
Atsumi: “I am in love with this seat though! The view from the panorama seats is nice but look at all the space I have here!”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Come on then, there are even more seats.”

The semi-compartment seats are perfect for groups.

There are also two semi-compartments with eight seats each partitioned by glass. Facing each other, there’s enough space to store your luggage or have a snack. It’s the perfect choice for a family or large group! Travel to Mount Fuji while chatting happily about your trip!

The panorama seats are open to everyone – come and go as you please.

The last seats I want to show you are right behind the driver! You won’t get a better view than this!

If the weather is good, you’ll be able to see Mount Fuji from the front window!

Everyone who has a reserved seat in Car No. 1 is free to sit here. With windows on all sides, it really is a beautiful panorama all around you.

Special clear folders are sold inside the train for 300 yen.

Of course, the staff sells special Fujisan Express souvenirs right in the cars!

This time, I got my hands on a cute clear folder all about the train! It features the many different characters including their names, so I can make sense of them a bit more and enjoy them even more! The clear folder also works as a guide, allowing you to search the inside of the car for your favorite characters!

Photo panels are always a good choice!

On top of that, the souvenir selection also offers commemorative photo panels. For the little ones, a mock driver’s seat offers excitement throughout the trip – from adults to kids, no one is going to get bored on the Fujisan Express.

Fujisan Express Information:
・Ōtsuki Station ~ Kawaguchiko Station: 3 round trips on weekdays; 3 trains bound for Kawaguchiko Station, 2 trains bound for Ōtsuki Station on weekends and public holidays. (More trains run during travel season.)
・In case of vehicle inspection, the route may be served by a different train.
・Car No. 1 features reserved seats, cars No. 2 and No. 3 feature free seats. A regular ticket plus a limited express ticket is required.

・Express fee: 400 yen between Ōtsuki Station and Fujisan Station, Fujikyu-Highland Station, and Kawaguchiko Station / 200 yen to Tsuru-bunkadaigaku-mae Station / no express fee between Fujisan Station and Kawaguchiko Station.
・Seat reservation: 200 yen (extra)
・Seat reservations can be made via the Fujikyu Call Center (0555-73-8181), the official homepage, and certain travel agencies.

2. Fujisan View Express and its stunning scenery of Mount Fuji

2. Fujisan View Express and its stunning scenery of Mount Fuji
Fujisan View Express and its stylish red color.

Next on our list is the Fujisan View Express, the newest and most popular of the sightseeing trains on the Fujikyuko Line. It’s a beautiful train indeed. Insiders surely know that it is, in fact, the renewed limited express “Asagiri” that ran between Shinjuku Station and Muzanu Station until 2012.

It has been repainted to an elegant reddish-brown, adorned with bold letters and an elegant logo that proudly state the train’s name: Fujisan View Express. I can’t wait to explore the interior!

The design is both elegant and calm.

From the moment you step into the car, a warm, calm atmosphere engulfs you. It’s an elegant yet welcoming space.

Whenever I check out special trains, the design seems to carry the thumbprint of one particular person...

Yes, it’s an Eiji Mitooka train.

I wasn’t surprised to learn that the Fujisan View Express was designed by Eiji Mitooka, a famous industrial designer known for working on JR Kyushu’s sightseeing trains. The interior is absolutely stunning.

The Fujisan View Express s also split into three cars. No. 1 is a special car with reserved seats only, so I will showcase that later. Cars No. 2 and 3 all have free seats, boasting a warm wood interior that offers perfect relaxation for your Mount Fuji trip.

The colors vary by car – this one’s No. 3.

The modern interior is what makes Fujisan View Express popular among so many people. Every car follows its own colors and since two of the cars have free seats, I get t choose which space I like the most!

The window frames make the scenery outside look like a picture.

The wooden window frames evoke the image of a stunning painting, framing Mount Fuji’s scenery just beautifully. It’s hard to believe that this experience doesn’t require more than the regular train ticket plus the regular express fee.

Fujisan View Express Information:
・Ōtsuki Station ~ Kawaguchiko Station: 2 round trips on weekdays; 3 round trips on weekends and public holidays. (More trains run during travel season.)
・In case of vehicle inspection, the route may be served by a different train.
・Car No. 1 features reserved seats, cars No. 2 and No. 3 feature free seats. A regular ticket plus a limited express ticket is required.

・Express fee: 400 yen between Ōtsuki Station and Fujisan Station, Fujikyu-Highland Station, and Kawaguchiko Station / 200 yen to Tsuru-bunkadaigaku-mae Station / no express fee between Fujisan Station and Kawaguchiko Station.
・Seat reservation for Car No. 1: 900 yen (extra)
・Seat reservations can be made via the Fujikyu Call Center (0555-73-8181), the official homepage, and certain travel agencies.

Fujisan View Express’ Special Sweets Selection!

I mentioned earlier that Fujisan View Express’ Car No. 1 is a special car with reserved seats only. The most outstanding feature of it, however, is the service!

Atsumi: “Mr. Tsuchiya, perfect timing!”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Yup, the time has finally come! Get your sweet tooth ready!”

On weekends and public holidays, Car No. 1 offers the Special Sweets Plan! That means you’ll get to savor special parfaits and desserts created by the chef pâtissier of the official Fuji-Q Highlands hotel, Highland Resort Hotel & Spa.

That’s why Car No. 1 is labeled “the special car,” and I got excited just by hearing about it. Now, let’s go take a proper look at it!

Of course, Car No. 1 is also designed by Eiji Mitooka!

Atsumi: “Wow, it’s a completely different atmosphere compared to the free seats.”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Sweets. Swee~ts...”
Atsumi: “Yes, yes, I know. But I want to take a look around the car first!”

The area right behind the driver’s seat.

In the space behind the driver’s seat stands a round table, offering space for six people. Two single seats also invite to relax and glance out of the window.

Atsumi: “That round table looks like the perfect place to hang out with my girlfriends!”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “That sounds nice indeed.”
Atsumi: “Me and my girls, we love to hang out in a stylish space. The cuter, the better, and this train’s design is absolutely perfect!”

The table seats in the special car have a nice coffee lounge feel to them.

If the train leaves from Ōtsuki Station, there are table seats for groups of four on the right side and table for two people on the left.

My first thought is “retro café.” Car No. 1 offers 26 reserved seats in total, offering a feeling of relaxation and luxury throughout.

Brace for the sweets set!

These are our seats. As soon as I sat down, I was served the welcome drink included in the ticket price.

Mr. Tsuchiya: “Eating sweets while enjoying the scenery of a train ride...this is my kind of travel plan.”
Atsumi: “I am usually not crazy about sweets, but this fancy environment has me on the edge of my seat!”

Said sweets are served in a red box that’s already prepared at my seat. Adorned with the logo of the Fujisan View Express, it makes me surprisingly excited about what kind of desserts wait under the lid!

Here’s what’s inside the sweets box: a peach jelly dessert (upper right), a tarte with seasonal fruits (lower right), a strawberry chiffon cake (lower left), and a seasonal macaron with matcha (upper left). This dessert selection changes by season.

Atsumi: “Wow, it’s like a jewel box! All colorful and shiny!”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Yup. Oh, it’s good~”
Atsumi: “You’re already eating? How is it?”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “The taste really is luxurious. It matches the atmosphere of the train just perfectly.”

The desserts are all made at the Highland Resort Hotel & Spa and freshly delivered to the Fujisan View Express. The selection changes every season but is always guaranteed to be a feast not only for the eyes. I definitely recommend this sweets plan as the – probably literal – cherry on top of your trip to Mount Fuji.

Fujisan View Express Sweets Plan:
・2 round trips on weekends and public holidays. (Only available in Car No. 1)
・Adults: 4,000 yen; children: 3,000 yen (includes train fare, express fare, seat reservation, special car fare, sweets, and drinks)
・Seat reservations can be made until 3 days in advance via the Fujikyu Call Center (0555-22-8877) and the official homepage.

A store called Fujiyama-ya inside Fujisan Station.

Delicious Dishes at Stations on the Fujikyuko Line

Since we’re on the topic of sweets anyway, I’d like to introduce you to the gourmet experiences that can be savored on the Fujikyuko Line. The two major local specialties are miso noodle soup called hōtō and Yoshida udon. However, there are plenty of dishes to enjoy, many of them unique to the area!

First of all, I’ll show you the standard choice for every journey: ekiben, bento boxes exclusive to train stations.

The one that spoke to me the most is the “Fujisan charcoal-grilled meat bento” (1,050 yen), also called Fujisan Express Bento. The name comes from the cute train-themed packaging! It’s the best choice to make your sightseeing train experience perfect all around.

While the packaging is quirky and modern, the taste of he charcoal-grilled meat is authentically Japanese. It’s so fragrant and flavorful, I was almost taken by surprise. The green plastic divider (called haran or baran in Japanese) is cut in the shape of Mount Fuji as a little bit of extra decoration!

Next up is the “miso-grilled pork bento” (830 yen) that uses a special pork brand from Yamanashi Prefecture. The mild miso aroma that tickles my nose as soon as I open the bento immediately makes my mouth water. The fried egg and the pickled vegetables are made from local produce, serving an authentic taste of the area. It’s freshly made every morning in limited quantities, so get your hands on it as early as possible!

By the way, these station bento are all sold at a shop called Gateway Fujiyama inside Kawaguchiko Station. Next to boxed lunches, there’s also a nice selection of snacks!

Another store that I’ll take you to is Fujiyama-ya at Fujisan Station. They sell the amazingly delicious “Fujisan soft serve” (350 yen). The top is vanilla-flavored ice cream, while the bottom is “blue rose...” The rich flavor lingers on my tongue, I think I’m in love with this!

The “taiyaki” pancakes are filled with either sweet bean paste, cream, or chocolate. Seasonal varieties might also be available!

The same shop also sells an adorable taiyaki, a traditional pancake shaped like a fish (160 yen). Here, the classic fish swims in front of Mount Fuji. I bought one for Mr. Tsuchiya and his sweet tooth.

Mr. Tsuchiya: “I eat this every single time I come to Mount Fuji. Mmh, I’ll never get tired of the taste.”

  • Fujiyama-ya
    ふじやま屋 富士山駅店
    • Address Inside Fujisan Station, 2-5-1 Kamiyoshida, Fujiyoshida-shi, Yamanashi-ken 403-0005
    • Phone Number 0555-72-8900
    • Hours: 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
      Closed: always open
      ※Business hours may change or the shop may be closed.

A charming café at Shimoyoshida Station.

If you’re looking for a charming, quiet place, I highly recommend Shimoyoshida Station. Within the station is a café called Shimoyoshida Club and it’s the perfect place to wind down with a great menu and unique souvenirs.

The café’s interior.

Shimoyoshida Station isn’t just famous for its gourmet selection but also for its “Blue Train Terrace.” As its name suggests, it offers a glimpse on the retro blue trains that are not longer in service but dearly missed by railway fans. If you’ve got a Fujikyuko express ticket, you get to enter the terrace for free. Everyone else needs to buy an admission ticket for 170 yen.

The 14 series sleeping coach “SuHaNeFu 14-20” on the Blue Train Terrace.

There are all sorts of unique gourmet delights to discover all along the Fujikyuko Line, so make sure to keep your eyes open and your taste buds ready!

  • Shimoyoshida Club
    • Address Inside Shimoyoshida Station, 840 Arakura, Fujiyoshida-shi, Yamanashi-ken 403-0011
    • Phone Number 0555-22-0144
    • Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
      Closed: the first Monday of each month (or the following day in case of public holidays)

3. Fuji Tozan Densha – Laid-back leisure

3. Fuji Tozan Densha – Laid-back leisure
The immensely popular Fuji Tozan Densha train.

After recharging our energy with local delicacies, let’s go check out the third sightseeing train on our list. The distance between Ōtsuki Station and Kawaguchiko Station is 26.6 kilometers with a height difference of 500 meters – the steepest part is 40‰. That means that there’s an elevation of 40 meters per 1,000 meters of tracks. While this train doesn’t take you to the top of Mount Fuji, you can certainly call it a proper hiker!

Fuji Tozan Densha has panorama windows to see Mount Fuji’s scenery.

Of course, this train is designed by Eiji Mitooka with the goal to make Japan’s most luxurious mountain train – and he certainly achieved that! It’s the veteran of the three sightseeing trains that I checked out today, being in operation since 2009. Even today, it boasts a lot of fans and popularity.

The inspiration for the exterior was the very first train on the Fujikyuko Line.

The train is painted in a strong, rusty vermilion, the same color that the very first train on the Fujikyuko Line had. Fuji Tozan Densha has two cars that are split in “Red Fuji” and “Blue Fuji” – let’s take a look inside!

Inside are all kinds of different seats!

The interior is dominated by natural materials such as wood and fabric, evoking a wonderfully “retro” image. Kaiki silk, a special product of Yamanashi Prefecture, is used to decorate the car and adds an extra touch of elegance.

You’ll hear me say this a lot, but this is the designer Eiji Mitooka at his best. By incorporating local materials into the design, he excels at creating a unique atmosphere that seems to be in perfect harmony with the scenery passing by the windows.

Fuji Tozan Densha has its own library.

The train even has a little library with books all around Mount Fuji, as well as a counter that sells original goods and drinks.

Fuji Tozan Densha Information:
・Ōtsuki Station ~ Kawaguchiko Station: 1 round trip on weekdays; 2 trains bound for Kawaguchiko Station, 1 train bound for Ōtsuki Station on weekends and public holidays.
・In case of vehicle inspection, the route may be served by a different train.
・All seats are free seats. A regular ticket plus a seating ticket (200 yen) is required.
・Contact: Fujikyu Call Center (0555-73-8181)

A pleasant chat with the attendant.

Mr. Tsuchiya: “We really saw a lot of unique trains today, didn’t we.”
Atsumi: “Yup! I’ll definitely plan a trip to Mount Fuji in one of them.
Mr. Tsuchiya: “Oh? So, which one was your favorite?”
Atsumi: “I really liked Fujisan Express because it looks so cute, but Fujisan View Express and its sweets plan is also pretty amazing. I want to savor a dessert and sip on some tea.”
Mr. Tsuchiya: “For me, it’s Fuji Tozan Densha. I’ve liked that train since long ago. The attentive service of the staff, it really touches me every time I get on. The Fuji Tozan Densha even is the background of all my profile pictures! (laughs)”

Now, all that’s left for me to do is to wish you a wonderful trip to Mount Fuji! Which sightseeing train do you plan on taking?

※All prices in the article include tax.

Written by: Takeyuki Tsuchiya, Atsumi Furuya

*This information is from the time of this article's publication.
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.

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