Most people will travel from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko for a day trip when wanting to get to the Mount Fuji area.
The Lake Kawaguchi (as Kawaguchiko is also known) area is set at the foot of Japan's most recognizable landmark. Several popular tourist attractions are in the vicinity as well.
Enjoy the sights of beautiful sakura petals at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival held every spring at Fujimoto Lake Biwa Resort, scale the iconic Mount Fuji itself during summer, admire the lovely fall leaves in the area during autumn, or take part in exciting snow sports and spectacular fireworks events when winter comes around - there's something for everyone to do here in every season!
Another important reason why the Lake Kawaguchi and Fuji-Q Highland region is such a good choice for day trips is thanks to how accessible it is from Tokyo. Travelers have their pick of convenient transportation options, from highway buses to special express trains, so much so that trying on settle on one may seem like a whole adventure in itself!
If that’s how you feel, then this article will be of particular interest to you. Here we’ll share the best ways of getting from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko, plus what measures are being taken against the spread of Covid-19 in these transport options as well as at their destinations.
* Some transport services may be running on reduced frequency or capacity due to Covid-19.
* When leaving your residence, be sure to put on a mask and maintain a safe distance from those around you.
- Table of Contents
- 5 Main Ways to get from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko and Fuji-Q Highland
- 1) Highway Bus: Great Balance Between Price and Time Spent As Long As There Are No Traffic Jams
- 2) Fuji Excursion Express: Guaranteed Seats and No Transfers Needed!
- 3) Limited Express Azusa / Kaiji + Fujikyuko Line: Quick and Convenient Way to Get to the Destination From the 23 Wards of Tokyo
- 4) JR + Fujikyuko Line: For Those Who Wish to Travel at Their Own Pace on JR's Regularly Scheduled Trains
- 5) Keio Line + JR + Fujikyuko Line: For Travelers Wanting the Cheapest Fare Possible (or to Drop By Mount Takao Along the Way)
5 Main Ways to get from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko and Fuji-Q Highland
You can choose five main public transport options to get to Lake Kawaguchi and Fuji-Q Highland from Shinjuku.
One of them is to take a highway bus from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal. This is a direct route with no transfers in between. There’s also the Fuji Excursion, a special express train that started its service in March 2019. Finally, you can use three different railway routes to get to the region using regularly scheduled trains.
Here are the pros and cons of each route and any distinct features that may be of interest.
1) Highway bus (Duration: About 2 hours; Price: 2,000 yen)
The highway bus offers a direct route from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal to Lake Kawaguchi and Fuji-Q Highland via expressways.
Pros: Reasonable price of 2,000 yen one-way per adult. Direct route with no need for transfers. If you are going to Fuji-Q Highland, there’s even a discount set called Toku Q Pack you can purchase that comes with a bus ticket and free pass into the amusement park!
Cons: Since the bus will be using the expressway, it may take longer for you to reach the destination, depending on how congested traffic is during travel time.
2) Fuji Excursion Express (Duration: 1 hour 52 minutes at the quickest; Price: 4,060 yen)
Fuji Excursion Express follows a direct path from Shinjuku Station on the JR lines to Fuji Highland Station or Kawaguchiko Station on the Fujikyuko Line.
Pros: No transfers. Although 4,060 yen per adult is slightly pricy, you can get to the destination about 30 minutes faster than regular train routes, and the cabins are very comfortable too! As a train running a fixed route on railway tracks, delays, if any, are few and far between. Also, if you have a Japan Rail Pass you can ride a portion of the Fuji Excursion (Shinjuku – Otsuki) without needing an additional ticket.
Cons: Reservation-only, so you’ll need to book your ticket in advance.
3) Limited Express Azusa / Kaiji on the JR Chuo Line + Fujikyuko Line (Duration: About 2 hours 20 minutes; Price: 3,930 yen) * Trip duration may vary depending on transfers
For this route, you’ll have to take a limited express for about 1 hour from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station on the JR Lines, then transfer to a train on the Fujikyuko Line.
Pros: Only one transfer needed after a one hour ride from Shinjuku to Otsuki Station. Comfortable trains.
Cons: If you transfer from JR Lines to Fujikyuko Line at the wrong timing, you may end up having to wait at Otsuki Station for more than 30 minutes.
4) JR Chuo Line + JR Chuo Main Line + Fujikyuko Line (Duration: About 2 hours and 50 minutes; Price: 2,510 yen) * Trip duration may vary depending on transfers
Take a regular train from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station on the JR Lines, then transfer to a train on the Fujikyuko Line.
Pros: At 2,510 yen per person, it’s a lot cheaper than the limited express. It's also completely covered under the Japan Rail Pass. If you need to drop by any of the stations along the Chuo Line, this will be a convenient route to consider.
Cons: Regular trains will take longer to reach than express trains, and if you transfer from JR Lines to Fujikyuko Line at the wrong timing, you may end up having to wait at Otsuki Station for more than 30 minutes.
5) Keio Line + JR Chuo Main Line + Fujikyuko Line (Duration: About 3 hours; Price: 2,130 yen) * Trip duration may vary depending on transfers
This route requires you to take a regular train from Shinjuku Station to Takao Station on the Keio Line, transfer to the JR Chuo Main Line to go to Otsuki Station, then transfer to a train on the Fujikyuko Line.
Pros: This is the cheapest of all routes at 2,130 yen. One station ahead of Takao Station on the Keio Line is Takaosanguchi Station, which is the nearest station to Mount Takao, another popular tourist destination. If Mount Takao is also on your itinerary on that day, then this route is highly recommended!
Cons: Two transfers are needed. Long ride duration of around three hours.
1) Highway Bus: Great Balance Between Price and Time Spent As Long As There Are No Traffic Jams
In this section, we’ll explain how to use the various routes from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko mentioned above, how to buy tickets for them, what their departure schedule is like, and other pertinent information.
For those wanting to save both time and money, take the highway bus! It’s a direct route from Shinjuku to the Lake Kawaguchi and Fuji-Q Highland area that takes about two hours in smooth traffic, although this time may vary greatly depending on traffic conditions on that day.
The highway bus will depart from the Shinjuku to Fuji Five Lakes Line bus berth in Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal, which is located just in front of the south exit of Shinjuku Station on the JR lines. Tickets can be conveniently purchased online or from the terminal’s ticketing counters.
The interval between each highway bus departing from the berth can be anywhere between 10 minutes to an hour. The bus will take you directly to the destination. (*As of September 2020, bus frequency has been decreased due to Covid-19.)
In spring, the bus will also stop at Lake Motosu or the Fuji Shibazakura Festival site. During summer, the stops will include Mount Fuji 5th Station and Lake Motosu as well.
To ensure all passengers' safety, the bus companies operating this service - Fujikyu Bus, Fuji Express, and Keio Bus have implemented measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, such as regular disinfection and ventilation of buses.
Bonus: Going to Fuji-Q Highland? Be sure to plan for the right park entrance too!
If your destination is Fuji-Q Highland, note that the highway bus takes you to the first park entrance, while trains will stop at the second park entrance that's directly connected to the train station.
The first park entrance is located very near popular rides like Fujiyama, Takabisha, and Do-Donpa. The second park entrance is nearer to Eejanaika. Plan your trip in a way that will take you to the ride you're eyeing in the fastest time possible to maximize your time there!
2) Fuji Excursion Express: Guaranteed Seats and No Transfers Needed!
Fuji Excursion is a special express train that only operates two round trips per day between Shinjuku Station on the JR Lines and Lake Kawaguchi on the Fujikyuko Line. The stations it stops at are: Shinjuku Station, Tachikawa Station, Hachioji Station, and Otsuki Station on the JR Lines, then Tsurubunkadaigakumae Station, Shimoyoshida <Arakura Sengen Shrine Park> Station, Mt. Fuji Station, Fuji-Q Highland Station, and Kawaguchiko Station on the Fujikyuko Line.
Besides a regular railway ticket for JR and Fujikyuko, you'll also need to purchase a limited express reserved seat ticket for this train. Both tickets can be purchased from the following ticketing counters or online (in Japanese language only). The train is reservation-only, so be sure to reserve your tickets early to avoid disappointment!
Railway tickets and limited express reserved seat ticket counters
Within Tokyo City
- JR East ticket counters
- JR East Reserved seat ticket-vending machines
- Major travel agencies
Within Yamanashi Prefecture
- Kawaguchiko Station
- Fuji-Q Highland Station
- Mt. Fuji Station
- Shimoyoshida Station
- Tsurubunkadaigakumae Station
* Reservation tickets for Fuji Excursion are released for sale at 10 a.m. one month before the ticket's departure date.
To prevent the spread of Covid-19, both JR and Fujikyuko require passengers to wear a mask before allowing them to board the trains. Passengers are also urged to refrain from conversing in the train, to cooperate when the cabins need to be ventilated, and to avoid taking the trains during peak periods as much as possible.
The train stations and cabins are also regularly disinfected and cleaned. Major stations will have disinfectants and soap available for use.
3) Limited Express Azusa / Kaiji + Fujikyuko Line: Quick and Convenient Way to Get to the Destination From the 23 Wards of Tokyo
Before the Fuji Excursion Express was in place, the JR Chuo Azusa / Kaiji + Fujikyuko Line transfer route was the fastest way to get from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko and Fuji-Q Highland by train.
There's even an express train that departs from Tokyo Station, so if you're heading to Lake Kawaguchi from one of Tokyo's 23 wards, you could absolutely still consider this method.
Even though you'll need to transfer trains, the transfer is relatively simple and it's only once. The trains run more frequently as well, departing from the station at one-hour intervals.
To ride on the Azusa / Kaiji Express on the JR Chuo Line, you'll need a limited express reserved seat ticket on top of a regular railway ticket. This can be purchased from ticket vending machines in train platforms, inside the train itself, ticketing counters in train stations, or online (in Japanese only).
Otsuki Station on the JR lines is where to do the transfer of trains. If you've boarded the train from any station in Tokyo, you'll arrive at Otsuki Station's platform 3. Walk for about one to two minutes from there to transfer to the Fujikyuko Line.
Trains on the Fujikyuko Line come in all flavors as well, from regular trains to sightseeing trains such as the Fuji Tozan Densha (200 yen required for a seat ticket) and special express trains like Fujisan View Express and Fujisan Express (express tickets needed for certain sections). (*These train services are temporarily suspended as of September 2020.)
When Fuji-Q Highland is having a collaborative project with an anime or special event, trains with colorfully decorated liveries based on the project will run for a limited time, making the ride even more special and exciting!
4) JR + Fujikyuko Line: For Those Who Wish to Travel at Their Own Pace on JR's Regularly Scheduled Trains
This route takes you through the JR Chuo Line, JR Chuo Main Line, and Fujikyuko Line. As the regular trains on this route run more frequently, it's the perfect route to choose for travelers who may not have a fixed itinerary in mind, don't wish to stick to a rigid schedule for train transfers, don't want to be at the mercy of unpredictable road traffic conditions, or just couldn't book a ticket for the express trains at a preferred time.
Since the train will be stopping at all stations along the Chuo line, if you happen to have something to do at one of the stations along the way, consider picking this route for its flexibility and convenience.
You'll find that there are different trains you can take, depending on what time you choose to depart. Some trains take you directly from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station on the JR Lines at regular hours, and trains that take you from Shinjuku Station on the JR Lines all the way to Kawaguchiko Station on the Fujikyu Line during commuting hours! You'll only need either a JR or Fujikyuko railway ticket to board any of the regular trains.
5) Keio Line + JR + Fujikyuko Line: For Travelers Wanting the Cheapest Fare Possible (or to Drop By Mount Takao Along the Way)
Transferring between the Keio, JR, and Fujikyuko Lines is the cheapest way to get to Lake Kawaguchi from Tokyo. Takao Station is the transfer station between trains on the Keio and JR Lines. Just one stop away from there is Takaosanguchi Station, the station that's closest to another popular tourist attraction, Mount Takao. This is, therefore, a popular route for travelers who have both Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Takao planned for a single day.
Of course, if you have plans to drop by at any station along the Keio Line, then this route will be just perfect for you as well. Alternatively, if you're a train enthusiast who just wants to ride on as many Japanese trains from as many companies as possible, then don't even consider anything else!
To combat the spread of Covid-19, Keio Group, operators of the Keio railway lines and buses, regularly ventilate the cabins, in addition to implementing antiviral and antibacterial measures in their vehicles.
The company also provides congestion updates to help passengers plan around crowded routes. Be sure to always wear a mask and refrain from conversing with one another when you are inside a train or bus.
These are a few relatively simple and straightforward routes of getting from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko and Fuji-Q Highland that are very accessible even for non-Japanese travelers. We hope this has been a useful reference for you in your Tokyo-to-Mount Fuji trip planning!
English translation by: Huimin Pan
*Prices and options mentioned are subject to change.
*Unless stated otherwise, all prices include tax.
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