Fuji Five Lakes

Mt. Fuji and Lake Shojiko. Photo by hogeasdf.

‘Fuji Five Lakes (FUJI GOKO)’ is the name of the area located at the foot of Mt. Fuji in the Yamanashi prefecture. Five lakes are dammed lake formed by the previous eruption of Mt. Fuji at about 1,000 meters above sea level. Each lake have different characteristics and favour differ to people, it will be interesting to explore each lakes to find your favorite lake and Mt. Fuji in a set.

The five lakes are;

  1. Lake Kawaguchi
  2. Lake Motosu
  3. Lake Sai (Saiko, Western Lake)
  4. Lake Shoji
  5. Lake Yamanakako

Since there are many articles written on the sacred Mt. Fuji and the Five Lakes, we don’t want to go over the similar things as possible so if you are looking for general information on them, there are;

….. and  of course, many other sites that will provide you the information.

So what we are going to do here is to give you our original information about the lakes and places around the lakes which we recommend.
 
 
 

Lake kawaguchi

Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi

Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. Photo by hogeasdf.

Lake Kawaguchi is the second largest (but has the longest shoreline) and the depth is the third deepest of the Fuji Five Lakes.

Charming part of Lake Kawaguchi is the small island called ‘UNOSHIMA’, meaning ‘cormorantW’s island’. The island is a sacred island enshrining BenzaitenW(A goddess transferred from India to Japan. SaraswatiW, a goddess of music, eloquence, wealth and water), a goddess from Seven Lucky GodsW. There is a record of 19th century that people visited this small island to worship the Benzaiten shrine on small boats as today the same way. There is no a regular boat service to land on the island but as the shortest distance from the shore is less than 500m, you could rent a boat from one of the boat houses near by and row yourself to reach there. But beware reaching there from west side of the lake as the shore of the island is very shallow you may scrape th bottom of your boat.

Another spot where you can reach much easily is the ‘ROKKAKUDO’, a hexagonal temple. The Rokkakudo exists as if it is floating but depending on the water level of the lake, this floating-like island adjusts to the lake shore. In 2013, Summer when there were less rain, access on foot was possible. There are many negative rumors on continuing dry weather when you are able to walk to this small shrine saying that it is a natural prior warning for an explosion of Mt. Fuji or big earthquakes!

To whom love nature more, Lake Kawaguchi may not be your type of lake as the lake side was developed the earliest among any of other 4 lakes. Many shops, restaurants, hotels and museum are located around the lake where you can find information very easily, also in English.

Lake Kawaguchi is also famous in Eastern Japan for boating and largemouth bass lure fishing. ‘Wakasagi(smelt)’ fishing is also famous here where there are special smelt fishing boat suitable also for those who have never fished before. This boat is great on cold weather days as the boat has roof and heating.
‘Wakasagi’ is served a lot in near by restaurants and hotels.

For drivers, we recommend you to take ‘KAWAGUCHIKO OHASHI’ (Great Bridge over Lake Kawaguchi) which was built over the lake to connect the northern shore and the southern shore. The project started in 1968 and completed in 1971. The building cost was 1,850 million yen. It was a toll road for over 30 years but is free now from 2005.
 
 
 

Lake Motosu

Mt. Fuji and Lake Motosuko

Mt. Fuji and Lake Motosuko. Photo by hogeasdf.

The Lake Motosu is the deepest lake among Fuji Five Lakes and the transparency of the water is very high. In comparison the other 4 lakes, the lake side was avoided from overdevelopment the nature is well kept. You can enjoy scuba diving, canoeing, wind surfing and fishing here. Camping and Cycling by the lake is also nice things to do around the lake.

‘Sakasa Fuji’ is a word for inverted image of Mt. Fuji reflected in the water, known to the Japanese as one of the great Mt. Fuji appearance.  The view from north bank shore is a very famous view of Mt. Fuji in Japan as the scene is an image used on 1000 Yen note.  To see the most beautiful ‘Sakasa Fuji’,  the recommended time is early morning in winter when the air is clear without clouds, fogs or mists.

It is said that that log time ago, Lake Motosu, Lake Shoji and Lake Sai were all together in one, and this huge lake was called ‘Se-no-umi’, meaning the Sea of Se.  It was  when Mt. Fuji exploded and the flow of lava departed the lake into three.
There is a dragon legend on the huge lake, Sea.  Before the explosion, there was a small village of 500 houses at the east side of Sea of Se.  One day, a dragon appeared from the Sea of Se and predicted the explosion of Mt. Fuji and flew up to Ryugatake mountain, located between Fuji Kawaguchi and Minobu area. Thanks to the dragon’s prediction,  the people took refuge and left the village.  Soon after they had left, Mt. Fuji exploded.  When the explosion settled down, people came back to recreate their village again on the land where they used to be and found that the hige lake, Sea of Se was divided into three.  People named the new lake by their ‘Motosu’, which means “a nest where they used to live” and enshrined the dragon who saved them as ‘Ryujin’, the God of Dragon.
 
 

Agricultural specialty of Motosu Area

ShiitakeW (mushrooms)

The main agricultural products of the area is ‘Shiitake’ and grew in almost every house of the area.   Shiitake are cultivated on beech tree or oak tree logs.  The harvest of Shiitake is mainly in April which some are dried to be preserved for later use.  One of the best Shiitake in East Japan.  Good for barbecue!

Corns

Like other parts of Yamanashi, corns are recommendable especially in mid August. You should try the fresh corn soon after the harvest (maximum 2 days) which is really sweet. There are corns which can be eaten in raw.

Meat

Wild boars and deers are served in some restaurants and {W:Ryokan] in this area.  If you have chance to eat, do try!

FISH

‘Himemasu (sockeye salmon)’ inhabit in the lake.  Himemasu has a salmon like meat, good for grill, SashimiW and fries. Some say that they are the best out of trouts and salmon.  Fishing ‘Himemasu’ is best in December and in April.
 
 
 

Lake Sai (Saiko, Western Lake)

Lake Sai is the second smallest but the second deepest among Fuji Five Lakes .  It is famous for a spherical moss, ‘Fuji Marimo’, a natural treasure of Yamanashi prefecture which cannot be collected.
The lake had no fish like other volcanic lakes until 1913 when ‘Himemas (sockeyed salmon)’ were released.  Now fishing is one of the main activities you can enjoy at the lake.

Like Lake Motosu, this lake too is full of nature, without much development.  You can find several places where you can camp, fish and canoe by the lake.
 
 
 

Lake Shoji

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Mt. Fuji and Lake Shojiko. Photo by hogeasdf.

Lake Shoji is situated where National route 139 and 358 connect.  It is the smallest lake among the Fuji Five Lakes in terms of surface area. The circumference of the lake is only 6.8 km (4.2 Mile).  It is the third deepest lake, with a maximum depth of 15.2 meters (50 ft).  Its surface elevation of 900 meters (3,000 ft) is the same with that of Lake Motosu and Lake Sai, which we can estimate may that these three lakes used to be one big single lake.  It is said that the lava of Mt. Fuji divided one big lake into three when Mt. Fuji erupted in 864. The water of the lake does not flow out to any rivers and remains still.

The area of Lake Shoji is not developed as a resort which you can find great views of nature around the lake which many find best spots of photo-shooting Mt. Fuji.  There are only 279 people (in 2012) living in this area which also proves that the place is ‘natural’.

It was back in Meiji periodW that a British, later naturalized Japanese, Harry Stewart Whitworth fell in love with this Lake Shoji while he was looking for the best view of Mt. Fuji.  He decided to live the rest of his life by Lake Shoji, spending enormous effort making Lake Shoji famous throughout the world by contributing his introductory of Mt. Fuji and Lake Shoji to newspapers and magazines of Western countries.  He expressed Mt. Fuji and Lake Shoji as an ‘Oriental Switzerland’, one of the world’s best summer resort.  His efforts invited many tourist visiting the area which a first resort hotel for foreign visitors were made soon after.
 
 
 

Lake Yamanaka

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Mt.Fuji from Lake Yamanakako. Photo by hogeasdf.

Lake Yamanaka is the largest of the Fuji Five Lakes in terms of surface area, and in terms of elevation.  It is also the third highest located lake in Japan, with a mean surface altitude of 980.5 metres (3,217 ft).  However, Lake Yamanaka is also the shallowest among the Fuji Five Lakes, with a maximum water depth of only 13.5 metres (44 ft) and it is the only lake which water flows out naturally into a river, River Sagami.

It is known as a good fishing spot of ‘Wakasagi (Smelt)’, ‘Ugui (Dase)’, eel and carp which were introduced to Lake Yamanaka in Meiji to Taisho periodW.  Recently,  exotic fish like Black bass and Bluegill have been released for sport fishing which you can enjoy lure fishing.  The Black bass and Bluegills are thought to destroy the original pond or lake ecological systems of Japan and are exterminated in many ponds and lakes these several years but Lake Yamanaka is one of the legal lakes where the fishes are kept for sport fishing.

‘Fuji marimoW (moss balls)’ was discovered in the lake in 1956 by a school kid during a class and has been designated as a protected species of Lake Yamanaka, Marimos which inhabit the farthest south in Japan.  You can buy cultured Fuji Marimos at souvenir shops around the Lake which you can see close how they look like but won’t recommend for you to take them back with you to your country as there are many procedures that you have to go through when leaving Japan and entering your own country.

Sovenir Marimo

Marimo Sovenir. Photo from Ai-no-Marimo-kan Official Page.

Lake Yamanaka was the first lake where the tourism was developed among Fuji Five Lakes and there are many types of accommodations including cabins for camping by the lake side and it is a popular recreational site for boating, fishing, water-skiing, windsurfing, sightseeing and swimming.  Many shops and restaurants also stand by where you will find staying without inconveniencing.
 
 

Fuji Five Lakes
(FUJI GOKO)


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