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In the Foothills of Mount Fuji

With its beautiful and varied natural landscapes dominated in all areas by Mount Fuji, the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park makes for a spectacular pleasure trip all year round.

Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is a national park that straddles Tokyo, Kanagawa Prefecture, Yamanashi Prefecture and Shizuoka Prefecture. This national park consists of four areas: the Mount Fuji area, which is centered on Mount Fuji, which was designated as a World Heritage site in 2013 and includes lakes, ponds and highlands; the Hakone area, which originated as a post station along the Tokaido road and has long been known as a hot spring area; the Izu Peninsula area featuring the Amagi Mountain Range and richly varied coastlines and hot spring resorts closely associated with literature and intellectuals, including The Dancing Girl of Izu by Yasunari Kawabata, a Nobel laureate; and the Izu Islands area that is made up of volcanic islands on the sea, including islands with volcanoes that are still active. According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of the Environment, of about 5.5 million foreign visitors to national parks around the country in 2016, more than half, or 2,577,000 people, visited Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.

It can be said that the symbol of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is Mount Fuji, which is located to the north of the entire park and is the highest mountain in Japan. Mount Fuji, which is an active volcano, reaches 3,776 meters above sea level, and at the foot of the mountain is a broadleaf deciduous forest. Toward the summit of the mountain are an evergreen coniferous forest and a volcanic wilderness. Mount Fuji has been worshipped as a sacred mountain since the Edo period (1603–1867). Its well-balanced foot is wide, and ukiyo-e artists drew it repeatedly. For example, The Great Wave off Kanagawa by Katsushika Hokusai (1760–1849), who is world famous, is one of a series of “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji” whose motif is Mount Fuji.

At the northwestern foot of Mount Fuji stretches Aokigahara-Jukai Forest, which spans about 30 square kilometers as a result of lava flow and volcanic activity that occurred about 1,200 years ago. This volcanic activity formed the Fuji Five Lakes (Lake Yamanaka, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Saiko, Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko).

Lake Kawaguchi, which is one of the Fuji Five Lakes, features “upside-down Mt. Fuji” on its surface and it is a popular beautiful spot for photographing Mount Fuji. Junichiro Tanizaki (1886–1965), a great twentieth-century novelist, finished writing his masterpiece Sasameyuki (The Makioka Sisters) while staying at an inn at the foot of Lake Kawaguchi. A monument that stands beside the lake is inscribed with a passage in Tanizaki’s own handwriting from Sasameyuki.

To the southeast of Lake Kawaguchi is Oshino-Hakkai, which is popular due to its beautiful view of Mount Fuji and mysterious water landscape. Oshino-Hakkai is a spring sourced from riverbed water from Mount Fuji. It features pure water that was sourced as a result of Mount Fuji’s snow water being filtered through underground lava for about twenty years. The transparent water, the shadows of fish swimming through the water weeds in the stream and the view of Mount Fuji comprise a superb landscape.

Lake Yamanaka, which is located east of Oshino-Hakkai, has the highest surface of all the Fuji Five Lakes and is also the largest in terms of the area of its surface. Lake Yamanaka is popular as a sacred place where visitors can enjoy Diamond Fuji: the spectacle of the sun shining on the top of Mt. Fuji at sunset. Diamond Fuji can also be enjoyed from other neighboring spots, but it can be observed from Lake Yamanaka for about four and a half months from fall to winter, and many people visit the lake during this time.

To the south of Lake Yamanaka, a range of volcanic land forms and volcanic output can be viewed. There is the Hakone area, which is known as “the Volcano Museum.” This area is rich in unique landscapes as a volcanic area and has numerous hot springs. A great variety of landscapes can be enjoyed there, including Lake Ashinoko, a dammed lake that was formed as a result of eruptions about 3,000 years ago, Ohwakudani, where fumarolic gas phenomena are still observed, and Sengokuhara, which is known for its marshes and beautiful Japanese pampas grass field. There are numerous golf courses throughout the Hakone area; art museums and museums are also concentrated in this area, and there are many opportunities for enjoying oneself.

A significant characteristic of Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park is the fact that people who visit the area can find their own enjoyment all year round.