Mt. Fuji, then, and now, and later.

Mt. Fuji Viewing Spots

Living in the cities of Japan, it’s sometimes easy to forget that roughly 80% of the entire landscape is mountainous. This is in fact, one of the reasons Tokyo and the surrounding areas are home to a staggering proportion of Japan’s population. The Kanto area around Tokyo is quite possibly the largest span of flat space available near the coast. Due to accessibility and geography, Tokyo, or Edo rather, became the capital of Japan upon the transition from the notorious civil warring period to the peaceful and cultural boom, or renaissance that was the Edo, or Tokugawa period

When we think of “Japan” we don’t really think of the strict aristocratic rule and peasants in loincloths of the middle ages, or the massive amount of bloodshed and political unrest of the 12th through 16th centuries. Rather, we like to think of 17th and 18th century Edo; quaint wooden houses lining busy streets filled with merchants, kimono-clad girls off to the theater, and of course, samurai warriors who proudly strut around town to maintain order. Mt. Fuji has the power to speak of this classical Japanese appeal.

Despite the flatness and livability of the Kanto area, Mt. Fuji can be seen to the west towering over Japan’s commercial and political center, marking the beginning of a long journey west, should one wish to take it. It reminds the Kanto that it is lucky to have been granted a haven from the harsh, mountainous life of most of Japan, and also that even with the passing of ages, this mountain is here to stay.

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Mt. Fuji has had, and always will have, a mysterious intrigue about it; one that offers an inspirational symbol of power and protection, one that beckons adventure, and for many, a reminder that our problems in life are temporal and small in comparison.
Whatever the reason may be, the Kanto region has long idolized this mountain, and any visitor to Japan who sees Fuji for the first time will come to feel the same way.

So where are the places to see Mt. Fuji around Tokyo? 

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One way that most visitors to Japan see Mt. Fuji for the first time is on the bullet train west from Tokyo. Many go to Kyoto or further, and upon coming around the coast of the Kanto about 40 minutes out of Tokyo, you are greeted with a full frontal view of Fuji on a clear day. 

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The Tocho Building in Shinjuku (the two buildings side by side and the same height) provides a very convenient (and free!) place to view Mt. Fuji. There are many other look out points in Tokyo, like Tokyo Tower, and the recently finished Sky Tree, but the Tocho Building is free and located near the main shopping districts. Definitely worth a look!

At a time, Mt. Fuji could be seen from nearly anywhere in Tokyo on a clear day. However, in recent decades, the visibility of Fuji is losing out to the expansion of skyscrapers. In fact, there are only a few, and often unknown places where Mt. Fuji can be seen from the street level in the thicket of Tokyo…

mt fuji, sasazuka, tokyo, deep japan

 

This viewing spot near central Tokyo is thankfully not going anywhere for some time. This is from Sasazuka, near Shinjuku, where Mt. Fuji overlooks the westward-running Keio train line. The buildings encroach on the sides, but the forward facing Fuji commands presence…as long as trains are the primary form of transportation that is.

Of course, atop any tall office building in central Tokyo, Fuji can be seen on a clear day, but it’s not exactly the same as taking a stroll looking upward and having Fuji wave back at you. I guess this is Fuji’s way of telling us we need to step out of our urban haven from time to time.

mt fuji, tama, deep japan, tokyo

  

The Tama-River along the south-west border of Tokyo reveals Fuji in the distance, and is often a nice surprise if the weather is clear. This area is technically outside of the thicket of Tokyo (the 23 wards), so it’s not too uncommon to be able to see Fuji walking along the river. And to be honest it’s really only about a 20 minute train ride from central.

One could make a very interesting hobby of finding different secret spots and angles to take in the view of Fuji. Going to see Fuji sometimes takes a bit of effort, and can be similarly rewarding to actually climbing a mountain.