Best things to do in Fujikyu / Mount Fuji / Lake Kawaguchiko with children


On our two previous trips to Japan, we ran out of time to actually get out to Lake Kawaguchiko and/or Hakone for even a day trip so when planning this time, it was a priority.

S had been desperate on both our last visits to go to Fuji-Q Highland theme parkJapan's most famous amusement park at the foot of Mount Fuji. When we found out it had a connecting Thomasland - Thomas the Tank engine theme park - it was a no brainer to head to Lake Kawaguchiko for at least an overnight.

Further research showed up that Lake Kawaguchiko celebrated Koyo, the autumn leaves festival, with nightly illuminations and markets so we decided to plan 2 nights, 2.5 days in the area.

For accommodation, we wanted something comfortable with easy access from the Highway Bus that was close to Fuji Q and local amenities. We chose Highland Resort Hotel & Spa which was a bit of a splurge but offered plenty of extras like direct early theme park admission, free access to the Fujiyama onsen and was one of the highway Bus stations.

View from our hall
We stayed in a family suite that was well appointed with separate bedroom and lounge area with televisiosn in each room - perfect for naptime and bedtime so we could still sit up and have a nightcap and watch local tv without disturbing the boys. It was on the fifth floor looked straight out to Mount Fuji and thanks to clear weather, we were greeted with the most spectacular scenery every morning, all day and afternoon.

The staff at the hotel were very helpful although spoke minimal english. It was a little hard to book through there website so I ended us phoning the hotel in Japan from Australia and arranging to send an email with our booking request and details. 

We didn't eat at the hotel, instead buying snacks and drinks from the Don Quixote supermarket across the road, eating at a delicious Japanese restaurant up the street a short walk and McDonalds for the boys just a little bit further up from the Japanese restaurant.

We pre-booked our Highway Bus tickets from Shinjuku leaving mid-morning. The trip was around 1.5 hours and C slept the whole way thankfully. We were able to bring snacks and meals onboard also so pack lunch and drinks. It was a nice drive with some beautiful scenery once clear of Tokyo, especially with the changing leaves. 

We arrived before check in at the hotel so dropped off our bags and caught a taxi to Sylvans Microbrewery and Restaurant. The restaurant had finished its official lunch serving but happily accommodated us at a table in the back glassed room looking out on the gardens. We ordered the best hot chips I've ever had and each tried a different specialty beer. I really enjoyed the Weizen fruity beer. We didn't have much time here as we had a booking for the afternoon but had we had longer, the boys would have enjoyed running in the gardens and even checking out Fuji Subaru land, a small theme play park where you can rent or take dogs.

After our snack and beers, we ordered a taxi via the front desk to take us to Ide Sake Brewery, a 300 year old family owned operation I stumbled across on Trip Advisor. We made the booking via email which was quick and simple and I cannot recommend this experience highly enough, even with children. It was just  so is excellent value as you get to sample 3 sakes and are provided a souvenir glass and Fuji postcards along with the tour. You are also invited to view the owner's home (outer) and beautiful 300+year old gardens which the boys loved and the owner encouraged them to explore.
Definitely get a taxi there and have the Japanese address to show the driver.

Once we finished at Ide Sake, we asked the owner to order us a taxi and set off back to the hotel. Once back at the hotel, we showered, rugged up for the cold and took a walk down the main street outside the hotel for something to eat. We dined at a beautiful Japanese restaurant not far from the hotel by foot with traditional seating and small private dining rooms. Beautiful food and reasonably priced. The boys at McDonalds just a little further up and enjoyed a play with local children on the indoor playground. After everyone was fed, we spent at least an hour browsing in Don Quixote and stocked up on drinks for us to try and treats/snacks for the boys.

We planned for the theme parks on our full day there and as Fuji Q Highlands is famous for rollercoasters, the plan was for me to take the boys to Thomasland for the morning while S got his fix. Of course nothing goes to plan and I was up from 4am vomiting and feeling like death. I was still determined to persevere with our day's plan though and we set off to the hotel's private entrance with our passes to the park via La Ville de Gaspard et Lisa, a super cute themed village with cafes, a carousel and small shops. 

Unfortunately the day was freezing and drizzly and the park was almost deserted which I expect was due to most of the rides being closed until the weather improved for safety reasons. I took the boys into Thomasland and they were so excited to look around. I wasn't feeling any better so we went and browsed the Thomas shop for a while which was warm and dry and I was able to sit for a bit and the boys could play with displays set up for that purpose. Once I felt up to it, we headed out into the park and went on a few rides, all very small tame Thomas rides but the boys loved them.  
I started feeling even worse if at all possible by now so we set off for the main park to find S. Thankfully we found him fairly quickly and I had him watch the boys as I was still vomiting but had nothing left to bring up (gross & TMI sorry). He took the boys on a few more Thomas rides while I sat in the cold trying to feel better. Once the boys had their fill I took them back up to the hotel for rest/naps and as the coasters were starting to open, S planned to spend the afternoon riding them. 
He met us back at the hotel late afternoon where thankfully I felt a little less deathly after a good nap thanks to C falling asleep for 3 hours and E being a total saint and sitting next to me on the bed watching TV quietly.

We had planned to visit Fujiyama onsen for the afternoon as it was also connected to the hotel via a long corridor. Best part for mums of boys? Its segregated bathing and while mums can still take young boys, I convinced S it was better/appropriate they go with him.
We had experienced traditional Japanese bathing before but I was still a little intimidated getting naked with strangers in a foreign country so I booked a full body 60 minute massage first and honestly, it was amazing. Firm but relaxing enough to send me almost off to sleep, it definitely helped me to feel better and ready to relax and bathe.
The female bathing offered indoor and outdoor bathing and it was beautiful to sit in the hot baths outside in the freezing cold watching the sky get dark. I spent about 90 minutes bathing before showering with all the provided amenities and met the boys back at the room so we could get a taxi to Lake Kawaguchiko and the autumn illuminations.

We arrived on dark and walked through the illuminations which were so beautiful. It was busy with tourists and locals alike, all stopping to take the best photo. Unfortunately due to the drizzly weather, by the time we had walked through the illuminations, the food stalls and markets had started to close up. We found a small area with an open fire, a makeshift bar and food stand so sat for a drink and S sampled some local food.
Once finished, we bought some fruit from a local growers stand for the boys (the biggest and absolute best pears we have ever had) and set about trying to find some transport back to the hotel amongst the rapidly disappearing crowds. We ended up walking 100m to a small bed and breakfast and asked the manager/owner if he could phone us a taxi. As is typical with Japanese hospitality, we received a warm welcome, an invitation in to sit and enjoy a refreshment. He even pulled some toys out for the boys while we waited.
Once the taxi came, we headed back to the hotel and bed after a very full day.

With the Highway Bus booked for 1pm, we wanted to make the most of our last day so caught a taxi early to downtown Lake Kawaguchiko and the Mount Kachi Kachi ropeway. Lucky we did as we were there 30 mins before opening and the line was already at a 30 minute wait with the line behind us rapidly filling - by the time we had been up and down, the line was easily a 90+ minute wait.
I actually managed to get in a bit of trouble while lining up... there was an amazing display of strawberries and bananas and pears and the boys hadn't had as much fresh fruit as they were used to since we arrived so I grabbed a punnet of strawbs, some bananas and pears to buy, handed over the money requested and got back to S and our place in line. S asked how much it had cost and when I told him, it registered to us both I had just spent about $70 on 4 bananas, a punnet of strawberries and 3 pears. I was so embarrassed but S took them back to the grower and requested a refund due to my conversion ignorance. Luckily the grower was very kind and accommodating.

Moving on, we bought the joint ropeway romance boat ticket.
We were crammed into the little gondolier like sardines - try to get to the sides of the car to at least see the view as in the middle, you won't see anything.
It was a quick ride to the top and once up there, you can see why its so popular. A magnificent 360deg view that takes in Mount Fuji and the Lake. We were lucky to have a crystal clear day so got to see the area at its very best.
There is a shrine to bunnies, a small refreshment and souvenir shops, restrooms and vending machines all available at the top. There is also a walk/hike you can do but with the boys and our limited time, we didn't do this.
We spent about 60-90 mins at the top looking around and having a snack before heading back down the mountain and over to the lake for our romance boat ride.
The departure point was opposite the ropeway entrance and maybe 150m to the left. We were lucky that there was a boat just leaving so jumped on that.
There was good seating and a mix of indoor and outdoor points so we sat outside the boys and enjoyed a relaxing cruise around the lake with views of Fuji and the Autumn leaves.
I definitely recommend this entire experience, it was beautiful and enjoyable for us all.

Once finished on the boat, we walked down the main street, bought a few souvenirs in the many tourist shops - Fuji apple kitkats anyone? We ate a light lunch from the local Family Mart - cheese chicken nuggets for the boys, fresh sushi for S and a pizza wrap for me all for under $10.

We caught a taxi back to the hotel, pickup up our bags from reception and went to wait at the bus station next door. To the boys absolute delight, the bus back to Shinjuku was the Thomas themed bus!
The trip back was an uneventful one where C slept again (winning) and we enjoyed the scenery all the way back to Shinjuku.

We loved this part of our trip and I would definitely recommend it with or without children. There is so much to do and see, so much we didn't have time for including Ice Caves and shrines. It was a great experience for the boys with a good mix of fun and sightseeing thanks to the theme park and onsen.

Side note: We usually use local transport, buses/metro/trains but we used a lot of taxis during this part of the trip as the area and attractions were quite spread out. It was definitely the most expensive option but the easiest with the boys for us.

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