Enchantments of the Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko Region
Lake Shojiko is one of the Fujigoko (Fuji Five Lakes) that are constitutive parts of the UNESCO’s World Heritage Site “Fujisan.” Because the Mt. Fuji viewed from here seems to be embracing Mt. Omuro from behind, it is called “Kodaki Fuji” (Mt. Fuji embracing a child). The view has been very popular, attracting many visitors. As some of you might have already known, Lake Shojiko is also known as the site where the first hotel for foreigners was opened in the Fuji Five Lake region. A “historical” anecdote is still in circulation: While visiting the United Kingdom in his official visit to the country as Japanese Crown Prince, the Showa Emperor was asked by Englishmen about Lake Shojiko.
Because elements of yet unspoiled nature are still preserved in the surrounding areas, this is also an ideal place for enjoying hiking and camping. There exist naturally a great number of good Mt. Fuji-viewing spots throughout the area: In particular, Mt. Fuji viewed from the top of Mt. Panorama-dai is truly breathtaking!
Rent-a-cycle is available at Motosuko Kanko Annaijo (Motosuko Tourist Information Center)
Besides being the deepest and the most transparent lake among the Fujigoko (Fuji Five Lakes), Lake Motosuko is also known in association with the image of the Mt. Fuji printed on the 1,000-yen bill.
Mt. Ryugatake nearby is easily scalable from the lakeshore; it is famous for viewing “Diamond Fuji,” the New Year’s sun rising up from the summit of Mt. Fuji.
Thanks to its outstanding transparency and depth (122 m, or 400 feet), you can enjoy not only the usual water sports such as canoeing and wind surfing, but also still relatively hard-to-find fresh-water scuba diving.
Lake Motosuko’s sightseeing boat, Mogrun is equipped with an underwater-viewing window at the bottom so that you could enjoy viewing underwater scenery – as if riding in a submarine – as well as the views of Mt. Fuji over the water.
Also, bicycles are available for renting at the Blue-Line’s terminal, Motosuko Tourist Information Center. Why not go touring around the lake by bicycle?
Mt. Fuji Viewing Spots
Tatego-hama Beach on Lake Shojiko
With Mt. Omuro in front, Mt. Fuji appears to be a parent embracing a child; because of this the Mt. Fuji viewed from here is called Kodaki-Fuji (Mt. Fuji embracing a child).
Access: Right in front of the Blue-Line bus stop, “Kodaki-Fuji View Point.”
Viewing Spots for the Mt. Fuji printed on the 1,000-yen bill
The scenery of Mt. Fuji and lakes shown on the rear side of the current 1,000-yen bill is in fact a view from Lake Motosuko. It is designed based upon a photograph taken by photographer Koyo Okada (1895-1972). Prior to the design change that took place in 2004, the same scenery was printed on the 5,000-yen bill.
Access: 20 min by bicycle or 60 min walk from the Blue-Line bus terminal, Motosuko Tourist Information Center
Lake Motosuko Sightseeing Boat, Mogrun
The boat looks like a submarine, but since it does not submerge, it is named Moguran (“would not dive” in Japanese). It is equipped with an underwater-viewing window at the bottom, and also with a periscope. On board, the passengers can observe the movements of fish such as rainbow trout, himemasu (kokanee or land-locked sockeye salmon), and ugui (Japanese dace).
In operation every weekend (Sat & Sun) and national holidays from end of March till end of November; in operation every day during the Shibazakura (moss phlox) Flower Festival (from mid-April to late May); and the summer vacation period (from July 16 to August 31). Boat leaves every 40 minutes from 9:30 to 16:10.
5 min walk from Blue-Line bus stop Lake Motosuko
Onnazaka-toge (Onnazaka Pass), Mt. Sanpobunzan, Mt. Panorama-dai Route
This is a hiking route rich in good viewing spots of Mt. Fuji, Lake Shojiko, Aokigahara Jukai (ocean of trees). Two highly recommended view spots are Mt. Sanpobunzan and Mt. Panorama-dai. About 5 hours hike: Shoji bus stop -> Onnazaka Pass -> Mt. Sanpobunzan -> Mt. Shoji -> Shoji Pass -> Mt. Panorama-dai -> Nekko-toge (Nekko Pass) -> Panorama-Observatory-shita (Below Panorama-dai) bus stop.
Access: Trailhead at the Blue-Line bus stop Shoji; at the end of hiking catch a return bus either at the bus stop Panorama-Observatory-shita or Kodaki-Fuji View Point.
This is the spot to view the famous “Diamond Fuji,” the sun rising up from the summit of Mt. Fuji at the end and the beginning of the year. On New Year’s Day morning in particular, there is a big crowd gathering here eagerly waiting for the very first “Diamond Fuji” sunrise of the year (hatsuhinode) coming up from the top of Mt. Fuji.
The hiking (round trip) takes about 4 hours: Lake Motosuko Camping Ground Entrance -> Mt. Ryugatake trailhead -> Stone Buddhist statues -> Mt. Ryugatake summit -> Mt. Ryugatake lakeside trailhead -> Lake Motosuko Camping Ground.
Access: From the Blue-Line Lake Motosuko bus stop, 20 min hike to the Mt. Ryugatake trailhead.
Recreational activities at the Lake
Herabuna (Japanese crucian carp) Fishing (at Lake Shojiko)
At Lake Shojiko, throughout the year you can enjoy fishing for several different kinds of fish such as herabuna (Japanese crucian carp), black bass, and wakasagi (Japanese smelt); the lake is particularly famous for herabuna fishing. The fishing season opens from March 1 to November 30 for herabuna, and November 1 to March 31 for wakasagi. Fishing license fee is 600 yen per day (300 yen for women and junior-high-school students). Fishing boat operation hours vary according to the season.
Access: near Blue-Line bus stops such as Shoji, Kodaki-Fuji viewpoint, Panorama-Observatory-shita.
For further information, call Shojiko Gyogyo Kyodokumiai (Lake Shojiko Fishing Cooperative): 0555-87-2426.
Himemasu (Kokanee, or land-locked sockeye salmon) Fishing (at Lake Motosu)
In Lake Motosuko, rainbow trout fishing can be enjoyed throughout the year. On the other hand, due to the fact it is the southernmost fishing site for himemasu (kokanee), an expensive fish appreciated in high-end cuisine, it is known as important kokanee fishing waters.
Fishing license fee: 1,000 yen per day (500 yen for junior-high-school students and persons with disabilities). Boat usage fee is 2,500 yen. Additionally, a 3,150 yen (half amount for junior-high-school students) lake-admission charge must be paid for himemasu fishing. The himemasu fishing season opens twice a year, from March 25 to April 25, and from October 25 to November 25.
Access: Off Blue-Line bus stop Lake Motosuko or Motosuko Tourist Information Center.
For further information, call Motosuko Gyogyo Kyodokumiai (Lake Motosu Fishing Cooperative): 0555-87-2032
Freshwater Scuba Diving
Lake Motosuko boasts the highest transparency among the Fujigoko (Fuji Five Lakes). Together with the fact that the usage of motorized water vehicles is restricted there, the lake provides a great environment for divers to maximize the experience and pleasure of diving. It is also one of the most notable sites in Japan for altitude diving. Thanks to the diving shops operating there, not only the services for trial or fun dives, but also easy-to-learn lessons to acquire the techniques of altitude diving are also available. Diving gear can also be rented at the diving shop located on the lakeshore. Make sure about the availability beforehand at the shop.
In the Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko areas, there exist a great number of interesting roads and trails for enjoyable walking: fascinating ancient roads where centuries of history linger, or nature trails going through virgin forests of Aokigahara, and so on. To fully enjoy these areas rich in natural wonders, walking is one of the best methods! While walking, you will certainly encounter, every now and then, chirpings of little birds and the winds gently caressing your cheeks – relaxing and soothing moments of bliss indeed!
Recommended route: Tokai Nature Trail—Lake Shojiko Nature Observation Trail (Shima no Yuhodo)
Access: Motosuko Tourist Information Center bus stop -> Kitanoyama bus stop/Shiroyama trailhead (1 hr 30 min walk on Tokai Nature Trail) -> Shojiko Minshuku-mura -> (60 min walk on Shojiko Nature Observation Trail) -> Akaike bus stop (to catch a return bus)
The Nakamichi-okan, one of the main traveling routes linking the Province of Kai (present-day Yamanashi Prefecture) to the Province of Suruga (present-day Shizuoka Prefecture) went through the Shoji and Motosu areas.
In particular, the Motosu section is rich in historical sites such as a fortress and sekisho (checking station) remains, and stone walls, because of its strategic location adjacent to the border with the Province of Suruga.
Why don’t you walk along the ancient foot-travelers’ highway to indulge yourself in time slipping reveries? The sense and feel of by-gone times are still lingering around old Shinto shrines, historical remains, and along the rows of old traditional-style houses you come across on the way.
Major Historic Sites & Points of Interest
- Stone Walls (Motosu)
- Made of piled-up stones, these walls were supposedly built as defensive barriers guarding the mountaintop fortress of Motosu (Shiroyama).
- Hamlet of Imura and Shoji’s Big Cedar Tree (Shoji)
- Imura is perhaps the best section in the area to see the rows of old traditional-style houses that still retain their original forms, lining along the old highway.
List of Historical Sites in the Shoji and Motosu Areas
|Site Name||Area||Brief Description||Map|
|Suwa Jinja Shrine||Shoji||Enshrines ancestral gods of the Shoji section. Shoji’s Big Cedar Tree standing within the shrine grounds is designated as a natural monument of Japan. Suwa Jinja Shrine’s Big Cedar Tree is designated as a natural monument of Fujikawaguchiko town. The shrine buildings are designated as tangible cultural properties by the town.||map|
|Ryusenji Temple||Shoji||A Soto sect Zen temple, located at Imura. Hondo (main hall ) and Kori (priests’ residential quarters) are designated as tangible cultural properties by the town.||map|
|Motosu Stone Walls||Motosu||Defensive walls said to be constructed during the 15th-16th centuries in order to guard the mountaintop fortress of Motosu against enemy attack.||map|
|Burial Place of Watanabe Hitoyanosuke||Motosu||Buried here is Hitoyanosuke Watanabe, a warrior who served the Takeda clan during the 15th-16th centuries; he was in charge of guarding the border between the provinces of Kai and Suruga.||map|
|Mountaintop Fortress (Shiroyama) of Motosu||Motosu||Remains of a mountaintop fortress, built and managed by Takeda Shingen and his son Katsuyori during the 16th century. Sitting right on the Kai-Suruga border, it guarded the border against enemy attack.||map|
|Yama Jinja Shrine||Motosu||Emblematic of the depths of history in the Motosu section, the shrine is an integral part of Motosu’s historic landscape.Honden (main building) and Hokyointo are designated as a tangible cultural asset of Fujikawaguchiko town.Emblematic of the depths of history in the Motosu section, the shrine is an integral part of Motosu’s historic landscape.||map|
|Goganji Temple||Motosu||During the time of the Takeda clan’s reign, it was built for the purpose of defending the Kai-Suruga border by way of stockpiling arms inside and using its buildings as warriors’ barracks.||map|
|Motosu History Museum||Motosu||The 2nd floor of Motosuko Tourist Information Center accommodates Motosu History Museum, where visitors are invited to learn about the history of Motosu.||map|
The Lake Shojiko and Lake Motosuko areas are home to local dishes that are not available in other areas, such as venison curry and Shoji-gayu. They are sure to satisfy you, who are starving after all the hiking and walking!
Restaurants having shoji-gayu and venison curry on their menus
Lake Shojiko (venison curry & shoji-gayu)
|Restaurant New Akaike||0555-87-2351||map|
The time you pass in an inn in the middle of grand nature lets you forget the hustle and bustle of everyday life and invites you to relish a peaceful and relaxing time.
Number of hotels & Japanese-style inns (ryokan): 6
Number of "pensions" (Western-style family-run accommodations) and minshuku (Japanese-style family-run accommodations): 13
Shojiko-kanko-kyokai (Lake Shojiko Tourism Association)