Fuji Five Lakes, Chubu, Japan

Lake Locations:

Japan - Chubu -

Also known as:  Fujigoko, Lake Kawaguchi, Lake Motosu, Lake Saiko, Lake Shoji, Lake Yamanaka

Famous Mount Fuji and its five scenic lakes are the biggest tourist attractions in the Chuba Region of Japan. The five lakes ringing the northern slopes of Mount Fuji were created by ancient lava flows from the volcano’s historic eruptions. Lava dammed small rivers and even separated one large lake into three, creating the perfect scenic reflecting pools from which to view the majestic snow-covered peak. Known in Japan as Fujigoko, the five lakes add a wealth of serenity and recreational activities to the entire area, encouraging a booming tourism trade that dominates the local economy. Climbing Mount Fuji itself is a one-to-two-day affair, but one can easily enjoy a full week of activities when the lakes are included in vacation planning.

Dominating the island of Honshu, Mount Fuji towers 12,389 feet above sea level. The Fuji Five Lakes lie between 2,951 feet and 3,217 feet above sea level, and temperatures are cooler here during the hottest part of the summer season. The traditional Japanese love of natural beauty brings thousands of tourists to the area each summer to stroll the many trails, admire Mount Fuji across the serene surfaces of the lakes, fish, camp, cycle, windsurf, water ski and swim. An excellent public transportation system allows easy access to most of the lakes. Lake Motosu (or Motosu-ko as it is known locally) is the least developed and hardest to access by public transportation. Many visitors make the effort, as this is where the famous picture of Mount Fuji that graced the back of the old 5000 yen note was taken. That image is recognizable around the world, and tourists want to see it in person. Eight miles of shoreline frame Lake Motosu, Japan’s ninth-deepest lake at 459 feet. The lake’s water temperature never drops below 39 degrees, making it the only one of the five that does not freeze in winter. Several camping areas are located along the shore.

Other lakes in the group offer multiple hotels, public hot springs baths, restaurants and lovely gardens. Nearby Mount Tenjo offers a perfect vantage point for viewing both Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi (or Kawaguchiko) and offers the Kachi Kachi Ropeway as an easy way to reach the summit. Kawaguchiko is the middle lake of the five and has easy transportation access to the many hotels and tourist amenities near the eight-mile shoreline. The only island on any of the five lakes is at Lake Kawaguchiko; the view from Kawaguchiko-Ohashi Bridge is stunning. Locals offer boat tours to tourists. With spectacular views of Mount Fuji framed by cherry blossoms in spring or flaming red foliage in autumn, knowledgeable visitors often time their visits to take advantage of the colorful views. Early summer floral displays at Yagisaki Park and Oishi Park, the main sites of the Kawaguchiko Herb Festival, draw many visitors. Many cultural festivals are held here throughout the year, making Lake Kawaguchiko the best-known of the five lakes.

Lake Yamanaka is the easternmost lake of the Fuji Five Lakes and also the largest. Next to Lake Kawaguchiko, it is the most developed with small villages at both ends. At 3,217 ft above sea level, this is the highest in elevation of the five lakes and the third-highest lake in Japan. The lake attracts large numbers of young people who enjoy wakeboarding, water skiing, tennis and boating. Many school athletic clubs use the area as a training site because of the excellent amenities, including spas, campgrounds, restaurants and public hot springs baths found in the area. Hana-no-Miyako-Koen Flower Park is located about half a mile away. In winter fishermen try their luck fishing for wakasagi, also known as freshwater smelt.

Two smaller lakes round out the Fuji Five Lakes: Lake Shoji-or Shoji-ko and Lake Sai or Saiko. The two lakes and Motosu-ko are connected by underground water discharges, and the three maintain a common elevation of 2,951 feet. Saiko is less than a mile from Lake Kawaguchiko but little developed, likely because much of the shoreline is out of view of Mount Fuji. Sometimes dubbed ‘the lake of the maiden’, shadows cast by the mysterious ancient Aokigahara Jukai Forest along its western banks contribute to its deep blue color. The forest is popular for hiking, with several campgrounds along the 6.5-mile shoreline. Three nearby caves- Ice Cave, Wind Cave and Bat Cave- are easily accessed by tourists. The caves were long used as cold storage and ice storage but are mostly vacant now.

Lake Shoji or Shoji-ko is the smallest lake, with only a 1.5-mile shoreline. Shojiko has long been a tourist destination, and hotels were built here as early as the 1800s to accommodate visitors from all over the world. Remnants of past lava flows still jut above the water. Fishermen often fish from these rocks for herabuna, or crucian carp. Together, the five lakes, miles of trails, outdoor sports and spectacular scenery attract many visitors to the Fuji Five Lakes. And swimming across all five lakes is considered by extreme sports swimmers to be one of the must-do experiences in their careers. If these attractions weren’t enough to entice visitors, the many public hot springs facilities (onsens), lush botanical gardens, cultural festivals and traditional villages assure even more visitors to the area. And for those with children in tow, a major amusement park with several large roller coasters, including one of the world’s highest, enjoys a prime spot near the lakes and Mount Fuji.

Tour guides and professional assistance are available to those wishing to climb Mount Fuji or simply make the rounds of as many scenic spots and cultural locations as possible. Lodgings are available in the form of onsens and inns, hotels and guest cottages. There is plenty of camping available along the lakeshores, often with cabins for rent. No visit to Japan is complete without a visit to Mount Fuji. And the best way to enjoy the famous peak is to view it from the Fuji Five Lakes. Add this to your bucket list today-it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

*Few statistics are available for these lakes.

Things to do at Fuji Five Lakes

  • Vacation Rentals
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Swimming
  • Water Skiing
  • Wakeboarding
  • Tennis
  • Camping
  • Campground
  • Cabin Rentals
  • Hiking
  • Amusement Park

Fish species found at Fuji Five Lakes

  • Carp
  • Smelt

Fuji Five Lakes Photo Gallery

Fuji Five Lakes Statistics & Helpful Links

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Lake Type: Natural Freshwater Lake, Not Dammed

Minimum Elevation (Min Pond): 2,951 feet

Maximum Elevation (Max Pond): 3,217 feet

Maximum Depth: 459 feet

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Trophic State | LakeLubbers

Trophic State measures the level of algae and nutrients in a lake.

An oligotrophic lake is very clear (blue in color) and does not support much plant or fish life. A hyper-oligotrophic lake is the clearest of all lakes, and is nearly devoid of plants and fish.

A mesotrophic lake is slightly green and supports a moderate degree of plant and fish life. A lake's most desired trophic state is generally this mid-point - the mesotrophic state.

A eutrophic lake is somewhat murky and supports a large amount of plant and fish life. A hypereutrophic lake is clouded with algae, plant life, and fish life. A eutrophic or hyper-eutrophic lake can be difficult to navigate by boat - and is often an unpleasant place to swim.

The use of phosphorus-rich and nitrogen-rich fertilizer on lawns and golf courses surrounding a lake can cause it to become eutrophic or hypereutrophic.


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Catchment or Drainage Area | LakeLubbers

This is the surrounding area that drains into a lake, including land, rivers and their tributaries. This is also known as the lake's "catchment basin".

Small lakes at the highest peaks of mountains have small drainage areas. The world's oceans have the largest drainage areas.


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Lake-Area Population | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated number of people who live in a house with a view of a lake, plus those who self-describe the lake as their home, for example: "I live at Smith Mountain Lake."


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Water Residence Time | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated time that it takes for an amount of water equal to the entire volume of a lake to flow out of - or evaporate from - the lake.

Residence Time can be as short as a few days for fast-flowing small lakes, and can exceed 100 years for slow-flowing large lakes.


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Completion Year | LakeLubbers

This is the year that a reservoir was first filled to the reservoir's normal elevation - or the year that a natural lake was first dammed. A large reservoir can take more than a year to fill after its dam is first closed.

The Grand Anicut in southern India is generally considered the world's oldest dam that still operates. Grand Anicut was constructed in the second century BC. It now impounds an irrigation network that includes roughly one million acres.

You can find many of the the world's newest reservoirs on LakeLubbers. Many of the world's oldest reservoirs appear on the last page of that list.


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Water Volume | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated volume of water that a lake contains -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. By this measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal.

You can find many of the the world's largest lakes (by water volume) on LakeLubbers.

Water Volume can be measured in acre-feet, in cubic miles, or in cubic kilometers. One acre-foot is the amount of water needed to cover one acre (43,560 square feet) to a depth of one foot. One cubic mile equals 3,379,200 acre-feet. One cubic kilometer equals 810,713 acre-feet.

1 acre-foot is equal to 325,851 US gallons. Siberia's Lake Baikal contains about 6,276,367,740,000,000 gallons of freshwater - nearly 1 million gallons for every living person on earth.

The other - and more widely used - measure of a lake's size is the lake's surface acreage. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is North America's Lake Superior.


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Maximum Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated greatest depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. The world's deepest lake is Siberia's Lake Baikal; that lake's maximum depth is estimated at 5,314 feet.

You can find many of the the world's deepest lakes on LakeLubbers. If you select the last page of that list, you will find the (maximum depth of) the shallowest lakes in our database.


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Average Depth | LakeLubbers

This is the estimated average depth of the water in a lake -- measured at the lake's normal elevation. If the water volume and surface area of a lake are known, an estimate of the lake's average depth can be calculated:

Water volume ÷ Surface Area = Average Depth

Example: 1,000,000 acre-feet ÷ 20,000 acres = 50 feet average depth


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Maximum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's highest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can occur during flooding. A lake's highest possible maximum elevation is usually the top of the lake's dam or spillway.

At lakes that include residential development, government regulations usually forbid the construction of homes below a lake's maximum elevation.


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Minimum Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's lowest water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level, that can be reasonably expected to occur. Low lake levels can occur due to deliberate seasonal draw downs for irrigation or impending snow melt, reduced water inflows, drought and evaporation, residential or commercial water demands, and hydropower generation.

Some lakes' minimum and maximum elevations are virtually the same. Lakes that generate hydropower may vary by several feet - according to power demand. Lakes whose primary purpose is to prevent flooding can seasonally vary by 100 feet or more.

When some lakes reach their minimum elevation, their boat ramps may not be long enough to permit boat access - and boats docked on shallow parts of the lake may end up on dry ground. In those cases, kayakers and shore-based anglers may be among the few happy recreational users of the lake.


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Normal Elevation | LakeLubbers

This is a lake's normal water level, measured by the lake's surface distance above sea level. For a reservoir, this water level is also known as "full pond" or "full pool".

You can find many of the world's highest-elevated lakes on LakeLubbers. Lakes with the lowest elevations (known by LakeLubbers) are shown on the final page of that list.


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Shoreline Length | LakeLubbers

This is the length of the exterior shoreline around a lake - measured at the lake's normal elevation. The shoreline length can be considerably shorter or longer when lake water levels are lower or higher than normal.

A lake with many coves has a much longer shoreline than a lake of similar surface area that is nearly circular in shape.

When known, the shoreline miles that we report in our statistics include only the lake's exterior shoreline, and exclude the shorelines of islands located within a lake's boundaries. In lakes with many islands, those islands' combined shorelines may exceed a lake's exterior shoreline.

You can find many of the world's longest-shoreline lakes on Lakelubbers.


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Surface Area | LakeLubbers

This is the area (acreage, square kilometers, etc.) of the top surface area of a lake - measured at a lake's normal elevation. The surface area can be considerably smaller or larger when lake levels are lower or higher than normal. North America's Lake Superior is the world's largest freshwater lake by this measure.

The other measure of a lake's size is the lake's water volume. By that measure, the world's largest freshwater lake is Lake Baikal in Siberia.

You can find many of the world's largest lakes (acres) on Lakelubbers. There is no widely-accepted minimum surface area that defines a lake. What Lakelubbers describes as a lake, you might call a pond. The smallest lake that Lakelubbers currently includes is Hawaii's 2-acre Lake Waiau.


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Water Level Control | LakeLubbers

This is the organization that controls water releases or outflows from the lake or reservoir. In the USA, this is often the US Army Corps of Engineers, a power company, a municipal water system, an irrigation district, or a paper manufacturing company. In the case of private or gated lakes, a homeowners' association may be the lake's controlling authority.

Many lakes cross borders, including North America's Great Lakes. The control of such lakes and their coveted freshwater may be amicably shared - or hotly disputed.

"Water wars" continue at many lakes as growing populations and crop irrigation needs compete for the freshwater that lakes contain.


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Lake Type | LakeLubbers

There are 3 basic types of lakes that are currently included on LakeLubbers. 2 types may be dammed or not dammed, producing 5 classifications.

- A Reservoir is a man-made freshwater lake that is usually created by damming rivers.

- A Natural Freshwater Lake occurs naturally - often by glacial activity - and has a salinity of less than 30 parts per thousand. It may be dammed to produce electricity or for other reasons.

- A Natural Saltwater Lake occurs naturally and has a salinity of more than 30 parts per thousand (ppt). It may be dammed.

"Brackish" water may be categorized as freshwater or saltwater, depending on its salt content (salinity). Oligohaline water has less than 15 ppt of salt. Mesohaline water has 15-29 ppt. Polyhaline has 30-335 ppt.


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