Back in 2016, travellers to Mt Fuji, or “Fujisan” as it’s known in Japanese, were given a luxurious new train to make the journey more memorable. Called the Fujisan View Express, the train was designed by Eiji Mitooka, an industrial designer who also worked on the Kyushu Shinkansen 800 series and Seven Stars in Kyushu, a luxury cruise train.
▼ The logo for the train makes it clear that the star on its journey is Mt Fuji.
With large windows and warm wood panelling throughout, the three-car train runs along the Fujikyuko line from Otsuki Station to Kawaguchiko Station via Fujisan Station, offering expansive views of Mt Fuji during the 26.6-kilometer journey, which takes roughly 45 minutes to complete. Travellers from Tokyo can take the limited express train from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki Station, arriving in about an hour, and that’s what our reporter Masanuki Sunakoma did during a recent visit to the area, from Otsuki Station to Fuji-Q Highland.
While all seats on the train are said to be comfortable and afford great views, Masanuki had heard that Car 1 was extra special. You do have to pay extra for it — 400 yen for the limited express fare, plus 900 yen for the special vehicle “first-class” fare — which, when combined with the 1,100-yen basic fare, brings the total to 2,400 yen.
Masanuki had been invited to review a hotel room at Fuji-Q Highland, and as part of the deal they covered the cost of the train tickets for him. He would’ve been happy to pay for the tickets, though, because they’re great value for what you get, and the train makes a fantastic first impression before you even step inside it.
▼ Look at that sleek and elegant body.
First impressions were excellent — the train looked gorgeous, with the Words “Fujisan View Express” and “Fujikyu Railway — The Railway Closest to Mt Fuji” sending a flutter of excitement through his body.
▼ Masanuki walked along the platform with other travellers, and made his way to Car 1.
▼ Stepping inside, Masanuki could immediately sense that this was a truly special vehicle.
This space looked more like a hotel lounge than a train carriage, with a warm and inviting wooden interior welcoming him in. The retro lighting and modern seats helped to create a classic atmosphere that gave off an air of luxury.
▼ Masanuki saw that this was his seat on the train.
As an end carriage, the window at the rear helped to add more light to the already well-lit space, and the setup just behind the driver’s cabin was so plush it looked like a cafe.
Taking his seat, Masanuki was pleased to find that this car offers a special drinks service, with one complimentary hot or cold beverage provided to passengers. You can choose your free drink from the menu (pictured below) and there’s also the option to order a variety of other drinks at extra charge.
The 45-minute journey is said to provide just the right amount of time to relax and sip on a drink while enjoying the view from your window, and Masanuki chose an iced coffee for the experience.
He’d purchased a dorayaki for 250 yen from Fujiyoshida’s famous Tokyo-ya Seika before getting on the train, so this was the perfect time to enjoy it with his coffee. The dough contained brown sugar, and the rich sweetness went well with coffee, providing a light and refreshing aftertaste.
▼ There’s something extra special about eating a sweet with Mt Fuji on it while riding a Mt Fuji train.
There are only five stops on the journey — Tsurubunkadaigakumae, Shimoyoshida, Mt Fuji, Fuji-Q Highland, and Kawaguchiko Station, the last of which is where people can transfer to a bus to take them up to the 5th Station on Mt Fuji.
With so few stops along the way, you get to really enjoy the view from the train window, especially as the train moves at a leisurely pace.
In Car 1, a dedicated attendant helpfully points out sites of interest that would otherwise pass you by, literally and figuratively, including the test line for a linear motor car (pictured below), which the train passes under.
That’s not the only benefit to travelling in Car 1, as passengers also get to stamp the back of the coasters with an onboard stamp to commemorate the experience…
▼ …and purchase commemorative goods as well.
Staff are also on hand to let you know when you’ll be passing by the best sites from which to view Mt Fuji.
This was helpful, as Masanuki was able to have his camera on hand to snap a photo at the right moment, although on that day, Mt Fuji was concealed by clouds.
There were many opportunities to view Mt Fuji — this is the Fujisan View Express, after all — and as he got closer, he was able to just glimpse the summit peering out through the cloud cover.
It was thrilling to see Mt Fuji from the luxury of the slow-moving train, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun, and after what seemed like mere minutes, Masanuki had arrived at his destination.
This was one train journey Masanuki never wanted to end.
Everything about the trip, from the luxury interior to the courteous hospitality and the view from the train window, was nothing short of spectacular, and Masanuki highly recommends it, especially if you can get a ticket in Car 1.
Related: Fujisan View Express
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