The shibazakura aka pink moss, like the cherry blossoms (sakura), only bloom for a short period each year can be seen in several locations around Japan, though possibly no where quite as prominent as the Fuji Shibazakura festival near lake Motosuko with Mt Fuji as a backdrop. Even though the shibazakura sprouts for the better part of a month, if youre on either end of that window the display can be rather lacklustre. Unfortunately this was the case for us, we caught the tail end of the season, but on the plus side crowds were minimal.



Getting there:
A ticket to the event which includes entry and a round trip bus ticket can be purchased at Kawaguchiko station for around 2000Y (at one of the small outdoor booths closer to the road, not in the station itself. Keep an eye out for signage)
One or two buses leave each hour depending on the time of day (same with returns) with the first one around 8pm. Since the trip takes about an hour, it’s a good idea to get there as early as possible, especially if you’re going during the peak weeks. We noticed an influx of people around late morning.
More info: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6919.html
Stay up to date with festival news from the official site: http://www.shibazakura.jp/eng/access/

While the pink moss is the star of the show there are alot of other types of flowers in a variety of colours, shapes and sizes. The fields are vast and even with minimal coverage they are still quite beautiful.

To the rear of the area there are a couple raised viewing decks which would certainly come in handy when things get crowded.

The fields are surrounded by large forest trees which are a sight themselves.

Finally, what would a Japanese flower festival be without some delicious food? There is a sizeable food court area featuring rows of tents with themed meals and snacks alongside local staples like noodles and monster sized pork buns. Back towards the entrance there is also a small area selling souvenirs.

We found a few hours here was enough time to leisurely stroll around, have a bite to eat and spend some time trying to find the right people-less angle to get a good photo. Not an easy task even with sparse traffic.



Travel tip: The area is up in the mountains and the festival itself is in a large open area with no shelter, couple that with the time of year, a hoodie, rain jacket and pants is a must even if it’s a little warm when you leave Kawaguchiko (if that’s where you’re staying). Wind and rain (very heavy mist) can come out of nowhere unexpectedly.


Chuerito Pagoda – Arakurayama Sengen Park

Of all the classic photos of Japan, the Chuerito pagoda in Arakurayama Sengen park would easily be in the top five. Mostly known for THAT view its hard to resist the trek up the mountain if you’re staying in Kawaguchiko.

Getting there:
Train from Kawaguchiko station > change at Fujisan station > Shimoyoshida station, then its about 1km walk to the start of the park via small lanes and backyard rice paddies, just follow the signs. Grab a quick photo of the map at the station to help with reference along the way.  Oh and don’t be alarmed with the rolling thunder and screaming off in the distance, that’s just a few hundred people defying death over at Fuji Q Highland!

Travel tip: the walk up the mountain is via several steep flights of stairs or a winding access road (which doesn’t seem to be open to the public), there are also some bush walking tracks near the top so sturdy footwear is the way to go.

Photo tip: there are several vantage points along the route for photos – the gardens near the shrine, look out points along the way and of course the pagoda money shot. Ideally you’d want to go when the blossoms are blooming but as you can see the views can be just as nice off season.

Travel tip: there’s free wifi at the pagoda so you can hit the ‘gram even if you don’t have a local sim.

If you came up via the stairs, we recommend going down via the road for a change of pace and scenery (and a bit easier on the knees). Finally, remember to keep an eye on the time, the train services tend to thin out in the evening.

Next up, our last day in Kawaguchiko at Fuji-Q Highlands!

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