Watch the Sunrise over Mount Fuji at Hottarakashi Onsen

The hiking season for Mount Fuji may be over, but the cooler months are the perfect time to glimpse the snow-covered peak of Japan’s most iconic mountain. For a truly memorable short getaway from Tokyo, why not combine this experience with another iconic Japanese pastime: onsen!

Even though there are other options for glimpsing Mount Fuji whilst enjoying onsen, Hottarakashi is unique in providing the opportunity to watch the sunrise while you bathe, as most onsens don’t open until later in the day.

Hottarakashi Onsen is a scenic hot spring located less than two hours by train from Tokyo in Yamansashi prefecture.

If you’re travelling to Yamanashi from Tokyo by train, the ideal way to enjoy this experience is to stay overnight at a hotel in Yamanashi city or Isawaonsen. This will make it easy to request an early-morning taxi. It takes between 20-30 minutes to get a taxi from any hotel near Isawaonsen station or Yamanshishi station, and shouldn’t cost more than 2400yen one way.  As your ride takes you up the mountain, look out over the city and take in the night-lights! Yamanashi city is nestled in a wide basin surrounded by mountains, and the journey up the hill in the dark of the early morning delivers a special show of shimmering lights.

From the carpark, work your way along the winding dirt path up to the onsen entrance. Since Hottarakashi Onsen is known for its sunrise bathing, expect a quick-moving queue for the entry-ticket vending machine. It’s best to aim to arrive for opening time: google the time of sunrise for the day and get there an hour before.

Arriving with plenty of time before the sun finishes rising gives you the opportunity to watch the beautiful city lights fade as the new day breaks. It’s a pretty special experience — between moderating your body temperature from the hot water and taking in the stunning scenery of the city view with a backdrop of Mount Fuji, it’s hard not to have your breath taken away!

Once the sun has risen most people will start to leave. If you need to use a hair dryer it’s worth heading back to the change rooms straight away, or deciding to hang out for another 40 minutes or so as there will be a bit of a wait to use one! Regardless of when you decide to leave, the change rooms may be a bit tight. For more space you can head outside to the astroturfed area that overlooks the baths. There are more lockers/baskets out here for really busy times, but since you’ll be plenty warm from the onsen still, and the change rooms are hot and stuffy, it’s a nice alternative for getting dressed!

For the time being, all the baths at Hottarakashi Onsen are divided into men’s and women’s, but it looks like this is set to change in the future with the development of an additional mixed-gender bath underway. Also worth noting is that unlike many other onsens, Hottarakashi permits people with tattoos.

Afterwards, you can grab a traditional Japanese breakfast from a vendor just outside the onsen entrance. If there are no taxis waiting, a short walk down the mountain will bring you to Yamanashi Fuefukigawa Fruit Park. This fruit park is worth a walk-around itself, with plenty more amazing views overlooking Yamanashi basin and Mt Fuji, but head to the Fujiya Fruit Park Hotel to find a taxi back down the mountain.

As someone who usually avoids any onsen that sounds overly busy, I was relieved to find my experience at Hottarakashi well worth it despite the crowds. Yes, the onsen gets quite full but once you’re there, looking out over the city and mountains, you find a new sense of calm as everyone shares in this unique experience.


Address: 1669-18 Yatsubo, Yamanashi city, Yamanashi
Fee: 800yen
Opening hours: from 1 hour
BYO: towel, conditioner
Getting to Yamanashi: The fastest train route is the Chuo-line Limited Express from Shinjuku to Yamanashishi station for 3930yen (1hr25mins). Cheaper train options are available, taking around 2 hours.

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