In April 2019, I went from Tokyo to Fujiyoshida.
Shimoyoshida station in Fujiyoshida is the train station you’ll get off at if you’re going to the Chureito Pagoda by train.
There are a few different ways that you can make this journey, and Google Maps is a relatively reliable way to figure out your options, at least by train.
I actually did first try to see if I could get a bus from Tokyo to Fujiyoshida, so I first went to the Shinjuku bus terminal which is located pretty close to the Shinjuku train station.
It is possible to book bus tickets in advance, but I’m generally not a fan of booking anything in case plans change and so I don’t need to be committed to being in a certain place at a certain time. 😉
So knowing that I could take the train if the bus wasn’t an option, I went over to the bus terminal to see if a bus to Fujiyoshida was available.
Well… no, there really wasn’t.
I was traveling during busy season, and bus tickets for the next several departing buses were sold out. I was there in the morning and was told the next available bus was at 4:30pm or something. (The sign actually said the next available bus was at 1:30pm I think, so things can change quickly!)
But, no problem!
Because the train is a relatively reliable alternative even without much planning in advance!
Going by train means that a train transfer is necessary.
It’s not like the 2 train routes have train timings that are SUPER frequent, but there are enough trains on both of the train routes to make it reliable enough.
Just to give you an idea of how long this journey takes…
Here are the train timings for my Tokyo to Chureito Pagoda train journey:
- 11:30am – Train from Shinjuku to Otsuki (JR Azusa limited express train)
- 12:30pm – Arrive at Otsuki train station
- 1:13pm – Train from Otsuki to Shimoyoshida (Fujikyu commuter train)
- 2:03pm – Arrive at Shimoyoshida train station
So from start to finish, it took me around 2.5 hours to go by train from Tokyo to the train station near the Chureito Pagoda.
The train station closest to the Chureito Pagoda is about a 5-10 minute walk to the base of the stairs. And then from the stairs you’ll continue to make your way to the Chureito Pagoda… and then further up for the observation platform to see the super famous view of the Chureito Pagoda with Mount Fuji in the background.
You can see cherry blossoms in Tokyo, cherry blossoms in Kyoto, and cherry blossoms in Osaka generally at the end of March or early April. If you miss them there, you might still be able to catch them at the Chureito Pagoda since they bloom just a little later around here!
So here’s one way to get from Tokyo to the Chureito Pagoda by train:
- Go to Shinjuku station in Tokyo
- Swipe through the ticket gate with your suica card (or another IC card)
- Check the sign to know which platform is for the JR Azusa limited express train
- Once at the platform, buy a “limited express” ticket (there is an added fare for this train)
- Get on the train that has a destination of Matsumoto (Not all Azusa trains will go to the train station you need to go to)
- Get off the train at Otsuki for a train transfer (you don’t need to exit the station)
- Get on the Fuji commuter train (no extra ticket needed)
- Get off the train at Shimoyoshida station
- Swipe out with your suica card
- Look for the walking path to Chureito Pagoda located right outside the station
- Walk to the Chureito Pagoda
- See the Chureito Pagoda with Mount Fuji views!!
- Shinjuku to Otsuki train
- Otsuki to Shimoyoshida train
- Walk to Chureito Pagoda from Shimoyoshida train station!
If this sounds complicated, you can also consult Google Maps for directions about which trains to take which can make it seem a bit more simple.
Again, Google Maps might give you other options too.
How much does the train cost?
The way I did this cost around 3,300 yen (US$30):
- Tokyo to Fujiyoshida train fare – 2,277 yen (US$20)
- Tokyo to Otsuki train JR Azusa limited express added fare – 1,000 yen (US$10)
There does seem to be a “local” train you can take from Shinjuku to Otsuki, and you can expect that to be cheaper (and to take longer). Google Maps can tell you about that option. (Yes, Google Maps can be amazing for traveling in Japan.)
Here’s a bit of the visual of the steps on how to get to Chureito Pagoda from Tokyo
Go to the JR Shinjuku station
Swipe through the ticket gate with your suica card (or another IC card)
If you’ll be in Tokyo for any number of days, getting a suica card will be highly convenient.
It will allow you to pass through ticket gates with ease, and allow you to avoid having to buy individual train tickets or subway tickets each time you want to take public transportation.
It’s basically a cash card.
If you’ll be flying into Tokyo’s Haneda airport, see how to buy a suica card at the airport. (Although you can basically buy it in a similar way at most train stations in Tokyo!)
Check the sign to know which platform is for the JR Azusa limited express train to Matsumoto
You won’t be going all the way to Matsumoto, but that’s the final destination of the train.
You want to get off at Otsuki.
Not all JR Azusa trains make a stop at Otsuki, so this is something you can consult with Google Maps (check the train timing suggestion it gives).
There may also be train station staff on the platform level that you can ask, as this is a special train and they seem to be there to help tourists. (Such people are usually not around on normal trains.)
And then just follow the signs for the platform number that’s listed! (So in this case, it says 9, 10.)
And once you are down on the platform level, you can once again confirm that you are at the right spot.
Once at the platform, buy a “limited express” ticket
Basically, your IC card (like a suica card) allows you to get through the ticket gate, and you’ll pay the normal “base” fare for the train ticket.
But this JR Azusa limited express train is a “special” train, meaning it’s not enough to pay for the regular fare, if you want a guaranteed seat.
All seats on the JR Azusa are reserved.
And if you’re traveling with a suica card, I think the easiest thing to do is swipe through to get through the ticket gate, and then buy the “add-on fare” once at the platform.
And this is also the area you may find the train station worker.
So you can ask here to make sure the train goes to Otsuki, and they can also help you in buying the add-on fare.
You will basically just follow the prompts.
There’s an English button that you can select.
You can specifically select your seat including car number, or you can just indicate whether you want a window or aisle seat, or just have the specific seat completely selected for you.
I asked if it’s possible to see Mt Fuji on this train, and I was told to select a D seat.
I never did see Mt Fuji from the train (maybe it was a bit hazy or I just missed it?) but if you want a chance, maybe you’ll want to go for seat D!
And then pay!
And out comes your ticket!
Can you get on the train without paying the extra fare?
You CAN board the train without reserving a seat, and you wouldn’t be breaking any rules in doing so.
But that does come with the risk of not being able to get a seat.
I didn’t reserve a seat on the way back to Tokyo.
If you don’t have a seat reservation, basically you can take any seat that’s not occupied.
And actually, on the JR Azusa, it’s easy to tell which seats are reserved or not!
There’s a little light above every seat…
And if it’s RED that means that the seat is NOT reserved at the moment. (It could however become reserved during the train ride, so you’ll just have to keep an eye on it.)
Yellow means that someone has a seat reserved who will be boarding at an upcoming station.
Green means it’s a reserved seat, and you will likely see someone in that seat.
If you forget what the different colors mean once you’re on the train, you can look at the back of any seat, and the instructions are written there.
I think there was also an announcement in English about this.
Get on the JR Azusa train!
Okay, so once you’ve bought your limited express train ticket, you can get on the train when the time comes!
The regular reserved seats…
The green car seats… (a step above regular seating)
There’s also a place you can store luggage on this train.
And there’s also a drinks and snacks cart that you might see come around.
And there’s also an outlet on this train for anything you want to charge.
Arrive at Otsuki train station for a train transfer
Once you arrive at the Otsuki train station, there will be lots of obvious signs directing you where to go.
You can just follow these signs for Kawaguchiko and the Fujikyu railway.
You won’t need to exit the train station.
At the time I did this…
There were TONS of people.
It felt so chaotic!
But it seems that most of these people were getting on a different train (the Fujisan express train to Kawaguchiko)… and while sometimes following the crowd works, if you find yourself in a similar situation, don’t necessarily follow the crowd!
Since you will be taking the Fujikyu commuter train to Fujiyoshida (Shimoyoshida station), it’s not necessary for you to buy another ticket here at the Otsuki train station, which it seems most people were doing since they were getting on the special train.
Fujisan limited express train to Kawaguchiko. This is NOT the train you’ll be taking to get to Shimoyoshida station.
Instead, you can look at the train timing sign and look for the local train, the Fujikyu commuter train.
And you’ll see what platform that train will depart from.
It will come up in English too.
Get on the Fuji commuter train
Arrive in Fujiyoshida at Shimoyoshida train station
Swipe out with your suica card
And this is basically when you’ll pay the train ticket fare from Tokyo to Fujiyoshida (Shinjuku to Shimoyoshida).
Then once you’ve exited the Shimoyoshida train station…
Look for the walking path to Chureito Pagoda located to the right when coming out of the station.
Walk to the Chureito Pagoda!
Mt Fuji views you might see along the way!
The spectacular views of Mt Fuji at the Chureito Pagoda requires STAIRS! Well, there’s a paved road you can take too, but that’s still uphill!
See the Chureito Pagoda with Mount Fuji views!!
HAPPY TOKYO TO CHUREITO PAGODA TRAIN RIDE!