Attractions in eastern Mt.Fuji area | Mt. Minobusan and Kuonji Temple
Mt. Fuji and the surroundings have well-developed resort towns offering various tourist attractions, from sightseeing, hiking, paddling, onsen spa, museums, to gardens, as well as climbing Mt Fuji. If you wish to explore the Mt. Fuji area and experience something traditional with a tranquil atmosphere, your choice will be the Kuonji temple in Mt.Minobusan.
Minobusan Kuonji, a significant temple nestled deep in the mountain
Located in the west end of the Mt.Fuji area, the Kuonji temple lies in the sacred mountain of Minobusan, has established by the holy priest Nichiren more than 700 years ago. Though the temple is far from Mt. Fuji rather than other popular resorts, such as the Five Lake Region, the Mt. Minobu area is lesser touristy and worth spending time in retreat.
Mt. Minobusan is reachable by bus served from Minobu Station on the JR Minobu-sen Line, known for the majestic view of Mt. Fuji. Photo enthusiasts go to enjoy the train ride and stop to take pictures of Mt. Fuji. The Minobu-sen Line also has the train station Fujinomiya where climbers take a bus heading to the Fuji 5th Station on Mt.Fuji.
The "sen" of Minobu-sen means Line in Japanese. Sen is added to avoid mixing up Minobu Station and Minobu Line.
Departing from Fuji Station, the local train on the Minobu-sen heads toward the north, the beginning of an about 75-min travel to Minobu Station. Arriving at Minobu Station, a 12-min bus ride takes you the foot of Mt. Minobusan. From the bus stop, you go left and walk along the narrow, old temple street for about 5 minutes, and then you will see a huge entrance gate “Sanmon.” This gate has been recognized as one of the three largest temple gates of Japan. Going through the gate and keep walking another few more minutes, you are now in front of a steep stairway “Bodaitei.”
With 287 stairs, 104m at hight, the Bodaitei stairway leads to the main buildings on the hill of Mt.Minobusan. They say that the person who goes the stairs and makes it to the top may attain Nirvana. The stairway is definitely one of the attractions that will give you a challenging experience. For people not wanting to try, there are also two different slopes beside the stairway. Both slopes are still steep, but it will talk you to the upper hill much easier. At the parking lot is even an elevator leading to the temple ground too.
Main hall on the upper hill
At the top of the stairway, you see temple buildings there, the main hall and five-story pagoda. The history of the Kuonji temple began in 1274 when the holly priest Nichiren entered the monastery. In Japan, there are many temples associated with Nichiren, and it has been said the Kuonji is the head temple. Being a significant temple of Nichiren Buddhism, Kuonji temple has many attractions. The one is ceiling paint of the dragon by Kayama Matazo in the main hall, and the 400-year-old weeping Sakura in front of the hall also attracts many tourists with its blooming flowers.
Mt.Minobusan has another temple building of Kuonji on the top where you can reach by ropeway or going up a walking trail there. The path leading to both the ropeway station and the walking trails is on the left side of the main hall.
A 7-min ropeway ride takes you to the viewing deck on the top of Mt. Minobu. On a sunny, clear day, you will see the Mt. Fuji beyond mountains up there. If you walk up the trail to the top, it will be a 1.30 or 2.3-hour hiking in the mountain. In the Kuonji temple area, there are Shukubo or temple lodges, allowing you to stay overnight to enjoy hiking. Even if you skip hiking, staying at Shukubo will still offer you special experience such as Buddhist cuisine and Japanese calligraphy to copy Buddhist sutra.
Mt. Fuji viewing on the Minobu train
For viewing the panorama of Mt. Fuji, it is suggested you take the train from Fuji Station (or Shizuoka) heading to the north. The best viewing points are between Fuji and Numakubo Station.
Hiking in Mt. Minobu
Mt. Minobu is a 1153ｍ-high mountain, has 2 hiking trails of East and West Routes. The East Route is for about a 1 hr 30 minutes hiking (one way), and the West one is about 3 hours. Try not to lose your way upper there as the routes are deep in the forest. Also, watch out for bears. It is better going up in a group while making noise and chatting.
Onsen Hot springs
Along the Minobu-sen Line, there is an old hot spring town Shimobe Onsen 下部温泉. The Shimobe Onsen Station is about 9 to 22-min from Minobu Station, depending on the train you take; express or a local one.
Shukubo Temple Lodges
Reservation is usually required to stay at Shukubo Temple Lodges.
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Shukubo Lodges in Minobusan area
Oeshiki Festival held on October 12th
The Oeshiki is a Buddhist memorial service on the anniversary of the holy priest Nichiren’s death. If you visit the temple on Oct. 12, you will have a chance to see the parade in the evening. One thing you should know that it gets crowded and it will be hard to find available accommodation around there without pre-booking.
From Tokyo (JR Tokyo Station) by train
If you are a visitor holding the JR Rail Pass, taking the Shinkansen Line (Bullet Train) is suggested.
From Tokyo Station, take the Shinkansen train and get off at Shizuoka Station (About 1hr ). From Shizuoka Sta, take Tokaido-honsen Line to get to Fuji Station 富士駅 (about 35 min). From Fuji Station, you can take a train on the Minobu Line. (About 55-min ride)
From Shizuoka Station, you can also take the express train “Tokkyu Wideview Fujikawa 特急ワイドビューふじかわ” to get to Minobu Station without changing trains. (About 1 hr 30 min ride)One thing to know is that this train is not served frequently.
From Tokyo (JR Shinjuku Sta.) by train
From Shinjuku Station, take the express train (Tokkyu Azusa) on the Chuo-honsen Line bound for Kofu Station 甲府駅 (About 1 hr 30 min.)
From Kofu, take Minobu Line (Minobu-sen) and get off at Minobu Station 身延駅. (About 55 min.)
From Minotu Station, it is a 12- min bus ride.
From Tokyo (JR Shinjuku) by bus
From Shinjuku Bus Terminal, take the express bus bound for Minobu/South Alps. Get off at Minobusan. (About 3 hr 30 min.) . The bus stop is about 5 minutes on foot from the Kuonji Temple Gate.
Yamanashi Kotsu 山梨交通株式会社
Minobusan Kuonji Temple 身延山久遠寺
Central Japan Railway Company (JR東海 )
Seach on "Minobu Line"
Mt. Fuji-Shizuoka Area Tourist Pass Mini
This ticket is available for foreign visitors.