Deep in the Caves of the Fuji Five Lakes
Inside and out, Mount Fuji lives up to the title of World Heritage Asset while providing visitors with a great range of beauty and exploring opportunities. Besides climbing it, flying around it, and enjoying its scenic views, there is also the chance to explore three of the 80 caves located at the foot of Mount Fuji. The Naruzawa Ice Cave, The Fugaku (Wind) Cave, and a lava cave along the Shojiguchi Trail. All of these are located inside the mysterious Aokigahara Forest and should not be missed.
The Naruzawa Ice Cave
This 153-meter long lava cave is probably the most popular cave in the area, especially during the hot summer months as the icicles that form inside all year round are as refreshing as they are interesting to look at. The walk through the chilly cave is a quick one taking only about 15 minutes, yet it is a fun one as the cave is built as a vertical spiral. Although the cave is open to both kids and adults, there’s still some care to be taken as the path gets quite narrow and the ground slippery. You’ll need a helmet which is provided as you pass the ticket gate, and possibly a light sweater as the temperature at the bottom of the cave can go down to 3°C.
The Fugaku (Wind) Cave
Several kilometres west of the Ice Cave, the Fugaku Cave follows closely in popularity and is another must-visit cave inside the Aokihagara Forest. The Wind Cave, as it is known in English, is longer than the Ice Cave at 201 meters long, and also less steep so the route is much easier to cover. To access the entrance of the cave, you’ll have to walk along a short forest trail under the shade of luscious trees which provide a more natural experience. Deep inside the cave, you’ll reach a section that was used during the Showa era as a refrigerator and get a glimpse of how people back then used to store silkworm eggs and spices. During the summer, the chilly lava walls of the Fugaku Cave also provide a refreshing escape from the heat.
The Fuji Wind Cave
On our list, the Fuji Wind Cave is the least visited of the caves but not for its lack of beauty. This mystical gift formed from past Mount Fuji eruptions is located along the Shojiguchi Trail leading to the Fuji-Subaru Line 5th Station and thus is in a hard-to-reach area of the forest. Anyone can reach the mouth of the cave on their own starting from Road 71 and following the trail for about 15 minutes. Up to this point it is easy to enjoy the natural beauty created by the tall trees and the peering sunlight but because the caves lack the safety infrastructure of the Ice and Wind Caves down the road, it is advisable to join a guided tour for discovering the inside of the cave. Country Lake Systems on the northern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko provides such a tour and will suit you up with all the necessary gear to make the experience safe and enjoyable.