Region
Chubu
Island
Honshu
Largest City
Kofu
Population
888,170

Lake Saiko

See Mount Fuji, explore a bat cave, and visit a thatched-roof village that rivals Shirakawa-go.

  • Lake Saiko Ice Festival 2020 Dates: Jan. 25 to Feb. 16
Saiko is one of the Fuji Five Lakes—bodies of water formed by ancient volcanic activity on Mount Fuji’s northern side in Yamanashi Prefecture. Past eruptions helped form lava caves and a beautiful, eerie forest off the lake’s western shore called Aokigahara. Although mired in unfortunate associations as a suicide spot, the forest also has a gorgeous nature trail.

Nenba and the Saiko Healing Village

Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nenba in Yamanashi, Japan

Get an awesome view of Mount Fuji at this “Healing Village.”

The Nenba district of the lake is home to Saiko Iyashi no Sato, a craft village with thatched-roof farmhouses. In this “Healing Village,” each house is devoted to a different craft, with workshops like soba-making available. In the winter, you can drink amazake (a sweet drink made from fermented rice) over a sunken hearth.

Although the sight of Mount Fuji and other mountains make a lovely backdrop, the village itself is all kinds of beautiful. It’s just a short walk to the westernmost tip of Lake Saiko, where you ‘ll have the best view of Fuji across the water. If you can’t make it to Shirakawa-go in central Gifu, which is a more popular tourist destination to see these traditional houses, Saiko Iyashi no Sato is the next best thing. 

Saiko Bat Cave and Jukai Nature Trail

Saiko Bat Cave near Saiko Lake in Japan.

Enter the bat cave.

The Saiko Bat Cave is the largest of three caves near Lake Saiko. Its low-ceilinged tunnels and floors formed by lava make it feel otherworldly. Continuous preservation efforts are underway to restore the cave’s bat colony, leaving it closed every year from Dec. 1 to March 19.

At the cave’s information center, visitors can arrange a guided nature tour of Aokigahara Jukai, the “Sea of Trees.” Additionally, across the parking lot is the entrance to the Jukai Nature Trail. The other two caves are on the opposite side of the forest.

Wind and ice caves

Narusawa Ice Cave in Yamanashi, Japan.

The Narusawa Ice Cave shrine.

Descending into Fugaku Wind Cave, you will move past a reservoir of illuminated ice. Icicles can be found all year long—even in summer! The cave was a natural refrigerator used to store eggs and silkworms during the Edo and Meiji periods.

Like its sister cave, the Narusawa Ice Cave was also a natural icebox. It features beautiful, narrow lava tunnels formed more than a century ago. It’s a tight squeeze, but you can walk the entire path (sideways).

Winter festival

Speaking of ice, the Lake Saiko Ice Festival is an option if you’re planning a visit in winter. From late January through mid-February at the Saiko Wild Bird Forest Park, visitors can marvel at ice sculptures and 10-meter-high frost-covered trees known as juhyou. 

The ice is illuminated at night and the festival coincides with weekend fireworks at nearby Lake Kawaguchiko.

Want more winter fun? Check out our list of the Top 10 Snow and Ice Festivals in Japan!

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Trivia

Other winter festivals in Japan

From breathtaking snow sculptures and fireworks displays to romantic candle-lit snow lantern paths, Japan’s winter festivals are unmissable.

More

How To Get There

Address

Japan, 〒401-0332 Yamanashi-ken, Minamitsuru-gun, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Saiko, 県道710号線

By train

From Tokyo, the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku will take you to Otsuki Station in about 70 minutes using the Limited Express. From Otsuki, ride the Fujikyu Railway line to Kawaguchiko Station.

By bus

The Saiko Sightseeing Bus (green line) is the easiest way to travel to Lake Saiko. From Kawaguchiko Station, it takes about 30 minutes. If you are visiting the area for more than one day, we recommend buying a two-day ticket.

 

Where To Stay

Sun Lake
  • Saiko 2204 401-0032
  • 8.7/10
  • 0.6 km
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PICA Fujisaiko
  • 2068-1 Saiko Minamitsuru-Gun Fujikawaguchiko Mac, Yamanashi 401-0332
  • 7.3/10
  • 0.9 km
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Shirakabaso Lake saiko
  • 11-11 Saikominami Minamitsuru-Gun Fujikawaguchiko Mac, Yamanashi 401-0334
  • 7.7/10
  • 1.2 km
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Kofukaku Kuwarubi
  • Saiko 1023 Minamitsuru-Gun Fujikawaguchiko Mac, Yamanashi 401-0332
  • 8.7/10
  • 1.2 km
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