Fuji Shibazakura Festival

8:00am – 4:00pm
¥1,000 – ¥1,300

Japan is an anthophile’s dream: chrysanthemums, camellias, wisteria, and the mighty cherry blossom abound, and it seems that every region and city has a gorgeous formal garden landscaped to showcase the bloom of the moment. In Yamanashi Prefecture, the star is shibazakura — or moss phlox. The annual Fuji Shibazakura Festival — or “Fuji flower festival” — is all about this beauty.

What is shibazakura?

Moss phlox is a small groundcover native to the United States. Its Japanese name, shibazakura, roughly translates to “lawn-cherry”, and that’s the secret to its popularity in the archipelago: the low-growing shrub comes in a dozen or more shades of pink, and when it is in full bloom it creates vistas of pink blossoms that rival the splendor of sakura.

What happens at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival

The Fuji Shibazakura Festival takes place at Fuji Motosuko Resort, near the base of Mt. Fuji (hence the name). With 800,000 lawn-cherry plants packed into a compact 2.4 hectares, the festival promises spectacular views of a number of varietals of phlox subulata, set around a small lake (that, according to legend, is home to a tamed dragon), against the backdrop of Japan’s most famous landmark (Mt. Fuji, obviously).

Whether you’ll be able to see Mt. Fuji depends on the weather; the day we went, he was hiding behind thick clouds.

Also read: Things to do around Kawaguchiko Station.

A carpet of pink at the Fuji flower festival in May
Photo by Carey Finn

How much time do I need?

The venue isn’t huge, but the scenery is very pretty, so you won’t want to rush around. Allow yourself around two hours to enjoy it properly — that should give you time to have a bite to eat, and use the restrooms, too.

Can I picnic there?

Sadly, no tarps are allowed. You can’t enter the flower fields at all; you’re restricted to the paths that run along the edges. However, there are small picnic tables and food trucks on-site, as well as a small café with indoor and terrace seating.

Food trucks at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival 2024
Photo by Carey Finn

The food trucks sell simple street food, including noodles, curly potato fries, Mt. Fuji coffee, and more. The café is a slightly more formal affair, offering Japanese curry and rice, salads, sandwiches and the like. Expect queues for everything — we waited upwards of an hour to get a seat at the café! Budget around ¥2,500 for the café, and ¥1,500 if you’re snacking from the food trucks.

How much does the Fuji Shibazakura Festival cost?

Entry prices fluctuate throughout the event, depending on the extent of the bloom, and cost between ¥1,000 and ¥1,300 for adults. Under 3s go for free.

However, that’s just the entry fee. If you’re planning to do the Fuji flower festival as a day trip from Tokyo, you’re looking at close to ¥10,000 in total costs. Here’s a breakdown of what we paid (for one person) when we went in May, 2024:

  • One-way train fare from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station: ¥3,530. The direct Fuji Excursion train was sold out, so we took the Kaiji Limited Express to Otsuki, and then transferred to a local train on the Fujikyu Railway.
  • Round-trip bus fare from Kawaguchiko Station to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival venue: ¥2,500. We took the Shibazakura Liner, and our ticket included entrance to the festival.
  • Lunch at the festival: ¥2,700. We ordered a meal and coffee at the on-site café. You can eat more cheaply by buying light foods from the trucks.
  • One-way train fare from Kawaguchiko Station to Shinjuku Station: ¥4,130. On the way back, we were lucky to get a seat on the Fuji Excursion.

Total costs for the day: ¥12,860.

When you compare this against the price of a package tour, which starts from ¥12,800, you can see that you aren’t necessarily saving much money with a DIY approach.

One way you can save cash is by taking highway buses rather than the limited-express trains from Shinjuku. Tickets usually go for about ¥2,200 each way. There are often combo packages available.

Mini Fuji at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival 2024
Photo by Carey Finn

Getting to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival

Lake Motosuko is part of the Fuji Five Lakes, an outdoor resort area at the base of Mount Fuji. Kawaguchiko is the main transport hub for the area, with good bus and train links to Tokyo. See our guide to getting from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko for a complete breakdown of the options.

From Kawaguchiko Station, a special Shibazakura Liner shuttle bus runs direct to the festival venue roughly every hour. The cost in 2024 was adult/child ¥2,500/¥1,250 round-trip, and this covered admission to the festival as well.

Note: Seats are limited on the Shibazakura Liner. We dashed from Kawaguchiko Station directly to the bus-ticket office (Stand No.7 in the bus area), not even risking a toilet break, and we just managed to get a seat on the next bus. The number of passengers was capped at 50, with no overflow buses. For those who missed it, they had to wait another hour for the next bus. The same applied for the return journey from the festival venue back to the station.

Pro tip: Want to pack in a lot without worrying about trains and bus lines? Book a one-day tour from Tokyo that includes strawberry picking, entry to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival, a ride up to the Saiko Iyashi no Sato traditional village, and Lake Yamanakako.

Sea of pink moss phlox near Mt Fuji in Japan
Photo by Carey Finn

How long does it take?

Mount Fuji is far away from Tokyo, and you really realize that when you’re trying to do this festival as a day trip. To put things in perspective:

  • We took the 8:30 a.m. Kaiji limited-express train from Shinjuku Station, arriving at Kawaguchiko Station just before 11 a.m. We dashed to the No.7 bus stand and were able to buy a ticket for the 11:30 a.m. Shibazakura Liner. Many of the people behind us were not so lucky, and had to stand in line for over an hour, until the next bus.
  • We arrived at the Fuji Shibazakura Festival venue at 12:22 p.m. and scurried to the one-and-only restaurant to put our name on the list for a table. We then walked around to see the flowers.
  • We were seated by 1:10 p.m. and hastily ordered lunch. It arrived at 1:29 p.m. and we gobbled it down, dashing out of the restaurant at 1:45 p.m. and making a mad run back to the bus stand, to catch the 2:00 p.m. return bus. It’s a good thing we did, because we got the last seat! The next bus was at 3:00 p.m., with the final bus of the day at 4:00 p.m.
  • We caught the 2:55 p.m. Fuji Excursion train back to Shinjuku, arriving just before 5:00 p.m.

Our total travel time was over six hours, for just over an hour of leisure at the flower park. If you aren’t keen on a package tour, we recommend staying overnight in the area, for a more relaxed experience. One hotel near the Fuji Shibazakura Festival is the Fuji Classic.

View from observation platform at Fuji Flower Festival in May
Photo by Carey Finn

Is the Fuji Shibazakura Festival worth it?

Yes and no. It’s really beautiful, but it’s also really far out — and really, really busy! While the venue is big enough that it doesn’t feel like Shibuya Crossing, this is an event that might shed some light on the concept of “overtourism”. It’s popular — so you should expect long lines for buses, toilets, food and everything else.

If you’re looking for an alternative, the less well-known but equally lovely Chichubu Shibazakura Festival in Saitama Prefecture is one to consider.

Note: The Fuji moss phlox festival area is in a highland region and can still be chilly in April/May, so check the weather before you go. It shouldn’t be closed if it’s raining, though.

Organizers may cancel events, alter schedules, or change admission requirements without notice. Always check official sites before heading to an event.

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