For a quick but steep hike with huge payout in the Fuji Five Lakes area, try Panorama-dai. The trailhead begins at a small parking area along Shojiko’s western shore (GPS coordinates: 35°29'25.9"N 138°36'09.3"E). The easiest way to find it is by checking your favorite maps app – just look for the only winding path shooting west off highway 706. Alternatively, take a local shuttle bus and get off at the Panorama-dai Shita stop.
Locating this hike is only half the battle. Once there, scope out the trailhead map. A network of trails runs throughout Fujisan’s foothills, and you don’t want to get lost. Fortunately the route to Panorama-dai is pretty straightforward: approximately 45 minutes up to a junction, where you stay left and continue 10-15 minutes to the lookout. The tree-lined trail climbs steadily and offers several viewpoints along the way. Watch your step – roots and rocks pave the route and it’s a long way down if you take an involuntary trip.
Panorama-dai tops out at 1,325 meters. From here the views are spectacular: your reward for this hour-long climb is a 180°, picture-perfect view of lakes and foothills, with Mt. Fuji as the centerpiece. You can even catch a glimpse of the “1000 yen view” from here if you don’t have time to visit Motosuko.
Located just 20km from Panorama-dai’s trailhead, you can reach Fujizakura Heights Brewery and Sylvans restaurant in 30 minutes by car. Well-known for their German-style brews, particularly brewmaster Miyashita Hiromichi’s smoked Rauch, Fujizakura Heights offers a unique craft beer experience in Japan. Where else can you sip world-class German brews surrounded by forest, gardens, and a tip-of-the-iceberg view of Mt. Fuji peeking over the trees? That’s right: nowhere.
We purchased a couple bottles to go and strolled through the brewery’s gardens, unable to resist the urge for an impromptu photoshoot. The grounds are truly beautiful here – away from the hustle and bustle of town and situated, oddly enough, next to a dog park. It’s worth a visit not only for the beer, but for the whole experience of drinking a beer next to nature.