The five lakes were formed hundreds of years ago by lava flows which dammed up rivers during Mount Fuji's multiple eruptions. Interestingly, three of the lakes, Saiko, Shojiko and Motosuko are still connected with each other by underground waterways and consequently maintain the same surface level of 900 meters above sea level.
Lake Kawaguchiko is the most easily accessible and most developed of the five lakes. Its eastern shores are populated by hotels and ryokan, while its western shores remain calm and mostly undeveloped. The best views of Mount Fuji are from the northern shores, but there are good views of the mountain from almost all around the lake. Kawaguchiko Town, on the southeastern side of the lake, serves as the region's transportation hub.
Lake Yamanakako is the largest and easternmost of the five lakes. The lake has good views of Mount Fuji, especially from its northern coast. It is the second most developed lake with small towns at each end and it is popular for various water and lakeside outdoor activities such as wind surfing and tennis.
Lake Saiko is only one kilometer west of Lake Kawaguchiko, however it is barely developed, possibly due to the fact that its view of Mount Fuji is partially blocked by other mountains except at the lake's western tip. Lake Saiko is a nice destination for outdoor activities, such as fishing and boating, and there are several camp sites located along its shores.
Lake Shojiko, by far the smallest of the five lakes, is located another five kilometers west of Lake Saiko, and is sparsely developed with just a few hotels along its northern shore. It offers nice views of Mount Fuji from all around and good fishing and other outdoor activities.
Lake Motosuko is the westernmost of the five lakes and has good views of Mount Fuji, including the view which appears on the back of the 1000 yen bill. The shores are barely developed except for a few campgrounds. Outdoor activities and water sports such as wind surfing, boating and fishing are popular around the lake.