Our 5 week journey through Japan continues from Yakushima Getting off the beaten track in Japan; Yakushima!
At Haneda, Tokyo we found bus ticket vending machines and didn’t even have to look confused when a nice woman helped us buy tickets for Kawaguchiko and explained where to catch the bus. Easy peasy!
By the time we reached Kawaguchiko station it was past 5:30 pm, pitch dark, freezing and doing the snow / rain thing. Although we’d intended on walking the 2 km or so, the taxi option looked darn good and we took it.
The fellow at the desk was kind enough to give us dinner recommendations for a place close by so after settling in, we borrowed umbrellas and headed out again. The izekiah was really good and we treated ourselves to creme brulee for dessert. Later she told us it was made with soy. I would not have known. It was so creamy!
Our spacious Japanese style room had the luxury of a chair. Nice!
I slept like a baby on the futon on tatami mat floors and woke to the sight of Mount Fuji in all her glory right in front of me! Wow!
So. Since clouds could move in anytime, we put on about 6 layers of clothes, grabbed breakfast and started walking just before 7 am. After many viewpoints and pictures we found the entrance to the rope way and joined the small line. It didn’t open until 9 am. A nice Japanese man showed me his coupon and mimed that he would include us in his 10% off. How kind! It saved us each 100 yen.
We were the first car up and enjoyed people free views of everything covered in fresh show. We climbed even further and found another stair top thing with even better views of Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. By the time we were ready to head down the place was crowded. A couple hours later all the snow was gone. Getting up and at it early is worth it!
Next we headed for the bus station, information and to find some brunch as we didn’t get much breakfast. A cute place near the bus station had a set lunch that was interesting.
Then we set out walking again and did about half way around the lake, stopped for a coffee and headed back.
It was a cold day. It never got about 5 degrees but the sun was shining so it was wonderful!
Saturday dawned with not a cloud in the sky AGAIN. We walked back to Oike park to get the iconic reflection photo then carried on to the bus station where we got 2 day tickets.
First stop was the ice cave. The wind cave was closed for maintenance. Just so you know, the ice cave is NOT worth the admission, even with the coupon. It’s just a cave and I saw no ice.
We rode the rest of the bus and got off at Shojiko where I did part of the hike up the mountain. Sue wasn’t feeling well so I just checked it out and came back to enjoy views along the lake front.
Next stop was the Yurari hot spring where we’d decided to treat ourselves. The 1,500 yen admission fee is worth it! There were 3 outdoor pools that face Mount Fuji. One was chamomile scented and not as hot. Inside there was a carbonated bath, steam bath, sauna and my favourite…the cave bath. That one is dimly lighted, has jets,warm but not too hot and is very steamy. I spent 2.5 hours in and out of each bath, occasionally using a cold shower or the ice cold pool between to cool me down. I’ve never been so clean!!
They even offer a shuttle back to town so we didn’t have to wait for a bus. Nice!
Dinner was at another small diner where I struck up a conversation with a family from Singapore. Their kids (around 7-9) wanted salmon! Wow! I’d just eaten that so explained what was on the plate. That snowballed into an interesting conversation. It often pays to talk to strangers.
Sunday started out with Fuji partially covered in clouds. We’ve had amazingly clear weather so far so really can’t complain.
Today we took the green line and visited Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nemba , a reconstructed traditional village with gorgeous views of Mount Fuji. It was interesting but pretty much just a lot of shops inside the traditional homes.
Back on the wrong bus we ended up back at the bus station so enjoyed a hot dog before getting back on. At stop 52 we got off to see the lava cave and then went for a walk in Aokigahara forest, also known as the Sea of Trees or the Suicide Forest. It grows on 30 square kilometres of hardened lava laid down by the last major eruption of Mount Fuji in 864 CE. Stepping into it feels a little creepy in that it’s dark, eerily quiet and feels like you’re the only living thing there. That’s probably made worse by having read the stories about the forest. The lava rocks are all covered in bright green moss and there are huge boulders everywhere. Once I realised the path was quite well trodden, I enjoyed the quiet beauty. It’s a gorgeous walk!
Back at the station we hopped on the red line for a final tour around Lake Kawaguchi. Wanting something different for dinner we happened upon a little diner serving Indian food. Perfect! The Pakastani owner made me a deliciously spicy, patak paneer and massive naan bread that hit the spot quite nicely.
Monday, December 2.
The free local hotel shuttle bus nicely waited for us to run out in the rain to board. The bus trip to Haneda was uneventful and we easily found the train, then walked to the Relief Haneda airport hotel. We were early for check in and it was pouring rain so we enjoyed their generous offer of a latte while we studied our options. We met a nice lady from Texas and exchanged stories for a bit, settled into our room and when the rain let up a bit, borrowed an umbrella and wandered the surrounding area. There’s not much to see but local shops are always fun. Dinner was a local ramen shop with McDonald’s ice cream for dessert. We picked up yogurt and bananas for breakfast along with some sake and liqueurs to try before we leave.