Day 9: December 4
Fourth day of 7-day JR pass
This would be our only full day in Kawaguchi-ko, one of the prime locations for viewing Mt Fuji as close as possible. It is located right at the base of the mountain, but Mt Fuji is still notoriously hard to see due to clouds. The best chances are early morning and late afternoon. We awoke early and had a peek outside our balcony around 6-7am, when it was already light. We could see that our location and view was incredible, but unfortunately there were a lot of obstructing clouds.
We slept a few more hours. The fog seemed to clear a bit and it looked like it would be quite a lovely sunny day, although the top of Mt Fuji was still not clear enough, with clouds decorating its top.
We had arranged with the hotel the previous night that we would take the free hotel shuttle bus to Kawaguchiko station at 10am. There were a couple of other hotel guests who also rode the bus, getting off at attractions along the way. We spotted fruit markets on the route, so when we got to the train station, we actually decided to walk back and buy fruit (we were in dire want of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are astronomically expensive in Japanese cities compared to Australia, and also hard to find for tourists like us). We actually ended up walking along shopping streets of the town, buying the fruit, vegetables, and other foods and snacks. We also passed a shop closing down which had unwanted kitchenware placed outside free to take. We picked up a pretty bento box. There was some lovely china we wanted as souvenirs too but with all our travelling, we didn’t want to risk breaking anything in our luggage. We basically walked the entire length from the train station BACK to the hotel with our loot to drop it off. Gosh, we are so weird!
As the weather kept improving and it was so sunny, we decided to change plans and walk around the river and cross the Kawaguchiko bridge, which cuts across the lake to the other side. We could only intermittently see glimpses of the top of Mt Fuji, as light clouds persisted all day.
The below shows past water levels of the lake!
For lunch, we found a restaurant and ate houtou noodles, a popular regional dish of Yamanashi, featuring udon noodles in a miso-based soup.
Then we walked back towards Kachi Kachi Ropeway, which ascends to a summit point on Mt Tenjo. This is a popular spot for viewing the lake and Mt Fuji. While we weren’t blessed with a perfectly clear day, it was still beautiful. The folktale of Kachi Kachi Yama is represented everywhere with tanuki and rabbit characters.
This tanuki hanging from the ceiling was in the bathroom! So cute.
As if we hadn’t walked back and forth enough, we finally walked back to Kawaguchiko station, taking a train to Shimoyoshida station. It’s a quiet rural town, and it was so lovely to walk through – barely any people around. I really adore walking through these kinds of towns. Roughly ten minutes from the train station by foot is Arakura Sengen Taisha, which houses Chureito, the pagoda from which iconic and popular photos of Mt Fuji are taken from. We weren’t to get any amazing shots, as we didn’t have beautiful autumnal or spring foliage and we didn’t have clear skies. During better days, there would be people stationed here with tripods, attempting to capture the perfect shot. There was only one person perched on the hill with a tripod when we were there. Nonetheless I’m sooo glad we went. It was breathtakingly beautiful and I was very emotional to be able to visit after so many years of pining.
As you can see, the sun was setting fast. After a while we walked back to the Shimoyoshida station and trained back to Kawaguchiko station. By then it was pitch black and despite being frozen to the bone, I really wanted a soft serve ice cream. I had never seen as many Japanese soft serve flavours as there in Kawaguchiko but I had yet to try any despite seeing flavours galore all day. I chose the blue rose and vanilla. I almost died of cold eating it but gosh Japanese soft serves are so delicious!
We trekked back to the hotel in the dark, and just chowed on the fresh goods we had purchased earlier that day, while relaxing and watching TV. It was actually quite nice to just chill in our room. Since the hotel didn’t know our dinner plans though, I didn’t know when they would come to lay out the futon. So I called up to request it, and a kind man turned up and made quick work of it.
To end the day, we also had a jumping spider emergency, resulting in my mum and I both screaming and hiding in the corner of the room. I had to call the front desk again and request for bug spray. It was manic, trying to spray the spider while it kept jumping around and NOT dying. Eventually we were able to get rid of it though I’m sure we both almost fainted from all the screaming and jumping and stress. What a night.
Then next morning we would be leaving. Would we finally see a clear view of Mt Fuji?