Day 102-105/ Mt Fuji, Japan

 

After a fun-filled week of crazy city life in Tokyo, it was time to chill out a little. It was time to head to Mt Fuji. I opted to take the bus as I had plenty of time and it really wasn’t that much longer, just under a 2 hour trip to which I put on my headphones and watched the Japanese country side whizz by.

We pulled up to the Kawaguchiko train station and it was so cute! Just how I pictured a little mountain town would look like. My instructions were to proceed to the  tourist information office and to ask them to call my hostel and they would come and pick me up. I felt a little awkward but I overheard someone else make the same request so it must be a done thing here. My driver was so nice and turned out to be the owner of the hostel as well. I didn’t catch his name, but he looked like a guy who would have the English name of Doug. Doug was wearing an apron and he had this apron on the whole time I stayed which reminded me of a TV stay at home Dad. The guest house was very traditional. The dorm rooms consisted of cube/capsules style bedding. At first they look claustrophobic, but I really enjoyed it. I felt it contained my snoring a bit and I felt a bit safer from the wrath of disgruntled dorm mates. The last hostel I had the person in the bunk underneath me kicking my bed to get me to shut up. I have really started to build up confidence in share rooms now,  ok you might be able to swap the word confidence for arsehole qualities. There was a small floor fan in the room, I was really hot and bothered and no one else was in the room, so I unplugged it and moved it……to the very edge of my bed so I made my own air con capsule! Some one would move it each day, I presume it was Doug’s doing, and I would simply move it back when I returned! It wasn’t like the room wasn’t air conditioned.

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Kawaguchiko Station
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My cube

The living area had floor seating as well as some stools. I had my favourite spot looking out the window to the garden. I didn’t know it had an amazing view of Mount Fuji until the next day because when I had arrived it was covered in cloud. It was strange at first I wasn’t completely sure I was looking at Mt Fuji as it had not crossed my mind that because it was summer, the mountain would not have it’s easily recognisable and iconic snow cap on it.

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After I got settled I went out to explore. There was the beautiful lake Kawaguchiko. I stopped at a quaint coffee shop for an ice coffee and some cake and read a little. I then set out with one mission, to find a convince store to get some supplies. The guest house was not really near any food places but had a small kitchenette to prepare simple meals. 

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Cafe Cisco
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Ice Coffee, Cake and my book.

The flowers were beautiful around the area and the large lavender fields were in bloom. My walk was quite a long one and I eventually found myself up near the main road and at a Lawson convenience. I purchased an assortment of bakery goods for morning breaky, juice boxes, snacks and dinners. I love Japanese stores,  The food is actually pretty good quality and good prices. I loaded up my backpack and started the 45 minute trek back. This time I took the back streets which were really interesting getting a glimpse into local life. Thank god for my offline maps to navigate otherwise I would have been well and truly screwed, especially because it was getting dark. I arrived back and had a beer and noodles for dinner.  I watched some Netflix and headed to bed.

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Lake Kawaguchiko

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The area has a really good tourist bus network set up to see all the sights. My first visit was to the funicular to head up and grab some great pics of Mt Fuji. We jammed in and it was the sweatiest claustrophobic 3 minutes ever to get to the top. I got my photos and then turned my attention to the food outlet. I had read somewhere about racoon snacks. I seriously don’t know what I was thinking but I assumed the dumplings were stuffed with racoon meat! I was actually very disappointed that there were just some sweet glutenous doughy thing and I think the racoon reference was some mascot/marketing ploy.

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On the way up
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At the top!
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My fake racoon dumplings

I hoped back onto the bus and I overheard some other tourists talking about the Monkey Theatre. I consulted my map and thought this might be interesting. Big mistake!! First inkling something was wrong was when I saw a massive school group of kindergarten kids. So this isn’t going to be complex show….. It was a couple of monkeys, on leashes doing tricks. I felt like the worse human in the world. I really wanted to leave but didn’t know how to get out politely. Turned out the sun and heat had made me quite sleepy so instead of insulting the performers by leaving I had accidentally fallen asleep in my seat. I will call it a ‘peaceful protest’ against animal cruelty. 

The next day was a little bit more successful. I headed to the caves. First stop was the Bat Cave. As I was walking through there forest to reach the cave entrance I really couldn’t stop, you know what I am talking about, your probably doing it now…… nahnahanahanahanah BATMAN!! Now this place surprised me a little. Basically you pay to enter, they hand you a hard hat and off you go. The cave itself is a 5 -10 minute walk from the site office. There are no staff at the cave. I went down into it and at one point I am really crouched over and it just keeps going. I started to get bit of anxiety. I didn’t continue and backed out. The floor was also uneven as it was a cave created by lava. I just had that little voice in my head that said “One small slip and you and a broken foot will be stuck here”. Thank you little voice. Next was the ice cave. This was pretty cool, haha “cool”. There were massive icicles in there and it was really cold. Such a welcome change from the bloody heat outside.

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The scenery was awesome as you had the mountains and the lakes. I observed from the bus Japanese families all set up to camp by the lake. Frolicking in the water or fishing. It looked like so much fun. 

On the way back to the guest house, I stopped at the gardens again to get some lunch and an ice cream. I had to have a lavender ice cream to eat in the lavender gardens. It was just so peaceful. I was a little bummed I was leaving tomorrow.

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Soba cold noodles with pickled veg and green tea pudding
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Lavender Ice cream

I had Doug drop me off at the train station at 10am. I had about 9 hours to kill before my overnight bus to Kyoto. I stored my bags in the luggage lockers at the train station and set out for Fuji Q, a theme park about 10 minutes away by train. I admit I was a little excited as the train was decked out in Thomas the Tank engine livery (Is that the correct word for a train as it is for a plane?). Anyway It was cool. I arrived and had two choices for tickers, one that included all the attractions or free entry and pay as you go. I am so glad I took the pay as you go because the wait times were ridiculous. There were queues for everything, even the food queues were crazy. When I finally plucked up enough courage to go one the huge rollercoasters, the pay as you go tickets were all sold out for the day. I wasn’t too angry at myself because if I had bought the all-inclusive ticket the wait time was 2 hours per ride! But being the thrifty person I am, I stumbled across an attraction with hardly any line, and it was a virtual reality ride….. of the roller coasters! So I did this one twice and I felt satisfied!

 

When I got back to town, I still had some hours to kill so I went walking and ended back down by the lake. I sat and read my book for a while. I really didn’t want to walk back up all the hills, so I caught the tourist bus back. Again being thrifty, I crammed onto a busy bus and when I got off just waved my bus pass and scurried off…. The pass had expired the day before.

It was again off to 7 Eleven for dinner and snacks. As 8:45pm rolled around I was well and truly ready for some sleep. I had splurged and purchased a sleeper bus trip to Kyoto. I couldn’t be bothered catching the train back to Tokyo and down to Kyoto. It pulled up and I was first on board. There were 3 rows of single seats. I got comfy with my neck pillow and eye shades. I was out like a light and slept really well. The windows were covered up so no light came in and the cabin was dark with a small dim glow. We did stop at a rest stop for the drivers break. This was about 1am. I stumbled off the bus to stretch my legs. I didn’t really want to but figured it would help my bad leg. I watched the driver until I saw him sit down to eat. I then raced to the bathroom to pee. I didn’t know how long we were here for and I did not want to be left behind! I then did walking laps in front of the bus, I couldn’t help think that I had no idea where I was and if this bus left without me I would have no money no phone and no passport. All this walking and thinking got me sleepy again. I climbed back on board and snoozed happily all the way to Kyoto.

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