Day 12 was going to be another fun packed day of adventuring around the fuji five lakes area. On this morning we decided to pick another spot for sunrise and got up very early to drive over to the other side of Ohashi bridge, to a little spot of rocky shore line. Unfortunately no red Fuji that morning, but it lovely to be out in nature so early. We were treated to a beautiful reflection of Fuji in the still morning waters.
After sunrise we headed clockwise around Kawaguchi-ko to make a quick stop at our hostel before heading out for the day, and to catch some more sakura that morning. Our next stop was Yamanaka-ko, the only one of the five lakes we hadn’t visited the day before, and the largest of all five lakes!
This was the first of the five lakes I ever visited back in 2008, so it was nice to be back, and we were treated with postcard perfect views of Fuji in the glass like waters of Yamanaka-ko. Although this is the largest of all the lakes it isn’t very built up and so we hadn’t a stretch of shore line all to ourselves again (it was also really very early!).
With no concrete plan in mind when we set out we decided to completely circumnavigate Mount Fuji making whatever stops we fancied along the way, here is our route (thanks Google for stalking me).
After leaving Yamanaka-ko and heading south we stopped at Gotemba Premium outlet as I had heard there was a view of Fuji to be had, and also a Pokemon outlet shop! Well there was a nice view of Fuji, from a new angle, to be had and the Pokemon outlet was great. The stores in Tokyo had run out of stock for a lot of new items but here they had loads, and marked down in price too!
After shopping here we headed back off travelling south beneath Fuji. We decided to stop in pretty much the middle of nowhere to eat our lunch, and stumbled across an area owned by the Japanese Self Defense Force. We tried to walk closer to Fuji but some sirens went off and someone shouted at us in Japanese to stay away… so we went back to the car!
So after finishing lunch and stretching our legs a little bit we jumped back into the car and headed off. We had no clear destination in mind but just wanted to keep exploring. We went along small country roads with little to be seen and stopped when we saw a small car park just on the side of the road. From the car park we could see an observation platform halfway up a mountain, and decided to give it a go. According to the signs this was Mount Echizendake.
There were a lot of stairs! The view from the top was quite nice, you could see a local golf course but also Fuji Safari park too! The steps were hell, absolute hell. You can just about see that the ground in between the steps has worn away so, rather than stepping onto each step, you had to step over each step. It was more like basic training than a casual climb! Anyway, after that leg torture, we climbed back into the car and headed off.
Again, we had no destination in mind but pulled over where the satnav showed a shrine, which turned out to be Murayama shrine, one of the original shrines from which you can climb Mount Fuji! This shrine is actually the place where the first foreign person started their ascent of Fuji. Here we were in absolute isolation, there was not a single other person at the shrine, and it was beautiful!
There was no view of Fuji itself from the shrine, but the grounds were lovely, and it is the only place I have seen omikuji tied to a sakura before. We did walk into the forest and catch a glimpse, but my new found fear of monkeys sent us back to the car.
At this point in the journey we were headed back into known territory and decided to stop off briefly at Shiraito falls to see if we could get a clear shot of Fuji and the falls. Out of nowhere torrential rain started (after we’d already paid to park of course). Being British we weren’t deterred and headed out, without an umbrella to enjoy the falls. As we had approached the falls from the opposite side we first stopped at Otodomeno falls, a small waterfall a little east of Shiraito. We then quickly popped over to Shirato and got some rainy shots, before doing a little retail therapy in the local omiyage (souvenir) stores.
Sadly the cloud and rain persisted and we didn’t see Fuji again that day.