Day 14 and another morning of now visible Fuji for sunrise, such a shame. We headed off at around 6am to get to Chureito Pagoda, as from the night before we knew it was all in full bloom. Although the flowers were on our side, the weather was not, and Fuji had a cloudy hat that day.
As we had already paid 1000Y for parking (around $10US), and got a space in the nearest car park, we planned to hang around until the clouds had passed. So we did a short hike up Arakurayama, the mountain on which the shrine is based. As we made our way up it seemed like the clouds were clearing, I’m sure many people wishing for a view of Fuji have thought this too. However, more clouds just seems to pop over the horizon and cover Fuji still. We therefore walked down to the “town” and got some food for lunch before hiking up the 400 stairs again.
Now something hellish had happened whilst we were hiking about, hordes and hordes of people had arrived. When we went back to the photography gallery to take some shots it was literally elbow to elbow, solid, unmoving people. It was impossible to even get to a point where the shot could be taken, no one would leave or allow anyone to take a quick picture. These people were here to stay! After being crushed in this throng for 30 minutes a small opening arrived and I lept my way into it. You couldn’t hold the camera to your eye to get a shot due to the volume of people, so I had to hold my arms above my head, hold the button and hope for the best. As the last of the cloud lifted I couldn’t take anymore and wiggled my way free.
After that hellish experience (this is why it not being full bloom was, arguably, a better experience) we headed off to enjoy our final day with the car. Before our next destination we stopped off at the Mount Fuji heritage building, which advertises a viewing deck and gift shop. I wouldn’t bother going, especially if that would involve any type of public transport. The view isn’t great and neither is the shop!
We next headed off to a rather well known tourist spot, Oshino Hakkai. Oshino Hakkai is a collect of eight sacred ponds which are filled, naturally, with Fuji melt water. This place was not what I had expected. I had anticipated it being a walled off area, where entry is paid, where the ponds reside. Instead it is a small village where regular people live and work, and there just happen to be 8 ponds dotted around! So odd.
There is a small entry fee to get into the historic village area, I’d actually really recommend doing so as you can enter and explore one of the traditional thatched houses and get to look around at what an old village may have looked like.
Hundreds of years ago the ponds were held as sacred by a sect of Fuji worshippers, oever the years this fell out of favour, but in the 1900 a monk decided to re-instate the holy area, and it is as you see it today. The water is so clear here, and you can see in many spots the exact place where the melt water bubbles up from under the ground. Many of the ponds also held fish, even blue carp!
As it was our last car day we decided to watch sunset from Chureito pagoda, in the hope it was less busy… it really wasn’t. Instead of tourists with iPads there were photographers with DSLRs, but the room was taken all the same. Some people had been standing there since the morning to get the perfect shot. We stayed until we got so cold we couldn’t stand it, and said goodbye to our lovely car =[