Day 8: Kawaguchiko- K’s house Walking and Bus tour around Fuji Sengen shrine, Fuji 5th station, Wind cave, Ice cave, Aokigahara, Motosu Lake, Oishi Park
For our 8th day we woke up in Kawaguchi-ko, staying at the amazing K’s house hostel, in a private tatami room. Today we were doing the full day bus and walking tour around the Mount Fuji area, and we were really looking forward for getting to some more out of the way locations. The tour started with visiting the Hongu sengen shrine, one of the main shrines set to worship Fuji as a Goddess, and to start the long hike to the peak.
It was absolutely pouring rain by the time the bus arrived at the shrine. Luckily the tour bus was fully stocked with rain parkas and umbrellas, so we could still explore. The rain was actually refreshing as it cooled the air down.
After the shrine we headed up the the 5th station on Mount Fuji. Mount Fuji is divided up into 10 different “stations”, you can think of them as way-points up to the peak, with 1 being down at the base of Fuji at a shrine like the one we were at earlier. This 5th station is the most popular and built up, with hotels, restaurants and souvenir shops. The clouds started to clear and we got a peak at the peak of Fuji.
If you aren’t into the more tourist trap shops then it is worth walking through the large red torii into the shrine, where you can pray and cleanse before ascending.
On our way back down the bus stopped at the 4.5 station, here there are no buildings or shops and you can see what Fuji is made of, loose rubble, the lava of previous eruptions.
It was really interesting to see what Fuji is really made of, it boggles the mind to think that Fuji isn’t earth as much as it is layer after layer of lava rock. After this brief stop the bus headed back to Kawaguchi-ko station and then the hostel for a lunch break. Once we were off and going the bus headed west, towards Aokigahara, the famous lava forest of Mount Fuji. This forest has quite the haunted repoutation, but it was actually really fascinating walking on lava that took hundreds of years to cool enough for life to return here. You can even see the ripples where the lava flowed and then stopped!
We then visited two works of nature that are common throughout Aokigahara, caves. As the lava travelled and destroyed the forest that once stood here the trees got trapped and then burned within the lava flow. This meant that areas where lava can trapped trees, through decomposition, became hollow caves. There are a number of caves throughout the forest, but we visited two, the wind and ice caves.
The ice cave is so called as in year gone by it was used to store ice, as the temperature in here is always 3°C and so the ice never melts. We next headed to lake Motosu, where you can find a yellow submarine. The legend goes that no one knows where it came from or why it is there, but at the same time no one will get rid of it!
For the final leg of the tour, on our way back east of Kawaguchi-ko we went back Lake Sai and Lake Shoji, before stopped at Oishi park, where we almost saw Mount Fuji!
The tour bus then dropped us of at K’s house so we could get our luggage and one of the staff members kindly drove us back to Kawaguch-ko station so we could return to Tokyo.