Our penultimate day in Japan and our final day in Yamanashi prefecture, a sad day. We awoke at 3am as we wanted to get to the north shore of Kawaguch-ko for sunrise, and without a car this walk is almost 2 miles, so we needed a quick start. It was the darkest morning we had experienced, so much so they we couldn’t even see the outline of Fuji before we left our room, so it was with crossed fingers we headed around the lake. After out long walk in the dark we got to our first spot and Fuji emerged from the mist like a pale phantom.
We slowly walked our way around the lake to the bridge, sitting and resting and taking photos as we go. Although the sky did get lighter and lighter, Fuji remained a misty phantom, looking strangely unreal.
We made the roughly 4 mile journey by 7am and decided to head to a local shrine on the train before getting our bus to head into Tokyo. In the early morning Kawaguchi-ko station was completely empty, not another soul stood on the platform as we awaited the 7:30am train.
We took the train to Fujisan station and started the long(ish) walk to the Fujisan Sengen shrine. There are numerous sengen shrines around the Fuji area, and this is one of the main shrines. Historically people would start their ascent of Fuji here, spending a few days purifying themselves in local lodging before starting their climb.
The shrine is one of the only places in Japan that you can still see both Shinto and Buddhist symbols! You will notice this along the lengthy approach to the main shrine where tall ceders line the path with ancient stone lanterns standing sentry.
After walking about the Fujisan station we realised that the sky was cloudy, and Fuji had disappeared. With heavy hearts we packed our bags and headed back to the station to catch the highway bus to Shinjuku. I wouldn’t say it was a great experience, the bus journey was smooth, but it was cramped and we had to sit separately. Once in Shinjuku it was really hectic changing trains to get the express to Narita-san station, nearby Narita airport. Before heading for our final meal we explored the nearby Narita-san shrine, this place deserves a whole day, not just the hour we had spare. It is a truly stunning shrine complex, with too many buildings to count, rich with history and lavishly decorated.
This shrine, in my opinion, rivals Nikko shrine for it’s beauty and intricate carvings. There were also large ponds, beautifully landscaped gardens and so much beauty here. As we arrived around 5pm it was almost empty too, a real treat.
One thing we found here which was very unusual was a green and pink cherry blossom! I’m an avid gardener and sakura-lover so it was a real surprise to see these, and lucky to catch them in full bloom.
For dinner we headed to a local yakiniku place, Mee Moo Baa (excellent name!). Sadly, due to translation errors, we ended up with meat we wouldn’t usually order, so it wasn’t the best last dinner for the trip! We stayed in the APA Hotel Keisei Narita Ekimae, and true to its name, it was right out front of the station (Ekimae- in front of station). The bed was comfy and so we slept.