Japan 2019 Day 16: Driving up Mount Fuji!

Our alarm went off at 4am and I immediately opened the window, to be greeted by a horizon blanketed in white cloud, and no Mount Fuji in sight. We drove back up to Hahanoshirotaki in case the cloud was low lying, but the mountains were all covered in fluffy white.

After coming down the mountain at 6am we decided to go for a walk, parking at Oishi Park and exploring the shoreline. We walked anticlockwise this time, which doesn’t get much traffic as there is little there. We did stumble across a few small farms, with rice drying, and recently harvested blueberry bushes. After an hour of walking the cloud wasn’t lifting, so we headed back to K’s house.

With no other immediate plans we wandered around the residential neighbourhood that K’s House Fuji View is in. As this K’s house is quite deep in a residential zone we had the streets to ourselves. One thing I love about Japanese homes is the large garden plots that they have. We found vast gardens absolutely filled with cabbages! They had already been harvested, but the leaves that were left behind had started to rot, and were quite stinky!

Speaking of things that were stinky, after 14 nights in Japan we had a need to do some laundry. We had used a coin laundry in Aizuwakamatsu to get some bits clean, but the facilities in K’s house were cheaper, and we could get comfortable while the washer did it’s thing. An hour and a half later we had clean socks and pants, and headed out on foot to Kawaguchiko’s main shopping area. On the way we discovered yet another farming zone, this time growing kiwi fruit. We’re from the UK and have never seen how Kiwi grew before, it was so cute!

Our destination in the town was a Buddhist temple with large daruma statues that I had spotted on Google maps. We walked to Entsūji Temple and unfortunately the shrine buildings were shut up for a private ceremony. We were able to still look around the small but beautiful garden. Entsūji Temple has stood in this spot since 1265, although the current buildings were built in 1786 following a fire which devastated the area. The shrine holds the yearly memorial service to those who die in water related accidents in Kawaguchiko, on August 4th. We had wanted to purchase a daruma at the temple for our collection, so we hoped to come back later in the week.

We headed back to the hostel and were greeted with a peak of Mount Fuji! The clouds were finally starting to clear, so we headed back around the lake in the car to try and scope out some good fall colour shots. Although conditions weren’t right at that time for a shoot it was good to know where to get to once the sky was clear. The layby for the maple’s on the northern shore was packed with cars and bicycles, seasoned photographers were jostling for space with tourists using iPads to get their shots. The morning is best for shooting around Fuji for two reasons, fewer people and better light!

As the sun had gone too far round Fuji for good shots we decided to drive up to the 5th station of Mount Fuji, we hadn’t gone up Fuji on our previous trip as the road was closed, so it had been 6 years since we had stood on Fuji. We drove up the Fuji Suburu Line which is a toll road, costing just over 2,000¥ for a small car. The road has one interesting feature, just before the toll gates a section of road will sing a song while you drive over it, make sure to pay attention once you see the treble cleff, and drive at the speed limit to hear the song!

We had clear blue skies on our way up the 20km road to the Suburu Line 5th station, the most popular of the 5th stations. As soon as we got out at the 5th station, wearing our ski coats, the clouds blew in and it was a white out, you could barely see anything. There was little snow on Fuji the day we went up, the 9th of November 2019 but the trails had been roped off as the climbing season was over. We did a spot of shopping, managing to find our favourite sakura daifuku which we had purchased in 2017! It was very beautiful wandering through the mist, especially in the eerie forest with the craggy trees.

The clouds cleared just as the sunset and we had an amazing drive back down. There were few people on the roads as we had left it so late, the road is closed and no one is allowed to stay on Fuji after that time. On our way down we saw a huge stag and a wild boar in the forest off the road, it was amazing!

Even though Mount Fuji didn’t grace us with her presence we still had an amazing day getting around Kawaguchiko.

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