Looking back at my trip to Japan in 2018, I thought it would be worthwhile to create a separate post about our visit to Mount Fuji. We had tried to get a view of this iconic peak while riding the bullet train from Kyoto to Tokyo but missed it, so a day trip was in order.
Mount Fuji is located on Honshu, the main island of Japan. It is an active volcano that last erupted in 1707 and is one of Japan’s ‘Three Holy Mountains’ alongside Mount Tate and Mount Haku. Reaching an altitude of 3776 metres (12,398 feet), it is the highest volcano in Japan and the 7th highest peak of an island in the world. Scenic views of Mount Fuji are photographer favourites; you may even recognize it from some computer desktop wallpapers. Official climbing season extends from early July to mid-September, so our visit in mid-November allowed only for a look-see rather than a hike.
Heading to Lake Kawaguchiko
There are a number of places to get a good view of Mount Fuji, including the area around Lake Kawaguchiko in the southern Yamanashi Prefecture. This is located just over 100 kilometres southwest of Tokyo, and there are a few different ways you can get there. Initially, we had planned to travel on the Highway Bus, which costs 2000 yen for a 1 hour 45 minute ride to Kawaguchiko Station. Once in town, there is a hop on-hop off bus of sorts that takes you on a route around the area, as there are several other things to see and do in Kawaguchiko beyond Mount Fuji.
We instead ended up making the trip with the very nice cousin of my old housemate, who kindly offered to drive and accompany us. Accounting for traffic, the drive to Kawaguchiko took about 2 hours. We were very appreciative of our new friend’s hospitality, especially given what would happen later on in the day (more about our little mishap below).
Tasting Hoto noodles
We arrived around noon and stopped for lunch to try out the regional specialty, Hōtō noodles. It’s a stew of flat udon noodles and vegetables in miso soup, and was very filling. You can find this dish at numerous restaurants around town. The place we visited also included on their menu another local delicacy, horse sashimi. We passed on this, although not because we were turned off, but because we were simply too full!
Admiring the fall foliage
After lunch, we drove further into town to check out the fall foliage at the ever popular Momji Tunnel (Maple Corridor). Because of its altitude, autumn comes earlier in the year in Kawaguchiko than in Tokyo. We in fact happened to pass through at the best time to see the fall colours, in early to mid-November.
Learning about sake
We had also learned about a small sake brewery in the area, called Ide Sake, and were able to book a short tour and tasting there. It was a fun way to spend a couple hours. None of us knew much about sake so it was an educational experience for us all. The owner/guide’s English skill is a lot better than he advertises. He showed us around the small brewery, explaining the distilling process, and then had us taste four different sakes of varying ‘rice polishing ratios’ which I now understand.
The navigation mishap
After this we headed over to the cable car to see more of Mount Fuji. Before we got there however, we ran into some car troubles. For some reason, the GPS led us onto a small ‘road’ which turned out to be more like a pedestrian alleyway. Yikes! We ended up literally stuck in the alley and spent about 30 minutes maneuvering the car out with some resultant deep scratches. The car was a rental. Thank goodness for insurance…
Alas, the mountain!
Once we managed to get ourselves out of that tight situation, we zipped over to the loading area for the Mount Fuji Panoramic Ropeway. For 900 yen, you can ride up to a viewing deck for views overlooking the majestic mountain and surrounding lake and town. Interestingly, the website lists a reduced ‘dwarf’ ticket price; I think this is probably just a poor translation for ‘child’ rate.
We boarded the cable car and arrived at the top at twilight. After admiring the sunset view for a few minutes, we took some photos and headed back down.
Now I can create my own version of a Mount Fuji desktop wallpaper!