Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Japan Day 3: Mt Fuji and (almost) Hiroshima

It was day 3 and we woke up early to a crisp and cold morning in Kawaguchiko. We had booked a full day tour of Mt Fuji and were really excited to see the mountain up close, so we had a quick breakfast and quickly jumped into the waiting bus that would take us around Mt Fuji area. We started with going back to Kawaguchiko Station to pick up a couple other people for the tour. I loved this train station. It's small and cute, but very cozy. Our tour guide, Erico, spoke very good and clear English and we loved her. She had a lot of knowledge about Mt Fuji and the surrounding area and it was a joy hearing her speak.

We started with Fuji Sengen Shrine, an old shinto shrine which is the starting point for climbers wanting to climb up Mt. Fuji using the Yoshidaguchi trail. The path leading to the shrine was lined with beautiful stone lanterns and cedar trees. In the shrine compound runs a stream which clear water flows from Mt. Fuji itself. There was supposed to be a humongous torii at the entrance of the shrine but it just so happened that it was under restoration. The shrine itself was quite small and only the front area was open for visitors. We saw some worshipers tossing coins and making their wish. Outside the shrine there was an area where worshipers have to purify themselves before they perform their worshiping rituals using water flowing from the mountain. As DH and I wouldn't be worshiping we contented ourselves with taking in the beautiful surrounding. It was the beginning of autumn in Japan and the leaves were just starting to turn into their beautiful autumn colors.

From the Shrine, we made our way to 5th Level of Mt Fuji. The 5th Level is essentially the middle point between the starting point and the summit and it has become quite the tourist attraction. There are plenty of souvenir shops at the 5th Station if you're thinking of bringing back some trinkets and souvenirs back home. And it was the nearest that we could get to Mt Fuji itself. We spent quite some time there taking photos and it was freezing cold!!! But the view from the station was breathtaking. Here are some of them.

This dude I love

After taking photos, our guide took us to to the trail leading up to the summit. It was quite an uphill climb and the trails was covered with black rocks, which I assume to be lava rocks. It was then that I decided that one of the things I have to do before I die is to climb Mt Fuji to the top. Who's with me? :D

And then back to K's House we went for our lunch. Lunch was not included in the tour package so we had to make our own arrangements. We had forgotten to buy bread in the morning so we decided to have Maggi. Perfect! Since we would be making our way from Mt Fuji to Hiroshima on the night train, we packed our bags and checked out but left our bags at the hostel to be picked up later.

After lunch, we went to the Aokigahara Lava Forest and the Wind Cave. The forest was kinda spooky and I wouldn't recommend going alone without a guide. You might get lost. But the forest is also kinda beautiful in a mysterious way. The ground and the roots of the trees were covered in moss. Because the soil is hard because of the lava, the roots of the trees have to grow above ground. It was really quite magnificent. There was also a deep cave, possibly formed by the flowing lava when Mt Fuji erupted. We didn't spend much time there as we had to go to the Ice Cave at Narusawa next. This Ice Cave was pretty magnificent and beautiful. In olden times, because of the naturally formed ice in the cave, the locals used the cave to store perishable food products. And it was cold! The trek was also pretty slippery so be very careful as you make your way down, although there were bamboo rails to hold on to. At one point we actually had to crouch down to make our way further inside. It was quite an adventure. Outside the cave there was a tourist information centre where we bought some postcards to bring home. At one corner, I noticed that there was a stamp pad. I didn't know what it was until I saw another one like it in Kyoto. It was actually a commemorative stamp where you can stamp your travel book/notes to remember the places in Japan that you visit. We missed out on this one, but after that I was always on a lookout for the next stamp.

The inside of the cave was covered all over with ice

We had to crawl through this supper narrow tunnel. Cool stuff!

From the Ice Cave, we went to Lake Motosuko. This lake is famous for being the lake that you see on the back of the 1000 yen bill. We didn't spend too much time here as it was the last stop for the tour and it was getting late. Once we reached the hostel, we quickly grabbed our bags and hopped on the transfer van to the train station to catch our train to Hiroshima. We had some time to kill at the train station so we grabbed some light dinner and hot coffee. From Mt Fuji we had to make several transfer stops at Otsuki, Shinjuku and Yokohama to get on the sleeper train to Okayama and then the Hikari bullet train to Hiroshima. We had already booked our tickets on the sleeper train and I was really excited to get on it.
At Lake Motosuko

But alas, it was not meant to be. The transfer time from Shinjuku to Yokohama was only 6 minutes and the train from Otsuki to Shinjuku was late! So because the train to Shinjuku was late, we had to run catch our sleeper train to Yokohama but try as we might (there were some Amazing Race running action going on here), we missed the train! And it was the last train of the day. We were looking quite forlorn and lost that a couple of Japanese locals asked us what was wrong. We told them our predicament and these gentlemen were kind enough to do a search on their mobile phones to find out what our  next options were. It was decided that there was nothing we could do that night but wait till morning to get on the first train to Hiroshima. One of the gentleman by the name of Yoshi asked us to get off the train with him at Shin Yokohama and figure out what to do next. We asked him if it was safe to sleep at the train station and he told us that yes, it was quite safe but he wouldn't recommend it because of the cold weather. He found us a McDonald's that operated 24-7 so that was where we spent the night LOL.

Despite the setback, us missing the train was a blessing in disguise. We made a new friend! Turn out Yoshi is a CEO of a pretty big company in Japan! And he was so nice and down to earth and we loved him! We didn't make a deal about missing the train as there was nothing we could do about it anyway. We did some research on Hyperdia and found out the train timetable the next day and slept off our exhaustion at McDonald's. We were quite surprised that the staff at McDonald's actually let us sleep there. Amazing people these Japanese!

So that was the end of our day 3 adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful post! Thanks for sharing. Really awesome your picture. I really Appreciate you. Thanks a lot for sharing.....................