Tuesday, 7 July 2015

JVlog #20: Mount Fuji & Lake Kawaguchiko Day 1 Part 1 - The Kachi Kachi Ropeway

Good Day Everyone,

Before leaving Japan, hubby and I were very keen to go see Mount Fuji closer up and today I’m bringing you the first part of our two day trip to Mount Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes. There are many organised tours and day trips to the area surrounding Mount Fuji, and if you are pushed for time then these are definitely a good option, especially if you don’t speak Japanese. However, we opted not to go down this route because, firstly the organised tours typically depart from Tokyo (and we were living in Yokohama), secondly as we weren’t pushed for time we wanted the freedom to go where we wanted (rather than where the tour took us) and do what we fancied rather than adhering to a schedule, and finally the organised tours were working out to be more expensive compared to doing it ourselves. We opted to go on our trip mid-week in order to avoid the weekend rush.
Mount Fuji from the Kachi Kachi Ropeway observation deck
Mount Fuji is surrounded by five lakes to its northern side and after a lot of online research we decided to head to Lake Kawaguchiko, the second largest of the five lakes as this is the most developed, and recommended as being most suitable for non-Japanese speaking tourists. Hubby had managed to find a travel agency near Yokohama station that offered a coach service directly to Lake Kawaguchiko, taking about 2.5hrs. Although Kawaguchiko has a train station, there are no direct services from Yokohama.
I woke up super excited on the day we were leaving because not only was the trip a welcomed break from all the packing but it was also a dream coming true, to go see Mount Fuji. We had an early start that day as the coach departed from Yokohama at 7.30am but hubby and I both manage to snooze on the journey since it took an hour longer than expected due to heavy traffic. 
Kawaguchiko Station with Mount Fuji behind it
As you can see in the video below, it was absolutely amazing to get off the coach at Kawaguchiko station only to see Mount Fuji behind the station. We headed to our hotel which was directly across the road from the station to drop off our overnight bag, and then we went straight to tourist information. Luckily, the staff at tourist information spoke good English and provided us with maps in English and directions to our first attraction, Lake Kawaguchiko. The lake is just a short 15min walk from the station. At the lake there are paddle boats for hire and boat trips that take you around the lake. You can’t see Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchiko unless you go further out into the lake on one of the boats. The lake is surrounded by beautiful mountains, some with snow-capped peaks in the distance. There are a few cafes, restaurants, tourist shops and convenience stores on the main road leading to and around the lake.
After admiring the lake we walked towards Mount Tenjo to get the Kachi Kachi Ropeway, a cable car ride, up the mountain. A return journey costs ¥720 per person but there is also a hiking trail back down the mountain which takes about 30mins. The ropeway is open from 9am-5.20pm and the journey up takes just 3mins. The Kachi Kachi Ropeway is decorated with large rabbit and raccoon cartoon characters as Mount Tenjo is the setting of a folk story in which a rabbit gets revenge on a thieving raccoon by setting him on fire and drowning him in a river… not the most pleasant of stories but at least the cartoons are cute ;o). 
Lake Kawaguchiko
At the top of the ropeway, which ascends 400 meters, is an observation deck sitting more than 1,000 meters above sea level with the most breath taking views of Mount Fuji, Lake Kawaguchiko and the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park with its Guinness World Record breaking roller coasters. Whilst I love the excitement of amusement parks and crazy rides, neither hubby or I actually tend to go on them due to our joint problems which is why we prioritised other sights over Fuji-Q. However, if its something that you enjoy then I'd highly recommend a visit. You can pay an entrance fee and then pay per ride or alternatively you can get an all inclusive ticket which gives you access to all of the rides - great for thrill seekers!
Fuji-Q Highland Amusement Park
There is a small shop at the observation deck where I indulged in an ice lolly made with water from Mount Fuji to cool down as it was quite a hot and humid day, before we made our way back down the mountain to go eat our lunch by the lake. We still had a while before we could check into our hotel room so we headed back towards Kawaguchiko station and passed some time in a little coffee shop, whilst sheltering from the afternoon sun.
Most hotels around the Fuji Five Lakes area offer a whole Japanese experience where your breakfast and a traditional evening meal is included, and you sleep on a Japanese style bed. Hubby and I did not want this as we’re not fans of Japanese food and have a number of dietary restrictions. Plus as we were only there for one night we literally just needed a place to sleep and so opted for a room only hotel stay. Whilst our room was very basic and worn, it was clean and conveniently located across the road from the station, plus for ¥9,500 it was pretty cheap, although that was reflected in the quality of the mattress! Given that we were only in Kawaguchiko for one night we didn’t want to splash out on a fancy hotel when we’d be spending most of our time outside, doing the sights. After a brief rest we headed back out to visit one of the most famous pagodas in Japan, The Chureito Pagoda. To be continued....

I hope you enjoyed part one of our trip. Part two shall be coming soon :o).

Love Sheen xxx

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