Saturday, 11 July 2015

JVlog #21: Mount Fuji & Lake Kawaguchiko Day 1 Part 2 - The Chureito Pagoda

Good Day Everyone,

I'm continuing today with the second part of our first day at Lake Kawaguchiko. If you missed part 1 then you can watch/read it here. After checking into our hotel and resting my joints, we headed back out in the afternoon to visit one of Japan's most famous pagodas. 
The Chureito Pagoda with Mount Fuji in the background
We caught a local train from Kawaguchiko station to Shimoyoshida station, and from Shimoyoshida station there are signs that direct you towards the mountain where the pagoda is situated. It is just a short 10mins walk to the foot of the mountain. You can see our journey up the mountain to the famous Chureito Pagoda in the video below, as well as the rest of our day :o).

Tourist sgns leading the way to the pagoda
Whilst it was still very warm and muggy the sky had become a lot more overcast and cloudy which was a shame but at least it wasn't raining. The walk from Shimoyoshida station to the foot of the mountain was very pleasant and tranquil as it took us past traditional Japanese houses and gardens. We love the rural landscape in Japan and with the soil being so rich and fertile, it was no surprise to see so many people growing their own vegetables.  
Once we reached the foot of the mountain we were greeted by over 400 steps that we needed to climb in order to get to the pagoda. I found the first 100 or so steps challenging as they were quite high and uneven with no handrail. I've never been the most stable of individuals on my feet but since developing an arthritic knee and feet, I do have difficulties walking and climbing stairs especially if I'm tired, like I was on this particular day. However, I was determined to persevere in order to capture an image that I had in my mind that I knew would make this climb so worth it. That image is the photo that you see at the start of this blog post. Whilst I was gutted that the weather had turned hazy and there was no bright blue sky in the background, I was still over the moon to capture it.
The first set of steps leading up the mountain
Things got a bit easier after the first 100 or so steps because the steps then changed. All of a sudden there was a handrail and the steps became less uneven and not so high. We also noticed a road that seemed to be winding its way up the mountain with people walking along it. That road was definitely going to be our route back down this mountain!
Mount Fuji and Fujiyoshida city
It took us quite a while to climb the mountain as every so often we would stop and look back to admire the views of Mount Fuji and Fujiyoushida city beneath it. However, once we eventually made it to the top, it was simply amazing!
The Chureito Pagoda
The pagoda was built as a peace memorial in the 1960s and forms part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine. The Chureito Pagoda is primarily famous because of it's unique location. It truly is a photographers dream and people flock to it for that reason. The view of the vibrant red five tiered pagoda in the foreground with Mount Fuji in the background is simply stunning. There is a postcard in Japan of the pagoda in spring with beautiful pink cherry blossoms to the left, the pagoda to the right and a snow capped Mount Fuji in the distance. It is one of my most favourite postcards EVER! And the closest I could get to that image was the very first photo you see in this blog post. However, in order to get that shot we had to climb further up the mountain and stray of the path to some seriously uneven terrain with a very high drop that had no barriers... risking our necks all for that one photo ;o).
After getting the photo we started to make our way down the mountain because the mosquitoes had started to come out as the afternoon turned into evening and these pesky little things seem to love me a bit too much for my liking! Going down the mountain proved to be much easier and we came across the Arakura Sengen Shrine along the way. As is typical of the shrines and temples in Japan, there was an area for cleansing at the entrance but instead of the water flowing out of the usual bamboo pipe, this one had a rather ornate dragon from which the water flowed.
Arakura Sengen Shrine
As we made our way back to Kawaguchiko Station, hubby and I discussed our dinner options and decided to go back to Lake Kawaguchiko where we had spotted an Indian restaurant called Alladin, earlier in the day. To our amusement the restaurant was actually a halal restaurant. This was the last place we ever imagined finding halal food, but hey, I wasn't going to turn down the rare opportunity to have meat in Japan. I opted for a set menu that came with a lentil curry, rice, freshly made naan, mutton curry, salad and a yoghurt dessert whilst hubby opted for a vegetable pizza. Yes, it was an Indian restaurant that also served freshly made pizza!
The restaurant was a small place, as is often the case in Japan, and the staff spoke good English as well as Urdu/Hindi, and Japanese of course, so communication was easy for once ;o). The Indian food was hands down the best Indian food I've had in Japan. The curries were so authentic that I could easily have mistaken them as my mum's curries in a blind taste test, and the portions were deceptively large. Those little silver bowls hold a lot more than you think. Hubby's vegetable pizza was.... well... a vegetable pizza but the first pizza he's ever had with cauliflower and carrots ;o).
After dinner we walked down to the lake just to see the lights reflecting of the water before walking back to our hotel. Whilst the streets were very quiet with little traffic on the roads, we felt perfectly safe walking back in the darkness. We noticed that most coffee shops/cafes and stores close around 5-6pm and most restaurants close by 10pm so it's not really the sort of place where you're going to be having a particularly late night. We didn't mind this at all as our partying days are well and truly behind us, plus we were planning on an early start the next day.
Lake Kawaguchiko at night
I hope you enjoyed this video and blog post concluding our first day at Lake Kawaguchiko. Day two will be coming soon.

Love Sheen xxx
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