Visited April 2011
Day 6: Kawaguchiko
Having missed seeing Mount Fuji the last two times, I was determined that this time round, I should spot the iconic snow-capped mountain of Japan. But our trip there from Kyoto was not an easy one. Having had to transfer trains 2-3 times, we got pretty confused midway through our journey. Thankfully, the instructions given by the train station guide was clear, as we bought some ekiben to tide us through our hunger pangs.I do not know how Japan manages to prepare such sumptuous packed meals, butAfter close to a 5 hour trip, we finally arrived at Kawaguchiko train station. There, we hopped onto the Retro Bus, and made our way to Kawaguchiko Herb Kan. Depending on where you alight, the bus fee differs. their train-packed-meals are as delicious as what you would get at restaurants! (More info here)
Alighting at the herb hall, the view there was beautiful, as a lake greeted us in sight. Within the herb hall itself were various brightly coloured flowers, to the delight of females like me.Our second stop was the Ukai Music Forest, a small theme park and museum devoted to automatic musical instruments. As I prepared an online coupon earlier, we paid a discounted fee of ¥1,200. Unfortunately when we got there, the place was under renovation/cleaning. It was quite a bummer as the ponds were not filled with water. Otherwise, the place was still presentable, as we took a tour around the museum. When we ended, a wonderful view came into sight. (Ah finally!)Next was the Kachi Kachi Ropeway, which goes up to more than 1000m to an observation deck for a panoramic view of Mount Fuji.Moving on from Kawaguchiko, we navigated our way to Shimoyoshida through a little town before coming to Arakura Sengen Shrine. As we the sun was setting, it was a mad rush to find the pagoda before the light dimmed away. Alas, in our haste, we missed the pagoda, and instead headed all the way up the mountain. It was no small feat climbing up all the steps, and I am put to shame by some of the Japanese elders coming for their evening walks.
After deciding to backtrack, one of my travelling partners finally spotted the pagoda, much to the disbelief that we were able to miss such a huge structure. As light continued to fade, I could only hope that the camera I had was able to get the job done.Sadly, I felt that it could have been a lot better, with less noise on the pagoda, better lighting, and more sakuras on the trees down below. But Mother Nature knows best, and I decided it’s better to know contentment.
Nonetheless, for our first time there via free and easy, I think I did a good job in finding our way there as I was the itinerary planner. And since I have been there, done that, getting there again next time for a better shot should be way easier. (I do think it’s Japan’s way of making me visit Mount Fuji again though).
An adventure happened on our way back though. As the stations do not clearly indicate which direction the trains head, we boarded the wrong train. This led to us backtracking again, which resulted in us missing our last train back from Yokohama! Stranded with no luggage, thankfully we spotted a nearby Toyoko Inn, as we had no choice but to check-in and stay over for the night, before catching the first train out to Kyoto the next morning.
Oh what a day!