Shinkansen, Mt. Fuji!
We got up very early since we had to catch an 8am Shinkansen train to the Mount Fuji region of Japan. The Shinkansen train is the fastest train in the world. The main route is from Tokyo to Hiroshima. The website that we found this on is http://jreast-shinkansen-reservation.eki-net.com/pc/english/common/menu/menu.aspx There are varying times, but trips that would take anywhere from 6 hours with normal trains, only take about a hour and a half. Prices are around 13000 yen one way, but there are passes available. So we decided that to best suit our time we would take the Shinkansen to Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately none of us can read maps or follow instructions properly so we got on the wrong train! We asked a younger man that spoke English pretty well if we were on the right train as we noticed the train wasn’t going to the same stations as the brochure said it would. He told us we have gotten onto the wrong train and instructed us to get off at the next station, go back to the main station and then catch the train on the other side of the platform. We followed his instructions and sure enough we saw many tourists and school groups waiting to get onto the same train. We were even curious as to why the train first train we got on left 30 minutes too “early”. Anyway we got on the right train in the end and were at the Kawaguchiko Station. The hostel we were staying at was right in front of the station called Kawaguchi-ko Station Inn. It was quite affordable and close to all the attractions we would be visiting. We met some Japanese tourists there that were just getting ready to start their evening hike of Mount Fuji. They told us all about the mountain, which buses we can take up to the starting point of the hike etc. We told them we were not interested in doing the hike because we are not very experienced hikers and it’s not the official climbing season, plus our friend has foot issues so she can’t walk or climb for very long. They said that the mountain looks nicer from afar anyway and that they were only going for the views from the top. They like to come here before the official climbing season begins which runs from July 1st until August 31st so they can avoid the big crowds, plus they are experienced climbers so low temperatures and strong winds don’t scare them too much. They also mentioned that it can get pretty stinky with all the tourist crowds up there. We didn’t quite understand what they meant, so they showed us what they were going to be carrying on their backs. It was a “clean mountain can” or so they called it which is a tube one carries his own excrement in. The thought was quite disturbing which immediately made us decide to delay lunch time but at least we didn’t feel as sad anymore that we weren’t going on the hike. Instead we would spend 2 days visiting the lakes, caves, hot springs and many other cool places.
Here's what the Fuji Region looks like:
After we unpacked our stuff we went to buy a 2 day pass for the Kawaguchiko and Saiko-Aokigahara line retro buses which would allow us to travel freely to any of the 5 Lakes attractions. It cost us 1300 yen each which was not too bad. We caught a Kawaguchiko line bus to the Kawaguchiko Music Forest theme park. It’s a park/museum dedicated to automatic musical instruments. It was quite amusing walking into the park, the outside has European styled gardens, a restaurant, tourist shops and a chapel with beautiful views of Mount Fuji across the lake. We were very lucky to get such a good view of the mountain on our first day; many have complained that because of the clouds they couldn’t see the mountain from afar for days even in the high season! Inside the museum they had antique music boxes mechanical organs and many other automatic instruments on display. The biggest instrument they had was French “Fairground Organ” from 1905 which actually took up an entire room. It plays music every 30 minutes and is the museums main attraction. There is also a concert hall here where classical musicians come and play from all parts of the world. Next we went to visit the Kubota Itchiku Museum which is only one station down from the Music Forest. The museum displays kimonos created by Kubota who spent his lifetime reviving the lost art of Tsujigahana silk dying. It was impressive seeing how skilled this man was, these kimonos were truly master pieces. Everyone’s favorite kimono seemed to be one named “Symphony of Light” and although it was never fully finished it was his best creation. It portrays the idea of nature and cosmos and is encompassed by 80 kimono put together that form a wonderful picture of Mount Fuji. We had a good time visiting the museums so we decided to spend the rest of the evening outside and have a mini picnic by Lake Kawaguchiko where the views of Mount Fuji were said to be one of the best and the cherry trees had just blossomed. We saw quite a few professional photographers taking pictures around the lake and it was no surprise, it was the perfect day to sit around the lake, observe the views and take some breathtaking pictures to show people back home. We left at around 7pm to catch the bus back to our hotel. On our way back we looked through all the photographs we had taken throughout the day, they were all wonderful and we couldn’t wait to get back and post them on Facebook.
This is a photo of the Music Forest Theme Park