Sunday, April 15, 2018

Japan Travelogue Day 2: Kawaguchiko Station - Mount Fuji

I’m finally back to continue on my Japan travelogue! I don’t know whether it’s bad luck or what but weather forecast for the entire week we were in Japan was rainy and one of the highlights of visiting Tokyo is definitely seeing Mount Fuji up close. I would definitely be disappointed if i didn’t get to see it, especially after hearing so many stories of people missing it again and again due to the weather. 

Then again, even if the weather forecast was rain (or even thunderstorm), i think i would still go ahead with my plan and travel all the way to Kawaguchiko, with a glimpse of hope to see Mt. Fuji. I planned the day trip to be on Day 4 of my week in Tokyo (forecast of rain by the way) BUT just before Day 1 ended, i randomly decided to check the weather forecast again and guess what, CLEAR SKY FOR THE NEXT DAY. With a stroke of luck, the weather changed.  
I immediately took out my macbook and spent the next hour making changes to the itinerary. The fastest (but the most expensive) route via public transport to Kawaguchiko station will take about 146 mins (almost 3 hours!) and cost ¥3,310, which is about SGD$40. If you want cheaper fare, then the ride will take longer. For example, 187 mins for ¥2,590 (SGD$31) I cannot imagine myself taking the train for close to 3 hours and not seeing Mt. Fuji :( Did i mention that the above fare is only one way?

Which is why i would totally recommend another option, which is to take the highway bus. WARNING: VERY POPULAR SO BOOK EARLY! A round trip from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko and back will cost ¥3,550 (SGD$42) which is way cheaper than your round trip via public transport and also faster at just 1 hour 45 mins each way! However do book in advance as these buses are very popular. We were lucky to grab the last couple of seats for the next morning before they were sold out. Other than boarding from Shinjuku, there is also an option to depart from Shibuya.  
The seats were comfortable, and after passing by FujiQ highland (the scary looking theme park with roller coasters), we arrived at Kawaguchiko station along with the other tourists. There were several ways to explore the area, like following a tour to the different “stations” but i did some research and decided to go for the “Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway” to get a good view of Mt. Fuji. The place used to be called Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway but i have no idea they changed name until recently.  
It’s about a good 15 to 20 mins walk from Kawaguchiko station. There are no signs pointing you to the direction of the ropeway so it’s best to rely on google maps to bring you there.  
Since it’s early and gonna be quite a walk, it’s best to get breakfast from their 7-eleven and eat along the way. The above is one of my favourite onigiri. It’s this soy sauce based rice ball wrapped with seaweed and it has a full seasoned egg inside. Super delicious and filling. I think it cost about $3?  
Really lucky to have clear good weather that day. 谢天谢地  
Round trip entry ticket on the ropeway cost ¥800 (SGD10) which is pretty cheap for an admission ticket.
The concept is just like a cable car, just much bigger and it brings you all the way up so that you get a panoramic view over Lake Kawaguchi and Mt. Fuji.  
Throughout the different seasons in Japan, your view up the ropeway will be different. Like in autumn, you probably go through the golden colored autumn leaves!  
Hello Mount Fuji! I’m so glad to be able to see you during my first trip to Japan! I heard it’s even prettier towards winter where you can see the snow capped peak! I’ve always seen photos taken from planes where they flew past Mt. Fuji. What a sight to behold.  
Other than admiring the mountain from afar and taking a gazillion photos, there are other things such as like ring the “Tenjo Bell” or Throw the “Kawara” clay cup but i will leave you to explore on your own. What everyone was really interested in was the “Tanuki Jaya” shop where they sell food and souvenirs for tourists. Most people will get the dumplings (shown above) which is like a warm mochi drenched in sauce or soy bean powder.  
During our visit there, they were selling limited grape soft serve which is a must get in my opinion. Very refreshing and delicious, even came with one huge delicious grape on it!  
Another novelty food was this “Mount Fuji” dessert which is something like the raindrop jelly with sauce and soy bean powder (again) It’s pretty lame but when you are a tourist, you just want to get everything to try. HAHAHA  
We spent about 2 hours at the top taking photos and eating before heading down.  
At the bottom of the hill, there was this makeshift fruit stall selling the most visually appetising fruits. Big juicy looking apples at ¥400 each, HUGE grapes costing up to ¥3000 (SGD37) a bunch which is almost the cost of our bus fare to this place! We bought the basic ¥700 bunch and it taste pretty good but i honestly prefer the sweet ones i had in Korea.  
Really nice and relaxing to take a day trip out of busy Tokyo in such a good weather. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the area and admiring the surrounding, munching on our expensive grapes, LOL  
Returned back to Tokyo and headed to one of the JR Tokai Tour office to purchase our advance tickets to Osaka via Platt Kodama Shinkansen. A one way trip from Tokyo to Osaka cost ¥10,500 (SGD128) Sounds expensive but it’s probably the cheapest way to travel via the Shinkansen. I will explain more in one of my later post :)  
Being a huge fan of Tendon, i would definitely want to give it a try in Japan! Did some research and chanced upon TENDON TENYA - 天丼てんや which is a chain restaurant which serves both wallet and tastebud-friendly tempura meals. Not exactly the best but good enough.  
Ordered the standard bowl with a side of onsen egg. There are a lot of choice depending on what you want in your bowl. The “all star Tendon” will cost you just ¥720 with a side of miso soup. Definitely value for money! I don’t know why but i sort of prefer the one i had at Tanjong Pagar, Singapore. Slightly more expensive but the ingredients were a lot more and filling. 

With that said, this is the end of my Day 2 Japan travelogue! Hopefully this post provided some insights for those planning a day trip to Mount Fuji! If you intend to stay over Lake Kawaguchi area for a couple of days, you can also checkout Gotemba Premium Outlets, Japan's most popular outlet mall, located in Gotemba City at the base of Mount Fuji, not far from Hakone. 

If not, do stay at one of the traditional Ryokan (traditional japanese inn/ guest house) or hotels with an onsen which gives you a magnificient view of Mount Fuji. I just have to say this again, really really lucky to have clear blue sky for one of the days during our one week in Tokyo. As expected, the rest of the week were rainy. Even at Disneyland and DisneySea which i will cover in the next 2 posts! 

Till the next post!