Thursday, December 25, 2014

Japan Trip - Part II: Tokyo/ Kawaguchiko/ Osaka

After spending a few happy days in Tokyo, it was time for us to embark on another adventure - climbing Mt Fuji!

There are a couple of areas around the Fuji five lakes area: Hakone, Kawaguchiko etc. We decided to base ourselves at Kawaguchiko, a beautiful scenic area.

How to go to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo: 
Go to Shinjuku Station and purchase the Fujikyu highway bus bound for Tokyo. The one way journey costs about 1700 yen and takes 2 hours if traffic is smooth. We met with a jam so it took like 3+hours?

By the way, this Matcha milk is ingenious. Lipton NEEDS to bring it to Singapore.

Arrival at Kawaguchiko Station!

Little town

To start climbing Mt Fuji, we bought a bus ticket to the Fuji 5th station at Kawaguchiko, which is the halfway mark of the Yoshida trail. There are lockers at Kawaguchiko where you can leave your stuff while you climb if you are not checking into your guesthouse first. That's what we did.

Arrival at Fuji 5th Station!! 2300m above sea level.

Hoards of tourists and local climbers.

There is a little restaurant for climbers to fuel their energy before starting the climb, but this ramen was so-so.

Clear view of Mt Fuji!!

Some advice for the climb:
We did an overnight hike in order to catch the sunrise. For amateur climbers like us, it took approx a total of 7-8 hours to reach the peak, with a rest stop in the middle. Our schedule was something like, start climbing at 5pm, rest stop at 9pm at one of the 8th stations, then continued climbing at 1.30/2am to reach the peak at 4+ am. The sunrise came out at 5am!

Not to be worried about not being able to reach the peak before the sunrise, as the station huts will let you know the timing of the sunrise and the time to wake up (Japanese and their precision with timing!). However, would be good to resume climbing early as the trails tend to be clogged with human jams during peak climbing seasons. If you are already at the 8th/9th station, it is fairly near to the peak.

It is also terribly cold at high altitudes despite it being summer, so do be sure to bring sufficient jackets especially windbreakers as the wind is crazy!!

Start of the long arduous climb...

There isn't much scenery at start.

This was how the top looked like at some point - you cant see the peak at all.

Top of the world feeling

Thought it was the peak? Fat chance

After gaining sufficient altitude to have a nice view

Right hiking boots are a must as there are NO proper steps... just uneven rocks like this.

Our rest stop!

When we finally reached the peak!! (yes no photos along the way because it was too dark plus i was too tired)

Some kind hikers made coffee for us because it was freezing at the peak


We were lucky to see such a beautiful sunrise!!

Mt Fuji itself is a volcano, so you can walk around the crater. There are also little shops selling souvenirs and RAMEN! Ramen at the peak is the most shiok feeling ever. Can you imagine those store owners have to climb Mt Fuji to even sell their stuff.

The journey down is even more tedious than the way up. Sun is super glaring so make sure you bring a pair of good sunglasses!! Its just tons of zig-zagged slopes down so best to just run down (not kidding). I kept falling down when I walked normally because the sand was quite loose. And, it gets dizzy after a while.

Sigh good bye Mt Fuji!!

After our super tiring climb, we headed for our guesthouse - Sakuya Guesthouse.
Price was slightly more expensive than our other accomodation but is the standard in the area. Plus, it's a traditional little guesthouse with Japanese style rooms, and they have ther own hot bath which I so very much love!! 

This is also the view from their hot bath!!! The best thing is, you can book the hot bath for your private use so OMG PRIVATE HOT BATH WITH A VIEW OF MT FUJI.

We opted for breakfast and dinner because the food totally owns any other hotel buffet. Lady boss' homecooked japanese meal :) 

The guesthouse is a 10 min drive away from Kawaguchiko station but the guesthouse provides transport to the station in the morning and pickup as well!!! how convenient :)

So the 2nd day, we started to explore the little town! It's a fairly quiet little town with some museums, herb shops, etc.

For some reason we decided to walk back to the guesthouse because we didn't want to wait for the pickup and wanted to use the hot baths before the other guests came back hahaha. Ok, we underestimated the distance, but it was quite an experience walking along the countryside roads. Truly different from the bustling streets of Tokyo.

Unfortunately we only had a short stay at Kawaguchiko, and it was time to head off to Osaka!

To get to Osaka from Kawaguchiko station, the most economical way is to take a bus from Kawaguchiko station to Mishima station, then from Mishima station take the Shinkansen to Osaka station!

To be continued with Osaka in the next post :)