Well, we just got back from a few weeks in Japan and sufficed to say, there are plenty of posts coming. But for now, lets focus on one of the more awesome places we went: Fuji Kawaguchiko.
Fujikawaguchiko is a Japanese resort town in the northern foothills of Mount Fuji. It’s a base for climbing the iconic volcano along the Yoshida Trail and surrounds Lake Kawaguchi, one of the scenic Fuji Five Lakes. It’s an area that’s home to many hot springs and golf courses, but as we went in February, we were a little off-season for seeing the perks of a Fujikawaguchiko summer.
Lodging: Rakuyu Ryokan
Rakuyu Kyokan is a traditional Japanese ryokan, or guest house. It’s all about luxury and features lakeview onsens, or hot-spring baths. Our room, as you can see below, featured a huge glass wall with beautiful views of the lake. While at a ryokan, guests wear yukatas, or traditional Japanese robes (see below again.) While men’s looks are pretty what-eva, women get to choose a new robe every day.
Unlike a western-style hotel, there are no beds at a ryokan. The rooms are very simple and nearly empty – no shoes on the floor, by the way. While you’re out an about during the day, or perhaps while you’re at dinner, the room attendants will come and put your beds out, which are essentially flat mats. You’ll sleep on the floor, but it’s incredibly comfortable. Plus, you’ll turn in after a nine-course dinner, if you stay at Rakuyu. With a menu changing daily, plenty of ability to accommodate vegetarian preferences (thanks!) and an impressive saki and Japanese whiskey menu, you have no excuse for going to bed hungry.
Other great perks about rakuyu include free train station pick ups, great amenities, tea and coffee all day, and a private onsen that can be reserved at very reasonable rates.
Mt. Fuji (of course!)
Of course, no trip to Mt. Fuji would be complete without, well, seeing Mt. Fuji – which is actually hard to do, I’m told. Mt. Fuji, as Japan’s highest peak, is usually obscured by clouds or grey skies. The best time to see it is when I went – late winter – but it’s always a crapshoot.
Fortunately, we were in luck and had amazing views. We took the Kachi Kachi Ropeway, which rises 1,000 feet from the eastern shore of Lake Kawaguchiko to an observation deck near the peak of Mount Tenjo. From the observation deck, which sits more than 3000 meters above sea level, there are panoramic views of the lake below and of Mount Fuji. Plus, you’ll enjoy a English and Japanese-narrated video featuring some kind of cartoon rabbit thing…of course.
At the top, there are some short hiking trails, though they offer more or less the same view of Mt. Fuji you’d get from the top of the ropeway. There’s also a photo stand at the top, a small snack shop, and a few other cheesy-but-endearing things to do – like the Bell of Tenjo which, if rung while looking out on Mt. Fuji, ensures whatever wish you make will come true.
It’s a good place to spend an hour or so and a must-do if you haven’t yet seen Mt. Fuji and you’re anywhere near the five lakes area.
Kachi-Kachi ropeway; all ages, inexpensive