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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Kawaguchiko

Monday, April 13, 2015

Kawaguchiko (Five Lakes), Japan - 2015

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 13/04/2015 12:05:02
Updated by Joel Dixon at 13/04/2015 13:21:04

My desire for visiting Japan included the bright lights, cartoon characters, crazy candy and some of the beautiful shrines (I guess). Pao on the other hand was mainly looking forward to cherry blossoms and views of Mt. Fuji. I'm pretty sure we can give the cherry blossoms a big tick. Now it just came down to Mt. Fuji.

I did a little bit of research regarding the best place to view the mountain - and it wasn't positive. It's possible to view Fuji from the Tokyo Sky Tree - but the big asterix is only on a very clear day. Our first week here has had a spattering of clear days - but on the whole it seems to be very cloudy in Japan. So eventually we settled on Kawaguchiko, one of the five lakes, which is very close to Fuji and should provide great views (on a clear day, of course). Kawaguchiko was also recommended as it could possibly provide the famous "double-diamond" view of Fuji reflecting off the lake. We went back and forth on whether to spend a few nights in the area (to maximise our chance of actually seeing the mountain) or just staying the one (so as to not spend a fortune on one of the few crazy expensive places that were still unbooked during this busy season). After many, many hours of discussion and research, we finally decided to cross our fingers and only book the one night and wake up for sunrise (best time to catch the mountain) - hoping the weather helps us.

The view of the mountain during the train to our hotel - the weather report for the next day was hopeful so perhaps this wasn't all we'd be getting

Once we arrived at our hotel we felt a little better about the stupid money we spent on the place, with a gorgeous outdoor onsen, free beers on arrival and very helpful staff. Once we headed up to our room we saw that we had a giant dining room and I wondered how big the bedroom was going to be. No time to think too much about the bedroom - our dinner arrived and it was amazing!

Even Pao was happy we ordered the Japanese dinner option - everything melted in our mouths - and we could even use our shabu-shabu skills

After dinner when we were unable to find the door to the bedroom until we realised that the dining room was the bedroom - and after we came back from our onsen they had removed the table and replaced it with tatami bedding. The tatami bedding was fun and interesting - but I certainly won't be replacing our king bed at home with one. We tried to get as early a night as we could for the 5:30am wake up.

The first view we had of the mountain - peeping at us over the clouds

The mountain was half-covered in cloud when we first woke, but after a half hour or so the top was pretty much clear so we started taking photos. I was happy with the shots we managed to snap, even though our cameras (and lack of photography knowledge) can only achieve so much.

Double Dustin
Double Diamond photos (or DDs) - great things

Probably the most Japanese photo I got while on holiday

Tired Mountain
We were both pretty happy at this point. More tired than anything else - but still pretty happy

We went back to the hotel room and it was pretty awesome sitting at our window in the hotel room watching as the mountain started getting drenched in sun. Eventually the rest of the clouds burnt off, and we got to watch as everyone else in the hotel were taking their own photos - making snarky comments.

Mount Sunny
Lots of sun - but also almost no reflection. Perhaps Mt. Fuji is becoming a vampire?

Mt. Fuji was clear the whole day, really vindicating our decision to only stay a single night. We were very lucky and completely spoilt by the mountain watching our every move as we continued on to the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park. Unfortunately we happened to have been in Kawaguchiko during the school holidays.

Our first view of the park - I started to get excited

Until I saw the line for the first ride - wait time of 2.5 hours

So I only got to go on two rides in the 5 or so hours we were there. The waiting wasn't all that bad as I had Pao there to go off for an hour to find some lunch and bring it back to me in the queue. The two separate two and a half hour lines is probably the most I've ever waited somewhere - but I still think it was worth it. The first ride, the Fujiyama used to be the world's tallest and fastest with the longest drop (all overtaken by Australia's Tower of Terror) and it was a lot of fun. The climbs were also designed with Mt. Fuji in mind - so as we ascended at the start of the ride Mt. Fuji cut an imposing figure which was great.

The Fujiyama pales in comparison to the Dodonpa however - still the fastest accelerating ride in the world, going 179 km/h in 1.8 seconds (also the fourth fastest). The Dodonpa made my afternoon, as we fired out of the tunnel I could feel the incredible speed and see the light rush before me. I would certainly love to come back to Highland again and spend a (non-school holiday) day.

Fuji-Q also had an ice rink that I would have liked to try - but it was a swimming pool by the time I got there

Just before heading off to Yokohama we had a quick local speciality meal at Houtou Fudou based on internet advice. Yet again the internet comes through as the meal was incredibly delicious - the soup was amazing, veggies nice, noodles interesting (in a good way) and the tofu was easily avoided. One of the top meals of the trip (which is some tough competition) and directly opposite the train station.

Never Touch
I'm pretty sure the ladle was given to us as a soup spoon - if not, I guess I made a fool out of myself

This is the 10th in the Super Fun Chronological Japan Travel Catalogue series
GET 1 - Nikko, Japan - 2015GET 2 - Ueno (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 3 - Akihabara (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 4 - Ginza (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 5 - Asakusa (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 6 - Shinjuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 7 - Harajuku (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 8 - Shibuya (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 9 - Odaiba (Tokyo), Japan - 2015GET 10 - Kawaguchiko (Five Lakes), Japan - 2015GET 11 - Yokohama, Japan - 2015GET 12 - Kamakura, Japan - 2015GET 13 - Osaka, Japan - 2015GET 14 - Kobe, Japan - 2015GET 15 - Hiroshima, Japan - 2015GET 16 - Himeji & Nara, Japan - 2015GET 17 - Kyoto, Japan - 2015GET 18 - Iga, Japan - 2015GET 19 - Nagoya, Japan - 2015GET 20 - Takayama & Gero, Japan - 2015GET 21 - Sakura & Bonus Wrap-up, Japan - 2015

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