Published: November 29th 2008November 29th 2008
Turn left & look up the hill
& this is our view from the hostel front door, not bad! The sun isn't always there but Mt Fuji is!
5 Lakes , -4 Degrees , 3 Bowls of Steaming Noodles, 2 Monkeys fighting, 1 Mt Fuji
Every country has its famous landmark; France has the Eiffel Tower; England has Big Ben; Australia has Sydney Opera House; Japan is unusual that its landmark was made by nature over a 400 thousand year period, in the form of Mt Fuji San.
The word "San" is used as a term of endearment, like one of the family, not close family mind more like an second auntie who's not really your auntie just a very close friend of the family, you know, the one who lived next door to your Mum when she was a young girl, you know, you only see her once a year usually at Christmas!!!
Our hostel (great place)
was in the shadow of Mt Fuji surrounded by the five lakes, each day we started our walk and were met by the mountainous figure of Fuji-san living up to all expectation, it is strange to see such a familiar sight in the hard rocky flesh. Armed with our maps we set off on our first walk, taking us up to Mt Oishi giving us fantastic views over
this time in the shadows of Mt Fuji
Lake Kawaguchi-ko and Fuji; the view we have only ever seen in books now standing in front of us in all its nude glory, bar a hat of cloud. It's all well and good having English maps but it doesn't help if all the signs are in Japanese, visions of us setting up camp in the mountains, hunting wild monkeys and berries for food, Rob growing a longer beard and Kirstin digging a well for water as dusk was quickly approaching but luckily we ran into three men and a large machete (which on a normal day would be scary but the thought of one night on the mountain was worse)
who pointed the direction we needed and off we trotted. Passed two monkeys fighting, luckily we didn't need to hunt them as we think we would have come off a very poor second! Made it down just in time for the orange and blue dusky sky and Mt Fuji-san's reflection in the lake.
Our second walk lacked killer monkeys and men with machete's but still had the beauty of the mountains and the ever pleasing views of Fuji-san
Japanese proverb says
A wise man climbs Mt Fuji once,
A fool climbs it twice
Rob Smith says A sensible person watches the wise man and the fool climb it!!!
You have to be lucky with the
Our just reward
after a three hour hike to the top of Mt Oishi
weather when you see a place for such a short space of time, luck was in the form of bright sunshine, brilliant big blue skies and a dusting of snow for Fuji but still pretty cold.
Pretty cold, it was bl**dy freezing walking around trying to find an eaterie and once we discovered the famous noodle lady (her handmade noodles were featured in a foodie magazine)
and her adorable husband, there was no stopping us as we visited the following two nights indulging in the same bowl of noodles with a hot sake to shake off the cold; it was the thought of this evening treat that kept us going in the bitter cold. Stepping out of the cold into their restaurant felt like we were being treated as one of the family, without having to do the washing up afterwards!
Is there such a thing as a perfect meal?
The answer is, there's no such thing as one
perfect meal. We have had many meals and many discussions regarding this subject and we can now conclude that even with the best chef in the world, in the best restaurant in the world, this does not mean the
The perfect meal
a hearty bowl of steaming noodle & vegetable soup, just what's needed after a long day walking in the freezing cold
perfect meal. There is so much more to it than that; it's the build up, the atmosphere and the company you are keeping, so for us stepping out of the freezing cold into someones lounge-like restaurant, greeted with the warmest of welcomes and ordering the Houtou udon, (highly recommended by our host)
and a hot Sake, this was perfection! The hot sake was served in a jar and the Houtou in a big black cauldron with a wooden lid, remove the lid and you're hit with a wall of steam and then the smell of a rustic earthy vegetable and udon noodle soup, it was just what we wanted and just what we needed. We didn't have the slick seamless service or symmetrical cut noodles and vegetables; we had the restaurant to ourselves and two fat men slapping each other in the form of Sumo on the TV. Perfection!!
Three Seasons in Three Days
Nikko was recommended to us by a gentleman who helped us on our very first day in Japan, following his recommendation we consulted our guidebook which read "splendid mountains crisscrossed by outstanding hiking trails
" and the rest as they say is history.
Lake Chuzenji in low cloud
Half of Lake Chuzenji was covered with this low cloud, the other in blue sky & sunshine
We arrived in Nikko with the sunsetting behind the mountains to the west, big clear skies, going from dark blue into light and returning to dark again with a nice cool wind in the air.
We stayed in a lovely Japanese guesthouse which would be our home for the next three nights. Warm and very friendly, definitely one of the best places we have stayed in. Owned and run by a beanie wearing, R&B music playing, Mini driving Angel, the sort of person you would happily adopt as your younger grandmother!
The next day started well enough, bright and cold but clouds were building high on the mountains above and it wasn't long before the clouds closed in around Nikko, first came that fine rain that soaks you through, wet and cold we returned to our guesthouse, at that point the heavens opened and stayed open for most of the night putting a potential dampener (no pun intended)
on tomorrows walk. Sticking to "plan A", we rose early to a moody sky with a light dusting of snow peppering the ground, nothing to write home about, so why are we writing home about it?! Heavy low clouds round
Start of our walk
in 10" of fresh snow, looking out over Lake Yunoko, Nikko
the mountains, the same mountains we were heading to.
The higher we got the deeper the snow and the heavier the cloud, our walk hadn't started yet, we got the bus up! Passing Lake Chuzenji the cloud was at its thickest and then..................................................
long pause for effect, it stopped like a solid wall of dark cloud, sunshine and cloudless bright blue sky began and so did our walk in some of the most beautiful landscapes and waterfalls we have ever seen, the snow was like champagne powder, making that crisp noise under foot. It was like a text book Christmas card, snow decorated the tree's and ice formed over small streams, with only two other foot prints on the snowy path we made our own tracks, concerns did arise when the other tracks disappeared and the Bear Beware signs began!!!
Nikko was truly a magical winter wonderland
It has been great to get out of the cities into the Japanese countryside, with our lungs full of fresh air we are reluctantly ready to hit big City life again!
There are more photos below