A mountain and some lakes.

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October 7th 2006
Published: October 18th 2006
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I am in Japan!!! A long way from Adelaide, Australia, but here I am in Shizuoka for a year teaching at an English Kindergarten while seeing and experiencing as much of this crazy, mixed up, amazing country as I can!

Alrighty then, here we go for another action packed Long Weekend!!!

Mum and Dad and Gran arrived on Thursday night (more about our adventures in Shizuoka in another blog) and for our weekends entertainment I had booked a hire car and an Inn at the base of Mt Fuji and prepared for a look at the Hakone-Fuji Five Lakes-Izu National Park.


We bussed it in to the city to pick up our super cool, GPS equipped, hot pink Cadillac (ok so in the photos the car looks like a silver Mazda, but trust me!) and we were on our way. I programmed in the Hakone tourist information centre, knowing that this would get us to the right area and then we could just wing it from there. We found a tourist info centre (not sure if it was the one I programmed in) and some water to eat lunch by and then hit the road
The first glimpseThe first glimpseThe first glimpse

We thought this was a good view!!!
Jack in our Cadillac.

Our next destination was Owakudani- the area around a crater created the last time Mt Hakone erupted (3000 years ago)! As Marissa and I have made a solemn pact never to climb any more mountains we caught the Hakone Ropeway and took in some killer scenery (including what we then thought was a great view of Mt Fuji) on the way up. As soon as you jump out of the cable car the rotten egg stench of this place hits you. Interestingly, Owakudani is renowned for selling eggs boiled in the hot springs (which turn black) and when eaten are said to prolong life by seven years. So I now pose the question- which came first the smell of the rotten egg or the egg?? Hmmmm.... Heres some thinking time.

Ok. So we survived sucking in the poisonous fumes and the ropeway trip back down the mountain and after a little bit of a challenge finding the correct phone number for the Inn the woman in the GPS was happy and we cruised onwards (and upwards- by the time we reached the motel we were 1000 metres above sea level- Shizuoka is at sea level- which is why it was the chilliest Ive felt in Japan for a few months).
When I booked the rooms at the Inn Fujitomita I was promised a view of Mt Fuji out of the window. I thought that this might mean that if we closed one eye and stood on our heads while holding a magnifying glass we might just be able to see it- but I had forgotten what country I was in- honest, polite and stick to their promises Japan. And stick to their promises they did- not only could we see Mt Fuji it felt like we could almost touch it, and when Marissa rearranged the beds a little we could literally lie in bed and stare at the mountain. Which, after having a lovely Italian meal on Lake Yamanaka, is exactly what we did.


Sunday morning we were woken by Mum just before sunrise to see, well to see the sun rise! Thats not rocket surgery. The dawn gave way to a beautiful, perfect blue sky, with just a few puffy white clouds to keep the goddess of the mountain hidden. It was very interesting
Picnic SpotPicnic SpotPicnic Spot

Mum and Dad loved the ready made food from the Shizu.
watching Fuji- san this morning, as it seemed that any clouds near it were being sucked vacuum cleaner style towards it, and once surrounding the crater they continued to circle around the top. I once read somewhere that Fuji can be likened to a geisha, with the clouds serving as her fan, always keeping her shielded and a little bit mysterious.

Well this theory was soon blown out of the water when, as we started our expedition to all of the Fuji Five Lakes, starting at Yamanaka where we had eaten the night before, the goddess turned her vacuum cleaner off and the clouds all but cleared, revealing that there has already been some snowfall in the Japan Alps this season.

We checked out Lake Yamanakaka (Im not sure if this is spelt with one ka or two-sources vary) known for its swans, both real and not so- some you can paddle in, another is a big sightseeing boat. The next of the five lakes was Kawaguchi, no swans here but whale paddling boats and a nice coffee shop for some trademark extra strong Japanese coffee.

The next phone number we programmed in was that for the Narusawa Ice Caves- caused by the last eruption of Mt Fuji in 1707, which have ice in them all year round and are 150 metres deep. This was somewhat of a conundrum because apart from one patch of stalagmites and stalactites the rest of the ice was in slabs that looked like it had been put there. Dad says its too keep it cold enough in Summer so the natural ice doesnt melt, but to me this kind of defeats the purpose. More thinking time required... What came first, the natural ice or the man made ice??

The ice caves conquered, we carried on to lake number 3- Saiko. There was some exictement on the way when we saw a sign for bat caves, but after this initial one there didnt seem to be any more signs, so we missed out on seeing Bruce Wayne (I was hoping for the George Clooney version) and having a ride in the Bat Mobile, our pink Cadillac was way cooler anyway. I dont really know which was my most favourite lake, but Saiko definitley has the coolest name and we had a yummy lunch here while watching the wind whip the water
Where are the chopsticks?Where are the chopsticks?Where are the chopsticks?

Unfortunately we left them in the car, but this worked just as well (better for Gran who struggled with the chopsticks!)
off the lake.

Lake Shoji, I have to admit, is a bit of a blur and I cant really think of any distinguishing factors for this one, but the brochure says its the smallest. Motosuko was the last one and I remember this one because it is 138 metres deep. Not really, that's what the brochure says, but I remember we drove three quarters of the way around it before coming to a road block and turning around and coming back again, and also for photographic GOLD!!!

Our expedition to each of the five lakes was over, and so we programmed in the number for the car rental place and headed for home. If only the car had an automatic driver we could of all had a snooze, but Marissa and I shared the driving and the oldies snored in the back. We passed the Asagiri plateau and heard the Red Hot Chillies warming up for Asagiri Jam and some waterfalls that might need exploring on a future road trip, before dropping off the car and catching a lucky bus home.

As you can see from the pics I LOVE MT FUJI and we still cant believe

Gran enjoying some sponge cake
that we were on top of it and I cant believe the amazing weather that we had over this weekend for just staring at it. I realise a lot of people wont understand and its a bit wanky, but this mountain holds a spiritual significance for me, the way its just there and its beautiful and ... well its hard to explain, but try climbing it and you might get it.

So all in all, Mt Fuji- not just a mountain!!!

You may have noticed this site has changed a little and you cant view all the photos at once, but just click on the underlined writing that says 'phtoto pages', then once youve looked at the first 15 click next and youll get the next series of 15 photos. Dont worry, its not Brain Science!!! Ha di ha ha

Additional photos below
Photos: 59, Displayed: 27


In a rickshawIn a rickshaw
In a rickshaw

This one was free to sit in and take photos.
Coz we're coolCoz we're cool
Coz we're cool

Cable car fun!
The boiled eggs at OwakudaniThe boiled eggs at Owakudani
The boiled eggs at Owakudani

Dad ate one but I wasnt game, they were served with soy sauce!
Thanks Dad!Thanks Dad!
Thanks Dad!

I said without the scaffolding!!

Nice one Marissa
Hakone RopewayHakone Ropeway
Hakone Ropeway

With a view of Tokyo in the background

Into the sun
He HeHe He
He He

10 points to anyone who can make sense of this!!!
Suck eggs!!Suck eggs!!
Suck eggs!!

These people couldnt get enough

19th October 2006

Hi Amy What a fantastic blog! I loved the pictures...did your Gran really pinch the zucchini? MAtthew loved Hakone and it seems as if the whole area is really great. It makes me want to come back to Japan, because all I have really seen before is Tokyo, and that is just one big city! I would love to see the Ice Caves. Spoke to your Mum last night...expect you did too. They seem to have had a great time and we hope to catch up soon. We are going to do some beading together (at least, that is the plan, I plan often to do beading with my Mum but we just end up chatting and sorting the heads into separate piles...therapeutic anyway I suppose!!). All OK here. Kids are back to school for final term. Matthew goes to Gooese Island this term and is really looking forward to it. Claire has pet day and can't decide whether to take her kitten, her rabbit or the new baby possums. Shandy (the dog) has been many times and won all the prizes, so I don't think she will get to go this time. More later!! Love Sheila Oh..can I forward your Blog address to my Mum (dnnichol@senet.com.au). She would love to see your pictures and hear your news...'specially as she now has a Japanese grandchild!!
19th October 2006

Just a Mountain
Nice pictures! Makes me feel like I went along too. I would have loved the Owakudani and Mt. Fuji views! And that picture of you in the pilots uniform is an instant classic. I can see the picture of your family's faces in the cut-out gondola one for the photo album! Ice caves are strange too... How much do you charge for sightseeing tours? :)
20th October 2006

What exactly is 'rocket surgery' or brain science'? Don't you mean rocket science and brain surgery! Too much crazy mt fuji air for you!
20th October 2006

Get with it Piper
Its no fun if you say it properly Peter.
26th October 2006

travelling at the desk
Why life as a teacher, why not in marketing for the Japanese tourism industry? I have enjoyed your photos and observations. Not sure about Dad now having 7 years on Mum. Thanks for your postcards too. Lots of Love.

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