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Published: October 18th 2006
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 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
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?
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
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