The weather was perfect on Friday, May 2, as we left Kyoto and headed back east. We were on our way to Fujiyoshida City, approximately 100 km west of Tokyo, and unfortunately not easily accessed by train from Kyoto! Mom, Bro, and I took the Shinkansen from Kyoto all the way to Tokyo, then switched to an express train, and finally switched to a private train! Altogether it took us five hours to get to Fujiyoshida. Yikes. However, despite mine and Mom’s apprehensions, the extra time was worth it when we caught our first glance of Mt. Fuji. We couldn’t believe how big it was, and how big it continued to get as we got closer and closer to Fujiyoshida, a city right on the base of it!
Our excitement continued when we got to our hotel and looked out our window – Mt. Fuji was literally in our backyard!
Because the trains took so long, we didn’t get to our hotel until suppertime. We had supper (gyudon!) at a nearby restaurant and then headed back to the hotel to relax. The hotel actually had an onsen, or a public hot springs bath. I was excited to try them, but also nervous – it would be my first real onsen experience and, as with all onsen, you have to bathe completely naked! I convinced Mom to go with me (thanks for being a good sport, Mom!) and together we went down to the baths. Fortunately we were late enough going that there weren’t many other women using the baths. We sat in an inside bath for a long time, but the water was almost too hot, so I went to one of the outdoor baths while Mom went back up to our room. The outdoor bath was beautiful – there was a gorgeous garden built around it and, if it were daytime, I’m pretty sure you could have seen Mt. Fuji! It was so peaceful to sit outside and I’m so glad that the naked factor didn’t make me chicken out!
The next morning, we got up, packed, and stored our bags with the hotel staff before heading for the Arakurayama Sengen Park and the Chureito Pagoda. We walked from our hotel to the park – approximately 45 minutes – but as we were too busy staring in awe at Mt. Fuji the whole time, the walk was quite pleasant! (We also stopped for delicious ice cream. In fact, we had an ice cream every single day of the trip! Talk about yummy!)
For those who don’t know, coming to Japan had been a dream of mine for over nine years. During that time, one of my all-time favourite pictures of Japan was a picture of Mt. Fuji with a red pagoda and cherry trees in the foreground. (Just Google image search Japan and you’ll know what I’m talking about!) I loved that picture and even had it as my computer’s desktop background for several years! So, you can only imagine how I felt when Mom, Bro, and I climbed the 473 steps to the Chureito Pagoda and were treated with that exact picture-perfect view.
Pretty much, there are no words.
Unfortunately, we had missed cherry blossom season by a few weeks, but the trees were green and the sky was clear. The view was even more amazing in person! Pictures can’t do the size and beauty of Mt. Fuji justice.
We spent a long time here, just enjoying the view and the hot (30 degrees C), sunny weather. It was definitely one of my favourite places that we visited!
Finally, tired from the walk (and sunburned, in my case!), we took a taxi to Kappa Sushi, a conveyor belt sushi chain restaurant, for Mom and Bro’s first sushi experience! I literally stuffed my face with my favourites (there is no graceful way to eat sushi!), while Mom and Bro did a good job at trying several different kinds. I don’t think our sushi lunch was their favourite meal of the trip, though. ;)
After lunch, we picked up our bags from the hotel and boarded the train. In only 2.5 hours, we would be in Tokyo for the last leg of our trip!