Return to the Rising Sun, Days 7-8: Beautiful Kawaguchiko & A Climb on Mt Fuji

Day 7

The final day in Shinjuku.  We packed up our belongings before heading to Shinjuku Station where we said good-bye to Andrew.  And then there were four.

Mat, Dave, Amy, and I hopped on a train and began the two hour trek to Kawaguchiko which lies at the base of Mt Fuji.  Traveling by train was a very pleasant way to see the country and it was neat to see the crammed buildings of the city begin to give way to foliage and open countryside.  Heck, I finally saw my first gas stations by taking the train.

Kawaguchiko is a very pleasant small town, not unlike the many I’ve visited for my B & B reviews.  And, would you believe it, we actually stayed in a B & B called Koe House.

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Koe House

Koe House is a dormitory style B & B not unlike a hostel.  Because of this, you may room with strangers.  For our first night, we briefly had a roommate from Malaysia who was going to climb Mt Fuji from the very bottom.  He was not in our room for long and left at 11pm.

The room was a little uncomfortable.  My roommates didn’t like the hard bunk beds.  The room was stuffy due to the humidity and the little fan mounted on the wall didn’t do much for circulation, though we got a nice cross breeze going once we opened the windows and the temperature dropped dramatically at night to a very pleasant level.

We had our lunch right across the street at a little ramen joint.  I had a soy sauce and pork ramen which filled the hole nicely.  We then walked off our meal at Lake Kawaguchiko which made for a lovely afternoon.  Afterwards we returned to our room to relax and get cleaned up.  Be certain to bring your own towels as Koe House charges a rental fee for them and for using the laundry (300 yen a load).  There is also no dryer, though there is a rack outside to hang your clothes.

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Soy sauce ramen

We didn’t do too much for the rest of the night except stop at a 7-11 to pick up some light snacks for dinner.  I had a rice ball with some sort of spicy sauce in the center as well as a surprisingly good ham sandwich with the best mayonnaise I’ve ever tasted.  As Mat explained, Japanese mayo uses more vinegar which explains the wonderful tang I got off of it.

Day 8

It was an overcast day, but the temperature was fine.  Ironically, the terrible weather set to plague the area never manifested so we would have been able to climb Mt Fuji, but a decision had to be made and there are no regrets.

We started with breakfast in the small restaurant on Koe House’s first floor.  Breakfast is included in the stay and we dined on eggs, cabbage salad, and thick slices of toast with butter and orange marmalade.  I had never tried marmalade before, but rather liked its taste.

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Koe House breakfast

We did hop a bus and ride to Mt Fuji’s fifth station.  It was interesting being up in the clouds which were so thick that it made getting a decent view difficult though it cleared up from time to time as a light rainfall dissipated the clouds.

After looking around the station (which is very touristy) we began a brief climb on Mt Fuji to get an idea of the experience.  The weariness on the faces of the people returning from the top clearly showed the difficulty of the trek.  You do need to be well rested and in fairly good cardio shape to attempt the climb.

We walked up about a half hour before a rainfall drove us back, but it was enough to get an indicator of the climb.  One would expect to climb for about 20-30 minutes, rest, then repeat the process all the way to the top of the mountain.

Our little group grabbed lunch at one of the restaurants where I had hot green tea, iced cocoa, and a lava ramen.  This was easily the best bowl of ramen I have ever eaten as it hit the spot after I spiced it up even more.  One thing that surprises me is that Japan is known for its small portions, yet the eateries always serve a good sized bowl of ramen.

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Lava ramen

With a good lunch in our systems, we wandered around the gift shops for an hour before returning to Kawaguchiko.  We would have an early start tomorrow so we relaxed in our room and played cards until bedtime.

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