Sunday, May 27, 2018

Japan Trip Day 2: Kawaguchiko

I was surprised that the sun already rose and the sky was already bright when I woke up at 5am. We left the hotel room at 6am and reached Shinjuku Bus Terminal at 705am. A mere 10 minutes away from departure. Gosh.. and initially we were planning to leave hotel at 630am lol. While queueing for the bus, a Japanese boy asked me in Japanese if it was the queue. Woah.. I can understand leh lol.. So happy although the only part that I understood from him was the number of the bus. Hahaha..

The bus journey to Kawaguchiko station was about 2 hours. One of the stopping points was Fuji-Q Highland. Reading and watching the roller coasters here are not as scary as seeing them in person. The loops and upside-down sections may not be as crazy as Battlestar Galactica or Flying Dinosaur but the height.. I can't imagine. Mount Fuji looked pretty on a clear sky and I was happy to be able to see that.

Kawaguchiko is like an "interchange" of the various buses, hotel pick-ups, train, etc. We put our bags in coin locker and went over to see the visitor center to contact our hotel later on. The information center has staff with good English so communication is not a problem here.

There are red, blue, and green lines of Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Buses which will stop at various places of interest and the area to be covered is huge. As I did not research anything, I followed my sister to go to Chureito Pagoda. We were lucky that the bus was leaving soon after we left the information center.

The first destination already left me quite emo. It was quite a climb to reach the pagoda. There is a normal winding way and there is "shortcut" of taking the stairs all the way. To save time so that we can visit more places, I chose the stairs T_T I do not mind climbing if the place is nice and cooling like Fushimi Inari but the stairs are completely open here and it was hot. After all the hardwork, the view up there was disappointing. Sigh.. Despite the heat, it had gotten cloudy and Mount Fuji was already covered. Haiz..
The actual pagoda. Nothing impressive :(
The view that I got
I am disappointed that I cannot get nice background like those in the internet at the viewing point. The viewing point is quite "low" so if I want my face to be in, the background of the mountain and the pagoda will be cut here and there. The viewing point is quite small and with all the tourists there is definitely not a nice place to be. Oh and there is an automatic camera there and that is the secret of the beautiful internet pictures as the automatic camera can take 24/7 to wait for the clear sky for visible Mt Fuji. I definitely feel cheated.
According to the map, there are still more things further up and they look quite interesting from the photos. In the end I decided not to proceed further up because: the walking path is getting wilder further up, I do not see anybody going further, and there are warnings of wild boars and bears.

Surprisingly we spent about 1.5hours and it was just nice for the next bus arrival. No wonder the bus schedule is only once every 1.5 hours. Our next stop was Oshino Hakkai. We got a bit lost as we misunderstood about the whole place. It is not a place of interest with an entrance. It is actually a small village with various springs/ponds around it. This place is an even bigger disappointment as compared to Chureito Pagoda as it is completely different from the pictures. The springs/ponds are actually small and look more like longkang to me with murky waters. Seriously those pictures in the internet are simply taken by photography aficionado with good angles to make uninteresting objects even look amazing. I did not even bother to take pictures to show how disappointing the ponds are.

With the double disappointment so far, we decided to just skip Ninja Village and return back to Kawaguchiko station. With the consideration that it was cloudy, we decided not to visit any other Mt Fuji viewing points from the other lakes because we would end up disappointed again. We managed to find a small eatery around Kawaguchiko station to have beef bowl for lunch. Then we walked to Lake Kawaguchi as I saw a directional sign showing that the lake is only about 800m away. The surrounding area is quite dead too although I sort of enjoy walking aimlessly to chill for awhile.
The view is not as exciting as Lake Ashi at Hakone.
We walked back to Kawaguchiko station and it was just nice 3pm and we could call the hotel to pick us up. We are staying at Mizuno Hotel and it is actually one of the hotels at the clusters of hotel across Lake Kawaguchi that we saw earlier. To our horror, the user review in Expedia is correct: the nearest konbini is Lawson across the lake (from the hotel) so we have no food whatsoever. No choice to get the Kaiseki dinner for 6480 yen per person. Well I have to be grateful that at least we still can get dinner. Yes thanks to my parents who suggested no dinner and eventually did not even come to this visit.

The lake and mountain view from balcony was amazing and was not a lie. Sadly Mt Fuji was covered in cloud. After exploring the hotel room for awhile, the cloud was coming down and Mt Fuji was slowly getting visible. After taking a few pictures, I decided to check out the onsen. As the check in time began in 3pm, there might not be a lot of guests checking in yet, it was a good time to use the onsen without having other people. The onsen was still dry and clean so it was nice having all the onsen by myself.

I was not too happy because the indoor onsen was dirty. I could see pubic hair (not mine!) floating and yellow-brown dirt at the bottom of the onsen. Yucks... I prefer the murky water type of onsen la. The glass at indoor onsen is frosted so there is no such thing as enjoying the lake and mountain view while sitting at the onsen. I checked out the sauna and from just opening the door I already felt that I was sweating. Hii.. Cannot understand how people enjoy sauna. There is another door (which I realised later on) which is actually the outdoor onsen.

Thank goodness when returning to the room, Mt Fuji got even clearer with the snow cap visible. It was still not as fantastic as those internet pictures or as the view I had when the bus was stopping by at Fuji-Q this morning but still this was the best view I experienced so far. I wore the hotel yukata to take pictures of course. That was the whole purpose of staying overnight here after all.
View from the hotel room balcony
After that it was time for dinner and I wanted to go down with the hotel yukata. My sister was paiseh but decided to go along. Then as we walked, we passed another guests and my sister said they were laughing at us. Sigh.. okay we went back to our room. I asked my sister (since she was so shy) to go down and take a peek at the restaurant to see if people were wearing normal clothes or the yukata. She said 50/50 so okay lets wear the yukata. Usually this is what I see in the movies or anime when they go to ryokan ma. Lol.

We spent about 2 hours for the kaiseki dinner. It was my first time and it was quite an experience. I like the concept of kaiseki a lot. During each course of meal, it felt that all the portion was quite small. However at the end of everything, I felt full. The whole meal felt quite relaxing too though it took 2 hours. Rice/carbo was served near the end so overall it felt quite healthy. It is definitely better and healthier experience than going for a buffet with the same end effect: get to try a little bit of everything and feel full in the end without getting sick.

Pardon my skills because usually I do not take photos of food. But since this kaiseki cost so much, let's take photos for memory sake. I skipped the Simmered and Seasoned Dish because the food would not be visible when I took the photo of the pot.
Aperitif (just looks big because of the photo)
Assorted Sashimi Plate
Steamed Earthenware Pot
Assorted Grilled Plate

Vinegared Dish
Hotplate & Salad
Hotplate & Salad, Meal
It was close to 9pm when we were back to the room. I wanted to brush my teeth and sleep but I decided that my tummy was too full. So I told my sister I wanted to take a nap first (lol.. ya what's the difference between nap and sleep). She woke me up near to 11pm. I wanted to shower again but when I realised there was only 1 small bath gel to last until tomorrow morning, I decided to shower in the onsen again. 11pm now and it should be empty. I was right.. Hahaha.. This time I went to the outdoor onsen also. It was quite cooling and a nice experience although because of the dark there was no view to enjoy. But still I enjoyed sitting down there enjoying the night breeze. Honestly I always felt uncomfortable that someone from a distant would see me naked with a telescope or something but I decided to heck care lah.

So that is for the second day. The sightseeing was disappointing and I got a sunburn around the neck. Thank goodness all the relaxing at the hotel since 3pm made me a bit happier at the end of the day. I would feel more emo if we could not see Mt Fuji at all from the hotel as it would make the whole staying overnight here a waste.

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