Tag Archives: kawaguchiko


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Last week, we were for­tu­nate enough to wit­ness a Japan­ese pub­lic hol­i­day [no school!] cel­e­brat­ing elder­ly peo­ple; to com­mem­o­rate this day we decid­ed to go and see the Fuji Five Lakes! We man­aged to recruit nine eager JLSPers and set off ear­ly on Sun­day morn­ing for the bus to Fuji from Shin­juku. We had a few ‘com­pe­tent’ Japan­ese speak­ers with us so I felt safe in know­ing that we would be able to ask for help from the locals, if required. I sat next to Phoebe who pro­claimed with­in the first five min­utes: ‘I’m feel­ing real­ly ill!’ and ‘I’m going to go to sleep, so I prob­a­bly won’t talk!’; I knew I was in for a fun bus jour­ney! To her cred­it, she only slept for half of the jour­ney and had the decen­cy to not sneeze in my direc­tion so I guess things could have been worse 🙂 We passed the Fuji High­lands theme park on the way there, and in hind­sight that prob­a­bly would have made for a much more inter­est­ing hol­i­day…

If only…

Due to the traf­fic, we arrived at Lake Kawaguchiko about 2 hours lat­er than we thought we would. The lake was extreme­ly scenic and was filled with swan boats akin to those found in Ueno park. There were also var­i­ous lux­u­ry boats and water sports tak­ing place. How­ev­er, some of us had our hearts set on swim­ming and so we set off to find more suit­able place, Lake Saiko. The map claimed that it was 12KM away and we had a seri­ous debate on whether or not it would be a good idea to walk there [I vot­ed NO!]. We man­aged to fig­ure out the local bus sys­tem and took one along some moun­tain­ous paths towards Lake Saiko. We found an open spot near the lake and set­up our camp for the day.

Kawaguchiko Crew!

We were in a rather awk­ward posi­tion on the lake, right in between some­one who was fish­ing and a pile of old wood­en boats. ‘Swim­ming’ became bor­ing sur­pris­ing­ly quick­ly [cold water did not help!] and so we had to think of anoth­er way to spend our time. Although there were 3 oth­er lakes that we had not yet seen, I doubt­ed my lev­el of inter­est in them and so I decid­ed my time would be bet­ter spent lying on the shore of Lake Saiko, work­ing on my tan. I was joined by the Finns and we waved the oth­ers good­bye after sug­gest­ing a vague ren­dezvous time [‘meet lat­er, in town’]. We had sol­i­dar­i­ty in our dis­like of ‘doing stuff’ and we were per­fect­ly hap­py to just relax on our lit­tle ‘beach’ and watch the sun slow­ly set in the dis­tance.

Beach life.

Our bliss­ful exis­tence was inter­rupt­ed by an alarm­ing phone call from the oth­ers, who now found them­selves ‘in the mid­dle of nowhere’ and with no way to get back in time for check in at the hos­tel. It was up me and the Finns to make it to there in time and save the day! At the time, we had no idea where we were, where we want­ed to go, and how we were going to get there; the odds were heav­i­ly stacked against us suc­ceed­ing! There was no sim­ple to way to get back to town from our cur­rent posi­tion, so we decid­ed to take the easy [and expen­sive] option and call for a taxi. We stum­bled into a near­by hotel and I man­aged to ges­ture for them to call a taxi for us back to Lake Kawaguchiko [much hard­er than it sounds!]. The taxi cost the prince­ly sum of 3,700 JPY but it was a small price to pay to ensure that we had some­where to stay that night. We then took a train from the town towards the hos­tel and used all of our com­bined cun­ning to locate it. Upon enter­ing, we had to take off our shoes and wear com­mu­nal slip­pers. We assured the hotel clerk that our friends were going to arrive lat­er and she us into the room after sign­ing a few doc­u­ments.

When the oth­ers arrived, we asked the hos­tel own­er [an Amer­i­can guy by the name of ‘Michael’] to rec­om­mend some places to eat, and he walked us to his friends place for some real tra­di­tion­al cui­sine. He seemed like a real­ly nice and gen­uine guy so we trust­ed every­thing he said. How­ev­er, the food and drinks at the restau­rant were rather expen­sive, and the par­tic­u­lar dish I had [fried octo­pus] did not go down well at all. The oth­ers shared my thoughts! Com­pared to oth­er places I had been to in Japan, this did not rank high­ly on the list. Per­haps we just aren’t used to eat­ing ‘real’ Japan­ese food? The more like­ly con­clu­sion that most of us had come to was that we had been set­up by the hos­tel own­er! We head­ed to the 7/11 after­wards to sup­ple­ment our diet with ice cream and then went back home for a well-earned rest.

I will now quick­ly sum­marise the few days fol­low­ing the Fuji Five Lakes trip. I am mas­sive­ly behind in terms of real time so I think it’s bet­ter for me to catch up now or else I will quick­ly lose enthu­si­asm for blog­ging — not good! If you want to hear about any­thing in more detail, feel free to ask.

- Sec­ond day at Five Lakes; vis­it­ing some shrines and parks; saw lots of spi­ders

Stairs, tem­ples, moun­tains.

- Lucy’s birth­day; karaoke and drink­ing in Shibuya; lots to live up to for my birth­day!
— Trip to Life Sav­ing Cen­ter; earth­quake and typhoon sim­u­la­tion; chance to use a fire extin­guish­er

Sim­u­la­tion of a 7.0 mag­ni­tude earth­quake!

- Shabu Shabu in Shin­juku with some Japan­ese vol­un­teers; dip­ping meat in raw egg; karaoke trip #3

Post shabu-shabu karaoke.

- Yoyo­gi Park with Kaisa-chan; some kind of Indi­an fes­ti­val near­by; ate a don­er kebab

Yoyo­gi Park!

- Aki­habara, Elec­tric Town; tech heav­en; sur­pris­ing­ly expen­sive

A wild Pikachu has appeared!

- Aiki­do at the uni­ver­si­ty club with Tom and Phoebe; real­ly fun to try, peo­ple very friend­ly and patient; may con­tin­ue reg­u­lar­ly!