Saturday 25 October 2014

Japan: Mount Fuji and the bullet train

Although we don’t normally take tours in the places we visit, we decided to take an excursion to Mount Fuji. The trip began with a series of taxi and bus rides before we arrived at a bus terminal where another sequence of swapping bits of paper and stickers took place before finally getting on the road to Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji from Lake Kawaguchi
We sat behind the tour guide on the coach who, in addition to providing commentary throughout the three hours, provided instruction on the folding of an origami model of Mount Fuji and taught us how to sing the Fuji song in Japanese and English.

The views of Mount Fuji were quite splendid with a backdrop of dark blue skies above a curtain of yellow, green, red and orange trees. Cloud was beginning to set in as we arrived at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station for a precise thirty-minute stop.

Back on the bus, we headed for Lake Kawaguchi to the north of Mount Fuji for a Japanese lunch. At precisely 1.55pm, we met in at the boat quay for a short trip on the lake, which provided good clear views of the snow-tipped volcano, providing you could see above the heads of the sardine configuration of tourists. Mrs M would have preferred the speedboat ride; I thought the pink swan pedalos looked cool.

The guide had determined that there was a waiting time of over an hour for the Tenjosan Park Kachikachi-Yama ropeway (cable car), which was the next item on the itinerary. This meant that we would visit the Kubota Itchiku art museum in the hills on the northern coast of the lake to see an exquisite collection of kimonos. I was not the only chap in the group who probably took more interest in the impressive engineering of the building which built around a complex frame of 1000-year-old Hiba tree beams.

Shinkansen - Odawara stationOn the bus once again, the return journey took as to Odawara station where we boarded the Shinkansen to the Tokyo Central. The bullet train exemplifies Japan’s finest attributes: impressive engineering, efficiency, manners, cleanliness and punctuality.

At the central station, we took a taxi to the hotel, and headed with much haste to eat. Having dined magnificently on Japanese food during the week, the Italian restaurant was something of a disappointment.

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