My family and I visited Mt. Fuji, for the first time. It was about 83 miles west of Tokyo. We took a Gray Line tour bus, complete with a tour guide.1 We were dropped off at the “5th Station” which was 2400 Meters high. People stopped here and hike their way up Mt. Fuji, hoping to circle the crater so they can be blessed. People from young and old climbed the mountain. Very dedicated (and superstitious) bunch, these Japanese. We only had 30 minutes to look around, so couldn’t do a hike even if we wanted to. In the summer, the peak of Mt. Fuji is usually covered with cloud/fog.2 It was difficult to see the top. Our tour guide got so excited when she could see just a glimpse of it, and told us to take a photo of it (right). Not exactly the postcard version, but hey, we saw it!
Nearby Mt. Fuji, there’s a small city called Hakone. It’s famous for its hot springs. We visited and took photos. After taking a cable car ride, at one of the main hot spring area, the phosphors smelled so bad, it was unbearable to stay there too long. We didn’t stay too long. We started heading down to Togendai to catch a “pirate ship” ride.
The highlight of this Hakone & Mt. Fuji trip was taking the Bullet Train (Shinkansen) back to Tokyo. Amazing speed. Wonderfully clean. Highlighting the people again, I noticed the train crew always bows before and after entering through the door. The locals didn’t notice it much, but us Americans, were just astonished by the discipline and respect to tradition. The bullet train is the symbol of modern, yet highly traditional Japan.
- A nice little lady named Michiko-san [↩]
- Best time to see the peak is during cold winter, with snow cover. [↩]