Mt Fuji at last...
We knew today was going to be a blue sky day so Lisa and I left the hotel by taxi in the dark at 5:20am to take us the 20 minutes from Lake Kawaguchiko to the Temple of Chureito Pagoda at a cost of about £20. Pagodas are traditionally towerlike, tiered structures traditionally associated with Buddhist temples. This temple was built in 1963 as a memorial to those who died in wars between the mid 18th century and World War II. This one is particularly well known for having an iconic view of Mt Fuji and I was not gong to miss the opportunity !
We were dropped off in a dark, wet and muddy verge at the base of over 400 steps and we asked the driver to return in an hour. We then started the 20 minute ascent.
About a third of the way up the old taxi driver had run with a torchlight to catch us up and advise via google translate that the return was not possible so we were on our own on the hillside in the dark with signs warning of bears, wild boar and monkeys – I was in my element.
A real life WOW moment...
About 90% of the way up and as the sun was just coming through Lisa told me to turn around and at that moment I caught a glimpse of a crystal clear Fuji towering above the clouds – possibly one of the most amazing natural sites I have ever witnessed and then when we reached the top despite being unable to breathe, talk or move due to muscle fatigue we joined about 12 other early risers to marvel at the view and take some pics – just magic! There was a sign saying no tripods and along side I found it amusing there were about 5 guys using tripods.
Soon after 6:20am clouds started to form around the top so we walked down and then through a fabulous residential area to Shimoyoshida station and then had a wonderful train journey back to Kawaguchiko with a much needed hot coffee straight out of a vending machine.
Saiko Bat Caves & Lakes...
We then purchased a two day bus pass for 1500 yen each so about £12 that gives you unlimited travel to all the many lake attractions – this is amazing value for money and the little map and timetable is a godsend!!
There were a number of sites we enjoyed throughout the day be it nature parks, wildlife centres or just the amazing views but the place I enjoyed the most was the Bat cave complete with a mini museum complete with a rather random Batman TV poster display !!
Here I had the opportunity to don my hard hat and crawl underground through tight lava formations looking for bats. I never saw one however I did see Martyn Cheatle and his lovely wife for a selfie!! Amazing who and where you bump into people in the world !!
Yesterday will live long in my memory as I not only saw the iconic Mount Fuji but also discovered that there is so much more to Japan than the bright lights of Tokyo or the history and mystique of Kyoto.