Mount Fuji 5 Lakes Roadtrip
21 Nov, 2010
We decided to go on another road trip! This time with a group of friends. One weekend, 10 people and 2 cars…sounds good! The objective was to see the autumn leaves somewhere in the countryside of Japan. The autumn leaves in Japan are almost as famous as the cherry blossom in spring.
On November 5th we went to Mazda rent-a-car after class, to pick up the cars and drove back to school to pick up our friends. After getting a bit lost in Kawaguchiko we finally arrived at the hostel around 11 p.m. We had some drinks and went to bed early so we could get up early the next day.
Next day we woke up early as planned. We were lucky because the weather was just perfect! First stop was lake Kawaguchiko. The lake was just a few minutes drive from our hostel. So it was a nice spot to go first and have some (combini) breakfast at the same time. The lake itself was surrounded by mountains and trees. It was really beautiful to see!
From the lake we could see a ropeway nearby so we decided to go there and take a look. The Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway goes up to an observation point on Mount Tenjo.
From here you can see the beautiful lake Kawaguchiko.
And from the other side we could see Mount Fuji! I wasn’t really expecting this so it was absolutely breathtaking when I saw this huge mountain. Seeing it from afar I really couldn’t believe we climbed it all the way to the top just a few months ago!
All around this viewpoint there were these cute cartoons of a rabbit and a Japanese raccoon. We had no idea what this was but I just read on Japan-guide that these characters are from Dazai Osamu’s folk story “Kachi Kachi Yama”, for which the ropeway is named. In this story the rabbit gets revenge on a thieving tanuki (Japanese raccoon) by setting him on fire and drowning him in a river. Seriously?! And I thought they looked cute…
We walked around a bit and after a while we decided to hit the road again, on to the next lake!
On our way to the next lake we came across some signs pointing to Lava Caves! Of course we had to stop and take a look.
We had to walk through some nature before entering the cave.
Here we are! According to japan-guide.com in the past, this cave was used as a natural storehouse and refrigerator. Because the temperature inside stays at a relatively constant zero degrees Celsius throughout the year. The cave is furnished with a few shelves that store boxes of acorns and silkworm cocoons from the past. To be honest it wasn’t really that interesting…
Next lake: Lake Saiko!
The clouds had just covered Mt Fuji in the background. The water in this lake was so clean! We also stopped here and had lunch at a restaurant near the lake.
On our way to the next lake we also stopped by Iyashi no Sato. This place is built in the style of a traditional village with thatched roof farmhouses. It looked really nice from the outside but we decided not to enter this village because the sun was already going down and we still wanted to visit 2 more lakes this day.
From the village we could also see Mt Fuji again.
Next lake is Lake Shojiko. This lake is the smallest of the five lakes surrounding Mt Fuji. Driving around this lake we saw an accident had just happened! Because there were policecars and firetrucks at the scene. A car had apparently driven off the cliff and into the water… I took a picture of it, but unfortunately it’s too far to see it clearly. If you look closely to the picture on the right you can see something red in the water :P.
Apart from the accident there wasn’t much to see at this lake. So we got in our cars again and drove to the last lake of the day.
This is lake Motosuko. With the sun just going down, this was really a picture perfect scenery.
We drove the cars to the famous observation point near the lake. This spot is best known for its appearance on the 1000 yen bill, see picture below!
After this lake we decided it was enough sightseeing for one day. It was getting dark and cold outside and seeing this place was also best known for its onsen, we were ready for some relaxing! It was actually my first time to go to a Japanese Onsen! And I can tell you it is really nice! Especially after walking around all day in the cold. They also had an onsen outside which was the best!
Next day our plan was to visit the last lake, Lake Yamanakako (left pic). This is the largest of the 5 lakes. There were quite a few camping area’s surrounding the lake.
This lake is popular for fishing and all kinds of water sports. On this day we saw a lot of these activities happening.
Time for some ほうとう (Hoto noodles)! This is a local hot pot dish well known in the Yamanashi prefecture. The dish consists of thick wheat noodles in a miso based soup and is often served in an iron pot. This restaurant was PACKED. We had to wait for about 20 minutes before we could enjoy the noodles. But it was well worth the wait! It was realllyyy good and we were stuffed at the end! It was too much, but so delicious.
This is lake Kawaguchiko again. We went back here to eat some cheese cake at the shop we saw the day before. The colours of the trees are just amazing.
At about 3 pm, we headed back to Tokyo again. Good thing we went back this early. Because, as usual, there were traffic jams towards Tokyo! We had to get the cars back at Mazda at 8 pm and we had just made it in time!
Good friends, lots of laughter, beautiful scenery, nice food, relaxing onsen…This weekend was just perfect! I think we should do it again before we go back home!