Thursday, June 11, 2009

Mt Fuji..

Our last trip before ken's parents left was to visit the oh so famous Mt. Fuji. Initially it was only going to be a one day trip, but after realising that the drive there was going to be a whole 4 hours, an over night stay was a better plan.

The best time to see Mt. Fuji is in winter where less condensation occurs, so less clouds surround the mountain to block the view. Our guide didn't really think we would be to see anything as the season is approaching raining season, so lots of clouds. But as we drove closer n closer to our destination, this amazing view appeared. Worried that i wont be able see it after the next bend, i must have taken 30 odd pictures of it.

As you can see, the mountain top is still covered in snow. As the weather gets warmer, all the snow will eventually all disappear. When that time comes, we are actually going to climb it! Being as unfit as i am, i will soon start working out or i might just get stuck at the half way point.

The weather forecast had said it was going to rain the next day, which in that case we can't see anything at all. So the mountain viewing was all to be done today.

We arrived at the Fuji viewing platform. But after arriving at the top of the platform via cable car, the clouds were starting to attack the mountain. The beautiful view i took earlier were not as pretty anymore.

We waited for a lil while hoping the clouds would slowly float away. But after 20min or so it just didn't look like it, so we took what we could. The pictures were not as nice as the ones i took in the car.

Leaving the viewing platform slightly dissapointed, we headed to the next tourist attraction.. The music box theme park. For all those of you who don't know yet, i love music boxes. There's something childish yet memorable about a music box. Next time you cant think of a present to get for me.. I would love a music box :).

The park was like a imaginary fairytale world, with a man made lake, church, concert hall etc.. It felt like i had just walked into a fairytail, except my prince charming did not meet me on a unicorn dressed in white.

The gift shop was filled with music boxes of all shapes and sizes. I wanted to buy everything from there, but i didn't end up buying anything. There were also a museum that had ancient music boxes or it was called 'polyphones' then.y. The most interesting ones were ones that had a violin n a piano and were able to play a few songs. This was how record players originated.

By the time we left the music box theme park, it was getting late. We planned to savour some local udon. But trust me to not read the guide properly, and only realising that the restaurant does not open for dinner after we found the place closed. But the Mt Fuji view cleared, and here's an amazing shot.

Driving away hungry, we decided to go to the next appealing restaurant. And to our amazement the random restaurant we decided to go was really nice. I had an interesting rice dish with raw tuna, yam and okra. Here's what I had...

We booked our hotel at a completely different place. Its another town thats famous for Mt. Fuji viewing, but there were mountains n mountains in between, so it took us nearly 2 hours to reach. The hotel site was right next to a huge lake, it was even at the end of our gps map.

It took us a little while to find the reception as the whole site had many cabins too. Funny enough when we did finally manage to find the reception, the lady who came out to greet us was sure that we were at thw wrong location! She kept saying that the check in reception was on the other sde of the site! After our guide persuaded her that this was our hotel, she finally allowed us to check in. It was a rather strange incident. She wasnt at all rude, just kept assuming we were at the wrong place!

Oh, i forgot to mention where our hotel is actually located. Its at a place called 'Hakone'. Because of it close proximity to Tokyo, its known as the relaxation get away mecca of Japan. With that said, the essential relaxation necessaty for Japanese is their 'Onsen' or hot spring.

I was excited to know that our hotel had its own outdoor onsen! If any of you have been to the mineral springs at Morning peninsula before, onsen is similar but better! And the one other big difference is everyone is naked! There's no choice given, you have to be! My desire to have an onsen experience overrode the would be awkwardness, and because we were so late there were hardly anyone there.

After putting your shoes away at the entrance locker, you proceed to your assigned locker where you can keep your clothes. When you have bared all, you are allowed to enter the first part of the onsen. This indoor area has a central spa with little cubicals surrounding it. Each cubical is equipped with: shower essentials, wooden seat and a wooden bucket. You are suppose to sit on the tiny wooden seat and wash yourself from head to toe before you enter the central spa. (i only discovered this after watching everyone else)

The main part of the onsen is actually outside, so once you have adjusted yourself to the water in the one inside, you are now allowed to take your naked body outside. The feeling outside is really undescribable. Its relaxing, and soothing, and the evening breeze cools you down from the heat. Just writting about this makes me want to sit in one right now.

Took from the website.. (not so clear)

What i missed out at night, which i managed to find out when i went back the next morning was the incredible view of the lake from the onsen. There were really only a bunch of bushes keeping the fishermens out. i sat there wits the view of the mountain n the lake, i didn't want to leave.

If any of you are coming to japan, onsen is something you shouldn't miss. But note the men n women are completely separate. I heard there are mixed baths, but they are relatively far from the city.

Lucky we had done all the Fuji viewing the day before, but the second day was cloudy n drizzling. The view outside of our hotel was amazing...

There are lots of activities to do around the lake, but unfortunately the weather limited them to only a few.

After our morning onsen session, we checked out n started our journey. There were red tori gates around the lake. Not sure what they meant, but we had our toyota moment there.

The rain started to get heavier, and our adventures were coming to an end. This was the last adventure before i officially start work. Because my day offs are on sunday n mondays, it will be harder to get away. But i will keep you posted of my one day adventures.

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