Side trips from Tokyo: Fuji Kawaguchiko

Lake Kawaguchiko is located right at the base of Mt. Fuji, and of all the five lakes around Mt. Fuji it seems to be the most accessible. Mt. Fuji seems to be most visible around the morning so if you are planning to climb the mountain or climb from the 5th base you should go take the earliest bus up the mountain and start your ascent early before noon hits. Just as seen in our picture, we got a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji from inside the forest path, of which I will talk about some more in a while.

How to get to Kawaguchiko:

You have the option of taking the train or the bus. We opted to take the bus because, taking the train would take 1 hour and 30 mins with 1 exchange in between. But riding the bus would only take 1 hour and 45 mins with no stops. Which was not inconvenient at all, also much cheaper than taking the train. One way by bus from Shinjuku station, the new bus station located across the SOUTH EXIT of Shinjuku JR line only costs 1786 Yen, one way price.

Going back you just take the same route back to Shinjuku.

Should you stay overnight: 

There are many small inns, hotels and guest houses around the lake and I would suggest you take one day before to go sightseeing around the lake and go check out early in the morning to go up Mt. Fuji before 9am after breakfast or before going into the Onsen. I would suggest getting a place with an Onsen, going to Japan if you are a foreigner I think would be nice if you would try an Onsen for once in your life, my boyfriend tried it for the first time and loved it.

Kawaguchiko Station is surprisingly right next to FUJI Q Highlands, if you are a fan of amusement parks you could try heading over to Fuji Q, or add in an extra day just to do that too.

What do you see around Kawaguchiko: 

Kawaguchiko offers a lot of sightseeing, and they have a free tour bus that goes around the lake every 15 mins from every bus station. The bus stations are very close to each other so you can enjoy the different places and views from around the lake. I would personally recommend going to the music forest museum which was also recommended for us to go to by the hotel staff. They also recommended the ropeway and they gave us a discount coupon, if maybe you want to see the view of Kawaguchiko but do not plan to go up Mt. Fuji you should try the ropeway.

How to get up to 5th station of Mt. Fuji, and what you can do there. 

From Kawaguchiko station, take the earliest bus up to the 5th station of Mt. Fuji which is around 8:50am (The bus leaves every hour after that), To get a nice view go up the 3rd floor where there are no tourists and wait for a nice view of Mt. Fuji. You can also send postcards from Mt. Fuji, its one of the only places with a post office on top of a mountain other than everest.

There is also an option to climb or hike up to the 6th station if the weather is good, but there is a secret path that not many know on the 5th station, it is the hike around the middle of the 5th section, you will see a forest path right next to the bus station which is right beside the secluded souvenir shop on the other side of the tourist trap side where all the tourists are taking pictures. On the right side of the bus station, go up the steps and you can walk around the mountain where you will see scenic views of the mountain far more beautiful than from the actual 5th station.

If you continue walking that path you will reach the 4th station, if you are unsure of the route go to the information before going to the path and let them give you a small map to guide you.

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Coming early definitely had its advantages, we were able to see a clear view of Mt. Fuji and we really were so lucky. 

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From the path we were able to climb through this beautiful forest path of which i will never forget, the beautiful autumn leaves were perfect and the volcanic rock path. 

Things you have to eat:

Hoto is a famous delicacy there, flat noodles is what they call it and the Yoshida udon, which is made from the water from Mt. Fuji so they say. There are plenty of different stops around Kawaguchiko where you could give them a try.

If I was able to stay longer around Kawaguchiko, i would have liked to also try going to their vineyards and other farms where you can pick strawberries, persimmons, grapes and other fruits depending on the season. If you have time to look through the places around the area with the Information station at Kawaguchiko I would suggest that you spend a good one hour with the information planning your trip for the next few days, they are very accommodating and speak very good english. Hope that this will help you plan your next trip out of Tokyo! Enjoy Japan. ❤

トン茶屋 Tonchaya, Fort Strip

トン茶屋 (Tonchaya) was called とん (ton)  because of the owners son Anton. Then looking at the last 2 Kanji characters 茶屋 (cha-ya) Derived from ちゃ【茶】 cha “tea” and 【屋】 ya “house; shop”, literally means Ton’s Tea shop or tea house. I do like the name of the shop even if Tonchaya is more known as a kitchen bar because it gave a homey and personal feel the place.

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The front of the restaurant.

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The interior is pretty cute and was designed by a Japanese interior designer.

I like the menu as a whole because I guess it had the simple Japanese home cooking and it catered to the night life around the place too. It kind of reminded me of the really small shops around the sides of the train stations in Tokyo where you would come to after a long day of working. Where men would come to go out with their co workers and eat. Pretty appropriate for the location of the restaurant. They also do have a stall in Mercato where they serve Maki’s and even the favorite Bento’s. We were given practically everything on the menu for this bloggers event, and I was so surprised with the amount of food that we had.

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Tonchayas famous Okonomiyaki, Php 320. I really loved this, it really tasted exactly like the one my mom would make at home. Not so thick and just the right amount of fillings. Also had tons of vegetables inside and I loved it.

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Spicy Seafood Ramen, Php 380. I liked the Ramen it was very simple and not so oily. I liked how this also had a lot of seafood and vegetables in it.

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Spicy Salmon Roll, Php 280. They also have a spicy tuna roll and a lot of different maki sushi. The rice on this was pretty interesting because it was crunchy unlike the usual sushi. It was okay, I prefer sushi to be in its original form but this wasn’t bad either since I do love Salmon.

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Seafood Gomoku Chaahan, php 295. Since it’s Chaahan, It kind of gave me a more “Chinese” taste. As Chaahan is Chinese style Fried rice. I loved the mushrooms on this dish which is probably what gave the Japanese flavors to it.

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Chicken Teriyakidon, Php 350. Again, pretty basic. I liked the miso soup and the cabbages on the side.

I believe that the Mrs. Kojima (the mother of the girlfriend of Anton, the owner Mrs. Abads son) who made the menu was really smart because she was able to get the Filipino taste and add her personal touch of home made Japanese flavors into her food. It’s not what you’d call Japanese fine dining because fine dining would cost a lot around Manila because of their good ingredients. Here they would use simple ingredients that you could find in any Japanese grocery and make at home yourself. These are the basic Japanese food that you could find in any home. Every Japanese woman as all Japanese women know must know how to cook. My mom used to tell me that “A way to a mans heart is really through his stomach, unless I’m lucky and my future husband knows how to cook”

They have everything from Agemono, Yakimono, Curry, Ramen, basic Bento and even Sushi. It was really smart of them to only include the basic for every category. I would probably come back here to try their Bento. It was also nice to eat here because of the big servings of vegetables that came with some of the meals. Japanese as we all know love vegetables and lots of seafood, nothing much of fried food. So it made me feel as though I was just eating my moms cooking at home. I think that the only thing they could improve on is their service. We all know that Filipinos are very particular about good service and Japanese are well known for their exceptional service. To make the experience truly special, I think that the staff should be trained in such a way that they are always alert and should also know the menu very well. That way I think people would come back for more of their Japanese food, because I was quite satisfied with the food.

Recommendations: Okonomiyaki ( It was really good )

トン茶屋 TONCHAYA

The Fort Strip, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City Facebook: Tonchaya Japanese Kitchen and Bar

瞬 Toki, Bonifacio Global City

瞬 Toki, Has been awarded by Philippine Tatler as one of the best restaurants for 5 consecutive years. They opened in 2008, and are known for their authentic Japanese cuisine. We read about them in a Japanese food guide to Manila dining and decided to eat here for my brothers birthday.  The kanji 瞬 (syun) or what they call Toki, meaning “this moment” or “this instant” is what they named the restaurant because according to the manager. As the guests walk in they want the guests to remember the place Toki as this moment or this instant. My mom told me that in Japan they have this Japanese philosophy 一期一会 (ichigo ichie) meaning a once in a lifetime encounter, hence should be cherished as such. It’s a philosophy that says that you value every moment that you meet someone new or are brought to something new.

The food here I could compare to Tsukiji makati. The prices were also as expensive but the food really impressed me and it impressed my mom, and anything that my mom loves. Especially if it is Japanese food to me is good. I value her opinion a lot as a Japanese.

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House Sake, Php 250 for 180 ml , My dad ordered the house sake and so did my brother since it was his birthday.

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California Maki, the typical filipino favorite. My sister loves this.

My father wanted to try this Kaiseki chefs special course, but it was only available upon advanced reservation. Meaning you’d have to call a day before to order this, because they told us that they chef would like to have the food cooked fresh. So instead my mom and my dad both ordered different set meals. You could get a set meal such as they did here, since they serve them in courses. So you first get tons of different appetizers and end with the best dish. My brother got the Sukiyaki. This restaurant is actually really known for their Sukiyaki and their Wagyu beef to be one of the best in Manila. Really melts in your mouth and is incredibly soft.

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Appetizer of the Kaiseki course meal.

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Sukiyaki with egg, the beef was really soft and I loved that it was not salty like sukiyaki served in local Filipino restaurants. This sukiyaki was really good, the tofu was cooked beautifully and I loved the small mushrooms or Shimeji (シメジ) in it.

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This was the end to my dads set course meal. The wagyu beef with vegetables and the fried rice that came with it. Amazing the beef of this dish was the star and the vegetables were a great compliment to it. I really loved the cook on the vegetables.

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Udon, this was the last dish on my moms set course. She told me that the udon was surely made there. As it was a bit hard and squishy in texture. She told me that if you purchase udon at local stores they would easily crumble as you’d eat them and that really good udon is like the udon here. Where it is a bit hard and chewy. This was delicious.

I would come back here again and again if not for the price. Maybe for special occasions this would be a perfect place to come to with your family, business meetings and probably for small dates. They even have separate rooms for big gatherings and small ones. The location though of the place is quite inaccessible and they have free basement parking on first come first serve basis. Which can only be accessed from behind the building. We were just lucky that there was still space for parking.

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Finally the dessert of the meal. Pudding, green tea ice cream, fruits and angko at the bottom of the pudding. The dessert was not so sweet just as the Japanese would like it.

I would come back here again and again for their Wagyu beef. It is really something special. We also made a reservation before coming here. It seemed like we didn’t need to as the place is very big, but just in case I would make a reservation before coming here again.

Budget: We spent about Php 8000 for all 5 of us and we shared most of the meals. It really depends on what you would order but just in case be prepared to spend about Php 2000 per head.

Toki Japanese Fusion and Fine Dining
2nd floor 32nd and 5th Building corner
32nd St. and 5th Avenue Bonifacio Global City,
Taguig, Philippines
telephone: +63 2 856 7295
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Tsukiji Restaurant, Makati

Tsukiji Restaurant is a Japanese restaurant located beside Greenbelt along Arnaiz Avenue where most of the good Japanese restaurants I know are located. I have eaten here once before with my family, this time we came here to eat as a whole family for Mothers day. So we were about 24 people. My mom being a Japanese loves good Japanese food and she is very hard to please, but the Japanese food here is one she really loves. They get their ingredients here fresh from Japan which is what my mom loves about this place. Plus their chef is Japanese and a friend of hers.

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Ume Ochazuke – Pickled plum (Php 450)

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Ikura Don – Salmon Roe (Php 990)

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Taco vinegared dishes with Wakame seaweed (Php 550)

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Kaiso Salad (Php 680)

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Sushi plate set

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Tuna

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Takenoko sweet bamboo shoot (php 220)

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Wagyu Sashimi (php 1200)

We tried this place last year as well and my mom and I agree that though the food here is pricey as compared to the food we eat in Japan. It is the closest you can get to good Japanese food here in the Philippines. It is very hard to find good Japanese restaurants here in Manila. If you’re looking for a place, this is it. However be prepared to spend. A LOT.

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Address:900 A Arnaiz Avenue Corner Paseo De Roxas Street San Lorenzo Village, Makati, Makati 1200
Phone:(02) 812 2913

RECOMMENDATIONS: Sushi and Sashimi, Wagyu Sashimi (This is amazing and very soft)

BUDGET: We spent about 40,000 Pesos all in all for 24 people, and we even shared for some of the meals. I suggest that you allot about 1500-2000 per person. Just in case you would like to order and share different dishes.