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. ❤

別府市、大分:Side trips from Tokyo: Beppu Oita

Beppu is located in Oita prefecture in the small island of Kyushu. It was an hour and 30 minute airplane ride from Tokyo. Beppu is known for its Onsen (hot springs) this is a great place to visit if you are a gaijin (foreigner) and you are a fan of onsens. It is also home to the first ever natural hot spring in Japan.

They have here what they call the 8 Jigoku (地獄) of Beppu (The 8 hells of Beppu), “Hell” because the 8 famous Onsen are so hot that they can melt your skin if you even touch the water. My Obaachan (grandmother) was saying maybe they call it “hell” because in the past they probably used to punish the bad people by dropping them into the Onsen. (Of course this is just another one of Obaachans theories)

海地獄 (Umi Jigoku) One of the most beautiful hells. Which is the only hell that was visited by the Emperor of Japan.

 

Yama Jigoku, Where you can view animals like the capybara in the Onsen.

 

We saw some capybara swimming in the Onsen too. The 8 different Onsen are all the same just different in color. Some are white, some are blue and clear. There was also a red Onsen, each coming with its own explanation. The most famous Onsen was the last one we went to which was the Umi Jigoku (海地獄) Which is famous because it is said to be the most beautiful Jigoku (hell), and the only Jigoku that the emperor visited in his stay here.

Oniishibouzu Jigoku, Because of its mud pools. You can try their mud pools here for an amount. This place is where you can try drinking their water.

Shiraike Jigoku

 

Tatsumaki Jigoku, Which is the sprout of hell. Every 40 minutes the water from underground goes over 100 degrees celsius and spouts water for 6-10 minutes from underground.

Chinoike jigoku, spout from hell. The color of the Onsen here is red. Hence the term “chinoike jigoku” Chi meaning blood.

 

How to get here from Tokyo: Take a plane from Haneda airport to Oita

How to get around Oita: We opted to rent a car, so I got my international drivers license before coming to Japan.  The rent a car people have a shuttle from the airport and they will teach you how to use the navigation machine to get around the 8 hells of Beppu.

We recommend that you work from the nearest Onsen working your way to the top. Then you can choose to stay in the famous hotel chain the famous Suginoi hotel. Where there you can relax in their famous Onsen and enjoy their food.

What is in Suginoi Hotel? 

Onsen onsen and more onsen. The food here is in buffet style with an option of Washoku and Yoshoku. (Traditional Japanese food and Western food) the place is famous for its Onsen on their 5th floor terrace which overlooks the city. People come here early in the morning to take a dip out in the terrace while watching the sunrise. Now thats one for your bucket list. 

 ✔ Watching the sunrise naked on a terrace with other naked people in weather thats about 7°C

Heres my first time driving on the left hand side of the car and side of the road.

 

 We’re off to our next destination from Beppu!

Side trips from Tokyo: 葛西臨海公園, Kasai Rinkai Kouen

Kasai Rinkai Kouen is the largest park in central tokyo. The park is very big and it if you are looking to get out of the city this is a good place to visit. You can see families having picnics here and you could also check out their sea life park. The park has a beach, grass area, ferris wheel and the aquarium. There are also stands along the park selling Japanese food such as Melon Pan, Okonomiyaki, kakigouri and Takoyaki. You could spend a whole day here without spending much. The view itself is perfect!

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Here are some pictures from the sea life park

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You can touch sharks and sting rays here.

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There are many penguins and wave pools here.

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My favorite giant stuffed penguin is still here from 10 years ago when I last visited.

Near the Tokyo sea life aquarium is the diamond flowers ferris wheel which is known to be the second highest in Japan. The life park itself also has a bird sanctuary where you could see photographers taking pictures of the birds. The birds here are also friendly and are not afraid of interacting with humans unlike the birds in Tokyo which children tend to chase around.

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Near the bird sanctuary where there is a viewing deck

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Feels like were on top of the world

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A lot of Japanese food here and they also sell beer. We tried their kakigouri and takoyaki

How to get there: The Keiyo Line stops right at Kasai Rinkai kouen station coming from Tokyo Station. Which costs ¥210

Fees: The Tokyo sea life aquarium would only cost you ¥700 and the ferris wheel is also ¥700. The sea life park is closed every wednesday and the the ferris wheel is closed on the 4th and 5th wednesday in January and every wednesday of February. You should check the schedules before going in the case of Holidays.