Early one chilly winter morning, I was awoken by my blaring alarm. But instead of being struck with dread, my heart raced with anticipation. You see, I was going to finally strike an item off of my ever-increasing Bucket List: I was going to see Mount Fuji!
An active volcano, Mt Fuji (富士山, Fujisan) is Japan’s highest mountain and stands roughly at 3,776 meters tall. Over the centuries, Mt Fuji has become a common symbol for the Land of the Rising Sun – much like Cape Town’s own Table Mountain. It’s peak is often topped with snow and it’s cone-shape has had artists through the centuries attempt to capture it’s striking beauty.
However, there’s just one thing… no painting, no picture, no photograph can capture the true impressiveness of this World Heritage Site – a fact that I was soon to find out.
After taking a two-hour bus trip to Yamanashi Prefecture (one of the two prefectures that claim domain over Mt Fuji), I arrived at Kawaguchiko Station and was welcomed with the most impressive sight: My first real crystal-clear view of Fujisan. Needless to say, I almost passed out from the excitement – Mt Fuji was 100% more magnificent than I had imagined.
But, as you will soon find out through many, many posts to come, I am a little bit obsessed with Mt Fuji. In fact, I will be hiking up to the top of that beast in August to see the sun rise. So, instead of focusing on the mountain itself in this post, I’ve decided to write about one of the lakes that forms a part of the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko): Lake Kawaguchiko (河口湖).
This sparkling lake gives any visitor a stunningly clear view of Mt Fuji. However, it is important to note that the view might not always be as crystal-clear as it was the day that I visited. There are often clouds and mist that hang over either the mountain or the lake – thus obscuring the view. Therefore, the best times to visit this mountain is either early in the morning or late in the evening – with winter, autumn and spring being the best seasons.
But once you’re at the lake on a perfect day, then it’s very easy to catch a lekker boat ride that will take you once around the lake – giving you a spectacular image of the giant volcano. The only problem about visiting the lake in winter is that it’s f-f-freezing cold! So make sure that you take a jacket and some gloves, because I’m pretty sure your hands will freeze off if you don’t. (Also, bringing hot coffee definitely won’t hurt either).
Aside from the dominating view of Fujisan, the lake also offers plenty of activities for you to choose from. You can enjoy many different museums (most notably the magical Music Forest). You can also soak in some local hot springs, go up the Kachi Kachi ropeway, rent a paddle-boat, or visit local shrines. You can even give yourself a mini-heart attack at the terrifying amusement park FujiQ Highland.
And, if you’re truly desperate to get everything done, then it’s easy for you to find a nice local hotel to spend the night and enjoy two day’s worth of activities. However, I was unable to enjoy all of the activities that Lake Kawaguchiko has to offer, due to the fact that my visit was only a one day trip. So, as the sun set, I had to make my way back to the bus station, promising myself that I would visit again and spend at least one more glorious day of wonderful boat rides, relaxing strolls, and a fantastic view of the gorgeous Mount Fuji.