Thursday, July 26, 2012

In Awe of Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji is Japan's most iconic natural landmark. On a clear day, you can see it from Tokyo, 62 miles away. On a bad day, you can't see its perfectly symmetrical top even if you're right at the base of the mountain. We visited Mount Fuji the day after experiencing exceptionally bad weather at Tokyo DisneySea, and I wasn't really sure what kind of day was in store.

In a departure from our usual practice of independent travel, we booked a tour to take us to Mount Fuji and then on to beautiful Hakone National Park. I ended up feeling that I really benefited from all the information the tour guide told us, and not having to worry about directions and logistics made the trip extra relaxing. (If we had driven, I'm sure the conversation would have gone something along the lines of "What did that sign say?" "How would I know? I don't read Japanese!") Sunrise Tours was a model of Japanese efficiency. One bus picked up  several people from our hotel plus other nearby hotels and brought us to Hamamatsucho Bus Terminal. From there, folks split up into whatever tour they selected.

The two hour drive out to Mount Fuji sped by quickly. After spending days in the crowded, concrete jungle that is Tokyo, I really enjoyed looking out the window as the city melted away and became views of a gorgeous spring countryside. The kids kept busy playing their Nintendo DS games. After all, when in Japan, do as the Japanese do. This one time, I decided that their Nintendos could count as cultural immersion.

Our first stop was the Fuji Visitor Center. But what I found really interesting was the amusement park located just before it. Who knew? I didn't realize you could ride a roller coaster in the shadow of Mount Fuji. They even have a Thomas the Tank Engine Land. Alas, this park was not part of the tour, so we drove right by it.

This sign at a Tokyo subway station should have been a clue.

We ended up having about 20 minutes at the Fuji Visitor Center. Hubby pointed out that if we were doing this ourselves, we could have spent over an hour perusing the exhibits. As it was, we had just enough time to snap a few photos, find our kids who had wandered off, and get back on the bus.

The official tour itinerary had us driving up to the Mount Fuji 5th Station (6,900 foot elevation) where climbers usually start their trek up the mountain. Alas, the typhoon-like winds that had hit while we were at DisneySea also blew down a few trees that blocked the road up. The 1st Station (3,873 foot elevation) was the highest were were able to go. At least we were blessed with clear blue skies and an amazing view of Mount Fuji's summit. I could tell that the wind gusts at the top were quite strong, causing the snow to billow away and obscure the peak. Meanwhile, the kids were fascinated by the 3x3 foot patch of snow by the parking lot. After months on a tropical island, I can't really blame them.

How do you say "Snowball Fight!" in Japanese?

We continued on with our tour, going to a traditional Japanese lunch on the shores of charming Lake Kawaguchiko followed by more fun in Hakone.

Related Post
A Lost Tooth, Black Eggs & Japan's Hakone National Park

This post is part of Travel Photo Thursday on Budget Travellers Sandbox, Photo Friday on Delicious Baby, and Friday Daydreamin' at R We There Yet Mom?  Check out these websites for more around-the-world travel inspiration. 


  1. I love to take guided or escorted tours because the tour guides are often so knowledgable and I love to soak up everthing that they share. My husband and I agree though that there are trade-offs. We do like to explore at our own pace and it seems like there is either way to much time and we're waiting to leave, or not enough and we feel rushed.

    That first picture in your post is so beautiful! What a stunning view you must have had!

  2. Mt. Fui is stunning. I can just imagine the views from up top.

  3. We missed Mt. Fuji when we visited Japan last spring but we are still hoping to get back and explore the north part of the country. Your photo has definitely inspired me to keep that trip at the forefront of our travel list.

  4. Absolutely gorgeous! I'm so glad you and your family got to see Mt. Fuji. It looks breathtaking in pictures. I can only imagine how awe inspiring it looks in person. My son wanted to go on that Thomas park but we just didn't have enough time. We need to visit any time other than summer :)

  5. I opted to go to Hakone on my own, and it turned out to me a miserable day weather wise, and I didn't see even a glimmer of Mt. Fuji. I'll have to go back some time and this time I might just opt for the guided tour.

  6. I loved guided tours - I always learn so much more! It looks beautiful. Can't wait to hear about the rest of the day.

    Thanks for linking up.

  7. What a gorgeous photo of Mount Fuji! We take the occasional guided tour. I think a tour is the perfect solution either when it's going to be too difficult to get around on our own or when it's someplace that justifies having an expert along to provide better information. And sometimes I just know that the kids will listen to a tour guide when they would just tune me out!

  8. I rarely take guided tours either, but sometimes they're just better all around.

  9. Great shot of gorgeous Mount Fuji. I hope to see it up close someday. I'll hope for a clear day such as you had.

  10. I'm yet to visit Japan but it has been on my to do list for some time now.

  11. Looks beautiful! I'm undecided on guided tours. When they're good, you can have so much more fun and learn so much. When they're bad, they feel like a bad class in high school to me...


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