We already had the chance to see Mt. Fuji twice, but both times we had terrible weather, so we saw nothing. That happened even on the evening when we arrived to Fujikawaguchiko. What surprise was, when the next day we woke up to sunny day with almost no clouds. After quick breakfast we went to Kachi Ropeway which leads to Kawaguchiko Tenjozan Park. From there we had beautiful view on Mt. Fuji, sadly it was without its typical snow cap. Also, we were late as the climbing season there is till the end of August, but I don’t know if I was fit enough to make the climb.
When we got enough of the view, we decided to explore more around the Fuji Five Lakes. First interesting place on our list was Iyashi no Sato (いやしの里). It’s located on the western shores of Lake Saiko and currently is open air museum and traditional craft village. All the twenty or so houses were reconstructed into different restaurants, tearooms, shops, museums or galleries. Each one of the shops specialize in a different traditional craft such as pottery, incense or weaving.
From there it’s only just few more kilometres and you will find yourself at the edge of Aokigahara (青木ヶ原) also known as the Sea of Trees. The ground consists mostly of hardened lava laid down by the last major eruption of Mt. Fuji in 864. We visited both Ice and Wind Caves there, which are two of three larger lava caves there.
Since the forest is very dense, hikers and tourists trekking through Aokigahara have begun to use plastic tape to mark their paths so as to avoid getting lost. Just looking to the forest from the official paths, I believe it’s incredibly easy to lost your way there.
And that was not the only thing which made us to quickly leave the forest. We both knew the stories and the reputation this forest has - the Suicide Forest. Knowing this made the atmosphere feel heavy and not so welcoming as some forests I love from my home. That decided. We returned back to our guesthouse and started to pack as we needed to wake up very early next day, expecting around 6 hours on road.
Zao Fox Village & Mt. Zao
I don’t know what fascinate me and my wife about foxes, but we love them. Before coming to Japan and scouting some places we definitely want to see, one was on the list from the very beginning - Zao Fox Village. It’s about an hour drive from Sendai and is Japan’s largest fox-themed zoo. You can find there several fox species and more than 100 foxes lives there. The only question for us was how to incorporate this place to our plans, but even if it meant to drive for 6 hours, we simply had to. For the short time we spent there, it was all worth it. It was still quite warm, so most of the foxes were not so fluffy as you can see them in winter, but it was great experience.
Next day was our last day before we had to return back to Tokyo and fly back home. Originally, I thought of it as a relax day, where we will just prepare for our flight, but we were not able just to sit in our hotel, so we decided to visit Mt. Zao not so far from there. Not only the short hike opens up pretty views on surrounding mountains, but we also saw Okama - a volcanic lake which flooded crater.
On our very final day, we just had to drive to Narita Airport, return car and catch our flight home. The traffic was low and we arrived early. For situation like that we planned a stop by Ushiku Daibutsu (牛久大仏). This Buddha statue is the tallest in Japan with its height of 120 metres (including 10m base and 10m lotus platform). It held the record for the tallest statue from 1993 to 2002 and even now it’s one of the top five tallest statues in the world.
Shortly after visiting the Ushiku Daibutsu complex we returned the car and were dropped off at the airport, where we waited for our flight to Abu Dhabi, then Düsseldorf and finally back to Prague.
That concluded our trip to Japan. I hope you enjoyed reading these articles and if you’re planning to visit Japan and you found some inspiration here, I’m glad. Be safe, enjoy new year 2019 and see you someday again...