Mt Fuji and Hakone 富士山
I'm not big on organised trips but that is what we did to get us from Tokyo to Mount Fuji and then onto Hakone because making the journey independently is nigh on impossible unless you own good hiking boots and a flashlight. Neither of these made my suitcase so the bus from Tokyo bus garage driving south-west for two and half hours was what we did with the wonderfully dry and informative 'Harry' as our Japanese guide
Seeing Mt Fuji
, Japan's highest mountain at 12,388 feet, is not easy. For those that intend to climb it, this can only be done between the beginning of July and the 3rd week of August because of the highly unpredictable weather the rest of the year. The summer maybe the best time to climb it but its also considered the worst season to actually see it. Clouds, haze and general poor visibility often block the views of Mount Fuji, and we were told you have to consider yourself exceptionally lucky to get a clear view of the mountain. We were exceptionally lucky.
The sky was wonderfully clear the day we chose to go up to Gogome (5th Station) on the south side of the mountain. There are 10 stations or points between the top and bottom of
the mountain and Gogome is where most people start their ascent. There are 5th Stations at four different points of the mountain. Our bus circled slowly the narrow road upto the Fujinomiya 5th Station (right) at almost 8,000ft, closest to the summit. At every twist and turn of the mountain the views were jaw-dropping. The roads were quiet, weekends will be very different, and we got to our destination pretty quickly. Off the bus to be met by crisp air, the sky was as clear as could be and I reeled off about 20 identical snaps of the perfectly shaped snow-tipped mountain.
Mount Fuji means the Holy Mountain and was shaped by volcanic activity, the last time erupting on November 24, 1707. It has been sleeping since then, but still the geologists regard it as an active volcano
This is Japan's number one tourist spot, and the iconic masterpiece towers over Tokyo. Close your eyes and think of a mountain and this is what you will see.
After the Mt Fuji visit we headed to Hakone, which is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park
. Here also is Lake Ashi formed after Mount Hakone's last eruption 3000 years ago. With Mount Fuji in the background we did a half hour gentle cruise of the lake. Hakone Shrine
can be found here, it's presence highlighted by the prominent torii gates
standing in the lake. Hakone is said to be a busy tourist spot, and there are some touristy traps but to me whole area had a
peaceful feel to it and after being on a bus for long parts of the day, the boat was a nice intermission.
To add to the memory of tranquility we then went up the Mt. Komagatake cable car
from the side of Lake Ashi. The two and a half mile ride giving a superb panoramic view of Hakone National Park. A brief stop at the top and back again to watch the sunset ending a superlative day.