Day 3: Kawaguchiko

Our last morning in Tokyo greeted us with more bright and sunny skies.

In fact it was our last couple of hours as we’d soon be catching a morning train from Shinjuku out to the Fuji 5-Lakes region.

These five lakes are located in the shadow of Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji and are one of the highly recommended places from which to get a great view of the mountain (Hakone is another). 

Of the lakes, we were headed to Kawaguchiko (河口湖 = river + mouth + lake) which is the most developed and can be conveniently reached in about two hours by train. 

The idea is to catch a JR train as far as possible to Otsuki Station and then change and buy a ticket for a Fujikyu line train bound for Kawaguchiko Station.

While earliest train from Shinjuku (that didn’t take forever) left at 7:00 we decided to instead catch the third 8:30 train since we had a bit of a late night last night after already losing sleep the night before. This would let us put to bed the creeping effects of sleep deprivation and allow us ample time to do the packing we'd neglected to finish last night. Perhaps most importantly, we’d also have enough time to eat our included breakfast. So, I think we set the alarm for somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30am, finished our packing and went down the elevator.

Breakfast was the same as the previous morning except this time Kate was a little sad since the seeded roll she'd enjoyed yesterday was missing.

After breakfast we rolled our suitcases down to Shinjuku station and used our rail pass to reserve a seat for the 8:30am Limited Express Azusa bound for Matsumoto. 

The guy who issued our tickets didn’t notice my rail pass was in a plastic sleeve and went to stamp the plastic. When I took it back to take the pass out he freaked out a little thinking I wasn’t going to let him stamp it. Unfortunately in my haste to pull out the pass and I managed to tear the plastic protective covering. 

The damage wasn’t total though and I was able to put the pass back in. Next stop was the ticket gate where I reminded the inspector to stamp our pass (just to indicate the first day of use), and had to therefore pull it out again. A short while later we arrived on platform ten to find out train waiting for us.

After about an hour we arrived at Otsuki station, dragged our huge luggage over to the Fujikyu railway line and found a long and wide queue of people waiting to buy tickets. We only had eight minutes to make this transfer which was a bit worrying as the line was not moving particularly fast.

The next train was a limited express which, while costing a little more, would get us in much earlier than the following local, so we were pretty keen on catching it. By the time we were next in line the time was really close and we had no idea if we were going to make it or not. What’s more, the middle aged couple in front of us had no idea that a train was about to leave and were taking forever!

The ticket lady asked them if they wanted the next train and mentioned that it was a tokkyuu (特急= Special + Hurry = Limited Express), they replied they didn't want to pay extra and that they will just wait for the next one!

Finally, we approached the counter with less than a minute left before the train was scheduled to depart and I blurted out what we wanted. Even so, the ticket lady maintained the high standard of customer service as she passed us our tickets and change. Ack!

It was like,

Just chuck the change at me!

Don't count it out!

I trust you!

Once we had our ticket we rushed over to the guy manning the ticket gate who seemed to spend an age looking at our tickets. At this point we had about 15 seconds and the train was already beeping. Suddenly, the guy seemed satisfied with our tickets and started vigorously encouraging us to rush over and dive jump onto the train.

Somehow we had made it and the train was moving before we had a chance to take in the new environment. When we did we saw that the train was full of people milling about and taking seats. We managed to find a large empty area at the back we could leave our luggage and walked down the train in search of a spare seat. 

To our slight horror we slowly realised that there were no more seats and we'd have to stand up for the whole forty five minute journey. It was actually quite strange and annoying since there was an entire carriage full of empty reserved seats that no one wanted to pay anything extra for.

We ended up just going back to the back of the train to sit on the floor with our luggage, and thought about what we'd decide to do when we arrived. 

From what we could see from the floor it was quite scenic outside and about halfway along some girls pointed out that a pair of seats had become free, since people had just got off at an earlier station.

A short time later there was a flurry of activity as everyone's cameras came out in response to the sudden appearance of Mt Fuji on the left hand side of the train.

This was the closest we'd been to Mt Fuji before and we wasted no time getting some shots.

Kawaguchiko and the other four lakes of the Fuji-5 Lakes (富士五湖 = Wealth + Gentlemen + Five + Lakes = Fujigoko) region owe their existence to the volcanic activity of Mt. Fuji. They were created when lava flows from previous eruptions travelled down Mt. Fuji and solidified in mountain valleys to form natural dams.

Kawaguchiko is the largest of the three and the only one to have an island in the centre. Whilst all of the lakes are located far about sea level, Lake Yamanaka is the highest at 980 meters, the third highest lake in Japan. It’s also the largest of the five in terms of surface area but is also the shallowest, reaching a depth of only 13.5 meters. Conversely Lake Motosu is the deepest lake, plunging to an impressive depth of 121.6 meters and is most famous for being featured on the front of the Japanese 1000 yen note. The water level in Lake Motosu is the same height as nearby lakes Saiko and Shouji which indicates that they are in fact connected by underground tunnels. Located upon the old lava field separating these three lakes is the densely wooded Aokigahara (青木ヶ原 = Blue + Tree + ga + Field) Forest, infamous as the site of the greatest number of suicides in all of Japan (and third in the world).

On a less dire note, we were almost at our destination and had just spun our seats around after the train changed direction at Mt Fuji Station. The following and penultimate stop was the Fujikyuu Highland Station located next to and named after the Fuji-Q highland amusement park. The park is famous for its many world record breaking roller coasters and looked like a heap of fun! We had to skip it though since Kate is afraid of fast rides and I didn't want to spend the day there all by myself.

Once we arrived at Kawaguchiko Station we familiarised ourselves with the station and bus stop locations in the area.

Inside the station I asked one of the staff members for a timetable for a local bus route (the retro bus). The lady who served me was uncharacteristically unfriendly for Japan but nevertheless gave us a pamphlet with the timetables of both routes.

Before we could continue on to any of the attractions we had go and leave our luggage at our hotel. We had booked the budget business SAWA Hotel which was located an 850m walk south west of the station. I used Google Maps on my phone to generate walking directions that led us over a section of train tracks (the little bit beyond the terminal) and through some back streets to our hotel.

It was a decent distance to walk and took us about fifteen minutes with luggage in tow. The road we had to cross in front of our hotel was quite busy and on the station side there was a pachinko parlour (shady gambling) and a huge drugstore/pharmacy.

We actually had a bit of trouble finding accommodation around the Kawaguchiko area that was cheap, convenient and nice and the SAWA hotel was a bit of a compromise.

It was not particularly close to the station but certainly within walking distance and although a little old and tired it was clean and functional.

As with our previous hotel there were a couple of steps we had to pull our luggage up to get to the reception area. On the floor we noticed a large mat that had the same picture of Mt Fuji as our rail pass. As we approached the reception desk we saw the dining room to our right, and a few small items (snacks/drinks) on display for sale.

The man at the reception desk was friendly and welcoming though he didn’t seem to speak/understand any English. After I said that we had a booking he confirmed our room and duration (one night), told us the total amount and asked us to pay. Uh oh! I said we had already paid with a credit card on the internet, and he got a bit confused. Kate started digging around in her luggage for our booking confirmation and at the same time the reception guy started looking through his papers as well. Eventually he found something that indicated we had paid and after many apologies we were able to deposit our luggage and head back to the station.

By this time it was close to lunch time so on the way back we followed a different route that took us past a Family Mart convenience store and stopped in to get some food. It was quite a big store and inside there were some seats that you could use to eat what you had bought. Kate had an egg sandwich and a very juicy apple- I have no idea what I ate and I doubt anyone cares.

After lunch we changed our mind about walking to the station and instead decided to head to the section of Lake Kawaguchiko near Mount Tenjou and the Katchi Katchi Ropeway. We were planning to get the bus originally but since the area is so close to the station we thought that it would probably be faster and cheaper to just walk. Also, one of the major things we were concerned about was the myriad different transportation passes available. We had no idea what one we should get and had trouble making up our minds as it all hinged on exactly what we planned to do during the next two days which we had yet to decide. The main problem is that although we wanted to visit both the Kawaguchiko 5th station and caves we were not sure if we would have enough time to fit them in, and what buses we’d need to get if we could.

By walking we had essentially deferred our decision.

We walked past residential properties and a school at first, but once we reached the lake area we encountered lots of shops. Some of these were selling really delicious looking foods such as Japanese cheese cakes and Mt Fuji biscuits that smelt really good and were very tempting. It was getting a bit late in the day and we still had yet to actually visit an attraction so we stayed the course and skipped the shops for now.

We also saw, and passed by, some fun looking paddle boats on the lake, they even had those swan boats!

We decided that we’d definitely like to ride them later!

The Tanuki's boat can be seen sinking in the lake
Right now though, we had finally reached the lower station of the Katchi Katchi Yama Ropeway.

“Katchi Katchi” is Japanese onomatopoeia for the noise fire makes and the ropeway is named after the famous “Katchi Katchi Yama” folk tale by Dazai Osamu in which a racoon dog (tanuki) is punished by a rabbit for his evil deeds against a human couple.

The story is quite gruesome and the name comes from an incident where the rabbit nearly burns the tanuki to death on the slopes of Mount ("yama") Tenjo.

The tanuki certainly does not have the moral high ground though and is guilty of killing, butchering, cooking and serving a farmer's wife as soup to her husband. This was after the wife had freed the tanuki who had been caught by the farmer in one of his fields.

At the end of the story the tanuki dies from drowning after building a mud boat in a competition with the rabbit to sail across Kawaguchiko.

We were not actually familiar with the story when we visited and thought that the various racoon dog and rabbit pictures and statues scattered around the place were just cute mascots for the ropeway. Looking back at them we can now see the darker connotations behind some of the scenes depicted.

In case you missed the giant cables coming out of the back, the lower ropeway station building was easily identifiable by the faux wood grain exterior and colourful signs and decorations featuring the characters from the story.

It was pretty quiet inside and on the ground floor we found a sign with all the different ticket combinations. The deals included some bus routes as well as a pleasure cruise on a giant swan shaped boat (not the paddle ones). Bah! We had just walked to the ropeway in order to get away from deciding on a pass!

It seemed we couldn’t escape and would have to make up our minds!

Cleverly though, we realised that if we got the ropeway up and then walked back down, it would only make sense to get a single ticket, rather than one of the bundles. Ha! With that problem solved we went up to the second floor and each bought a 400 yen one way ticket from the ticket window.

Well, to be honest we did want to walk down.

We’re not that crazy.

Not long after buying our tickets it was time to board the ropeway car and ascend up Mount Tenjou. Like yesterday’s trip the ropeway journey was quite quick and as we rose we were rewarded with excellent views of the lake and the boats floating on top. In the distance beyond the long bridge crossing the lake we could see the big swan pleasure boat that's somehow associated with the ropeway.

Once at the top we made our way over to a view area located on the other side of the mountain and marvelled at the impressive bulk of Mt. Fuji.

It was truly spectacular!

Like a giant pimple upon the face of the earth.

We spent quite some time taking in the view and capturing lots of photos.

The area here had a few buildings and shops, one of which you could climb up and onto for a slightly different perspective.

I think it might have been built to accommodate crowds though when we were there only a small amount of people were wandering around.

The facilities up here belonged to the ropeway and there were lots of statues and images of the rabbit and tanuki.

There was even a place you could get a free photo taken in front of them with Mt. Fuji in the background. The idea was that you’d be offered a free postcard with a small picture in the corner or a postcard with a full-sized picture for 1000yen.
A boat on Kawaguchiko

We had a photo taken and were under no pressure to get the paid one when we opted for the free postcard.

Pretty good considering that even just a free postcard would be great; a photo as well is super!

Another one of the shops up here was selling some sort of “Racoon dog Dango” (たぬき団子= Tanuki + Group + Child) as food. Now, it could very well just be a name but considering that this is Japan, and that it might be some sort of human revenge against the tanuki, we skipped the dumplings. We were not going to risk possible racoon ingestion.

One final thing I remember about the structures in this area is that there was also some sort of touristy shrine to the rabbit.

So, returning back the view for a moment...

While Mt. Fuji was certainly the most commanding aspect of the vista, we were also able to get a good view of the surrounding area. The Fuji-Q Highland theme park with it's many roller coasters was plainly visible and looked especially interesting.

Since we were going to walk back down the mountain we thought we might as well walk the extra three hundred meters up to the summit of Mt. Tenjō. The path from the observation area led up through the forest and was quite steep.

At the top we were rewarded with a plaque stating that we’d reached the summit situated 1090 meters about sea level. This isn’t quite as impressive as it sounds though since the Fuji 5-Lakes area is already nearly a kilometre about sea level and Mt Tenjo really only sticks up above the surrounding landscape by a few hundred meters.
The surrounding trees were quite nice and through them we could get another view of Mt. Fuji. Near the peak we found the small and neglected Komitake shrine (小御嶽神社 = small + honourable + peak + god + office).

The path continued from here all the way to Mt Mitsutoge (三ツ峠) though we didn't as it's a three hour one way hike. Instead, we returned to the viewing area and started our walk back down to the lake.

View of the lake from the path down Mt Tenjō
It took us about thirty minutes to reach the bottom and there were a few different path options we could take. Although we were hoping to be able to see some flowers from the hundred thousand (alleged) hydrangeas lining the path it was too early in the season and none were blooming.

We came out at the bottom a bit further up the path near the cheese cake shop we had passed by earlier. There was no way I could skip such a delicious treat two times in a row so we went in and I decided on some rare cheese cake. The name refers to the fact that’s not been baked- like a rare steak. At the time I stupidly thought it referred to its abundance.

Like a rare candy...

Er, at any rate, it was delicious!

After the cheese cake we walked over to the cookie shop and Kate got a variety of yummy Mt. Fuji shaped cookies. As expected the strawberry and plain ones tasted the best, hardly surprising since the comparison was tea flavoured!

Floating on the lake across the road from the shops were the swans we saw earlier and it was now time to investigate having a go of them. It was pretty windy and no one else was paddling but we approached one of the many pontoons offering rides. The man looking after the one we went up to was very intense, didn’t speak English, and said it would cost us ¥2000 for thirty minutes. This was more than what we expected so we decided that we wouldn’t paddle them after all.


After our rejection the guy asked us what we would pay!

I said something like ¥800 and he countered with ¥1000 and we almost went with that but ultimately ended up declining due to the intense wind. We didn’t want to get wet or blown away and we figured there was probably a good reason no one else was doing it.

Also- the whole business with the haggling freaked us out a little. It was the first and only time it had happened to us in Japan before.

Instead we decided to go to the Kubota Ichiku Art Museum and headed over to a nearby retro bus stop. The retro buses are four old style tourist buses that run on two different routes in the Fuji 5-lakes area. While we waited for the bus to come we ate some snacks and decided what we wanted to do for the rest of the trip so we could decide whether or not a two day retro bus pass will pay off. Since we wanted to go to the caves tomorrow we worked out that it would pay off to get a pass- though then we were not sure if we could buy it on the bus or not. A Japanese sign on the bus stop seemed to indicate that we could but I wasn’t sure.

Rarely for Japan, the bus turned up late and the lady driving it apologised over the outside loudspeaker and told everyone getting on to pay upon departure (standard practice). She was quite young and it was pretty funny listening to her explain things to people in an exasperated but friendly and energetic manner. It looked like a pretty stressful job.

It was a short bus ride to the art museum and before long it was time to press the bell and get off. We were the only ones getting off here and when we did I asked if we could buy the two day pass. The driver spent some time explaining the pass to make sure we were getting value out of it, though I can’t remember exactly what she said. When it was time to pay she got a bit confused with the change since we wanted to pay separately.

The Kubota Itchiku Art Museum showcases the works of Kubota Itchiku who is Japanese artist famous for rediscovering the process used to create the magnificent and intricately designed kimono (着物 = Wear + Thing) of the Muromachi Period (1333-1573).

From the bus stop it was a short walk up a small hill to the uniquely decorated museum entrance.

After passing through the gate we walked up to the main building that contained the museum and followed the instructions on many signs by putting away our cameras. We then handed over 1300 yen each for tickets and were asked by the lady if we'd like to see the English movie. Although we were not quite sure what she meant we agreed and were a bit surprised and embarrassed to be led off to an empty room with an old CRT television. As we sat down in front of it the lady darkened the blinds and put a DVD into the player.

The video documented the life of Itchiku Kubota and explained how upon seeing a piece of an old decorated cloth in the Tokyo National Museum he'd thought it was so beautiful that he dedicated the rest of his life to try and recreate the dying style used.

It had taken him almost his whole life to figure it out and some of the features and techniques used are shared within the video. Itchiku had a quirky artisan personality and it was he who narrated the video. English subtitles were provided and the camera work was quite good, the editing was a bit rough though and there were very abrupt transitions between scenes. All in all it was quite an interesting video and well worth seeing as it gave us a greater understanding of the kimono and made us eager to see the completed works. I would definitely recommend anyone going to view it. It’s truly amazing how long and hard Itchiku worked on his creations.

After the video we walked through the new wing which was home to some Gaudi style architecture made of coral from Okinawa and which housed some displays of glass beads that fascinated Itchiku. We then continued on to the main building, built in a pyramid shape out of large wooden beams, where a selection of the Kimono created by Itchiku were displayed.

In the video Itchiku talked about how lucky he was able to build a museum himself and show his art how he wanted it to be displayed. This meant that all of the kimonos were hung up out in the open rather than behind some glass cabinet. He stated that he had felt much sorrow at seeing the ancient cloth hidden away behind glass at the national museum.

There were about thirty on display and were arranged according to a current theme.

The Kimono were incredibly beautiful!

The shape of the fabric and the dying gave an impression of depth that’s often not seen in traditional paintings and the amount of detail meant you could stare at each one for quite some time. I’d never imagined clothing could ever be this splendid.

We spent our time slowly walking around, reading the descriptions and taking in each of the works of art. While we agreed on some, both myself and Kate had different preferences on our favourite kimono.

Some of the designs spread over multiple Kimono and there were many that featured Mt. Fuji, flowers and birds.

Once we had finished marvelling at the creations we had a look at the rest of the museum which included a tea house that looked out over a pretty pond with a waterfall as well as some gardens that continued up the hill. We had a bit of a look but didn’t venture too far as our bus was coming soon.

We’d looked up the times before hand since, although meant for tourists, the retro buses don't come that often and we didn’t want to miss one. We arrived a few minutes early like good bus patrons and the time came and went, the bus did not. I guess we should’ve expected that. After quite a few more minutes the same retrobus we’d caught earlier turned up. Unfortunately it was going in the wrong direction and we had to wait for it to loop back around. As it passed us the driver apologised for the lateness over the loud speaker and said we could go wait in some nearby shade.

It was a little chilly though and we were enjoying the sunshine so we stayed where we were. While waiting we decided our next destination was the Herb Hall.

Sometime later the bus showed up. It was really late!

During the trip we found out why the bus was so late! When the bus stopped a bit further along to let people on the driver would ask where people were going and they invariably said the station. The lady would then explain that the station was about a 10 minute walk or local bus ride away but would take over twenty minutes on the retrobus and encouraged them to not get on. It was quite funny hearing her explain as people pretty much complexly ignored what she said. “Retoro basu da ka ra, ooooooooomawari...” (Because this is the retrobus, it takes the looooooooooooong way around)- in a hilariously patient but exasperated tone. She also asked some Japanese people if they knew Japanese (since there’s lots of other Asian tourists), which seemed to annoy them a little. Either way, while it was nice she was trying to save people time and money, it slowed down the bus even more and no-one was deterred from getting on anyway.

Eventually we arrived at the herb hall. It was free to enter and was really just a shop. It was still worth visiting though with many interesting things to look at like hats, dried flower arrangements and herb themed foods such as biscuits. Outside on the ground floor there was a herb garden where many of the plants were for sale. On the second floor there were some tables and seats where you could learn some crafty sort of activities (like dried flower arrangement). I was a little thirsty so I tried some free tea and then bought locally produced sugar free bottle of cola drink. It was completely clear in colour and delicious. After my positive review Kate also bought a bottle.

From the herb hall we wandered further down the street to some automated baseball batting machines at a place called “Kawaguchiko Batting and Game”. All you had to do was open a door and put your money (100yen IIRC) into a little coin slot. I’d seen these on TV before but never in real life and really wanted to have a turn! There were about eight doors and machines and the speed of the ball that was shot at you increased from right to left. I think the fastest speed was over 110km/h. Since I don’t think I’d ever hit a baseball before I wanted it to be as easy as possible so it wouldn’t be too embarrassing. Unfortunately, the lower speeds were all taken and after hanging around for a bit I decided I’d just have a go at the slowest one available (I think about 70kmph).

I was fairly crap, but I managed to hit a few and it was pretty fun.

I retired after only one round and we went and had a look at a gem shop across the road (not the gem museum). Inside we found some jewellery and agate but nothing particularly interesting. I think it was also possible to join a craft class.

As it was getting a bit late in the day we decided to head back to the station and buy a bus ticket to Mt Fuji’s Kawaguchiko 5th station. Since the retro bus was always so late and wasn’t coming for ages we decided to walk instead of waiting around. For some reason we didn’t take the best route and ended up spending about half an hour walking 2.5km. Still, probably quicker than the retro bus.

When we arrived at the station and asked to buy a ticket for the next day we were told to buy tomorrow’s ticket tomorrow. Fair enough.

Next up then.


Kate really wanted to try the hot pot (鍋 = Nabe = pot) noodle dish (ほうとう = Houtou = hōtō) that was the local speciality. Though considered a variant on Udon and made out of wheat, the noodles in houtou are prepared differently and more closely resemble dumplings. The rest of the soup consists of pumpkin and other vegetables served in a hot miso broth. Apparently it was eaten by a regional medieval warlord and his samurai before going into battle.

Unfortunately I couldn’t really try it since there was a strong possibility it would contain onions (which I have an intolerance to). Since we were both hungry we had to find a place that served other onion free food. This ruled out the nice looking restaurant attached to the station however just across the road there was a place that sold houtou as well as pork katsu.


The restaurant was on a second floor above a souvenir shop and we reached it by climbing up some external stairs. Since it was still quite early there was no one else inside and we were a little scared. Inside we found an old lady watching TV, lots of tables, and dried flowers (and dolls) everywhere. We got seated next a big window that looked out over the station and Mt. Fuji. It was a pretty good view! After sitting down we immediately placed our orders and the old lady disappeared into the back of the restaurant (presumably to prepare our meals). While we were waiting a large group of people came in and a short time after they were seated our meals came out.

Kate’s houtou came in a giant iron pot and the soup inside was still simmering. She had to be a bit careful eating her meal as the high temperature of the food was maintained by the very hot pot. Apparently it was delicious and Kate managed to finish everything- broth and all! Quite an impressive feat considering the volume. My pork katsu was pretty standard but also really yummy and filling. While we were eating our meals the people who had come in came over and asked us what we’d got. I think they were Chinese or Korean tourists as they were having a bit of trouble understanding the menu. It was good we beat them as there was quite a large group and it would’ve been a bit annoying to be stuck behind them.

When we received our food, we were given a docket that stated what we had ordered and were told to take down the internal stairs to pay when we’d finished. We were surprised to find that the stairs, rather than leading to a dedicated register, went down into the souvenir shop where a dirty old man was fiddling with his phone behind a counter. After a quick glance around the shop we took our docket over to the man and paid. I think it came to about 1000 yen for each of our meals.

After dinner we walked back to our hotel, picked up our bags and checked in. The guy at reception was the same man we had in the morning and after giving us our key he showed us where breakfast would be the next morning. He also explained that there was a free shuttle bus that could take us to the station and asked if we'd like to use it. I said that we were not sure and asked if it was possible to decide later- which was fine.

Mt. Fuji looming out of low evening clouds
Next we went up the elevator to our room. The feeling was similar to our previous hotel; a bit tired and old but clean and functional. The room was really quite spacious for Japanese standards and even had a stove/sink area and a balcony.

For some reason none of the rooms in the hotel were facing Mt. Fuji or the lake but if we leaned out over the balcony we could see the mountain. We could also see it from the window in the hallway and since Fuji-san was looking quite photogenic as dusk was falling we took a few more photos.

On the topic of the hallways (sort of), the hotel had a slightly uncanny amount of security cameras in them! Somewhat ironically then, is that this is the only hotel I don't have a photo of. I guess Mt. Fuji diverted our attention.

Day 3: Kawaguchiko pamphlets and tickets
Retro Bus timetable (Reverse- map)
Mt Fuji Tourism information brochure and map (Front/Back, Rail/Bus, Boat/Taxi, Train/Ropeway/Boat, Parking/Bicycle)
Katchi Katchi Yama Ropeway combo deal information (Reverse)
Katchi Katchi Yama Ropeway pamphlet (Reverse)
Katchi Katchi ropeway ticket (Reverse)
Free Katchi Katchi Yama ropeway photo
Katch Katchi Ropeway area walking information (Reverse)
Retro Bus Pass- doubles as a postcard (Reverse)
Itchiku Kubota Art Museum Pamphlet (Reverse)
Itchiku Kubota Art Museum ticket
Itchiku Kubota Art Museum exhibit information (Reverse)

And that's the end of today!

Tomorrow morning we'll be climbing (on a bus) more than half way up Mt Fuji to the Kawaguchiko 5th station and in the evening we'll leave the Fuji 5-Lakes region and travel across to the castle town of Matsumoto.

The next post should be out at 19:07 AEST Monday, 22 July 2013 .

Look forward to it!

Continue reading Day 4: Mt Fuji and Matsumoto


  1. Hi,

    I'm planning to travel there with my parents and none of us can speak Japanese. How do you recommend about going around the area?

    Kind regards,

    1. Hi Fiona!

      Thank you very much for your comment!

      The vast vast majority of international visitors don't speak Japanese so you shouldn't have any issues. There's lots of English signs and people working in the service/tourism industry can usually speak some English.

      You'll be able to use the train or bus to get there and the retro bus is a good option to get around. Otherwise you could even hire a car to get around.

      If you do need a translation people have found google translate apps on their smart phones very useful as well.

    2. Hi Eric,

      Thank you for your prompt reply and assurance. Feeling much calmer and excited to visit there now!

      Kind regards,

    3. No worries!

      I'm sure you'll have a great time!