Mount Fuji Lake District
Mt. Fuji – Also known affectionately as Fujisan is 3776 meters high and is Japan’s highest mountain. It is not surprising that the nearly perfectly shaped volcano has been worshipped as a sacred mountain and experienced big popularity among artists and common people. Mount Fuji is a dormant volcano, which most recently erupted in 1708. It stands on the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures and can be seen from Tokyo and Yokohama on clear days.
I managed to get a nice shot of Mount Fujiyama - silently wishing that we could stay longer to admire it’s almost perfect symetrical shape and natural beauty. We didn’t manage to see a full snowcap though at it’s summer now.
Oshino Hakkai – The name given to the 8 ponds filled with melted snow water that has taken more than 80 years to filter through the underground layers of Mt. Fuji. People have valued this water, which they call ‘sacred water’. The clear water surface reflecting Mt. Fuji appears to be veiled in an almost mystic air.
Not only do these ponds boast fine-quality water, but they harmonize wonderfully with the surrounding rustic scenery, and the water of Oshino Hakkai is ranked among the best-quality waters of Japan. We were glad we brought our water bottles to collect clean drinking water from the dragons mouth.
Some beautiful flowers we saw along the street at Oshino Hakkai.
We also tried some local pickled vegetables for sale.
Otodome Falls – The name “Sound Stopping Waterfall” comes from an episode in the Soga Monogatari story of the Kamakura period. When the Soga brothers accompanied Minamoto Yoritomo on a hunting expedition to the base of Mount Fuji, they plotted to assassinate one of Yoritomo’s retainers, Kudō Tsuketsune, who was the murderer of their father. In order to avoid being overheard, they planned their strategy by the roaring waters of this waterfall. The Otodome Falls is listed as one of the “Japan’s Top 100 Waterfalls”, in a listing published by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment in 1990.
Shiraito-no-Taki Falls - AKA White Thread Waterfalls is just a five minute walk from Otodome Falls. It is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park and has been protected since 1936 as a Japanese Natural Monument. The falls were regarded as sacred under the Fuji cult. This is really a very wide series of percolating waterfalls through moss and other foliage giving it a charming and fairly unique character to it. The falls is so wide that there’s really no way to get it all.
Stopping for some fizzy fruit drinks…
And local ice cream – peach, blueberry, green tea, and more!
Gotemba Premium Outlets – Japan’s most popular outlet mall, located in Gotemba City at the base of Mount Fuji. The stores found at the Premium Outlets are the outlets of internationally known brands of fashion, sports, food, household goods and electronics, and range from everyday items to luxury goods. The prices are not ridiculously cheap, but they are better on average than what you will find at regular retail shops in Japan.
The mall features over 200 stores along with a number of restaurants, a food court, rose garden, and a 50 meter high ferris wheel. I’m not much into shopping and ended up walking around the rose garden instead – unfortunately, the roses were already over-bloomed and I didn’t manage to see many varieties in all their glory.
We stayed at a traditional hotel right next to Lake Kawaguchi with an Onsen – Natural hot springs are numerous and highly popular across Japan. Hot springs are supposed to have a relaxing effect on your body and mind. Japanese hot springs are enjoyed naked!
A view of Lake Kawaguchi from our hotel window.
Japanese breakfast at the hotel: rice, fish, and pickled vegetables.
Lunch at Jonathan’s 24hour Restaurant: Yakizakana.
Everyone dressed in our yukata (robe) for dinner at the hotel: Nabe.
We also ordered a sashimi boat (¥15,000) consisting of lobster, tuna, salmon, swordfish, squid, prawns, scallops, and sea-urchin shared by 6 on the side. The sea urchins were quite an experience and tasted a little like over-ripe mango.
Nagara River Ukai Cormorant Fishing – Cormorant fishing on the Nagara River is a 1,300-year-old tradition where fishing masters (ushō) use Japanese Cormorants to catch fish, primarily ayu (sweetfish). Because of the great skills of the fishing masters, they have received the official title of “Cormorant Fishermen of the Imperial Household Agency,” a hereditary title that is passed on from father to son.
Boats waiting to go out on the Nagara River.
The evening started with a bento dinner on board the boat.
Our Bento – fish caught by Cormorants, tempura, pickled vegetables, rice.
We enjoyed a traditional dance on a floating platform during dinner.
Then it’s a round of fireworks before the start of the fishing demonstration.
I personally find Cormorant Fishing somewhat cruel and will not watch it again – metal rings and placed around the bird’s neck to keep them from swallowing the fish. On fishing days the cormorants are not fed all day so they are hungry at fishing time. The birds are all caught in the wild and trained, and some can catch 60 fish an hour. When cormorants’ gullets are full they are hauled aboard the boat, and the still-moving ayu are disgorged on to the deck.