Kawaguchiko (Mt Fuji)
I stayed at the Shangri La Tokyo at Tokyo station for 5 nights during the first part of my trip. I chose this hotel because it is located near my office. It is also conveniently located at Tokyo Station. So it is extremely convenient as I needed to make a day trip to Nagoya for meetings and needed to take the Shinkansen. There are lots of eating places and shopping located at Tokyo Station. The service at the Shangri La was excellent. I was always greeted with a smile whenever I encounter a service staff. And most importantly, they all speak good English which makes communication a breeze. This is so rare in Japan.
My room was a corner room on level 33. It was beautiful and had a large window opposite the bed and gave a view as far as Tokyo Skytree. There was also a large window next to the bath tub which allowed one to soak in the tub and admire the city view at the same time. The bathroom was huge, especially the shower area. The room was equipped with a nespresso machine too. My king size bed was especially comfortable. I slept well from the first night.After several days of meetings and then shopping and eating in Tokyo on Saturday. We headed off to Kawaguchiko on Sunday morning. We had booked a night’s stay at a ryokan there. We decided to go to Kawaguchiko on Sunday instead of Saturday because the room was cheaper on Sunday! We bought a Mt Fuji Special 2 days pass for only JPY5600 per person for a return trip to Kawaguchiko, one of the Fuji Five Lakes (Fujigoko).
After we checked out of the Shangri-La that morning, we arranged for our luggages to be sent to Sunroute Plaza in Shinjuku the next day (Monday). I wanted to stay at Shinjuku on our return as we had never stayed in that area. I chose Sunroute because it was quite cheap. But I had regretted my decision after I saw how beautiful my room at the Shangri La was, as I knew Sunroute was only a little more than just a budget hotel. I actually checked with Shangri La one or two days earlier if they could accomodate us for a night after we come back from Kawaguchiko. Unfortunately they only had suites left and I was definitely not prepared to pay for one. So Sunroute Plaza it shall be.
Going to Kawaguchiko from Tokyo requires a transfer from the JR trains to the Fujikyu Railway at Otsuki. Our tickets entitled us to the limited express trains from Tokyo as well as the Fujisan Express on the Fujikyu Railway. By the time we arrived at Kawaguchiko. It was near lunch time. So we headed to Fuji Tempura Idaten, about 5 mins walk from the station for lunch. It was a small tempura restaurant. The tempura was crisp and not oily. A pretty decent meal overall.
After lunch we went back to the train station to take the Omni Bus. We bought a 2 days unlimited travel ticket for the Omni Bus which goes around the lake. It cost JPY1200 per pax. Our ryokan did offer free pick up from the train station but only after 2.30pm. We decided to take the Omni Bus to the ryokan ourselves and do some sightseeing along the way since we were early. The Omni Bus is like a hop on hop off bus if you buy the 2 days ticket. Here is the link to the Omni Bus website. It has a map that shows the various stops along the bus route.
http://bus-en.fujikyu.co.jp/heritage-tour/detail/id/1/ Our first stop was the Kawaguchiko Herb Hall. It is more of a gift shop selling different types of floral scent. We just browsed around the shop for a while and explored the area outside the shop.
Next stop for us was Kawaguchiko Ropeway. The area along the lake was beautiful. However as it was really cloudy, we did not go up the Ropeway as we expected that we won’t be able to see anything at the top of the hill in that cloudy weather.We headed next to Kawaguchiko Music Forest. Kawaguchiko Music Forest has an interesting outdoor garden display with many photo ops.
It also has an indoor museum display of musical boxes. There are different types of musical boxes of Asian and European origins. Very pretty. The museum staff actually turn on a musical box for us. The music was clear and beautiful. I enjoyed sitting there just listening to the music.
Our ryokan is at stop 19 of the Omni bus route. However, we decided to stop at stop 18 and walk along the lake to enjoy the beautiful autumn foliage before getting to our ryokan. In clear weather, this would have been one of the most beautiful spots to see Mt Fuji. Unfortunately that weekend a bunch of low clouds was hovering overhead and so Mt Fuji was hidden from sight. Nonetheless, the autumn colors were beautiful. By the time we checked-in at our ryokan, Shohokaku Kogetsu, it was after 3pm. I had booked a Mt Fuji and lake view room. Unfortunately it was cloudy and we could not see Mt Fuji. What a pity! If it wasn’t cloudy, Mt Fuji would have been right in front of us when we looked out of our room. Nonetheless, this ryokan is well located across the lake with Mt Fuji behind the lake. The Omni bus stop is right in front of the hotel.
It was the Kawaguchiko Autumn Festival when we were there and the Maple Corridor where the festival was held was just opposite out ryokan. We could, in fact, see it from our room too as we had the corner room. Each guest gets a free voucher to redeem a free cup of rice wine at the festival.
So after we settled our stuff, we went to check out the Maple Corridor across the road. It was stunning especially since the sun was setting and the lighting was great for taking photos. There were food stalls around and we went in search of our free rice wine. I liked it but DH did not. He found it too sweet.
We went to the public onsen in the ryokan before dinner. It was great after the long day.
Dinner was served in our room that night. I had picked a cheaper set dinner which came with pork shabu shabu. I believe the more expensive dinner set came with beef. Dinner was good.
If I visit Kawaguchiko again, I’ll definitely stay here again and keep my fingers crossed for clear weather!
Next: Kawaguchiko (Mt Fuji) (II)