HOW TO SPEND A DAY IN KAWAGUCHI-KO

Wednesday, 10 January 2018



kawaguchiko is where you'll want to head if you're interested in seeing the wonder that is mount fuji while in japan. it's not easy to get to, mind; for us it was two trains, a coach, and a walk from our place in kyoto, and a decent five hour journey in all - so yeah, it's pretty remote. but, the area around lake kawaguchiko is the most easily accessible of the fuji five lakes by train, so it was the best choice. we arrived super late on the first day, so had to literally squeeze everything we wanted to do into one full-on day, so, we did. here's how:




breakfast at dino diner

we woke up starving and keen for a meal that wasn't typically japanese. we did a quick scan of the area and noted a highly rated "american style diner" in walking distance from the hostel we were staying at, so that seemed the natural choice. it wasn't until we walked up to it that we noted just how "american-styled" it was, as the life-size elvis statue out the front was not exactly what we expected to see in the middle of the japanese countryside! it was as kitchy as you imagine 50s japan was after the american invasion, and it was just another novelty for our senses, really.

it was a shoes-off, sit on the tatami mats type affair, and we sat on cushions watching a recording of elvis play on loop on the tv, reading over the unusually-eclectic menu. i went for french toast and bacon, with an iced coffee to wash it down, and so did most of the other gals. let me tell you this for free: it was some of the best french toast i've had in a while, so i can 100% recommend starting your day this way too.



hire bikes from the train station

after breakfast, charlie and i decided to hire bikes to better explore the lake area, while the others opted for the hop-on-hop-off bus tour instead (it was blimmin' hot, and they wanted some respite!). the bike hire only cost about a tenner for a couple of hours, and it was the right amount of time for us to explore, really, because we're both so unfit that any more than two hours of cycling was never going to happen.

pedal-o on lake kawaguchi-ko

we took our bikes down to the lake, and parked them up by where the others were parked, before jumping in a pedal-o on lake kawaguchi-ko to cool down a little bit. flying down hills on a bike is great and all, but going back up them in 30 degree sun is not what lazy days are made of! i think we thought it would be "fun" and "easy", but actually, pedalling a pedal-o is kinda harder than pedalling a bike - you're sat down with your legs in front, and there are no gears! it's tough! especially when you share the lake with actual boats - with engines - who you have to avoid as best you can. still, a lot of fun!



ride the mt. kachikachi rope way

the viewing deck at the top of the rope way gives fantastic views of both mt. fuji and lake kawaguchiko, and reaches an altitude of around 1075m. it's high! the cable car only takes a few minutes from bottom to top. and is about 700 yen for a return ticket. we had discount vouchers from the tourist information that gave us like 25% off or something, but in total it was only like a fiver to get up and back down again. and the views from inside the car are pretty awesome too - so well worth the spend! (alternatively you can walk it, but it's about an hour up and forty minutes back down. it was too hot to be playing that game!)

adore the view for far too long

honestly, one of the most breathtaking views i've ever had. it had been on-and-off cloudy all day, but as we reached the platform, the clouds all disappeared, and fuji-san just like, arose from the ground beneath it, all glorious and shit. she's a real babe, and we were super lucky to see her - without snow! without clouds! without anything to disrupt her beauty. i've talked to people who've taken the long journey to kawaguchi, up the rope way, only for it the weather to be temperamental and them not catch a glimpse at all.. i would have been pissed, let me tell you that!



dinner at kin kao kon

we all met back at the station after the sightseeing, and together went back to our room to freshen up for dinner. we'd seen a great thai place not far from the hostel, and were keen to try a different type of asian for a nice change. the decor wasn't as kitschy as dino's was that morning, but it was still a restaurant of tropical heritage, it was easy to see! their happy hour cocktails came dressed in umbrellas, and there were grass skirts and leis hanging around the room, hoping to convey a sense of.. well, paradise? i presume? the food was incredible, though, and that's the real reason you should definitely include it in any trip to this side of the world. the green curry was spicy stuff, but just what i wanted after days of noodles. 

sake and karaoke anywhere you can find it

after dinner we weren't totally ready to call it a night so we walked on and saw a sign we couldn't have been happier to find; the two words were music to our eyes: karaoke bar. we were the only europeans in the house, but it was unlike any kind of karaoke bar you see in films. here, we had to wonder if we'd stumbled into the wrong place at first. there were old japanese men sat in plastic school chairs under bright halogen lighting, drinking beer and watching sport on the tv, in what seemed like any run-of-the-mill sports bar.. until a door opened out the back and a terrible rendition of mariah carey's "dreamlover" came screeching out. yes lads, we'd made it! for two hours we "sang" hit after hit at the top of our lungs, laughing our asses of, until we were asked to leave, or pay for another hour. karaoke ain't cheap, so we left. but, it was the very best way to end one heck of a day!

fall sleep at k's house

i mentioned our stay in fuji recently as being rather small and not designed for six, but that didn't really matter. we were totally shattered (and a bit sun struck) by the time we got back, and were quite happy to fall asleep where we landed that night. plus, the view in the morning was absolutely incredible (despite the light rain that was forecast) - another banging view of fuji-san on our last morning in kawaguchi-ko, and the perfect atmosphere to leave on a high. it was really an incredible part of one long trip, and it wouldn't have been the adventure it was if not for the two nights in the region. so, if you have the chance to go, you definitely should; i can't recommend it more.


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