a late afternoon stroll around kawaguchiko   17 comments

Saturday, June 3:  After returning to Kawaguchiko Station from Fujiyoshida, I inquire about the Sightseeing Bus.  There are three lines, the Red Line, which goes around Kawaguchiko; the Green Line, which goes to Lake Saiko; and the Blue Line to Lake Shojiko.  I can buy a combination Red and Green Line ticket for 1,300 yen, or a ticket for all three lines for 1,500 yen.  I buy the 1,300 ticket for the Red and Green Lines because I don’t see how I’ll have time to travel around on all three lines as it’s already late Saturday afternoon and I have to return home on Sunday afternoon.  I should have done my research better, however, because there are no views of Fuji from Lake Saiko on the Green Line, while there are supposedly wonderful views from Lake Shojiko.

No matter.  It turns out I will not get my money’s worth out of the ticket I buy, as I barely use the bus.  I use it from the station to get to the Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway, and after that, I don’t use it for the rest of the day.

When I arrive at the Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway 1t 4:15, there is no queue; I walk right up to the cable car and get in.  It’s packed, but at least the ride is short.  As we go up, I get a fabulous view of Lake Kawaguchi.

Kawaguchiko from the Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway

The bridge over the middle of the lake, the Kawaguchiko Ohashi bridge, is called by some the “upside-down bridge,” because on a clear day when the lake is smooth, one can see an upside down reflection of Mt. Fuji.  I won’t be lucky enough to have either one of those conditions when I walk over the bridge later this afternoon.

Kawaguchiko from the Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway

At the top of Mt. Kachi Kachi, I have another view of Mt. Fuji, but it pales in comparison to the view I had at Chureito Pagoda earlier today.

Mt. Fuji from Mt. Kachi Kachi viewpoint

view from Mt. Kachi Kachi viewpoint

view of Mt. Fuji from Mt. Kachi Kachi viewpoint

Right before I get back on the cable car, I enjoy a very brief glimpse of the lake before I’m hurried along by the ropeway operator.

Kawaguchi-ko from Mt. Kachi Kachi

Mt. Kachi Kachi ropeway

The Ropeway is a short diversion; I have bigger plans. I want to walk across the upside-down bridge to see if I can get the upside-down view of Fuji.   I walk from the Ropeway along the south side of the lake until I come to the touristy Kawaguchiko Herb Hall, an herb-themed tourist spot located near the Kwaguchikohan-Oike Park. The Hall offers craft classes with dried flowers and, at the Perfume-House annex, a chance to create scented aromas.  Herb goods are also on sale (Official Travel Guide Yamanashi: Kawaguchiko Herb Hall).

I was told by a Japanese friend that in the Hall, I could taste lavender soft ice cream.  I feel like I should try it out, but as I had that huge lunch of Houtou earlier, and I plan to have dinner at an Indian restaurant I saw while on the Sightseeing Bus, I decide to forego it.  Maybe I can try it tomorrow.

Kawaguchiko Herb Hall

My plan at this point is simply to walk across the bridge to check out the view.  I begin my walk at Kwaguchikohan-Oike Park.


paddle boats at Kawaguchiko


Before long, I’m on the bridge and the wind is blowing like crazy. I feel like it could pick me up and toss me into the lake.  The surface of the lake is full of wrinkles from the wind, and Fuji is half enveloped in clouds.  There is no upside-down view today.

Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji

Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji




Kawaguchiko from the Kawaguchiko Ohashi bridge

I keep walking further and further across the bridge, hoping for that elusive view.  Before I know it, I’m on the other side of the lake.

Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji from the Kawaguchiko Ohashi bridge

Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji from the Kawaguchiko Ohashi bridge

Now that I’ve walked this far, rather than backtracking across the bridge, I might as well continue all the way around the lake.  As I walk along the north shore, I can see Mt. Fuji the whole way.

the Kawaguchiko Ohashi bridge

view of Mt. Fuji from the northern shore of Kawaguchiko

the north shore of Kawaguchiko

view of Mt. Fuji from the north shore of Kawaguchiko

Mt. Fuji from the north shore of Kawaguchiko

Mt. Fuji from the north shore of Kawaguchiko

Mt. Fuji from the north shore of Kawaguchiko

Mt. Fuji and paddle boats

As I approach the east side of the lake, Mt. Fuji is eclipsed by Mt. Kachi Kachi. The walk is longer than it looked when I first got on the bridge, but I have no choice now but to keep going.

continuing around the lake and last view of Fuji

looking to the north at Kawaguchiko

lush beauty

After my hour and 15 minute walk around the lake, where I search unsuccessfully for a place to eat dinner, I head back to my hotel.  All I find around the entire lake are hotels; I can’t believe there are no restaurants.  There is the Indian restaurant I had seen earlier, but when I pop in there, I ask if they serve beer and they say no. I thank them and walk back out; after all, what’s a holiday without beer?

Outside my hotel, before going in, I see a fabulous view of Mt. Fuji.  The clouds have lifted slightly and I can see the snow-capped crown.  Granted, there is a commercial area between the hotel and the mountain, but it doesn’t detract too much from the view.

view of Mt. Fuji from outside my hotel

At my hotel, which serves no food, I ask the proprietors where I can eat.  The young man tells me there is a ramen place about a 20-minute walk up the road!  A twenty-minute walk??  This after I not only walked up to the Chureito Pagoda but also walked around the east end of Kawaguchiko!

I’m too exhausted to walk 20 minutes.  I try to explain that I just walked around the lake and I am tired, hoping he will offer to drive me to a restaurant.  Instead, he motions for me to wait and he disappears to the parking lot.  I think, Great!  He’s going to drive me.  Instead he brings me a bicycle.  He says it is his bicycle and he proudly hands it over. I take it, relieved I don’t have to walk another 40 minutes to and from the restaurant.


my hotel: Taiheikan

When I get on the bicycle, my happiness about my newfound transportation quickly evaporates.  Like most Asian bicycles I’ve encountered,  the seat is way too low and I can’t seem to adjust it. I start pedaling, but it is hard on my knees with that low seat.  Besides, the road is a steady uphill. I end up getting off the bicycle and walking to the restaurant, pushing the bicycle the whole way. 🙂

As I go up the road, I pass another branch of the Indian restaurant, but I figure they will not serve beer either, since the sister branch didn’t.  I arrive at the ramen restaurant, where the menu is all in Japanese and no one in the restaurant speaks any English.  Nor does the waiter seem to want to help me figure things out; after all, I’m the only foreigner in the place.  I end up ordering a small order of fries and a beer, thinking that after I enjoy my beer, I’ll return to the Indian restaurant for dinner.

Leaving the ramen restaurant, I now have a long downhill ahead of me.  I get on the bicycle, and coast down the road at high-speed, without having to use those pedals even once!

At the “Alladin Indo Resturent,” as soon as I look at the menu, I see they serve beer!  Great.  I could have just come here in the first place.  Since I ended up having two beers at the ramen restaurant, I don’t order one here.  However, I do enjoy a great Indian meal of vegetable curry with naan.

dinner at “Alladin Indo Resturent”

“Alladin Indo Resturent”

Back in my cozy Japanese room, I decide to go downstairs and check out the hotel onsen. The hotel provides a nice robe and towel, which I put on.

my Japanese-style room at Taiheikan

me preparing to go to the onsen at Taiheikan

In my robe, and with my towel, I go down to the onsen, which is nicer than the one at my hotel in Hakone.  I soak in the hot bath for a good long while, enjoying having it all to myself.  Back in my room, I feel wonderfully relaxed.  It’s a good thing I’m tired because the wi-fi in the room doesn’t work at all, even though the hotel’s Agoda listing promised “free wi-fi.”  Still, it is a much nicer hotel than the one I had in Hakone, and for the same price.

Between the two beers, the Indian curry and naan, my exhaustion from a day of travel, climbing and walking, and the hot soak, I feel very relaxed indeed.

Total steps today: 19,490 (8.26 miles). 🙂




17 responses to “a late afternoon stroll around kawaguchiko

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  1. How beautiful to have that wonderful view of Mt Fuji towards of the day. I like the sound of having the onsen all to yourself too.

    • It was such perfect weather, Carol! I enjoyed that walk around the lake with the views of Mt. Fuji most of the way around. And I’ve been lucky to have several hotel onsen to myself. It is quite nice to not have anyone else around. 🙂

      • We were certainly the centre of attention whenever we visited the onsen. What the Japanese ladies didn’t know was that my sister is a fluent Japanese speaker and could understand everything they were saying! 🙂 They got quite a shock when she answered them.

      • I would love to know what they were saying! I think it’s great that your sister was able to respond to them. 🙂

      • Travelling with her was like having my own personal tour guide. She lived in Osaka for more than two years and has visited many times on school trips since then.

  2. The lake looks lovely, similar in parts to Switzerland, and I am glad you got a good view of Mount Fuji at the end of your day. All this walking Cathy! You are going to be a slip of a lass by the time you leave Japan. 🙂

    • I think you’re right, Jude, in that Kawaguchiko might look similar to parts of Switzerland, although I would only know from pictures since I’ve never been there! I feel like all the walking is helping me lose some weight, but somehow my stomach never seems to shrink. Plus, my eating habits have deteriorated while I’ve been here. I started out doing so well, but have now fallen back into old habits. 🙂

      • Sadly I think the stomach issue never goes away once you have reached the menopause. I always had a waist until I reached my fifties and now I look 6 months pregnant all the time 😦

      • I know what you mean, Jude. Every time I look at myself walking by in a shop window, I feel disgusted by that belly. But I don’t know how to get rid of it. I’ve tried sit-ups and lots of walking; my pants are practically falling off me now, as far as my hips, but that stomach remains stubbornly flabby! Ugh. 😦

      • I guess we just have to live with it Cathy, but you do look very fit I have to say. Any ideas about what you will do once you return to the USA?

      • I guess we have no other choice but to accept it, Jude. I don’t feel that fit, but thanks for your kind words. As for what I’ll do when I return home, Mike and I are finally going to take that trip to Budapest and Prague in late September. We also have to deal with our prodigal son, who has returned home from Hawaii after a series of setbacks. As for a job, I’m really hoping to never teach again. But we’ll see about that…. You and I have chatted about how it drains a person of every last ounce of energy!! My dream is to never do it again. 🙂

      • Well it will be lovely for you to visit Europe again and with Mike too. Sorry to hear that Adam is still causing problems. Hopefully he will mature one day soon. Just don’t take on his problems Cathy – he is an adult now and has to learn to deal with life. I know that is hard, but you can’t make yourself ill worrying over him.

      • I know, Jude. I am disappointed in the decisions he is making, but I guess he’s having to deal with life’s hard realities. I really do wish he’d grow up and become more responsible and get his act together. He’s so gifted but he is making so many bad decisions. I dread having to deal with it when I return, but of course I miss him too, so I’ll be happy to see him. I am going to try to detach and not make myself too stressed out over his life problems though. Thanks, Jude. 🙂

      • In the end they have to make their own decisions, but it is good that you support him, and of course you miss him. We all want the best for our kids and it is hard to watch them make mistakes. Let’s hope he finds his way soon.

  3. I’d have to pinch myself, being so close to Mt. Fuji, Cathy! The shots I like best are those looking down on the bridge and lake, and you look great in your kimono. 🙂 🙂

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