Thursday 11th October
Awoke to showers and a grey looking day but by the time we were heading to Kyoto Station, blues skies were peeking through. Off to Mt Fuji today so want it to be clear so we can see the mountain. Had breakfast this morning at the hotel, deciding we needed a large substantial meal to see the day through as I wasn't sure how long the trip was going to be once we reached Mishima Station. JR Rails last stop was Mishima and then you need to catch a bus to Kawaguchiko Station, which is where our hotel was. It does seem strange that there isn't a train that goes all the way to Fuji in this train dominated country.
Left Kyoto 9:56am (yes, they do have strange times, nothing is ever 10am or on the half hour, its always a few minutes either side) and arrived at Mishima Station at 12:55pm. Had a good view of Mt Fuji from the train. We walked out of the station without seeing an Information Centre and to the local buses, looking for No.2 as per my internet instructions. Found another lost tourist wandering around and we pooled resources. Headed back into the station and he went to the ticket counter and us the guy who checks your tickets as you go through the ticket gates. Both came back with the same information, yes, we needed a local bus No.2 but it was through the South Exit (otherside of station to where we were looking). There was a bus already there and after a hefty cost of 2,200 yen each ($27) we headed to Kawaguchiko Station.
A 90 minutes ride later we arrived. Quaint little station with Mt Fuji, top obscured by cloud, behind it. We were too early to check into the hotel, which was at 3pm, so we had lunch and coffee and Mt Fuji cookies at the station before inquiring and purchasing tickets for the bus to My Fuji tomorrow morning. Couldn't do the same with the rail tickets for the day we leave as they need to be purchased on the day or pre-purchased over the phone. Yeah, we'll give that one a miss. Information Centre very helpful and we discovered, while asking how to get to our hotel, that a courtesy van picks you up and takes you there.
Our driver was very funny, little English but made up for it in his funny ways. Had a red flashing wand to show you across the road. There aren't any pedestrian crossing signals around Lake Kawaguchiko and it makes for a lovely peaceful environment. You have no idea how noisy everyday life on the street is in the city. The crossing signals have two types of sound, one a beep and the other like a cuckoo, both alternating the whole time the green walking man is on. Then there are the vans that drive around announcing things, the big screens on the buildings squawking away in high pitches and the bus drivers have microphones that announce outside to passengers in their deep dulcet tones. It reminded me of the movie Blade Runner.
We stayed at Hotel New Century in a Japanese room. So when you walk in there are tatami mats on the floor and a table and chairs but no bed. We asked the driver, who doubled as porter, do we make our bed. He shook his head and acted out that when we are at dinner he sneaks in and put down our beds, and true to his word when we came back the beds were on the floor. Meals and breakfast were included here and they were all Japanese style. Lots of fish, Chris even gave raw tuna a try, and some very strange bits and pieces. No idea what we were eating as the waitresses did not speak English. It was so funny as they talked away as though you understood, explaining how to cooked the meal (Japanese Nabe - hot pots) and when to add the other ingredients. We looked blanky at them and then they started cooking the food for us. Least we will know what we are doing tomorrow night.
Had a walk around a small part of the lake. Quite overgrown and needing maintenance. I wonder if they wait for the snow to kill everything off for them. Still very lovely and peaceful. Plus the concierge told us tomorrow would be a good to see Mt Fuji. Basically pointed at mountain covered in cloud and hid his face then said tomorrow and gave thumbs up. Hey, who needs to speak Japanese, we all know what thumbs up means. Had to include a photo of Chris standing at the door, not made for tall people.