Seeing Mount Fuji was one of my most memorable moments in Japan
My knowledge about Mount Fuji came from studying brands at university years ago when our Marketing professor casually mentioned that Quicksilver uses Mount Fuji as their logo. Somehow that piece of information stuck with me, but that’s all I knew about Mount Fuji before my first visit to Japan when my friends added a day trip to Mount Fuji to our itinerary at the last minute.
On that day, we woke up early, got dressed and decided to have breakfast near the bus station so that we wouldn’t miss the tour bus. As usual, the Japanese breakfast food we had for was fantastic.
Mount Fuji is known as a shintai
Shintai is a sacred body where Kami, the spirits or phenomena that are worshipped in the religion of Shinto, live.
I could understand why a kami aka spirit would choose Fuji as a shintai, it's pretty majestic indeed. On that day it looked a bit reddish, the color of autumn, welcoming us from far away.
The bus ride uphill was fun, and the scenery was gorgeous. An unbelievable-but-super-cool thing happened – our bus drove through clouds! Yes, clouds, those white things in the sky that look like cotton candy. It was only for a few seconds, and I needed a few more seconds to realize what had just happened but WHOAA... I now know that it’s possible to literally walk on a cloud.
Mount Fuji Hiker Pit Stop
We finally stopped at the Kawaguchiko fifth station because that was the furthest the bus could go on that day. It’s a hiker pit-stop point; they have a few shops and restaurants, a shrine and an inn.
We hung out there for a while. This area was considerably colder; I kept myself warm by roaming the shops and snapping a few photos. It was nice to see that Bahasa Indonesia is one of the languages they use in the store.
Postcard from Mount Fuji
Sending a postcard from there was considered unique because it’s 12,388 feet above sea level (kind of like sending postcards from the Vatican, which is located inside the city of Rome, it will be from the Vatican and not Italy), so I sent my parents a postcard from Mount Fuji, Japan.
Japanese Teishoku Lunch
After some time we got back to the bus and headed for lunch at a hot spring resort. It gave the impression of a five-star resort but in a secluded area. I guess it caters more for a weekend getaway for the locals than for the tourists.
For lunch, I ordered the tempura vegetable bento, while my friends had prawn tempura instead. The food scored an A+ in both presentation and taste. It reminded me of the Japanese multi-course Buddhist temple vegetarian meal at Koyasan Shukubo.
We enjoyed the lunch very much; the cold weather increased our appetite, and I sneaked into the gift shop before leaving.
Back on the bus, I zoned off for a while, blaming it on the yummy lunch. When I snapped back, I was looking at a scenic silver grass field, which was the color of gold. It was just so picturesque.
Next stop is Hakone’s cable car station. We took the biggest cable car I have ever been in and flying to the highest heights I have ever been on. Again the view was just breathtaking. We could see Mount Fuji peeking from the clouds.
We reached Owakudani. It is a volcanic valley with active sulfur vents and hot springs.
We had to hike a bit to enjoy the panoramic view; it wasn’t easy, especially with a heavy backpack and our unpreparedness – I was glad that I was with my friends. Along the way, my friend washed her hands and tapped the sulfur water on her face. I usually would disagree, but given that she has the nicest skin, I have to admit that maybe her beauty regime, however random, is working.
Harvest Moon RPG
The whole area reminded me of the RPG game I’ve played and competed against schoolmates called Harvest Moon. It was by far my most favorite game. The main objective of the game is to rebuild a run-down old farm and turn it into a successful one. Over a period of time, the player tends to crops and livestock, befriends nearby townsfolk, and eventually gets married and starts a family. In one part of the game, the farmer has to walk for half an hour (our two minutes of real time, including loading), boil the eggs in the hot spring so he can sell it at a higher price.
For those who have never played Harvest Moon, you may think this is stupid, but for the ones who have been ‘Harvestmoon-ed’, you surely know what I’m talking about! What did you name your chickens? I remember naming one as Bul Bul after my first Tamagotchi pet.
Owakudani Black Eggs
There was a queue behind a shop nearby. My best friends jumped with joy when they saw the shop was selling the black eggs. These eggs are boiled on the spot in the sulfurous hot spring, which gives them a black coating and a nicer taste (for some or a stronger smell for others). Vi bought seven. It’s alleged that each egg gives an extra seven years of life. I wondered what Vi was going to do with all those extra years?
Our tour ended with a ship cruise around Lake Ashinoko. I didn’t particularly enjoy the cruise as it was cloudy. I couldn’t see the mountain, which is claimed to be beautiful when seen from the lake on a clear day.
After Lake Ashinoko, we were ready to return. We took Shinkansen, the famous bullet train, to Tokyo. Vi shared the rest of the eggs with us on the train, still, she ate most of them, but I think it’s got more to do with her liking the eggs in general than wanting to outlive us.
Have you ever hiked a mountain before? Would you hike Mount Fuji? How about giving the black egg a try?