It is another early morning as we awake at 6AM to prepare for our day trip to Mt. Fuji and Hakone. Breakfast at Jurin was simple and light, juice and croissants, and set us back only(!) 3245¥. Once again we meet in the lobby at 8:05 to be whisked away to the Hamamatsucho bus station to board the actual tour bus. Our guide was Ozaki-san (apologies if I have the name wrong), a nice lady who used to be a newscaster but has been a tour guide for the past four years. It took us a few hours to arrive at Mt. Fuji, but the scenery along the way was quite beautiful, at least, what I saw of it.
It’s the typical catch-22; unless I’m driving, I tend to fall asleep on long drives and miss out on some of the sights along the way. If I am driving, I have to focus on the road and still miss out on the view. What I did see was breathtaking; it is amazing to see how the land is used throughout Japan. You drive through the rural areas and can see rice paddies stuck right between rows of houses. We arrived at the fifth (of ten possible) station by 11:05 and had thirty minutes to spend soaking up the mountain’s majesty. Blessed with sunny but windy weather, I quickly setup the tripod and began snapping panoramic shots of Fuji-san and the other visible mountain ranges, dubbed the Japanese Alps.
The souvenir shop handed all of us a free hiking bell used to warn approaching wild life to get out of the way. We briefly hiked up the path a short way and saw the exterior of the Shinto shrine next to the shop. Jm took the rest of the time to purchase some postcards and stamps (950¥) and managed to dash one off to her Aunt and Uncle before we boarded the bus. The bus wound its way back down the mountain and deposited us at the Hotel Highland Resort for lunch around 12:30PM. Lunch was served in the decorative Angelo Mio!! Italian café; the café is setup to resemble a carousel with an open air veranda around it.
We were seated with Paul, a friendly Aussie hailing from Brisbane. We chatted a bit before lunch was served; I had a delicious salmon dish while Jm had a chicken with red sauce dish. Jm commented that mine looked better, but the vanilla gellato for dessert capped off both our meals nicely. With a bit of time left to kill, we strolled around the veranda and admired the view of Fuji-san. We also marveled at the amusement park that was right next door to the hotel.
It did not appear to be active at the time, but it featured at least one impressive roller coaster. Not sure if it was part of the park, but there was some bizarre, cartoon-ish statue that was peering at us all through lunch. The hotel was quite impressive and looked very upscale (read very pricey to stay there). Nothing caught our eye in the gift shop, but we would have loved to have taken a few items back from the café’s bakery. Then, it was back onto the bus for the next leg of the tour.