Zipping off from Osaka again on the Shinkansen felt like the norm now. This time we were heading back to Tokyo to take a bus to Kawaguchiko which is a picturesque lake to the north of Mount Fuji. Ironically, we whizzed past Fuji on the train, so it felt a bit weird that we couldn’t jump off and get there without finding the bus. But such is life sometimes.
The bus to Kawaguchiko was easy and pretty efficient and took a couple of hours from Tokyo. Mount Fuji is normally shrouded in cloud and today seemed to be no exception!
We arrived early afternoon at the railway station that served the lake and found our way to our Ryokan, another traditional inn and our second of the trip. This place was a recommendation of our friend David, who now lives in Japan and has done for 10 years. This was a little bigger than the one in Miyajima, but no less quality. The rooms are wonderful and incredibly relaxing, and no shoes are allowed. You are even expected to use special toilet only slippers, in order to preserve the cleanliness throughout. Japanese toilets are pretty special and unlike any toilets anywhere else in the world. The seats are heatable, there are various sprays and fountains, hot air and more. Once you have experienced the sheer joys of a Japanese toilet, everything else becomes a little bit of a damp squib, no pun intended!
Anyway enough of toilet talk. Onsens, those hot communal baths, either public or private, are all part of the Ryokan scene. But tattoos are pretty much frowned upon in Japan and if you have any, you are generally not allowed to use a public Onsen. So we booked a private Onsen and it was as fantastic as ever.
We changed for dinner, watched France vs USA on Kirsty’s iPad and then enjoyed the most amazing food, again.
We had started to use Google Translate more and more on our trip, and that provided no shortage of hilarity given that the Google algorithm takes sometime to check with you on it’s translation before moving on and making improvements. It can sometimes throw up some awkward interpretations! Below was a selection of the ‘translations’ for our amazing breakfast the next day.
Sometimes it’s just better to get stuck in and eat, such is the incredibly high standard and presentation of Japanese food, everywhere!
We spent a day walking around the lake and enjoying the scenery. The area felt a bit like the Lake District in the U.K and for the first time in Japan, it felt a little tired and in need of a little bit of TLC. To be crystal clear, the standard of the area was still high, zero litter or graffiti, it just wasn’t as high as other places we visited in Japan.
The area seemed to be known for gemstones & herbs and it did seem that for families there was very little to do, and most visitors were in the area for a couple of days of hiking. We met a couple of English girls who were traveling and they had an Airbnb and were intending to dine out at 7Eleven and Lawson so they would or could not really contribute financially to the local economy and I suspect that would not be an isolated case.
We had a really enjoyable time in the fresh air even though Fuji was pretty obscured. We needed to find a place for dinner as Kirsty’s old friend Simon was going to come over and visit us. Simon, purely by chance was in Japan for the sports car racing as he works for Aston Martin. We found a lovely restaurant and figured out what to eat. Their kitchen closed at 9pm and Simon was running late. We knew he wasn’t able to eat fish or seafood, so we chose the local signature dish Shabu Shabu. This proved to be somewhat hilarious in the eating given it was like a Fondue with hot brothy water rather than cheese, into which you cook vegetables, thinly sliced meat and incredibly slippery fat rice Udon noodles. All of this armed only with chopsticks which were the only tools of extraction!
It was great to meet Simon at long last and man did we all have a laugh, and swear a bit too. The whole episode was like being caught in an Escher drawing, but for real. Even if we had seafood and fish, Simon would have been fine, he would never have got it anywhere near his mouth!
We turned in and I set an alarm. It was Glastonbury ticket time again and I needed to be awake at 2am to see if I could buy our tickets. Other friends from the UK were on and our Whatsapp group was pinging away. The coach tickets were sold out in about 24 mins. The main tickets were going on sale on Sunday morning, 9am UK time. So our hopes rested on that.
Next morning we checked out of our amazing Ryokan and headed to Shizuoka for the next game we were going to. Italy vs South Africa.
Today was Friday 4th October and that was One Special Day, the day many games companies gave up their daily revenues to support Special Effect, the gamers’ charity which ensures everyone, no matter what their disability is, play games on a level playing field. We had to get a picture of my old One Special Day T-shirt in front of Mount Fuji.
Our bus duly arrived, and we climbed aboard ‘Thomas & Friends’ and headed to Mishima to get the Shinkansen to Shizuoka. We loved our time in Kawaguchiko, thanks to David for recommending this part of the world. And yes, true to form we zipped past Mount Fuji again on the train. It seems wherever you go, Mount Fuji is likely to be in view!