I crave food, but I also crave space and sometimes we just really need to go off on our own. My travel this time is a whole lot different from my previous ones because I am not just flying out to a local destination, but I am actually beginning my journey in pursuing solo travel and I am going to set it off with Japan, the Land of the Rising Sun.
It was daunting at first, from the visa application to the thorough planning of my itinerary. It was actually very detailed to the extent that I have screenshots on my phone. Getting lost isn’t part of the plan but cleary, I exaggerated my ‘Dora’ skills. LOL. I found myself approaching countless locals and officers asking for directions, places, and whatnot.
One of the places I really wanted to see up close is Mt. Fuji. Why? Well, aside from the fact that it looks incredible, it is the highest mountain in Japan topped by streaks of white snow. There are areas where you can take a peak of Mt. Fuji given it’s a sunny day, and I chose the Kawaguchiko area. But before that, I went on a side trip to Shimo Yoshida.
I took a bus from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal to Chuo EXPWY Shimo Yoshida bus stop. Luckily, I was able to hop off at the correct bus stop but from there, you need to find your way to Arakurayama Sengen Park which is the main attraction in the area. From the bus stop, there’s a stairway that will lead you to the neighborhood where you can already have a great view of the Mt. Fuji. The streets were very empty and I’ve only seen a couple of people resulting me using Google Maps because I am lost! LOL
Arakurayama Sengen Park is located on the other side of the road. Whilst walking from a far, I already saw the torii and I followed it until I reached the park. There were only a handful of people that’s why I managed to take photos without crowds on the background.
Being right there was probably one of the most peaceful moments I ever had, and it made me appreciate more the decision to travel solo. The weather was very gentle and kind and with that, I was able to witness the inexplicable beauty of the Mt. Fuji. I honestly wish I live in one of those houses in Shimo Yoshida area.
I only climbed half of the hill because it’s almost lunch and I needed to get to Kawaguchiko asap and speaking of lunch, I realized that I haven’t eaten anything yet that time since I woke up late and I was in a rush getting to the bus terminal. It’s a good thing that there was a food truck around where I had Takoyaki for snack, and what I noticed is that the Takoyaki was like a frozen food (aside from the fact that it was literally freezing that time. LOL) and it was fried in oil. I was expecting it to be prepared through the conventional molded pan.
Finally heading to Kawaguchiko! From the park, you need to walk to Shimo Yoshida station and take the next train bound for Kawaguchiko. The ride was about 12-15 minutes. Upon arrival, I got myself a Kawaguchiko Sightseeing Bus ticket which entitled me with unlimited hop-on hop-off at the ‘Red Line’ bus stops. Check out the map.
Kawaguchiko is probably the most beautiful place I visited in Japan. I was in awe the whole time because the scenery in every corner and angle left me speechless. Do you ever get those moments? Where you just stare at something beautiful and tell yourself how life is truly amazing? To say I love Kawaguchiko is an understatement, to be honest. An entire day is not even enough to finish all the stops in ‘Red Line.’ I am even considering going back to Japan to just explore Kawaguchiko for a week!
So my first stop was at the Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center which is the farthest stop from the station. Since I didn’t have so much time, I decided to go to the places displayed on the ticket, it’s where they recommend the tourists to visit because of the incredible view of the Mt. Fuji. What a view to start my Kawaguchiko trip, yes? Some of my photos were taken by tourists and some were set up using a Gorilla Pod. Hassle but worth it!
My next stop was at Kozantei Ubuya. I think the highlight of this area was the bridge part but for some weird reason, I found this hidden spot near the lake where it was filled with autumn leaves. It was a peculiar area that could attract foreigners/tourists but I didn’t know what got into my head that I decided to go down and just be right there. I was probably amazed by all the leaves and colours of autumn surrounding me.
After being with nature for a while, I went to my last stop which was the Kachi Kachi Ropeway. Here you can ride a cable car going up to Mt. Tenjo-yama Park where you can have another point of view of Mt. Fuji and a bird’s eye view of Kawaguchiko. There I tried the Tanuki Dumpling in sweet soy sauce and Green Tea Milk while staring at the magnificent view of the land. This is the coldest part of Kawaguchiko since you are basically on top of a mountain and it was, in fact, very windy! **Chills brrrrr**
I went on my way back to the station because it was starting to get dark even though it was just three (3) in the afternoon. The struggle is real. It felt like I still had so much time to explore the area but since it was already dimming, I thought it was already pointless to continue my tour. LOL. So I ended up eating at Houtou Fudou.
Houtou Fudou is quite famous in Kawaguchiko since their recipe is distinctively local as it can only be found in the Fuji Lakes area. The Houtou Noodles is a MUST TRY since this is not your typical noodle/ramen bowl. It is composed of very thick and chewy udon noodles and some other seasonal vegetables in a pumpkin based broth served in an iron pot. The serving is actually good for 2-3 and I had to devour as much as I could since I had no one to share it with. LOL.
Day Tour Itinerary (Shimo Yoshida – Kawaguchiko)
[07:45 AM – 09:15 AM] Take Highway bus from Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal to Chuo EXPWY Shimo Yoshida bus stop.
[09:15 AM – 10:00 AM] When you get off from the highway bus at Chuo EXPWY Shimo Yoshida bus stop, go straight to the left side and you will find a way to leave the highway then walk to Arakurayama Sengen Park.
[10:00 AM – 10:45 AM] Travel around Arakurayama Sengen Park. Climb half of the hill where the five-story pagada is right in front. If it is a sunny day, you can have a beautiful view of Mt. Fuji.
[10:45 AM – 11:30 AM] After visiting Arakurayama Senge Park, go to Shimo Yoshida station and take the train to Kawaguchiko station.
[11:30 AM – 11:45 AM] Get a Kawaguchiko sightseeing Bus (Red Line).
[11:45 AM – 03:30 PM] Hop on and hop off to the Red Line bus stops.
[03:30 PM – 04:30 PM] Eat Huotou Fudou just in front of Kawaguchiko station.
[04:30 PM – 06:30 PM] Travel back to Shinjuku.
[06:30 PM – 09:00 PM] Free time to travel or do some shopping.
- Check out the timetable of the bus bound for Shimo Yoshida. You may reserve a seat thru this link.
- Assuming that you have already purchased a ticket and you are not familiar with the location of the bus terminal, I suggest you allot at least an hour because Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal is quite hard to locate from Shinjuku Station which has approximately 200 exits. Yep, that’s right. 200 exits!
- Use Google Maps! I used it for navigation especially in Shimo Yoshida because the signs and directions have no English translations.
- Get a pocket wifi! It’s normal to get lost but in times like this, you’ll need a lot of help from Google. LOL
- If you are traveling solo, bring a tripod! In my case, I used a gorilla pod because it’s smaller and it can fit inside my backpack and it can actually be set up somewhere it can get a good grip.
- Be friends with the other travellers/tourists. When they ask a favor to take a photo of them, ask the same thing in return. Always take advantage of those photo opportunities!
- If you allot more time, then I suggest to stay in Kawaguchiko for at least a night because there’s too much good stuff to check out that a day tour will never be enough!