Wisteria mountain: Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji

Wisteria mountain: Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji

I was overdue for transportation travails this trip, and today delivered in spades.

My worries over catching the express to Mt. Fuji proved groundless — it was the local bus lines that foiled me. Golden Week traffic had stretched the two hour express to four, then I took the wrong bus, missed the right one, and finally staggered to my intended destination six hours after departing from Tokyo Station.

Happily, mineral baths overlooking the mountain promised the restoration I sorely needed.

The pictures can’t do it justice — Mt. Fuji rises fairy-like on the horizon, swept with snow trailing like the ballerina costumes yesterday, pristinely elegant and yet elusive.

Onsen, or public baths, are always a treat, but Hotel Mifujien particularly impressed. As it offered an incomparable view at bargain prices, with modest but elegant facilities, I was amazed to find myself virtually undisturbed there. With the entire bath at my disposal, I soaked in the outdoor pool while a cool breeze dissipated the heat.

En route to Kawaguchiko, a lake attending Mt. Fuji, I couldn’t help but notice a spectacular amusement park. I thought two hours would afford me plenty of time for a spin on some of the world’s most outlandish coasters (“4-D” with rotating seats, or the 110 degree drop that bent backwards) — but wait times stretched for some rides to three hours!

I settled for a favorite childhood treat (red beans in a fish-shaped pastry, here topped with an ice cream sundae) and a tour through Naruto town, marveling at the life-size characters.

Then it was a hectic race around the outskirts of the park to find the correct bus station — more critical than I realized, because even squeaking in to snag a ticket for the 7pm bus brought me to Shinjuku Station near 11 pm… and the metro here stops not long after midnight.

Thank the Lord for the onsen oasis that anchored my day!

red tail lights, all the way back

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