A season has past and spring is coming soon. Guess I should really have to be more hardworking and work harder on the backlogs. Autumn is a romantic season, the weather is chilling and joyful; with the sun up high in the sky but you won’t sweat a lot. Also, it’s the season for koyo (colourful autumn leaves) and momiji hunting.
For full itinerary, check out the Japan Trip 2015: 9D8N Tokyo, Kawaguchiko & Kamakura
On the fourth day of my trip, I planned the trip up to Kawaguchiko, to meet my forever love, Fuji-san.
Lake Kawaguchiko/ kawaguchiko (河口湖) is one of the best places to enjoy the best view of Mount Fuji especially on the northern shores. For my love to Fuji-san and koyo leaves, I chose to come here during autumn days. However, 2 days 1 night itself is never enough explore Kawaguchiko. There are a lot of attractions to stop by and most of them can be reached by bus. With the Sightseeing Bus Unlimited Ride Coupon, you can board the bus on and off, checking out every place. There is Koyo Tunnel, a tunnel place that is full with momiji. However, there is no bus route to reach this place. You can either drive, or walk, or traveling there by taxi. We had to give up checking out the Koyo Tunnel due to the time constrain. We too, never have time to explore the green line to Lake Sai (Saiko)
There are a few mode of transportation to travel to Kawaguchiko. I chose bus as it is considered the most convenient, time saving and the cheapest among all. The one way journey takes about 1 hour 45 mins and it costs ¥ 1750 per pax.
Getting there from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko Station:
By bus (105 mins):
Take the Fujikyu or Keio bus at Keio Highway Bus Terminal (Shinjuku Station bus Terminal) which is located in front of Yodobashi Camera (West Store); just a 2-min walk from Shinjuku Station West Exit/ opposite Keio Department Store.
UPDATE 2017: You may now get your bus ticket to Fuji/ Lake Kawaguchi in Shinjuku Expressway Bus Terminal, on 4th floor (the departure terminal). It is easily accessable from Shinjuku Station “New South Gate”. From the “South Exit”, it is accessible from “Koshu-Kaido Gate” across the pedestrian crossing in front of the ticket gate.
Take the JR Chuo Line from Shinjuku Station to Otsuki station (70 mins on limited express train or 100 mins on local trains). From Otsuki, take Fujikyu Railway Line to Kawaguchiko Station (55 mins). The JR Tokyo Wide Pass covers the entire journey but not valid with Japan Rail Pass and JR East Past.
We woke up early and walked to Keio Highway Bus Terminal.
I didn’t reserve the bus ticket beforehand. All 6 of us were super lucky to get the ticket at 0840 from the waiting list because the tickets were all fully booked or sold out until noon time. Phew… Lesson to learn; always reserve the ticket when you are on a tight schedule.
Along the way, we just munched on the light breakfast bought from the nearby konbini and enjoyed the light nap or scenery. Spotted Fuji-san that was so near to me.
The mode of transport here in Kawaguchiko is bus – on the stylish omni bus and vintage retro bus. The buses travel not only Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Sai, but also sightseeing places like Kachikachiyama Ropeway, Lake Kawaguchi Sightseeing Boat, Musc Box Forest, Lake Kawaguchi Museum…
Get the Sightseeing Bus Unlimited Ride Coupon at ¥ 1200 so you are able to take the unlimited ride in Kawaguchiko and Saiko (red line and green line) for 2 consecutive days while Kawaguchiko line only is ¥ 1030
But we bought the package of R Coupon priced at 2300 yen which comes with this 2-day free pass Sightseeing Bus Unlimited Ride Coupon, Mount Kachi-kachi Ropeway and Kawaguchiko “En Soleil” Sightseeing boat Ride (both ropeway and boat ride is one time use, but you can choose to go on the day you bought the ticket or on the next day).
The breakdown itself is already ¥ 1200 for sightseeing bus, ¥ 720 for ropeway and ¥ 930 for “En Soleil”. Hence, you can still save a bit when you get the R Coupon.
Things to do in Kawaguchiko
1. Eat Houtou in Houton Fudou
Houtou ほうとう noodle is a popular noodle hotpot dish that can only be found in Fuji Lakes area as it is a type of specialty in Yamanashi Perfecture. It is often served in an iron pot with the miso based soup broth that loaded with pumpkin and seasonal vegetables. It looks like our local pan mee which is flat but slightly thicker. Tastewise, it is delicious and bouncy.
There are 4 outlets of Houton Fudou at Kawaguchiko and each of them is decorated differently but sharing the same menu.
The metal for the hot iron pot to put on.
A bowl of Houtou (¥ 1080) is good for sharing among 2 because it is really huge!!!
Basashi 馬刺し(¥ 1080) – The horse sashimi dish. My third time tried on this and it is very famous in Kyushu. Paired with grated ginger and onions. *please don’t scold I am cruel.
Mugi Toro Meshi (¥ 1080)
Rice boiled with barley and topped with grated yam.
Inari Sushi (¥ 432)
Zaru Soba (¥ 700)
Remember to get some prepacked houtou home. Ypu can make delicious houtou at thome too by adding in the Japanese pumpkin and cabbages. Simply Yum!
Located just across the road from Kawaguchiko Station.
2. Up up up to Mount Kachi Kachi in 3 mins and date Fuji-san
Take the ropeway up to Mt Kachi Kachi and enjoy the panoramic view of Mount Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi. On good days, you might able to view the Minami Alps (Mount Akaishi and Mount Arakawa) from here too.
Hello, where are you???
With the view of Mount Fuji, must have the Pichi Pichi Peach (Peach Juice) and the charcoal-fired “Tanuki Dango” – the grilled mochi from Tanuki Tea House.
A rabbit is enshrined here for the safety and strength of tourists.
Bell of Tenjo
A popular spot at Mount Kachi Kachi Ropeway observation area. For fulfilling love, the couples can ring the bell and pledge love.
On the red line: Board the omni/retro bus from Kawaguchiko station to bus stop #11.
Ropeway fee: ¥ 720 for round trip
3. Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center
A blueberry cultural center overlooking the beautiful kawaguchiko and the great view of Mt. Fuji. You get to see the beautiful field of blueberries and lavender during their seasons. During July to August, you may come here and experience picking fresh blueberries. Hands-on classes are available for making blueberry, rhubarb, and blueberry-raspberry jams too.
I was here for this cute kokia balls as I saw one of my friends posted this on FB and he was there a day earlier. Kokia is known as Bassia scoparia. It is green in colour but turns purplish red in autumn.
Blueberry Ice Cream *Love*
Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center
2585 Oishi, Fuji Kawaguchiko-machi, Minami Tsuru-gun, Yamanashi Prefecture
On the red line: Natural Living Center is located at bus stop #22 (the last stop of red line).
Entrance fee: FOC
4. Random pit stop for momiji fever
This pit stop was at bus stop #9
5. Souvenirs shopping along the way
There are a number of souvenir shops along the way to Mt. Kachi Kachi, selling almost the same thing. Remember to compare the price before buying as same items can be lower from one to another shop.
Must check out Fujiyama Cookies for the yummy, fragrant and buttery cookies.
6. Enjoy the full course meals and sleep in the most comfortable futon bed after a bath
I chose to stay in Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen Konansou. A detail review about this hotel will be up soon. *trying my best*
The view from our room’s window
Dressed up in the Yukata and enjoy the dinner. This is the most shiawase course meal ever!!! The most unforgettable meal ever. Just toooooo good!
And slept soundly on the most comfortable futon bed. Ahhh, how great if I can stay in this bed everyday?!
Fuji Kawaguchiko Onsen Konansou
Yamanashi, Fujikawaguchiko, Funatsu 4020, Japan
On the red line: the hotel is at Bus Stop #10 Funatsu-Hama Onsen Town
7. Open your eyes with the blings blings
The Yamanashi Gem Museum displays gems, precious stones and large quartz crystals collected from Japan and around the world. we didn’t enter and hopped off to next door.
Yamanashi Gem Museum
On the red line: it is located at bus stop #8
Entrance fee: ¥ 600
8. Soak up the fragrant scent in Kawaguchiko Hall of Herb & Fragrance
Kawaguchiko Herbkan housed a few departments under its roof. There are the Herb Garden, Herb Tea Shop, Greenhouse Café, House of fragrance, Castella Factory and a experience studio on the 2nd floor of the main building.
Lavender ice cream!!! This is the BEST lavender ice cream!!!!!! I thought it was going to be like the one I had here in KL which was soapy taste but it was not. The lavender ice cream was hinted with real lavender from their farm, light and lovely.
On the red line: it is located at bus stop #7
Entrance fee: FOC
9. Sail on the Kawaguchiko “En Soleil” – Excursion Ship
The journey took about 20 mins tour around the lake. Get the upper deck seat for magnificient view of Mt. Fuji. Too bad, Fuji-san decided not to date me that day. Sob.
On the red line: Board the omni/retro bus from Kawaguchiko station to bus stop #11 for the cruise.
10. More shopping to be done at Kawaguchiko station
Don’t leave without more souvenirs and most are only available here in Yamanashi prefecture.
11. Savour the real fruit smoothie and ice cream made with harvested fruits from Yamanashi Perfecture
I found this fruit smoothie and ice cream truck in front of the Kawaguchiko Station. It is manned by a lovely couple, the New Zealand husband and his Japanese wife, serving real fruit smoothie and ice cream with fruits harvested from their farm, Morita Farm. They are specializing in growing peaches but some times you may find some seasonal fruits too.
12. Post the season’s postcard to your buddies
Or even sending them home to mark the footsteps of yours.