I needed accomplices, so I called up some 'orang Malaysia', who have chosen to remain anonymous in this blog, thus the shot of everyone's shoes!Naah, I'm just kidding, you'll be seeing their pictures later on. We met up at Shinjuku Station, the busiest station in all of Japan, and got on a bus that would take us towards the Fuji region. The bus ride took almost 2 hours and about 90 minutes into the ride, Fuji-san became visible in the distance. We were in good fortune as the weather was perfect, and to top it off, there was a cloud hovering over the summit of Fuji, crowning it in all its glory! Now, what sets Fuji apart from other great mountains of the world is that, like Kilimanjaro, it isn't part of a range and stands alone among lesser hills. Looking at this picture, you can also tell that it is amazingly symmetrical, thus adding to its appeal. We were told that winter is the best time to see Fuji-san, as the snow-capped peak is not as impressive when the weather gets warmer.
We arrived at Kawaguchiko, the most easily accessible of the 5 lakes, and checked into K's House, a backpacker's inn. We had not had lunch but it seemed to be the last thing on our mind since we wanted to catch the last boat ride on the lake, at 4.00pm. The ride produced splendid views of the mountain, made all the more prettier by the setting sun. After dinner, we went to an 'onsen' located near the hostel to soak ourselves in the hot springs. 'Onsen' are hot springs that are extremely popular in Japan. Onsen are intriguing to foreigners and deserves a post on its own, so lets put a rain check on that.
On the following day we started our day at the Narusawa Ice Caves,a subterranean cave able to store ice at any time of the year, used as a refrigerator from ancient times. We then made our way to Iyashi no Sato Nenba, a 1:1 scale of an ancient Japanese village destroyed the last time Fuji exploded. Fuji is a volcano, in case you didn't know, but has long become inactive. The village is now a tourist spot with each house showcasing a different part of Japanese culture. I for one, was impressed with the Silk House, the Doll House, and of course the house with the ancient Japanese costumes! You guys have got to understand how hard it was for me to choose these pictures out of the hundreds I took, but those of you on my Facebook will be able to see a larger collection. After the village, we went to a park with ice sculptures, if you could call it that. Below is our attempt to melt the ice!
True to our roots as Malaysians, we never stopped snapping away with our cameras. We had 8 cameras among the 10 of us, the prize of the bunch being Ryan's SLR which produced some of our best shots. We could not help it, since everywhere we turned, we were faced with amazingly beautiful scenery, not to mention the fact that no matter where you are in Kawaguchiko, Fuji-san is visible. The 'jumping' shot on the right is one of many all of us took, thanks again to Ryan. After another late lunch we walked to the Kawaguchiko Bridge to get a glimpse of the sunset. Again, we took tons of photos and spent the rest of the night indoors reminiscing about, what else, but home! On the next day, New Year's Eve, a few of the guys got up at the crack of dawn and made their way to the bridge again to catch the sunrise from behind Fuji-san. After waking them up at 5, I went back to sleep to catch a few more zzzzz's. This is one of the shots of the sunrise. I know what you're thinking, that I should be kicking myself for missing such a sight, but its too late to think about that now, isn't it? I too can attest to the fact that sleep is overrated. Anyway, when the others got back, the girls and I made breakfast for everyone, scrambled eggs and toast. We set off after breakfast to Mt. Kachi Kachi, a hill if you ask me, adjacent to Mt. Fuji. The cable car took us to the top and it was the clearest view of Fuji-san we had seen yet. After yet another round of photos, we decided to hike down rather than take the cable car. It was close to 11am already and we had tickets for the 12.40pm bus back to the city. We got back to the hostel, packed, and bid sayonara to Kawaguchiko, vowing to come back in the summer to climb Mt. Fuji. It was New Year's Eve and on the bus ride home, I couldn't help reflecting on the year that had past. 2008 had been an incredible year of highs and lows. Ending the year with a splendid vacation, seemed to me, like a fitting end to 2008, the year of the PIG! To find out how I began the Year of the Ox, 2009, refer to my previous post.
Here are some of my favourite shots:
The one on the left being the view from Mt. Kachi Kachi, where lovebirds ring the bell for long lasting relationships. Sadly, I had to ring it alone lol!
"Shadows grow so long beneath my eyes"-Peter Frampton, Baby I Love Your way.