Summer for me has always been equivalent to sunny days and warm weather. Little did I know summer in other parts of the world could be cloudy, cool and windy. I am referring to Tokyo. As I was planning this trip I envisaged the days to be bright and warm. I prepared light and breezy ensembles perfect for my vision of summer weather. But when we got to Tokyo I was wrong. It wasn’t cold but it was cool (around 22-25 degrees C). It wasn’t gloomy but it was cloudy. Thus, Mt Fuji decided to hide behind the clouds. I had imagined myself to be one of the lucky few who were able to see its majestic beauty but I was wrong. It did not show itself and I left feeling like I was robbed of a huge opportunity. I was hurt.
We walked around the area of Lake Kawaguchi which is the biggest of the 5 lakes around Mt Fuji. There are a lot of places you can go around the lake but because it was such a huge lake and we only have a few hours to spend, we decided to do three things: 1.) visit Kawaguchiko Herb Hall; 2.) En Soleil Excursion Ship; and, 3.) Kachi Kachi Ropeway.
We first visited Kawaguchiko Herb Hall because I wanted to see the lavender in bloom. I initially suggested to my mom and sister that we join the tour with the lavender field but they did not like the idea so we visited the herb hall instead. It is a small shop with a small lavender field at the back. It has a small greenhouse with a stall that sells ice cream. We bought the lavender ice cream because we were all curious. This is one of those cases wherein my curiosity did well. It was the best tasting ice cream I had (probably an exaggeration but I swear, it is good!). I have a thing for weird-flavoured ice cream (silken tofu and black sesame anyone?) and I love trying out different flavours. They also grow many other herbs and flowers. There is another shop at the back (beyond the herb field and across the narrow street) that sells fragrances and other beauty stuff (but very expensive!).
It was a worthwhile visit and it shouldn’t take longer than 30minutes (unless you want to hoard all the stuff they sell that is infused with lavender). It is a nice side trip for your visit to Mt Fuji (and because there is no entrance fee). I highly recommend trying the lavender ice cream because it is a memorable experience in itself.
Some important tips:
- It is quite a walk from the Kwaguchiko bus station but the journey is nice especially on a cool, windy day like that day. The character and vibe of the houses and shops you will pass by are a sight to see and will make your approximately 20-minute walk to the herb hall enjoyable.
- You can ask for directions and get a map of the vicinity at the tourist information in the bus station. The receptionist can speak English so you don’t have to worry about communication problems.
- Make sure you go to the bus station at least 15 minutes before departure time because the bus will depart on time – on the dot! If you’re late, then sorry, catch the next bus.
- We decided to take the bus because it is cheaper than taking the train. It is also less confusing. It will take you from Shinjuku bus station direct to Kawaguchiko bus station so you don’t have to worry about which station to get off and which train to transfer to. We reserved our bus a week before because I want to make sure that we will be able to get a bus to Mt Fuji. You can reserve yours here: http://highway-buses.jp/fuji/
- Roundtrip ticket is ¥3500.00. You can pay in cash or credit card at the bus station. You just have to print your reservation, exchange it for a ticket and pay at the ticket counter at the Shinjuku bus station. Bus trip to Mt Fuji is approx. 2 hours (depending on the traffic).
- There is a vintage bus you can ride on to go around Mt Fuji but we decided to walk because we like to look around. And as I said, the journey to the herb hall is quite fun!
- Hoto noodles are a famous specialty in Mt Fuji which we were unable to try. I was sad because I really wanted to taste it but it was also a bit expensive. The restaurants are also packed with people so we ended up buying convenience store food instead and ate at the bus station while we were waiting for our bus.
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