Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Finally ~~ Japan Trip Photos (14-19 Jan'09) - Day 3


Mount Fuji (Fujisan) is with 3776 meters Japan's highest mountain. It is not surprising that the nearly perfectly shaped volcano has been worshipped as a sacred mountain and experienced big popularity among artists and common people.

Mount Fuji is a dormant volcano, which most recently erupted in 1708. It stands on the border between Yamanashi and Shizuoka Prefectures and can be seen from Tokyo and Yokohama on clear days.

The easiest way to view Mount Fuji is from the train on a trip along the Tokaido Line between Tokyo and Osaka. If you take the shinkansen from Tokyo in direction of Nagoya, Kyoto and Osaka, the best view of Mount Fuji can be enjoyed from around Shin-Fuji Station on the right hand side of the train, about 40 to 45 minutes after leaving Tokyo.

Note however, that clouds and poor visibility often block the view of Mount Fuji, and you have to consider yourself lucky if you get a clear view of the mountain. Visibility tends to be better during the colder seasons of the year than in summer, and in the early morning and late evening hours.

If you want to enjoy Mount Fuji at a more leisurely pace and from a nice natural surrounding, you should head to the Fuji Five Lake (Fujigoko) region at the northern foot of the mountain, or to Hakone, a nearby hote spring resort.

Mount Fuji is officially open for climbing during July and August via several routes.

For more information of Mount Fuji, go to -

Early in the morning, we took off from Westin Nagoya Castle and started our journey towards Mount Fuji.... It was a long travelling distance on the road and finally... we started catching glimpses of Mount Fuji and it gets us all so excited, so we starter taking pictures thru' the bus window....

Earlier while on our way, we came to this ''stop-over" where they had a supermarket, cafeteria as well as some stalls outside along the supermarket... Inside the supermarket, I found a corner that sells..... so many Kitty stuffs!!!! Japan is really a 'Kitty-Land'!

Where we were brought to have our lunch, there was this big empty carpark area where we can clearly see Mount Fuji.. Look at our background, doesn't it resembles taking picture in a studio with a poster of Mt Fuji at the backdrop???
More pictures of Mt Fuji!! Just can't get enough of the photo-taking of Mt Fuji....

Before we move on to Mt Fuji, we stop by this ski resort where some opted for the 'ice slide/ride' or whatever you call it... But we just wanted to walk around, enjoy the snow and cold wind... It was really rather cold... I tried to hold the snow with my gloves and it just wet them... So I took out my glove and touch the snow, it just 'bites' my hand!!! Cold Cold.....

Then we went up to this part of Mt Fuji and the tour guide told us that due to the weather, we were not able to move on any further... After taking some photos and looking around, we just can't wait to get on the bus cos it's really cold with the wind blowing on your face!!!!

Tonight, we will spend a night at this Onsen Ryokan (Kawaguchiko Koryu Hotel) and sleep on futon laid over tatami floor with a kotatsu to warm ourselves if we feel too cold..... So nice.....

Ryokan are Japanese style inns. They come in all sizes and are found across Japan. A stay at a ryokan is highly recommended to all visitors to Japan, as it offers the opportunity to experience a traditional Japanese atmosphere.

Typical rates for ryokan range between 8,000 and 30,000 yen per night, per person. There are some no-frills establishments that offer rooms for less.

Guests stay in Japanese style rooms with tatami floor and a low table. Shoes are usually removed at the ryokan's main entrance, where slippers will be kept ready. You are supposed to remove even your slippers before stepping onto tatami mats.

Dinner and breakfast are included in the overnight stay, except at some no-frills establishments. Some ryokan serve meals in the guest room, while others serve them in separate dining areas. Both meals are in Japanese style and often feature regional and seasonal specialties.

A yukata (Japanese robe) is provided to be worn during your stay at the ryokan. The yukata can be used for walking around the ryokan and as pajamas. In many onsen resorts, it is also okay to take a walk outside of the ryokan in your yukata. The yukata provided at Western style hotels, unlike those provided at ryokan, are not supposed to be worn outside of your room.

During your stay, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a Japanese style bath. Most ryokan come with a gender separated, communal bath, but in many cases it is also possible to use the bath on a private basis by reserving a time slot. In hot spring resorts, the ryokan's bath water is directly supplied from the hot spring. Elsewhere on the site is a guide on how to take a bath.

Ryokan guests sleep in the traditional Japanese style by using a futon, which is spread out on the tatami floor. The ryokan staff will prepare the futon for you before bed time. At inexpensive ryokan, you may have to do it by yourself. During the day, the futon is kept in a closet.

Futon is a Japanese term generally referring, in Japan, to the traditional style of Japanese bedding consisting of padded mattresses and quilts pliable enough to be folded and stored away during the day, allowing the room to serve for purposes other than as a bed room. The bedding set referred to as futon in Japan fundamentally consists of a shikibuton (bottom mattress) and a kakebuton (thick quilted bedcover).

Futon is a flat, about 5 centimetres (2.0 in) thick mattress with a fabric exterior stuffed with cotton or synthetic batting that makes up a Japanese bed. They are sold in Japan at speciality stores called futon-ya as well as at department stores. They are often sold in sets which include the futon mattress (shikibuton), a comforter (kakebuton) or blanket (mōfu), a summer blanket resembling a large towel, and pillow (makura), generally filled with beans, buckwheat chaff or plastic beads. Futons are designed to be placed on tatami flooring, and are traditionally folded away and stored in a closet during the day to allow the tatami to breathe and to allow for flexibility in the use of the room. Futons must be aired in sunlight regularly, especially if not put away during the day. In addition, many Japanese people beat their futons regularly using a special tool, traditionally made from bamboo, resembling a Western carpet beater.

(More information on Tatami,

Below, there are 2 pictures of the lake that are taken right from our room window... We were lucky to have gotten a room that directly oversee the beautiful lake!!! And I think this is one of the 5 lakes that surrounds Mt Fuji... But I forgot which lake that was, as the tour guide has mentioned... Probably Lake Kawaguchi bah.....?

The Fuji Five Lakes at the northern foot of Mount Fuji are Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiko), Lake Yamanaka (Yamanakako), Lake Sai (Saiko), Lake Shoji (Shojiko) and Lake Motosu (Motosuko).

The five lakes were formed a long time ago by lava flows, which dammed up rivers flowing through the region. Interestingly, three of the lakes, Saiko, Shojiko and Motosuko are still connected with each other by underground waterways and consequently maintain the same surface level of 901 meters above sea level.

Lake Kawaguchi (13km circumference) is the most easily accessible among the five lakes. While the lake's eastern half is heavily developed, its northwestern shores are calmer and offer nice views of MountFuji.

Lake Sai (10.5km circumference), one kilometer west of Lake Kawaguchi, is barely developed, possibly due to the fact that the view of Mount Fuji is partially blocked by other mountains, except at the lake's western tip. There are many camp sites around Lake Sai. Read more about Lake Sai.

Lake Shoji (2.5km circumference), by far the smallest of the five lakes, is located another five kilometers west of Lake Sai. It offers nice views of Mount Fuji and good fishing.

Lake Motosu (13km circumference) is the westernmost of the five lakes. It can be viewed on the 5000 Yen bill.

Lake Yamanaka (13km circumference), on the opposite side of Lake Kawaguchi, is the largest and easternmost of the five lakes. It is highly popular for various water and lakeside outdoor activities such as wind surfing and tennis.

The dinner we were so looking forward to.... Fresh SASHIMI!!!
Everything was really nice and the sashimi were very fresh... Only thing is none of us really eat sea urchin (which is supposed to be the best & most expensive), so we gave them to our tour guide...

Below are instructions on how to wear a japanese robe, kimono robe and yukata robe.

These instructions apply to kimono and yukata when wearing them as robes at bath house, japanese hotels, around the home for relaxation, etc..

1) Put on the kimono robe
2) For both men and women, wrap the right side of the kimono over the body, then overlap it with the left side. Right on top of the left is only used to dress a corpse for burial. (the tour guide keep reminding us of this, so that we don't make the mistake!)
3) Tie the kimono robe sash in a double knot at the front
4) Turn the japanese robe sash until the knot is center back.

Below is the description of the most common way of taking a bath in a hot spring (or public bath). The actual rules may be different depending on the place, but if you follow the instructions below, you should be okay most of the time.

1) Take off all your clothes in the changing room and place them into a basket together with your bath towel. Coin lockers for valuables are often available.
2) Japanese hot springs are enjoyed naked. Swimming suits are not allowed in most places.
3) However, it is the custom to bring a small towel into the bathing area, with which you can enhance your privacy while outside of the water. Once you enter the bath, keep the towel out of the water.
4) Before entering the bath, rinse your body with water from either a tap or the bath using a washbowl provided in the bathing area. Just rinsing your body is usually sufficient unless you are excessively dirty, in which case you want to use soap.
5) Enter the bath and soak for a while. Note that the bath water can be very hot (typical temperatures are 40 to 44 degrees). If it feels too hot, try to enter very slowly and move as little as possible.
6) After soaking for a while, get out of the bath and wash your body with soap at a water tap, while sitting on a stool. Soap and shampoo are provided in some baths. Like in private Japanese bathrooms, make sure that no soap gets into the bath water. Tidy up your space after you finished cleaning your body.
7) Re-enter the bath and soak some more.
8) After you finished soaking, do not rinse your body with tap water, for the minerals to have full effect on your body.

You may also refer to for more information about Japanese hot springs. (note one part about 'people having tattoos... -_-" )

I didn't really enjoyed the bath/hot spring, cos i'm not really into the idea of 'publicly' exposing my naked body... not as if I've got a good figure wor... hehee.... But after dinner when it was later into the night, went down to the shower and checked that there was no one at all, then I quickly went in, took a quick shower, and went for the outdoor hot spring for a quick dip, really quick cos I was in & out of the hot spring within 3 seconds... It was too cold, then the hot spring was too hot... and probably cos I was worried someone might come in and I would feel uncomfortable about it... So after that I quickly dry myself dressed and walked out... At that point, someone happen to just walk in...... -_-"
But overall, great experience at the place... The Kotatsu (heater) kept our feet so warm and comfortable while we enjoy nice, cold Japanese beers while looking at the night scenery.... What great relaxation and enjoyment it was....


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