Sunday, May 25, 2014

fuji shibazakura festival

This weekend finds me heading to the Fuji Five Lakes Area. I've been in Japan for a year now and I still haven't seen the iconic Mt. Fuji. No plans to climb it, looking at it from afar is enough. So why not do it in front of some pretty pink and purple flowers?!? A coworker brought the Fuji Shibazakura Festival to my attention and I had to go check it out, knowing that I wouldn't be able to see it next year. Shibazakura is known as pink moss in English despite not actually being moss. This festival is super popular with tourists, that and the fact that it was ending soon meant this whole place was packed with people. Didn't help that we went on a Sunday...

Blogs and online comments stated that lighting in the afternoon usually produced better pictures so we hung around the small city of Fujikawaguchik, with the ever looming Mt. Fuji in the background.

After a small snack we caught the bus to Aokigahara, Sea of Trees, which is also known as the Suicide Forest. Aokigahara is one of the most popular locations in the world for suicides. There are signs urging suicidal visitors to seek help and annual searches for bodies. Another popular suicide spot that hits closer to home is the Golden Gate Bridge in my hometown of San Francisco!

We planned to walk to the nearby Lake Saiko which was suppose to be a 40 min walking trail away. However we ended up walking in the completely different direction and ended up at Lake Shojiko a two hour plus walk away. There were trail signs but there wasn't a time estimation so we had no clue how long it would take to reach our location. Ellen, Alanna and I had a fun time chatting and walking amongst the trees but after an hour passed we grew hungry.

lake shojiko
There was a bus stop nearby but we had no clue where the bus was heading and it wasn't going to come anytime soon. By the time the bus came and we got back into the city and went to the festival site it would have closed. Turns out we had walked so far that we were actually closer to the festival site so we asked the restaurant employee for a taxi number. Thankfully a taxi driver was willing to drive all the way out to where we were and probably turned out cheaper than if we had rode the bus back.

I really liked the mini Mt. Fuji! Unfortunately when we were there the sky became super cloudy so we weren't able to see Mt. Fuji clearly. I took this photo from a raised platform which had a huge line of people waiting to walk up. I sneakily climbed up the exit stairs, which weren't manned, took a couple of photos real quickly and left. Since the festival was almost ending most of the flowers were already gone so didn't present as nice of a picture.

"pink moss"  that comes in different colors and isn't actually moss...

Yamanashi Prefecture is known for its hoto noodles, thick wheat noodles in a miso based broth. We were starving after not eating all day and stopped at a place called Kosaku known for serving this dish. The portions are huge! Could have shared with several people.

spicy beef hoto - 2000 yen

The Details
Stay: K's House Mt. Fuji
Dorms starting from 2500 yen
website - they also do cheap tours of the area (would have loved to join one if I had the time) - I love this website since there are usually free cancellations!

Transportation around Lake Kawaguchiko
website - time table and bus stops
There are two different lines: Kawaguchiko Line and Saiko-Aokigahara Line
Price: a two day pass for Kawaguchiko Line costs 1030 yen while for both lines 1340 yen

Access: Fugaku Fuketsu (Wind Cave) - Retro and public buses
However I would advise you to follow this walking course instead since we got so hopelessly lost.

Fuji Shibazakura Festival
Operation Period: Mid April to the beginning of June
Hours: 8:00am to 5:00pm
Entrance Fee: 520 yen; 1900 yen - includes round trip shuttle bus ticket and entrance fee
Access: Kawaguchiko Station - specialized shuttle bus 
I believe a one way bus ticket cost ~1200 yen
specialized shuttle bus time table (Japanese only - just enter into Google translate)

Kosaku - Kawaguchiko Branch
Address: 1638-1 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko-machi, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi-ken, Japan
Hours: 11:00am - 9:30pm
Tel: 0555-72-1181
website (japanese only)

hoto english menu

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