I booked a tour of Mount Fuji through Viator.com as a gift for Jez for his birthday. The tour was a one-day bus trip to the 5th station of Mount Fuji, then to the quiet lake-side town of Hakone then returning to Tokyo on a bullet train. While I was most excited about the tour to Mount Fuji, Jez was thrilled at the opportunity to go on a bullet train.
We met with the tour group at about 8am from a bus station near central Tokyo before spending about an hour on the bus traveling to Mount Fuji. Our tour guide was lovely and gracious, telling us about the history of Tokyo as we sped through the city’s motorways.
As we approached the foot of Mount Fuji, I was hoping that the low-lying cloud would be swept away by the wind before we traveled further up the mountain. I had the picture that I wanted in my mind and boy, did I want it! We stopped for a short break to watch an obligatory documentary about the mountain in an information centre.
As we traveled up the mountain, the scenery was beautiful. Being winter, the ground was covered in patches of snow and there were fierce, angular trees jutting out of the ground. The mountain has quite a gentle slope and in summer it is quite achievable to climb to the top. Apparently it gets very busy in the spring as people prepare to climb to the top of the mountain. I think that climbing to the top of Mount Fuji is something that I would consider doing later on, if my ability allows it!
When we got to the 5th station of the mountain (about half-way up) our guide told us that we would have about 45minutes to wander around the area and take photos. Well, I was relieved when the 45minutes were up because it was just SO COLD. We were unprepared for how cold it was going to be. In retrospect, this sounds ridiculous because we knew we were going up a mountain in winter. I bought Jez a souvenir beanie to commemorate the -10degrees Celsius adventure. His ears were turning blue!
On second thoughts, that souvenir shop was doing a booming trade that day! I also bought a cute Tea cannister with Brown Rice Tea.
After we all rushed back to the bus with our ruddied cheeks and hands we were starting to get hungry. The tour included a lunch at the nearby town of Hakone. It is advertised as ‘a family summer holiday hot spot’ but looked a little forlorn during our winter visit. The town has a gondola that reaches the top of a mountain for spectacular views of Lake Ashi below and another neighbouring town. This section of the tour was also very cold, but the scenery was truly breathtaking. The windswept grasses and glassy-blue sky were so peaceful and serene.
The sun was setting on our tour and we made our way back to a train station to catch the Shinkensen (bullet-train) back to Tokyo. The trip was about half an hour in total but it seemed longer as there were no seats available. Jez was also disappointed that we weren’t able to appreciate how fast we were actually going because it was night time, but we were able to feel the train going quite fast! We said goodbye to some of the people on the tour and left the train at Shibuya.
I really recommend taking a tour to Mount Fuji and getting a glimpse of the area surrounding Tokyo. Shibuya, one of the central shopping districts was also a fantastic location for the hotel – it was SO easy to get around on foot and public transport.