30 Jul 2014 Day 6: Kachi Kachi ropeway, Shiraito Falls & Mt. Fuji views
Day 6 provided us with lots of stunning views of Mt. Fuji. When planning this part of our trip we were aware that we had a low chance of seeing the iconic mountain at all, so we were so happy to wake up to such a clear day. We ate our breakfast in the hotel room, overlooking the lake and the magnificent Fuji San.
Kachi Kachi ropeway
It was a short drive from the hotel to the Kachi Kachi ropeway. We were directed into a parking lot across the road from the ropeway entrance. We paid for a round trip and stood in line for a cable car. The cable cars make their way up Mt. Tenjo to an observation deck. On the way up we were looking down on the lake and the Kawaguchiko area.
The mountain is the setting of a scene from a Japanese fairytale and novel titled “Kachi Kachi Yama”, hence the name of the ropeway. The story is about a rabbit who seeks revenge on a Tanuki (Japanese raccoon) by first setting him alight and then making his boat sink in a river. While not exactly a friendly story, the characters are cute and are positioned on top of the cable cars and around the observation deck. Fletcher was too young to know anything about the story. He happily posed with the rabbit tipping the raccoons boat over outside the entrance.
At the top we were met with a fabulous view of Mt. Fuji. We really enjoyed our time wandering around the observation deck. We had our photo taken in front of the view and after Fletcher finally co-operated, it turned out quite well. There was a postcard with a small photo on it for free. As it was a photo with all three of us, plus a great view behind us, I paid 1000 yen for the full size image. Fletcher and I rang the Bell of Tenjo, which is said to grant you a wish when you ring while looking at Mt. Fuji.
All up we spent about an hour at the ropeway and enjoyed every minute of it. Our little Mr. was getting tired and cranky so we went and waited for the next cable car back down. As we were first in line, we stood at the end of the car at the window and watched the lake come into view as we descended down the mountain.
We bought some drinks from the vending machine before going back to the car. After a snack, Fletcher fell asleep while we were driving. We had one of the five lakes left to see, Motosuko, which features on the 1000 yen note. As Fletcher was sleeping, we just pulled over to take in the view of Mt. Fuji from the attractive blue lake. It was such a lovely day, we enjoyed driving and seeing Mt. Fuji together with different scenery along the way. Read our guide on renting a car and driving in Japan.
After about another half an hour of driving we arrived at a parking lot for Shiraito Falls and paid a 500 yen parking fee. We walked over the road to a 7-11 to buy sandwiches, onigiri (rice balls) and fried chicken. We took our lunch over the road and sat on a stone bench on an open grassy square. After eating we walked along viewing the flowing water and a waterfall that was up the top. We looked at the shops as we passed by, we would stop to look in them on our way back. There was a long set of steps leading down to the falls and Fletcher insisted on getting down them all by himself.
The falls are listed amongst Japan’s top waterfalls and viewing them it was clear why. The falls are fed from the spring waters of Mt. Fuji and they are very stunning, surrounded by lush foliage.
After viewing the falls we walked back up the steep steps and browsed in the stores. We bought some souvenirs, a bottle of Mt. Fuji water and blueberry cheesecake Kit Kats. As it was such a nice warm day and we had some extra time, we decided to sit and have some ice-cream. I wanted to try a unique flavour so opted for a cone with wasabi soft serve. Tim opted for a vanilla ice-cream with wafers and chocolate sauce. Surprisingly Fletcher chose to share mine. Tim tasted the wasabi ice-cream and thought it was too strange but I actually thought it was ok. It was like vanilla ice-cream with a kick, I actually found it refreshing.
Near the carpark there were clean modern toilets and a baby changing room. There were times that we had to opt for the back seat of the car to change Fletcher, so we made use of the newly built facilities before leaving. As we drove away from the area, I snapped one last shot of Mt. Fuji.
I had packed some warmer layers for this part of the trip as I had read the area could get quite cold. We were happy the day and night before had been cooler as it meant Mt. Fuji had a snow capped top. This day had turned out to be really warm and the snow on top of Mt. Fuji had melted as the day went by. We actually caught a slight glimpse of it again from the shinkansen and the snow was completely gone.
It was about an hours drive to Shizuoka, where we had to return the car. We didn’t bother getting fuel as last time the fee for returning un-filled was very reasonable. It was more expensive this time though, so we probably should have filled it ourselves. It would have been much easier to get to a fuel station in Shizuoka than it would have been in Nagoya. With the car returned, we then walked to Shizuoka station and took a shinkansen to Shinagawa station, then the yamanote line to Yoyogi station where we had booked an airbnb apartment nearby.