Oversea, Travel

Fujikawaguchiko Day 8: Kagelow & Kawaguchiko (Part 2)

My 2016 Japan travelogue so far:
Osaka Day 1: Ana Crowne Plaza & Sennichimae Doguyasuji
Osaka Day 2: Osaka Station, Kuromon Market & Dotonbori
Nara Day 3: Todai-ji, Cheeky Deer & Fall Foliage
Osaka + Kyoto Day 4: Nishiki Market & Len Kyoto Kawaramachi
Kyoto Day 5: Kiyomizu-dera, Sannen-zaka & Ninen-zaka (Part 1)
Kyoto Day 5: Kōdai-ji (Part 2)
Kyoto Day 6: Autumn At Beautiful Arashiyama & Kyoto Station
Kyoto Day 7: Fushimi Inari Taisha & Yasaka Shrine
Kyoto & Mishima Day 8: Shinkansen & Beautiful Mishima (Part 1)

Here’s part 2 of our day 8 journey to Kawaguchiko. And what’s at Kawaguchiko? Many things and especially Mount Fuji! 🗻

We’re on our way to Kawaguchiko Station from Mishima Station by bus.

Mount Fuji And Dancing Silver Grass (Susuki ススキ) In The Foreground On The Way To Kawaguchiko At Higashi-Fuji Goko Road
After stealing a few too many Mount Fuji views on board the shinkansen earlier in the morning, we did not see Mount Fuji again until at 1.23pm (about 1 hour 10 minutes after departing from Mishima Station). We were passing by a susuki ススキ (silver grass) field and Mount Fuji can be seen hiding shly behind the clouds. The illuminating noon sun and blowing wind made the susuki more beautiful where it dances with glittering delight. My God, the view was a masterpiece!!! It was the best welcome ever. This photo didn’t do justice to the real thing. The bus was moving ma. Tsk, this location is at Higashi-Fuji-Goko Road if you’re interested (search this in google map: 35°26’58.2″N 138°48’09.2″E)

It was also around this time that we saw ice by the roads, and later at Fujikawaguchiko. This was the same snow that hit Tokyo for the first time in 54 years on 24th November 2016. We have heard about it when we were in Kyoto.

Kawaguchiko, Mount Fuji & Fujiyoshida Signboards
4 minutes later, we came to this Kawaguchiko, Mount Fuji & Fujiyoshida signboards.

Mount Fuji @ Kawaguchiko Station, Fujikawaguchiko
Mount Fuji taken from our bus just in front of Kawaguchiko Station. Everyone was super excited. We arrived at 1.35pm which was ahead of schedule! (schedule: 1.45pm) Overall it was a good bus ride. The driver was friendly and he drove the bus with care.

Mount Fuji @ Kawaguchiko Station, Fujikawaguchiko
The compulsory Mount Fuji shot at Kawaguchiko Station.

Kawaguchiko Station @ Fujikawaguchiko
This is Kawaguchiko Station 河口湖駅 or Lake Kawaguchi Station. It’s a railway station. Besides train, this is the place for buses and taxis as well. There are also bus ticket counters, train ticket machines, souvenir shop, cafe and toilets here. Basically, if you travel by public transport to/from Fujikawaguchiko, this is the main hub. I can’t imagine what it will be like during climbing season.

Kawaguchiko Station @ Fujikawaguchiko
Bus stops and shops in front of Kawaguchiko Station.

According to Google map, The estimated walking time to our hostel from Kawaguchiko Station is 9 minutes (~750m). We, however took nearly 20 minutes. It was due to rolling our luggage on tar roads (which is busy with vehicles of all sizes) and on walkway/five-foot with drain grates strategically placed in odd positions. Even without luggage, I can say that it’s quite far by foot (takes more than 12 mins) but I’m not complaining because I just love Fujikwaguchiko.

During planning for this trip, I wanted to rent a car for easy get around but cancel it last moment because I wanted to save moolah. I think it was a wise choice since we’re only staying for a night here and the public transport was good enough. It’ll be a different story, if we had stayed for more days.

Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel @ Fujikawaguchiko
We stayed at Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel for 1 night. Yup, only one night. 😭 This hostel and Fujikwaguchiko itself are SO BEAUTIFUL!!! I should have stayed at least 2 or 3 days. Don’t tell me, I didn’t tell you ya. When I found this hostel, my heart skipped quite a bit. Luckily, they weren’t open for booking yet for my intended date. So I waited and booked right on the dot. Can you see those windows on the first floor? Yeah, that was our rooms and those windows are one of the best things here. The empty spaces in the foreground are the free car park area.

Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel @ Fujikawaguchiko
A beautiful garden and smoking area right in front. The main entrance is on the left.

Main Entrance @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
This is THE door aka main entrance. Lovely, right?

Main Entrance @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
This is THE door shot from inside the hostel. And this is the only thing I’m not satisfied here. Because you see, after passing this door, you’ll be greeted with pebbles and stones, no doubt an artistic art form. I like it a lot however on practicality side, it makes bringing our luggage SO difficult. If you have a light luggage, then it’s okay. If it’s a heavy one, ouchy so difficult to carry in since we can’t roll it on the ground. And nobody helped us. 🙁

Reception @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
Reception area. We were able to check-in earlier although it’s not the actual time yet (3pm is the check-in time). We arrived around 2.20pm. One brownie point.

There’s only a staircase to the first floor. So more huffing and puffing while carrying our luggage. Btw, the hostel is made from wood, thus any sound you make would be loud.

No. 1 Queen Sized Bedroom @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
No. 1 Queen sized bedroom @ 8600 yen per night. There’s a skylight window right above the TV.

No. 1 Queen Sized Bedroom @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
There are table, chair, TV, hangers, fridge, electrical socket, air-cond+heater and free wifi. And yes, we must make our own bed.

View Of Mount Fuji From Queen Sized Bedroom @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
Mount Fuji view right from the window of No. 1 Queen sized bedroom. We’re still pretty lucky to be able to see this gigantic beast (usually hidden by clouds in the afternoon).

No. 5 Japanese Medium Room @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
No. 5 Japanese medium room @ 8400 yen per night. This room can actually fit 4 persons max but there’s only two of us. There are a small table with complimentary towels, air-cond+heater, electrical socket and free wifi.

No. 5 Japanese Medium Room @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
Instead of sleeping in the weird looking yellowish battleship thingy (double-decker), we went for the tatami instead. There’s a skylight window (aka loft window) here too and the loft make the room really spacious.

View Of Mount Fuji From Japanese Medium Room @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
Mount Fuji view right from the window of No. 5 Japanese medium room. Lovely!

Restroom @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
Shared toilets on the first floor with tap that actually outputs warm water!!! Two brownie points.

Shower Room @ Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel, Fujikawaguchiko
Shared shower room on the ground floor.

Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel @ Fujikawaguchiko
The lounge, cafe/bar/restaurant area and a view to the patio aka smoking area. In between those two buildings are Mount Fuji. I’m sure you know by now, that Kagelow is also a cafe, bar and restaurant. This must be a trend in Japan. Too bad I forgot to snap a photo of their shared kitchen.

All in all, I had a pretty awesome stay at Kagelow Mt Fuji Hostel and would love to come back again but this time with minimal luggage in tow. Haha. Of course, there were also the unforgettable Mount Fuji views right from my room!

After checking-in and rested a bit, we head out to our planned locations.

Kawaguchiko Post Office @ Fujikawaguchiko
We detoured to Kawaguchiko Post Office, since it’s on the way, to send letters and postcards home.

We then stopped by Kawaguchiko Station a bit to get maps and also confirm our booking for our bus ride to Tokyo the next day by showing the printed e-tickets (email). The counter lady wrote our seat numbers and bus stop number on the e-tickets. I booked this bus tickets at the same website (japanbusonline.com) as for our Mishima->Kawaguchiko journey.

Towards Kawaguchiko 河口湖 (Lake Kawaguchi) @ Fujikawaguchiko
Walking towards Kawaguchiko 河口湖 aka Lake Kawaguchi. Time was 3.28pm. Sun was going to set soon and temperature has dropped quite a bit.

Kawaguchiko 河口湖 (Lake Kawaguchi) @ Fujikawaguchiko
Kawaguchiko 河口湖 signboard with beautiful autumny hill at the background. And that whitish thingy… they’re snow!

Don’t expect coming to Fujikawaguchiko in late November to see lots of autumn leaves. You can see only miniscule of it especially from those far away mountains. The floras here at this time are already preparing for winter. Most have dropped their leaves.

Kawaguchiko 河口湖 is one of the Fuji Five Lakes 富士五湖 (Fuji-goko). The other four lakes are Lake Motosu, Lake Sai, Lake Shōji and Lake Yamanaka. These lakes are formed as the after effect of Mount Fuji eruptions and all of them are located at the north of Mount Fuji. Surrounding areas of Kawaguchiko are more developed than the rest and hence more popular with tourist. But that doesn’t mean other lakes are boring. Nope. Far from that. Yes, I plan to come back here again and have a proper time to visit all five!

Kawaguchiko 河口湖 @ Fujikawaguchiko
Car park area for tourist. Although we see many cars here, we could only find one group of family chilling by the lake besides us. LOL Are we the silly ones? Since it’s very cold now. Never mind, the lake is ours then. We didn’t catch any sight of Mount Fuji at the lake. We were at the south side. Either it’s blocked by those tall hotels or it decided to play hide and seek behind the clouds.

Kawaguchiko 河口湖 @ Fujikawaguchiko
Hotels, shops and restaurants can be found at the banks of Kawaguchiko.

Beautiful Benches At Kawaguchiko @ Fujikawaguchiko
So, we found these cool benches by the lake to have a little feast.

Unagi Kabayaki From Fujimi 不二美 @ Fujikawaguchiko
Finally eating our unagi kabayaki (1 piece) which we bought from Fujimi at Mishima. We didn’t get a chance to eat it at Mishima and we didn’t dare to eat it on the bus either for fear of smell. Well, by this time the unagi was extra cold. The size was quite small and really, I couldn’t pinpoint anything special about it compared with those regular ones I ate. LOL In a way, it’s a waste of money but then if we had eat it when it was warm, I bet it will taste better.

Maron Mont Blanc From Fujiya 不二家 @ Fujikawaguchiko
As if shivering like crazy and the wind blowing were not enough, we continued on with this cake. It’s a Maron Mont Blanc cake @ 270 yen bought earlier from Fujiya at Mishima. Maron is chestnut. Yummy yummy!

Kawaguchiko 河口湖 @ Fujikawaguchiko
Love these cute ducky paddle boats. In total we spent around half an hour at Kawaguchiko with the setting sun as the great highlight of the evening. This is a really beautiful lake. Don’t miss it ya!

Kawaguchiko & Kawaguchiko Station Signage @ Fujikawaguchiko
This photo is kinda like in an European setting.

On our way to Kawaguchiko Station, we stopped by Takadaya 高田屋, a supermarket to get breakfast for tomorrow. Fyi, there are 7-11 and Lawson nearby Kawaguchiko Station.

Ide Sake Brewery @ Fujikawaguchiko
We stopped at Ide Sake Brewery to get some alcohol. Their sake are made from the water of Mount Fuji. They also conduct sake tour at selected times.

Ide Sake Brewery @ Fujikawaguchiko
Take your pick!

Mount Fuji @ Fujikawaguchiko
We arrived at Kawaguchiko station at 4.47pm. The temperature was 8.5oC. Hi, Mount Fuji. Nice to meet you again this evening.

The reason why we came to the station and not head back to the hostel was to have our dinner. From there we took a taxi to the fame Hōtō Fudō Higashi Koiji Store which boost an igloo-like structure (in actuality it’s an image of cloud. You’ll also get a bonus view of Mount Fuji in the background if it’s your lucky day. Igloo + Mount Fuji = WOW! It was the main reason why I wanted to go there. Another reason was to sample hōtō ほうとう of course because this dish is a regional dish of Yamanashi prefecture. So, the ride took quite awhile. Thankfully, we did not walk there which was initially my plan. We decided on the taxi because all of us were tired. But guess what? Upon arrival at the restaurant, we see no cars at all! I went in and woah no customers 🙁 and were told they are sold out. WHAT??? This early already sold out? Heart-broken, the taxi took us back to Kawaguchiko Station. Guess how much was the taxi fare (2 ways)? 2170 yen (about RM82) 😰 ouchy arrrr!

Hōtō Fudō actually has 4 shops in Fujikawaguchiko and the nearest one is actually just across Kawaguchiko Station. Yes, I wanted to dine in the igloo, that’s why Higashi Koiji was my first choice. Ok, fine. Let’s try our luck at the one at Kawaguchiko Station Front Store. What? Sold out again? Wah lau. This made me even more curious about their hōtō noodles. If you wanna know whether I get to try it in the end… you would have to read my day 9 travelogue.

So, for dinner we just dine at the cafe in Kawaguchiko Station called Fujiyama Cafe (Gateway Fujiyama). The place was packed, which is always a good initial sign.

Tempura Udon At Fujiyama Cafe (Gateway Fujiyama) @ Kawaguchiko Station, Fujikawaguchiko
My vegetable tempura udon @ 700 yen. Delish. I just don’t know how to edit this kind of yellow lighting.

Hōtō Udon At Fujiyama Cafe (Gateway Fujiyama) @ Kawaguchiko Station, Fujikawaguchiko
Hōtō udon @ 930 yen. This is the hōtō noodles that I mentioned earlier. Many restaurants will have this on the menu I guess since it’s a specialty in this area. This one is yummy as I was told. In the bowl are flat udon stewed with vegetables and miso soup.

After dinner, we checked out the souvenir shop next to the cafe before walking back to hostel. The walk back… well is another story. It was SUPER DUPER cold at night. Brrrrr ❄️ Some of us did not have windbreaker, so some end up making use of their bags as the wind/cold protector. Hehe We slept around 11pm hoping for a really good day tomorrow.

Stay tuned for day 9.

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