DAY 10: SATURDAY 23 NOVEMBER 2013
No more sleeping in as the plan today is to head to Fuji Five Lakes, specifically Lake Kawaguchiko …… and it is a good 2 hours of travelling time via train.
Found out from prior online research (reference: http://www.jprail.com) and from the JR office staff (Tokyo Station) there were 2 Limited Express Azusa trains running from Shinjuku to Otsuki – one at 0730Hrs and the other at 0830 Hrs. I forsee that it would be challenging for me to be at Shinjuku by 0730 Hrs so opted for the 0830 Hrs train instead.
Thus the plan was to be up by 0700 Hrs latest and to leave hotel by 0745 Hrs so that I have enough time to pack breakfast to eat on the train (more practical than a sit down breakfast) …… and also travel to Shinjuku (8 stops via JR Yamanote Line). All train journeys (including the next stretch from Otsuki to Kawaguchiko via Fujikyu Railway) all covered by the JR Kanto Pass 🙂
On schedule as I left my room around 0725 Hrs. Decided to grab 1/2 cup of coffee + a bread from the complimentary breakfast area at the lobby, as well as get some precious wifi time (since there’s no wifi in room). True enough as per Tripadvisor review, the coffee sucks! Thus I decided that I would get a Doutor breakfast set at Shinjuku …… provided that I can manage to locate the outlet there 🙂
Reached Shinjuku at around 0815 to 0820 Hrs and saw a Doutor right at the gate. While waiting for my order, I reached into my bag for my camera to snap some pictures …… But as I tried to power on my camera, it couldn’t power up. Turns out that in my haste to be on schedule, I had left my fully charged battery in the charger and forgot to put it back to my camera. Oh snap!
What a huge bummer considering that I was so looking forward to be snapping away at Fuji Five Lakes …… And was also planning to head to Rikugien (direct train from Shinjuku) for the evening illumination after Fuji Five Lakes. So this meant that I had to do a last minute tweak of plans and reschedule Rikugien for Sunday instead! To further add on, the server at Doutor misunderstood my order, instead of the sandwich set that I had requested for, I ended up with just a ham sandwich only. Well at least proper breakfast ……
The journey from Shinjuku to Otsuki on the Limited Express Azusa took 1 hour 8 mins. Then another wait at Otsuki (terminus of the Fujikyuko Line) where it is another 1 hour journey to Kawaguchiko. JR Kanto Pass is the only pass that covers the fares on the Fujikyu Railway – thus the main reason why I bought this pass to cover this day trip, as well as for other day trips (Kamakura and Yokohama the day before) …… and for other travels on JR trains within Tokyo. Had to wait a good 20 to 25 min for the 0959 Hrs train. Given that so few trains run along this line, it occured to me that I really should have done more prior research for this portion of day trip ……
As snapped on the train, a random picture of a boy seating in front of me in this Weekly Photo Challenge ……
Shortly after which, Mount Fuji within sight!
Reached Kawaguchiko Station close to 11am (the journey took 2.5 hours overall, including waiting time in between changing train lines). Took note of the poster at the train station itself and realized that I would have to take the 1656 Hrs express train out of Kawaguchiko Station back to Otsuki …… in order to catch my pre-reserved Limited Express Kaiji 120 train that will bring me back to Shinjuku!
So this only leaves me a good 5 hours to carry out a long list of to-dos in Lake Kawaguchiko itself – onsen, ropeway, lunch, photo-taking (along the lake and maple corridors surrounding the lake area), omiyage shopping (thought of getting the Mount Fuji cookies). The ususal information gathering at the tourist centre and locating of the bus ticket counter (to get a day pass for the Retro Bus) took me a good 1/2 hour or so as well as the lack of clear signage meant that I ran round and forth just getting these 2 things done. Sigh! As a result, I ended up taking the 1140 Hrs bus to my next intended destination – Tensui (daytime onsen). Thinking about it now, I should have gotten something to eat/munch, but I didn’t as I thought it would be a better idea to do the onsen first, then eat lunch!
Got off 19 stops later at the Itchiku Kubota Art Museum bus stop – as the journey took around 25 to 30 min. Pretty heavy traffic due to the narrow roads + the fact it was a weekend cum Labor Thanksgiving Public Holiday (which meant lots of day trippers + locals coming here for an weekend getaway).
A clear view of Mount Fuji from the direction facing the lake.
Despite the signboard stating that Tensui is within the area, turns out that the museum itself was closed. Ended up crossing the road and walking upwards before finally seeing signboards indicating that Tensui is further up. Came across a designated Maple Corridor (i.e. also known as Momiji Corridor) …… and decided to walk through it and hopefully Tensui will be next in sight!
At least I managed to snap some nice autumn leaves using my phone camera. As the temperatures here were cooler (ranging from 10 to 12 degrees), the koyo/autumn leaves were of a nice colour and bloom!