We woke up earlier than usual, excited to begin the day. It’s to be the day we get to visit Kawaguchiko, climb-up a mountain via a cable car, and see Mt Fuji in all her glory!
Well, that’s our hope. 🙂
Did we join a tour? No. We choose to do things on our own, DIY, because we want to have better control of time and the places we will visit. But if you are more comfortable joining tours, check-out out Klook, they usually offer a Fuji-Q to Lake Kawaguchi tours on discounted prices.
We originally set a Sunday as our Kawaguchiko trip. We tried to reserve express bus tickets via Japan Bus Online the night before. To our dismay, the trip schedules we wanted 8 AM or 9 AM buses were already filled for that Sunday. Nagkakaubusan din pala ng seats, lol.
Lesson: Book the Kawaguchiko bus ahead of time!
Since we didn’t have a choice, we moved the trip to a Monday and made sure to buy the ticket early.
*Our Sunday’s itinerary was then changed to Asakusa Sensoji Temple and Tokyo Sky Tree.
Monday morning comes. In the middle of breakfast, we constantly checked the scene outside, trying to will the sun to shine bright through the day.
‘Uminit ka please’
‘Sana makita natin si Mt Fuji’.
Finding the Express Bus Terminal
We left our hotel a little past 8 AM, a little early for our 9:20 AM bus trip, but it gave us enough time to locate the bus terminal location.
When we got outside the Tokyo – Yaesu South Side Exit, we saw a bus terminal with Bays 1 to 9. Checking the info plastered on the bays led us to believe that our bus will be on Bay 5, since we saw ‘Chuo Expressway’ listed there and we know that the buses bound for Fuji-Q highlands and Kawaguchiko Station will be using the Chuo Expressway.
Not wanting to rely solely on our logic and ‘feels’, we asked a bus dispatcher for confirmation. And yep, the Kawaguchiko buses will be picking-up passengers in Bay 5. With a bit of time to spare, we got back inside the Tokyo station to check the Fifth Avenue and Character Street.
Most stores in Fifth Avenue were still closed when we went down, except for a handful of restaurants serving the breakfast diners. The character shops like Tomica, Shonen Jumps, were closed too, they’ll open at 10 AM.
*If you love anime like us, you might find the painted rolling doors of the closed shops interesting.
We went back to the bus terminal at 9:00 AM, passengers were already queuing on our bay. Good thing that bus seats were assigned already, so even if we were so behind in the queue, we got seats 3A and 3B.
To board the bus, one can show a printed ticket reservation or show a mobile screenshot of it. However, on the Five Bus Liners that we took, they advise to have the tickets printed, so we did.
*We printed a copy of our eTicket in our hotel for a very minimal fee.
The bus left the terminal promptly at 9:20 AM. As in, on the dot!
Eating and drinking is allowed on the bus, but it looks like no one was eating that we have to be furtive in munching on M&Ms and Chocnut lol. The weirdest thing, for us at least, was that the passengers hardly talked on the bus! Like talking is not allowed, but of course, it is allowed hehe.
The overall silence for the whole 2-hours ride just felt weird to us who are from the Philippines where chatters and noise defines regular bus trips.
MOUNTAIN SLOPES and VALLEYS
The scenery turns beautiful an hour cruising in the Chuo Expressway. Slopes upon mountain slopes coming into view and valleys too! We can also see pocket villages along the way. I could only imagine how lovely the scenes will be at the peak of autumn when an explosion of reds, oranges, and yellows are everywhere.
The bus first stop is Fuji-Q Highland, this is where one can see and ride the roller coaster that touches the clouds. On the return trip, around 6 PMish, we saw part of the roller coaster hidden above the clouds and there were still thrill-seekers at that chilly, dark time! *cold*
The second bus stop is the Kawaguchiko station, this is where we alighted. As the bus entered the station, we saw a roadside signboard that indicates the lake to be about 900 meters from the station. We can walk that!
We originally thought of availing the hop-on, hop-off bus service of the Red, Blue, Green line but when we saw the long queue of bus passengers, no way! Turns out, we made the best decision of just walking through town all the way to the lake.
I supposed for those who availed the Red line or Blue line, they were able to cover more spots in Kawaguchi area and good for them. But our personal travel philosophy is to linger at one spot as long as we want, to not chase all the tourist spots of a place, because our hope is that one day in the future, when the stars will again align, we will be back and be able visit the other spots, leisurely.
You are a Beauty, Kawaguchiko!!!
Walking to the lake was calming, the town’s vibe was relaxed. Along the way, we spotted a persimmon tree teeming with fruits a few steps off the main road. It looks so pretty, the branches heavy with its bounty almost touch the roof of the house where it stands beside.
There’s no persimmon tree where we are from, so we walked down to it, took photos of ourselves smiling to see so many round yellows! Oh, we so wanted to pluck one of the fruits, but there was no one to ask permission of.
Suddenly, a caucasian looking lady walked-in on us who were still happily admiring the fruits, then without further ado, she snatched a fruit from a branch, and walked back up. We were like ‘Wow! just like that.’ Lol.
Nope, we still did not get one, we wanted to but the tree obviously belongs to someone, since it’s beside a house. After a few minutes of not spotting the owner, we moved on, happy with the memory of permission fruits that looks lovely on its tree.
Finally, we arrived at the lake! It reminds us a bit of Baguio’s Burnham Park, the weather’s cool and nice, trees in the surrounding, there were swan rides too!
We took a bench facing the lake and ate the 7 Eleven sandwiches we got back in Tokyo station. Gazing at the lake is calming. After a few minutes, we saw a cruise boat slowly making its way to the dock.
What is that? That looks like a cruise. Let’s take it!
I imagined the lake cruise to be an awesome place to gaze at Mt Fuji but the clouds were too heavy that day.
The cruise boat is called “Ensoleille”. Stay at the topdeck for better views.
Mt Fuji Panoramic Ropeway Cable Car Ticket Rates
- Adult Round Trip 800 yen
- Adult One-way 400 yen
- 7 to 12 years old Round Trip 400 yen
- 7 to 12 years old One way 230 yen
*6 years old and younger are free to ride the cable car.
Kawaguchiko Cruise Ticket Rates
Adult is 930 yen
Child is 470 yen
Operation time for the ‘Pleasure Boat Cruise” is every 30 minutes.
If you want to save, buy combo tickets.
Combo ticket rates Cruise + Cable Car
Adult rate is 1,400 yen
7 to 12 years old is 700 yen
We bought a combo tickets, 1400 yen each for cruise + round trip Kuchi Kuchi ropeway ride / Mt Fuji Panoramic Ropeway.
For hungry stomachs – there is a popular cafe on the way to the ropeway which serves cake and coffee. For lunch, we had a big bowl of ramen at one of the restaurants with an overlooking view of the lake.
MT FUJI, WHERE ARE YOU?
While on cruise, we have accepted, albeit sadly, that we won’t see the fame beauty of Mt Fuji. The day’s just too cloudy but we can imagine…
‘At that spot, pointing near the heavens, I supposed you can see the peak of the mountain’.
‘Maybe that’s why there is no tall building on the east side of the lake for viewers to get unhampered view of Mt Fuji’.
It was an enjoyable cruise! Our first too as a couple and it’s in Japan!
In the middle of the lake, we spotted the ropeway, the cable car moving slowly, inching its way to the top.
When we got backed on the dock, we decided to go for the ropeway right after while there were still fewer tourists. If we have chosen to go to the ropeway much later, the queue-up might be longer.
Up above on the mountain, there is a viewing deck where one can see a 360 degrees of the town of Kawaguchi.
Here’s a favourite photo of our ride down the mountain on the Mt Fuji Panoramic Ropeway. The town with its lake is beautiful
The leaves were just starting to change color. Sayang Autumn’s peak was still a few weeks away when we went to Japan.
There is a Japanese legend about a rabbit and a raccoon dog. When you get up to Kuchi Kuchi mountain, you’ll see reminders of this tale.
Mt Fuji hid behind the cloud this time, on the second visit, we might get lucky. Fuji-san sa susunod nalang!
Enjoy your trip to Kawaguchiko!
Tokyo Fuji Five Lakes Liner express bus fare is 1,800 JPY per person per way, can be booked via online and paid via credit or debit card. We took the 9:20 AM bus from Tokyo Station Yaesu South Exit side, and for the return trip 6:30 PM from Kawaguchiko station to Tokyo Station Nihonbashi Exit.
Our trip to Japan was to celebrate our wedding anniversary, and happily we’ve got memories to last us a lifetime. Arigato Gozaimasu!
Hopefully, the next time we’ll apply for a Japanese visa, we’ll be approved for Multiple Entry, we are really hoping and wishing for that. Japan is really beautiful! We will be back to the Land of the Rising Sun!