Thursday, February 2, 2012

Japan Day Ten: The Elusive Mt. Fuji Plus Shinjuku at Night

It was a rainy Saturday morning in Tokyo....

It came at the worst possible moment because there was no other chance to visit Mt. Fuji except for that day since it was the last day of bus operations from Lake Kawaguchiko, the jump-off point, to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji.

I badly wanted to reach the 5th station for an up close encounter with Mt. Fuji so in spite of unfavorable weather conditions, we carried on and endured a three hour train ride.

It was a relief that we made it to Kawaguchiko because the train commute was confusing.

Unfortunately, we learned at the station that trips to the 5th Station of Mt. Fuji were cancelled because of bad weather. I was so disappointed but I guess there are just some things that are not meant to be.

Making the most out of the situation, we decided to just explore Lake Kawaguchiko and its vicinity by taking this vintage sight-seeing bus.

We asked to be dropped off near the center of town, opposite the lake.

Lake Kawaguchiko is part of the Fuji Five Lakes. All of the five lakes offer good views of Mt. Fuji on sunny days but we chose Lake Kawaguchiko because it is most accessible.

I felt relaxed appreciating the clean and serene lake, making me ALMOST forget about our failure to get to the 5th station.

An attraction in Lake Kawaguchiko is the Kachi-Kachi Ropeway...

The Kachi Kachi Ropeway ascends 400 meters to an observation deck near the peak of Mount Tenjo. It provides panoramic views of the lake and of Mount Fuji.

Well, no thanks to the rain, this was what we managed to see...

Even when the rain stopped, Mt. Fuji was still hiding from us...

Clouds covered Mt Fuji's peak. FAIL!!!

We were about to give up when we decided to give it one last shot and traveled a few minutes via vintage bus to see Mt. Fuji at a different angle. This was when Mt. Fuji finally took pity and decided to humor us.

The view was far from the spectacular pictures I've seen in guide books....

but it was enough for me.

Though rain ruined my parade, partially seeing the snow covered peak of Mt. Fuji was still a beautiful moment that I'm glad to have experienced.

We took the bus to return to Shinjuku.

It was already dark when we reached Shinjuku, a lively commercial and business district filled with malls, bars, and restaurants. We explored the busy area with the goal of reaching Kabukicho in mind.

After meandering for almost an hour, we finally located Kabukicho. Kabukicho is Tokyo's infamous red light district where a lot of interesting things happen. 

Kabukicho was not as seedy as I imagined it to be, but then again, we just explored the parts that were properly lit and crowded.

We also spotted a hosto out on the streets of Kabukicho selling his wares. A hosto is a male performer who sings and dances in clubs for female guests. The blonde hair and pointy shoes differentiate them from the rest. 

Having had enough of Kabukicho, we wanted to eat where locals eat so we entered a small joint that was full of people.

It turned out to be too authentic that a few of our orders were lost in translation. Only half of what we ordered reached our table. 
Appetizer that was automatically served. We had to pay for it though.

Isomarru's Assorted Sushi on Rice

Salt Roasted Chicken Wings

Fresh Hamaguri

Needless to say, we left the restaurant hungry so we decided to eat somewhere more familiar..... Mister Donut! haha  I have to say that the Mister Donut in Japan is 100 times better than what we have here in the Philippines. The donuts were soft and tasted fresh.

They even serve dimsum that weren't so bad!

On our way to our hotel, we passed by the Christmas lights found near the Southern Terrace of Shinjuku Station....

In hindsight, I'm glad that we chose Shinjuku as our home base in Tokyo because it's a district pulsating with energy. We never had a dull moment in Shinjuku and claims that Shinjuku is a shady, dangerous place were unfounded.  

Shinjuku is my place to be!

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