Fuji Five Lakes – Fujiyoshida, Japan

Following 5 days in Tokyo we moved on to Fujiyoshida a small town at the base of the magnificent Mt. Fuji. I’m always drawn towards mountainous areas (although technically Fuji san is a volcano) it is so perfectly formed and visible from all around south western Japan. One of the things I really liked about the area was that it was a little ‘run down.’ it had character and felt more ‘Japanese’ we concluded that much of Tokyo could have been any major global city. Fujiyoshida was different – more tranquil and unique.

In contrast to Tokyo, the quiet area required a bit more planning to get around and on our first morning we had to get to Hakone for a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience I had planned before our trip. It is no secret that I am a huge Porsche ‘fanboy’ and so when I found ‘FUN2DRIVE – Drivers Club’ offering driving experiences in iconic cars in the Fuji area and on some of the best driving roads and touges in the world I had to get involved. Browsing their website – they had my ultimate dream car… a 1991 Porsche 911 turbo, made famous by the anime series ‘Initial – D’:

Unfortunately during our layover in Helsinki, Nadine received an email from Fun2Drive informing us that another customer had crashed the Porsche in the weekend prior to my booking. Maybe it was a case of ‘never meet your heroes’. Instead I opted to take a Japanese performance car legend out onto the Hakone Skyline touge… The Nissan R34 Skyline Nismo in Bayside Blue. It was a great experience, driving around led by a pace car alerting me of any potential hazards on the road ahead and the scenery – incredible. Later we explored the volcanic Hakone area using the route of cable cars and gondola rides across thesteaming landscape.

Seeing Mount Fuji itself was obviously a highlight of the trip for me and it creates such photogenic landscapes. We were apparently fairly lucky to get clear visibility of Fuji San given that in April, visibility stats point towards an average of 23% chance of seeing the summit. Apart from the day we arrived, we had clear days and dry, weather. We woke up early to see sunrise at the Chuo Pagoda, a short 5:30am walk from our apartment. Avoiding the bulk of the crowds we were joined by a bustle of keen photographers, eager to get the quintessential photograph of Fuji San, the pagoda and the remains of the sakura of cherry blossom season. For this trip I wasn’t taking time with my photos – I was pointing and shooting. So maybe I could have gotten ‘technically’ better photos however I was eager to take it all in.

After our early start we took the bus out to Oshino Hakai – A picturesque village filled with cherry blossom and ornamental gardens – Clearly a busy tourist hotspot so we spent some time walking around before moving on.

We took an impromptu trip to the local theme park FujiQ highland – Home to a number of world record breaking roller coasters. This was a really fun spontaneous afternoon and was great value too – About £20 for an afternoon pass that allowed us to get on all of the rides and take our time in the park. On the way back to the apartment we stopped in a small family-run izakaya. The eating experiences in Fujiyoshida were really special. We sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen and were treated to a delicious meal with the friendliest service!

We took the train back to Tokyo before taking our first journey on the Shinkansen ‘bullet trains’ and of course – We had to bring snacks. Traditionally, stations have a wealth of options of bento boxes – high quality convenience foods…

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