Photos from Japan #2 – Mt Fuji

April 16th, 2006 | by Charlotte |

Early the next day after I arrived, the wedding party, comprising Martin, Mieko, Ann (Martin’s Mum), Kevin (Martin’s Dad), Eileen (Martin’s Dad’s partner,) Louise (Martin’s sister) and her boyfriend Stewart, Martin’s aunts Sue, Catherine and Jenny and I all went to Mt Fuji in a hire car and van driven by Martin and Louise. It was misty and pouring with rain, quite the worst possible conditions for going to Mt Fuji, but it was still worth it.

Here are the mountains on the way in. The highways were tidy and organised but the trip still took two and a half hours. The rain and the mist didn’t let up the whole way. The mountains were clad in bamboo, or beech (I think) with bamboo undergrowth. Cherry blossoms were everywhere. Apparently this kind of cherry tree doesn’t actually produce cherries. It’s only grown for the flowers.

Pissing down in the mountains

They call Mt Fuji Fuji-san here, a mark of respect. There’s no proper English translation of ‘san’, though when it’s applied to men, it can be translated as ‘Mr’. Mr Fuji. Oh dear…

Click for more…

A kilometre up Mr Fuji patches of snow appeared, and by the time we got as high as it was possible to drive, the snow was thick on the ground. I loved it. I’ve hardly ever seen snow. For some reason, the rain wasn’t washing the snow away.

Parking lot on Mt Fuji

Shops on Mt Fuji

This shop suffers from a lack of water. Yes, they’re surrounded by water on all sides but it’s frozen and they have to get fresh, unfrozen water trucked in. That means there are no taps! The shop is full of Fuji souvenirs. Fuji shaped biscuits and bean buns. Fuji keyrings and scarves. A high altitude tourist trap.

We walked to the Shinto shrine, about 100m from the shops.

Shrine on Mt Fuji

You are supposed to visit this shrine, then walk the rest of the way up the mountain. It can only be safely done in July-August, when there isn’t much snow, although mountaineers with proper equipment do it all year round.

Speaking of proper equipment, I was the only one wearing suitable clothing, a ski jacket and waterproof hiking boots. Poor Louise wear wearing sneakers with decorative holes that let the snow in. I’ve got my sunglasses on because I was getting a headache from the glare off the snow. It may not just have been the glare. Mt Fuji is high enough to get altitude sickness. Climbers carry aerosols of oxygen to keep them going.

Damn it’s cold

All Shinto shrines have a water trough outside where you are supposed to clean yourself before entering. I feel sorry for anyone using this trough. It’s almost frozen solid.

Cold wash

This is what the shrine looked like inside. I bought a couple of embroidered Mt Fuji pendants here.

Inside of the shrine

I was having a good time.

Cold

I’m not sure what this was, but I photographed it coming out of the shrine. You can see how thick the snow was away from the paths.

Outside the shrine

These aren’t tombstones. All shrines have them.

Not tombstones

I love the sentiment.

May peace prevail on Earth

After we visited the shrine, we walked back to the van. I served as a windbreak for Stewart, who was freezing.

We drove down to Oshino Hakkai, a place of springs near the foot of Mt Fuji. The views of Mt Fuji should have been spectacular, but we could only see about 100m due to the mist and rain. Martin was very glum about it (especially as the next day was fine.)

I love the bronzed look the foot of Mt Fuji has. I think it’s beech, but I’m not sure.

Mountains near Oshino Hakkai

The gardens around the spring were typical traditional Japanese, with topiary.

Traditional Japanese garden

It was still raining and freezing cold.

It was still raining and freezing cold

They go in for lots of garden decorations in Japan.

Garden decorations

There were huge carp in the pools, though they were hard to photograph. There must be a trick to photographing fish in ponds, which I haven’t mastered. These aren’t as big as the carp in the moat around the Imperial Palace, which were about 1m long.

Carp

Engrish in the parking lot.

Wild Wind

The waters at this spring are some of the purest in Japan.

Purest waters

The waters poured from a Tengu (Japanese goblin) mask, and down a mossy rock. People had thrown coins into the water or threaded them onto the bush growing on the spring (some Japanese coins have a useful hole through the middle.) I made a coin offering and I drank some of the water. It was very pure and tasty. There were plastic bottles around the spring you could buy and fill to take home.

Tengu

Here’s me and Mieko at the spring.

Mieko and me

There were shops around the spring selling yet more Mt Fuji souvenirs and interesting food stuffs, such as pickled garlic and mushroom tea. A group of us ate…toasted green things.

Toasted green thing

It wasn’t bad. Green tea dough with red bean filling.

Louise was feeling a bit better by now. It was a lot warmer in the shops.

Louise and me

Drying cobs of maize hung from the eaves.

Maize

The spring ran into pools full of carp and other fish. There was a restaurant nearby which caught and served the fish but there were no customers so it was closing for the day. I tried and tried to take pictures of the massive fish in the clear pools, but the rain made it impossible to take pictures that showed the clearness of the water.

Next we drove to Lake Kawaguchiko beneath Mt Fuji and also fed by its springs. It was still beautiful with the low visibility.

Lake Kawaguchiko

They had swan shaped pedal boats but the place was deserted due to the weather. Very beautiful place, reminds me of the Italian lake that appears in the second Star Wars movie.

Lake Kawaguchiko and me

Ann, Louise, Martin and Mieko at the lake.

Ann, Louise, Martin and Mieko

Next we drove off for dinner at a Shabu Shabu (Japanese boiled fondu) restaurant. We had to take our shoes off.

Shabu Shabu

Our final stop was the shrine Martin and Mieko visit at New Year each year.

Shrine with cherry blossom

Shrine with offerings

Shrine

Don’t these statues look like Japanese cowboys?

Shrine cowboys?

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  1. 4 Responses to “Photos from Japan #2 – Mt Fuji”

  2. By yewenyi on Apr 18, 2006 | Reply

    Yum, green tead and red bean munchies…

    Your phot of the carp is quite OK. To do better you need a polarising filter to remove the glare.

  3. By yewenyi on Apr 18, 2006 | Reply

    There is no edit button to fix my typing mistake! ๐Ÿ™

  4. By Charlotte on Apr 19, 2006 | Reply

    They love their beans in Japan. Dinner AND dessert.

    I don’t think the finances will run to a polarising filter for a while. I’m applying for jobs today, so wish me luck.

  5. By cjb on Apr 20, 2006 | Reply

    From the looks of it, the FE100/X710 you’ve got (I used to supercyberhacker powers to find out; Kevin Mitnik has nothing on me ๐Ÿ™‚ doesn’t have the option for a conversion adaptor for attaching filters/lenses with.

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