Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Mt. Fuji (Page 1 of 3)

From Fiji To Fuji

It’s true. From the Fiji Islands to the Mt. Fuji summit, this land was made for me to see.

I’m climbing Mt. Fuji for a third time tomorrow (Thursday). This time, I’m climbing it with my friend, Marianne, and her son, Anthony. To prepare, I read my post from the previous two years. Here is the link from when Dave and I climbed in 2016. Also, the link from when Sonia and I climbed in 2017. I’m glad I took the time to read through both posts again. I’m mentally preparing for rain. My fingers remain crossed for sunny skies. I also find it funny that in both posts I talk about not hiking it again. Famous last words.

Perhaps you’re thinking, why would you climb it again, Julia?!? Excellent question. I’m a sucker for a sunrise photo opportunity. I really wanted the chance to see sunrise from the summit. In order to do that, we need to climb during the day and spend the night at the Fujisan Hotel. The Fujisan Hotel is located at the original 8th Station (3360m). The summit is 3776m and about an 80 minute climb from the original 8th Station.

Here is a clear picture of the map for reference.

This could be considered the ultimate Julia Tour. We rented a car and I’m going to drive us to the base of Mt. Fuji. At the base, we have to park the car and take a bus to the 5th Station where we will start our trek. I think it should only take us about 4-5 hours to climb to the Fujisan Hotel. At the hotel, we will receive dinner and then sleep on a mat in a large room with many other climbers. From what I read, we will start hiking to the summit at 2am Friday morning! If all goes as planned, we will see a breathtaking sunrise from the top of Mt. Fuji. (Fingers crossed)

I managed to squeeze all the essentials into my day pack. My hiking stick has no more room for stamps, so I’m going to carry Dave’s. Having your stick stamped is a fun part of the climb.

I’ll let you know how things go once I’m home Friday night. Please keep your fingers crossed for sunny skies! Because I’m definitely not climbing Mt. Fuji next summer!!

Suspension Bridges

During my Friday English class last week, one of my students told me about her visit to a clematis and sculpture garden near Mt. Fuji. From her description of her visit, I was interested in making a trip to the garden. As I looked around the Mishima area on my Google Maps app, I realized there was another place I had flagged to visit. I suggested to Katie we take our Tuesday adventures to the expressway and visit them both! Without difficulty, we were able to rent a car and leave before 8:00am Tuesday morning.

Side note: went traveling a far distance in a vehicle, I find it easier to rent a car for two reasons. 1. I only trust our Hooptie so much. 2. Driving on the expressway is expensive because of the high road tolls (¥8000 – $80 round trip to areas around Mt. Fuji). Toll vouchers are included with a rental car ($58 for a 1-day rental). This makes it actually cheaper to rent a car than to drive your own!

Now, back to our story. We arrived at our first stop, Mishima Skywalk around 9:30am. Before heading to the Skywalk, we stopped to use the restroom facilities. Just when I thought Japanese toilets couldn’t get any more amazing, we were greeted by a large banner advertising “luxury toilet.” The restroom was immaculate and complete with not just functional “thrones,” but also lounging ones – inside and outside the restroom! Seriously, I couldn’t make this stuff up!!

After our pit stop, we were ready to see Mt. Fuji and walk the Mishima Skywalk. The Mishima Skywalk is Japan’s largest suspension bridge. The bridge is 400m in length and connects Izu and Hakone. The bridge reaches a height of 70.6m as it stretches across the valley below. The width of the bridge footpath is 1.6m (wide enough to allow two wheelchairs to pass one another). Needless to say, the view was spectacular!

We were glad we arrived early. Mt. Fuji was starting to cloud over when we arrived. By the time we were leaving, it was mostly covered.

The walk across the bridge is not for the faint of heart. If you have a fear of heights, it might be best to skip this attraction.

Once we made it to the far side, we were greeted by the safety sign. I hope the Skywalk receives this award every year!!

On the north side of the bridge, is a natural area with a few trails and the flower drop. For ¥200, you’re invited to purchase a flower seed attached to a piece of wood. When you cross back over the bridge, you can toss the wood chip and make a wish. When your flower blooms, your wish will come true.

Also at the flower drop area were cute little forest eggs. Some were set along the trail and others where hiding behind a door on the trees. So, kawaii!

They were so cute!

From the construction and signs, Katie and I came to the conclusion the area would soon have a zip line attraction! Now that would be amazing!

During our walk back across, the wind really started to pick up. The bridge was really swaying! It was kindof fun to not hold on! Look, Mom! No hands!

One of the cafes was called the Sky Garden. Here we enjoyed a snack while sitting under the phenomenal hanging plants.

After our snack, we were ready to head to our next destination. We drove about 30 minutes before reaching the Clematis no Oka Garden. We parked in one of the parking lots furthest from the garden. This afforded us the opportunity to walk through the woods and transit across two more suspension bridges. They weren’t as long or as high, but still very enjoyable.

Once we arrived at the garden, we were treated to beautiful clematis and strange sculptures.

Here are just a few of the interesting sculptures. We were a little surprised with the sculptures because there were a lot of naked men. It seemed out of context with the garden. But, I guess art is art.

Anyways, let’s get back to the clematis. There were so many different varieties and colors. Here is about half of the clematis pictures I took!

The lower part of the garden was filled with roses. They were also in full bloom and stunning.

The roses were a special treat because I wasn’t expecting them. After enjoying time in the sunshine and the beautiful garden, we hopped back in the car and headed home. The drive home was easy. Each time I make a trip to Mt. Fuji, I become a little more familiar and at ease driving. I consider this a win after living here for almost two years! I’m so glad we took the opportunity to road trip. It was a wonderful day exploring an area around Mt. Fuji we hadn’t had a chance to visit yet.

Chureito Pagoda

Before moving to Japan, my brother gave me the Eyewitness Travel guide for Japan.

It was a very thoughtful gift. The guide has been a valuable resource and accompanied us on many adventures. The picture on the cover has always intrigued me. I wasn’t sure if it was an actual location. I mean, Mt. Fuji and a pagoda sounds pretty amazing. Well, it is a real place and somewhat easily accessible. Dina told me about visiting it in 2016 during Sakura season. I purchased this wall hanging recently of the Chureito Pagoda, Mt. Fuji, and Sakura. All I needed was a picture I took to hang with it!

I knew I needed to place this trip high on my list this spring. Katie and I decided the weather would be optimal on Tuesday and rented a car for the adventurous road trip. We had a few setbacks this morning before finally departing around 8:30. We hit a little traffic once we were off the expressway causing our trip to take about 2.5 hours.

We parked in somewhat of a random location near a hospital and Shrine.

From the parking lot, it was about a 15 minute walk to the base of the pagoda.

To reach the pagoda, we first had to tackle 400 stairs. Of course there are stairs…

Up, up, up, we climbed. We reached the pagoda and Katie stopped to take out her phone for a picture.

It was at this point she realized she must have set down her her phone when she bought a bottle of water and left it on the counter. Down, down, down, she went. Her phone was exactly where she had left it. Because, Japan. The Japanese are so honest and helpful. One of the many things we all love about this country.

Katie deserves serious respect for climbing the stairs twice. Meanwhile, I was snapping pictures.

I took a lot of pictures.

Here is one I took and cropped to look like the one on the book cover.

At first, I was disappointed there were so many clouds around Mt. Fuji. I took a deep breath and reminded myself of wabi-sabi and my favorite quote. “You don’t have to be perfect to be amazing.” The view with Sakura, my exploring friend, and the opportunity to see and take this photo were all pretty amazing.

We walked around the pagoda twice. On our second lap, we saw a wedding couple. I couldn’t resist snapping a photo. They were stunning.

We walked back down the steps and stopped for a quick lunch of gyozas and spring rolls. We were back in the car and heading home around 1:30. Traffic was super light and we were on base within two hours.

Experiences like today leave me feeling grateful for the opportunity to live in Japan. I miss you all and appreciate the fact I have my blog to share it with you. It is definitely an opportunity of a lifetime. Thank you for reading!

Mt. Fuji Sightseeing

Dave and I took an ITT Mt. Fuji sightseeing excursion on Sunday. During the trip, we visited five different locations around the base of Mt. Fuji. Each location gave us spectacular views of the mountain. We enjoyed plenty of sunshine and Mt. Fuji views. Even at the rest stop!

Our first stop on the tour was at Fuji Peace Park.

The Fuji Peace Park has a large white pagoda known as a Buddha Sarīra Stūpa. The Stūpa was built with the prayers of peace and happiness for Japan and World Peace. Within the pagoda are preserved and enshrined sacred relics of Buddha.

Mt. Fuji looked spectacular in the early morning sunlight.

The gardens around the park were beautiful. They were perfectly manicured and maintained.

Our second stop was at Oshino Hakkai Springs. The springs are fed by the water that runs off Mt. Fuji. According to our tour guide, water takes between 20 and 80 years to go from the top of Mt. Fuji to the Oshino Hakkai Springs. As the water moves through the Earth, it is filtered and purified. The spring water was incredibly clear. Check out the fish! The dots in the water are coins at the bottom of the pond. The fountain was available to fill your water bottle. The water was cool and delicious.

There was also a specific fountain where you could hold your hand in the water for 30 seconds to purify your soul. I expected the water to be a lot colder. It wasn’t difficult to leave my hand in the water for the full 30 seconds. My purification was completed without much difficulty.

While at the springs, we were able to visit another beautiful garden and see other ponds.

Our third stop of the trip was a visit to Lake Kawaguchi. Lake Kawaguchi is one of the Fuji Five Lakes. During the stop, we enjoyed a hot pot of noodle soup. It was delicious! The small flame kept the soup hot while we ate.

The Lake was so beautiful. The fleet of swan paddle boats had me giggling. We will definitely need to return when we have more time and the weather is a bit warmer. I need to take a ride in a swan boat!

After lunch, we returned to the bus and went to the Mt. Fuji World Heritage Center. The center has a plethora of information about Mt. Fuji. It was fun to learn a little bit more about the mountain we have climbed and the one we are always excited to see.

The final stop was at the Sengen Shrine. The Sengen Shrine is at the base of Mt. Fuji. It was built to protect the people of the area from Mt. Fuji eruptions. Also, if you want to climb Mt. Fuji from the very bottom, you can access the trailhead from the Shrine. It will make your climb about five hours longer!

This hiker statue and the Torii mark the trailhead for the Subaru Trail to the top of Mt. Fuji.

It was a great trip and the weather was perfect. It wasn’t too cold, lots of sunshine and mostly clear skies allowing us to have so many opportunities to see Mt. Fuji. I saved the places we visited on Google Maps. So, when you visit and on a clear day, we can take a day to drive over and see the mountain up close!

Pacific Drive-In

Katie and I decided to enjoy the beautiful and windy day exploring a couple spots we pass when we take the train to Enoshima Island. We decided to stop for lunch at the Pacific Drive-In restaurant.

It is literally right on the edge of Inamuragasaki Beach. Check out the waves today! It was so windy!! Enoshima Island is on the left and Mt. Fuji is on the right.

The view from our table inside was lovely.

We both ordered the ahi tuna poke bowl. It was ok. I was a little surprised it didn’t have more poke flavor. We both ended up adding a little soy sauce and that seemed to help. The ginger ale I ordered was fantastic! We decided next time to order the shrimp plate.

After lunch, we walked above Inamuragasaki Beach so I could show Katie the cute park near by. Check out the daffodils already blooming! You can still see Mt. Fuji even with the cloud halo.

The next spot we wanted to explore was the Ryuguchi Temple. From the Enoshima train line, we can see a pagoda and we’ve always been curious. Today, we had time to explore. We took a wrong turn and found this temple with a very cool tunnel.

Fortunately, Google Maps got us back on track. Literally. We were walking down the street where the Enoshima train runs down the street! I felt like a local when I I snapped pictures of the cute Enoshima electric train line.

A few minutes later, we found the Ryuguchi Temple.

We walked around and up and down. Along the way we passed a Torii. One of my favorite things about Temples and Shrines is the acceptance of both religions (Buddhism and Shinto) at a single location. If only all the other religions in the world could be more accepting and tolerable, we would be a lot closer to peace on Earth.

At the top of the stairs we came to a beautiful Temple with a gold Buddha.

We walked around to the back and we caught a great view of Mt. Fuji and Enoshima Beach.

Finally, we came down to the five-story wood pagoda. It was nestled in the trees creating a serene environment.

Despite the chilly temperatures and wind, it was a beautiful day. We had fun lunching, exploring and shopping. We might both actually be finished Christmas shopping!

Hiking Mt. Takao

After visiting Mt. Takao last March for the Fire-walking festival, I really wanted to return to hike the mountain this fall. Rain spoiled my plans to go a couple of weeks ago. Fortunately, I was able to reschedule the hike today and I invited my friend, Amanda, to join me. In the end, it worked out perfectly. We caught the 7:21 train from Jimmuji and made it to the base of the mountain by 9:30.

After leaving the train station, we found this extra large map showing the mountain and various hiking trails to the top.

One quick picture before we started our hike!

We decided to take the darker orange trail. The Inariyama Trail.

The English description provided says, “while some sections are a little rough, this ridge top trail offers refreshing wonderful views.” It left out the ridiculous number of stairs we would climb over the next 90 minutes!! These pictures only show a portion of the stairs. According to my Apple Watch, we climbed 139 flights of stairs! My thighs were on fire by the time we reached the top.

Honestly, I’m not sure we could have enjoyed better weather. It was such a glorious day. The foliage was spectacular! Here are just a few pictures from our ascent.

Once we reached the top, the view didn’t disappoint. We were able to see Mt. Fuji. Look at her snow cap!! Beautiful. Absolutely, beautiful.

At the top, we enjoyed a cold brew and warm bowl of Udon.

The biggest surprise of the day was the number of people! Despite the hard climb to the top, I’m glad we decided to hike the Inariyama Trail. We passed so many people coming up the paved (easier) trail as we were walking back down.

We walked about part way down before taking the tram down the mountain. The leaves were so beautiful.

I’m so glad it worked out for us to hike Mt. Takao on such a beautiful day. Fall in Japan might take a little longer to arrive, but it’s worth the wait!

Hakone Fall Foliage

On Wednesday, Katie and I decided to take a trip to Hakone. We left our houses at 7:00am and met at Zushi Station at 7:30am. From Zushi we took two more trains to finally arrive at Odawara Station. Here was the first part of our route.

Once we arrived in Odawara Station, we purchased a two day pass called the “Hakone Freepass”. For ¥4000 ($40.00), the Hakone Freepass would allow us to ride the Hakone Tozan Train, the Hakone Tozan Cable Car, the Hakone Ropeway, the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise, and the Hakone Tozan Bus. Basically, we made a HUGE loop around Hakone. Here is the map we used.

We started on the far right and worked our way counterclockwise around Hakone until arriving back at Odawara.

Our main objective was to use this trip as a reconnaissance trip to see what we would like to do with our families and future visitors. Also, we really wanted to see fall foliage. We accomplished both!

Here is our first Hakone train, the Hakone Tozan Train. It was crowded! I mean it’s Wednesday!! This train had several switchbacks as it went up the mountain! It was weird to go in one direction and then all the sudden go in reverse!

We made a brief stop in Gora before getting on the Hakone Tozan Cable Car. Already, we were leaf crazy!

We continued up the mountain from Gora on the Cable Car. It was not quite as crowded.

The Cable Car took us to Souzan. At Souzan, we took a moment to savor the view.

After a brief stop, we took the Hakone Ropeway to Owakudani. The views of foliage from the Ropeway were spectacular! Can you see the shadow of our Ropeway Car?

As we boarded the Ropeway, we were given damp towels to use in case the Sulfur smell was too strong.

As we came over the mountain on the Ropeway, the Sulfur mines were visible. The steam is being released from the Earth because of the thermal vents associated with the volcanic valley. Wow!!

After we exited the Ropeway, we had an opportunity to walk around and look at the Sulfur mines from above. The steam rising was so cool. The science teacher in me was completely geeking out. Poor, Katie. She was a sport to put up with my giddiness!

Here was a fun surprise that I wasn’t expecting. I had heard about the “famous black eggs” of Hakone, but I didn’t understand exactly what they were.

The eggs were sold for ¥500 for 5 eggs. I bought a sack of eggs for us to share.

From my research I learned, the eggs are boiled in hot sulfur springs. The Sulfur causes the egg shells to turn black. The black eggs are called Owakudani “Kuro-Tamago” by locals. Legend goes that eating the eggs will add 5-7 years to your life.

The eggs appear to be from out of this world, but they tasted like a normal hard boiled egg or tamago. I took a picture of my half eaten Kuro-tamago with the cute egg seat! Kawaii!

As we finished our egg snack, we couldn’t believe our eyes! For a brief moment, Mt. Fuji was visible!!

Our next leg of the journey was the second part of the Hakone Ropeway. We took the Ropeway down to Togendai-Lo where we would board the Hakone Sightseeing Cruise. The ride down the Ropeway was beautiful.

I hate to leave you hanging on the Ropeway… but, this post has potential to gone on and on. I’ll tell you the rest of the story tomorrow. Stay tuned for Hakone Fall Foliage Part Two tomorrow!

Enoshima Sea Candles

Last week, I went out to Enoshima Island and during my visit, I saw an advertisement for a candle illumination display. Wednesday evening was the perfect opportunity for me to revisit the Enoshima Garden, Sea Candle, and candle illumination. I arrived a little before sunset and was very happy I did! I was able to capture a few pictures of the sunset and Mt. Fuji. 


I purchased my ticket and quickly went up into the Sea Candle before the sunset was complete. I wanted a few more pictures! 


I returned to ground level and I tilted my phone to capture Mt. Fuji and the Sea Candle. A very gorgeous evening! 


After watching sunset, I returned to the candle illumination. The path leading to the Sea Candle was illuminated with white votives. 


The candles were placed with great care throughout the garden. 

The Shrine seemed majestic with the red votives lining the path. 


The candles were beautiful and it was so quiet. It wasn’t very crowded, but still a good number of people snapping pictures from every angle. As couples spoke, they whispered. The silence truly set a peaceful tone for the evening. 

This is my fourth visit to Enoshima Island. It is moving up on my list of favorite places near where we live. Even though it takes a little while to get there, the train ride is nice along the coast. Also, there are a lot of shops leading up to the Shrine that can be fun to explore. The Shrine is beautiful and there are a lot of stairs! On a clear day, the island provides a fantastic view of Mt. Fuji. It is worth a visit during cool (remember- lots of stairs!) and clear weather.  One last picture of Mt. Fuji as I walked back to the train station. 


One more funny story about the Enoshima Sea Candle. In America, we would refer to this structure as a lighthouse. I call it the  Enoshima Sea Candle because those are the English words written on the signs on the island. Even Google Maps refers to it as the Enoshima Sea Candle. 

The funny thing is, I have told both of my English classes about my visits to Enoshima Island and the Enoshima Sea Candle and they respond with confusion. They will say to me, “you call it Sea Candle?” Clearly, confused by the silly American who isn’t familiar with lighthouses. I try to explain I call it that because that’s what the sign says- in English. Normally, I would call it a lighthouse. “Oh, yes, lighthouse. Yes, very beautiful.” Yes, very beautiful. For now on, I will always giggle when I see a lighthouse aka Sea Candle. 

Hello Autumn 

The storm cleared out last night and sunrise greeted us with an amazing view of Mt. Fuji. It looks like the little bit of snow cap on Mt. Fuji already melted. I have no doubt it will return very soon! 


The rest of my day was filled with errands. When I finally made it back home, the crisp temperature and leftover breezes from the storm made me want to bake up some fall treats! I made the always delicious pumpkin cinnamon rolls. 

Along with tasty, these rolls deserve the prize of messy! 


I had a little helper as I baked. This little guy came to my screen door and chatted with me. I decided to name him Groucho. Because, eyebrows! 


Just so we are clear, I did not feed him. Nor did I coax him to my house. And I am NOT adopting him. I just thought it was cute he followed me home. He left as quietly as he came, once he realized I wasn’t going to give him snacks. 

I will bake the beautiful pumpkin rolls in the morning and send them into work with Dave. Happy Halloween to SRF. All treats – no tricks! 

Beautiful Day

Today was beautiful. It warranted a get out and go attitude. I decided to venture over to Enoshima Island. I’ve been a couple times, both with Dave and Dina. It provides a spectacular vantage point for viewing Mt. Fuji (on a clear day). I knew today would be a great day for a trip to Enoshima because I snapped this picture earlier in the morning from Zushi Beach while enjoying a U.S. phone conversation with my girl, Jules. Enoshima Island is the island slightly off center and in front of Mt. Fuji. 


One part of the island I haven’t had the opportunity to explore are the rocks and sea cave. It is some what of a trek out to the island. It requires three trains and a good bit of walking. Here was my route. 


As I walked across the bridge to the island, I was giddy seeing Mt. Fuji with a snow cap. Signs of cooler weather! 


I decided to walk the stairs on the island vice taking the pay escalators. I figured the steps would do my rainy day lazy legs a favor! I was huffing and puffing by the time I reached the top. But, that view! 


Before descending down the other side to the sea cave, I decided to stop for a quick visit at the Sea Candle. I love the gardens and the Sea Candle and I knew the view would be amazing. I purchased my ¥500 ticket from the machine like a boss and entered the garden. I was greeted by thousands of unlit luminaries. 


I saw the flier with relevant information and have already made plans to return next week in the evening to see them illuminated! I think it will be so enchanting. 

As I approached the Sea Candle entrance, an advertisement for the caves caught my attention. I looked it over and then proceeded to the ticket taker at the entrance. He nicely informed me the sea caves were closed. Oh? Hai! Because typhoon caused damage. Oh! Arigatōgozaimas! I was so thankful he told me before I walked down the other side of the mountain! He also told me he wasn’t sure when it would reopen. 

The views of Mt. Fuji from the Sea Candle were as beautiful as I hoped! 


I walked around and enjoyed the 360 degree view of Shonan Beach. The bridge pictured is the one I walked over to access the island. 


As I was returning to the elevator to go back down, I observed a man taking the stairs. I decided to follow and ignore the sign written in Japanese. Again with the great views! 


The spiral staircase took me down to the Terrace level. As I came to the end of the staircase, I realized my error. Don’t tell anyone, but I don’t think I was supposed to use the stairs. 


Oops – a – daisy! Let’s just keep this between us, shall we? But, just so we are clear, I paid for an entry ticket to the garden and Sea Candle! 

One last view from the Terrace. 


And from the bridge as I walked back to the train station. 

On my way back home, I stopped and did a little shopping. Both in the Shonan Beach area and then in Kamakura. It was just such a beautiful day! 

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