Wabi-Sabi Sole

Finding Beauty with Imperfection

Category: Mt. Fuji (Page 1 of 3)

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! 

Mt. Fuji – Take 2

Ironically enough, Dave and I climbed Mt. Fuji the exact same weekend last summer. I was a little hesitant to climb again after our experience climbing down in the torrential rainstorm. As Sonia and I discussed expectations, I said I wanted amazing weather at the summit. I wanted pictures of being above the clouds with blue skies and a Torii gate. Realistically, I wanted it to not rain as much as it did last year. 

We took the MWR tour and left Yokosuka at 2:00 am Saturday morning. We made a brief stop in route for provisions and arrived at the 5th station of Mt. Fuji a little before 5:00 am. I decided to carry the same hiking stick from last year and fill it with stamps. This was Sonia’s first climb so she purchased a new stick to have stamped along the route. Here is the location of the 5th station. It is the furthest accessible point by vehicle. 


Of course, one of the best parts of the hike is seeing an amazing sunrise. 


From 5th station we begin our hike to the 6th station. This part of the hike is repeated when we come down the mountain. We took a quick picture at the 6th station before going up! If you look closely at the picture, you can see the results of the high winds. Most of the way up the mountain today, we were challenged with very strong and gusting winds. 


The hike from the 6th station to the 7th station consists of wide igneous rock covered trails with a lot of switchbacks. In my opinion, it is the most boring part of the hike. 

It was a lot of this! 


And fortunately, this! 


The 7th station is fun because here you can receive the first stamp on your hiking stick. Also, the terrain of the trail changes dramatically. There are a lot more large igneous rocks. I remembered how challenging they were last time to climb over because their texture is so rough. Today, they were exceptionally difficult because of the strong winds. At times I felt like a human sail and decided to keep my head down and hold onto the rocks with both hands! Sonia was smart and brought sunglasses to keep not only the sun out of her eyes but also dust. She was a great help to me by yelling “put your head down” when she felt a strong gust. We were covered in dust by the time we came down the mountain. 


The other important thing to note is how beautiful the skies were during this portion of our hike. It truly set the stage that I just might have my amazing views. 

From the 7th station we continued on to the 8th station. 


At 3100m, the views were still spectacular. 


We reached the 8th station just before 8:00am. Time wise, the 8th station is approximately halfway up the mountain. We had about three hours of hiking remaining before reaching the summit. We enjoyed my new favorite find at Family Mart. Cheeseburgers! 


As we were finishing up our mid morning snack, the clouds were building and rain started. Quickly we gathered our gear and started hiking again. The rain didn’t last too long! Whew! The next stop was the 8.5th station (that’s what the sign calls it!) or the original 8th station. It takes an average of 80 minutes to go from the 8th station to the 8.5th station.  The elevation change is a little over 300m. Along the way, we noticed new trail maintenance and a sign. It was fun to see “new things” on this journey! 


Through this portion of the journey, we kept good tabs on our pace and level of exertion. Knowing we had about three hours of hiking to reach the summit, we remain cautious and steady. None the less, our hearts were pounding pretty hard at times! As we passed the 3240m – 3400m elevation, we stopped for a few fun photos. 


I was able to get a good picture with a Torii above the clouds. I took time to embrace the wabi-sabi. It’s may not be at the summit but, it’s a great picture! Beauty in the imperfections. As a result, I have a cute Torii picture on Mt. Fuji. 


As we arrived to the 8.5th station, the clouds started to roll in, again. 

That’s a patch of snow! 


From the 8.5th station to the summit is about 90 minutes. The elevation change is a little over 300m. It was during this stretch last year when the wheels started to fall off because of the weather and our inexperience with climbing Mt. Fuji. This year, I at least knew that the 600m sign meant we still had 25 minutes of strenuous climbing! 


As we arrived at the 9th station, we were greeted by another Torii. Perfect opportunity to catch our breath and take a few photos. 


The final stretch to the summit remained. The clouds were thick. 


Off we went. One boulder scramble, stair step at a time! 


Until finally…. we made it!! Check us out! 


At the summit, we stopped for lunch. It was just before 11:00am. About 6 hours of hiking with necessary breaks. Not too shabby! Actually, 6 hours is the average. Lunch was a delicious warm bowl of ramen! By the time we reached the summit the only spot left on my hiking stick was for my second summit stamp! 


We ate, had our hiking sticks and temple books stamped, and used the restroom. By the time we were heading down the mountain it was noon and it was beginning to rain. Oh, no. I honestly didn’t know if I had the strength to endure the descent in the rain again this year. Fortunately, I didn’t have to find out. The rain stopped pretty soon after we left the summit. 

The descent without rain was so much easier. We each slipped a couple times on the loose igneous rock. But, we were ok. We were dry and warm. 


Somewhere along the descent, the clouds were beneath us and above us. 


We could stand on the ledge and I could get my cool cloud picture. 


I experienced wabi-sabi yet again. The summit isn’t the only place magical pictures can be captured. 


The remainder of the hike had a few sprinkles and maybe a slip or two. Without all the rain, coming off the mountain was a breeze. We were back at the 5th station by 3:00pm. 

We had two hours before the buses left to clean up, eat, and shop. Which we did. I enjoyed Mt. Fuji Melon Bread and a Mt. Fuji Craft beer. Delicious reward for a great hike. 


After our hike today, I’ve decided I love Mt. Fuji even more. She has a way of showing you your strengths and weaknesses when you make the climb. Mt. Fuji doesn’t give you what you want, but gives you what you need. Sonia needed to check Mt. Fuji off her Japan bucket list. She was ready for the challenges climbing Mt. Fuji would give her and she came out victorious. 

Today, I needed perspective and a dose of wabi-sabi. Finding beauty in the imperfection. Honestly, I don’t feel like I have any unfinished business with Mt. Fuji. Mt. Fuji is a good sensei (teacher). I came and I climbed – twice. For that I am wiser, not a fool! 

Working Lunch

Sonia and I met in Yokosuka today for a “working lunch”. We met at ConeLi pizzeria. Formerly known as Napoli Bar Pizzeria.


Sometime in the past few months, the restaurant has changed names. The pizza was still worthy of an honorable mention. And the perfect carbo load for the upcoming weekend adventure details we needed to work through.


You can call me a fool when I tell you the planning details we were working on at lunch. We are going to hike Mt. Fuji on Saturday. Remember this quote: “You are wise to climb Mt. Fuji, but a fool to do it twice.” I went back to reread my blog post from last August when Dave and I hiked Mt. Fuji.  Ironically, it was the exact same weekend last summer! With respect to hiking it again, I said maybe. If it was on someone’s bucket list. It is on Sonia’s Japanese bucket list and she was preparing to hike it by herself. Being a good friend, the thought of Sonia hiking by herself and selfishly, the chance to see an amazing view we didn’t see last summer… changed my maybe to a YES! Oh, boy!! 

One Picture

Short and simple because it has been a very adventurous, fun, and wonderful day. I’m ready for bed. Tomorrow, I will share the rest of the story. For now, I’ll leave you with one picture worth more than a thousand words. 

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