Mesmerized by Fujisan, Part 3: Kawaguchiko & Fujikyu Highland

Mt. Fuji floating on clouds… seen at Lake Kawaguchi.

This is the second day of my weekend trip to the Fuji-Goko area. It was such a perfect day- with perfect weather, views of Fujisan literally everywhere I went. The day started off with me biking around Kawaguchiko, then hopped on some of the world’s best coasters at FujiQ Highland, and finally relaxed at the Fujiyama Onsen nearby before bussing back to Yokosuka. It’s by far my most favorite day in Japan =D

Biking around Kawaguchiko

Finally able to travel without the weight of my backpack

Since the hostel that I stayed at had bike rentals for cheap (150 yen/hr), I planned to bike around Kawaguchiko early morning (heard Fuji’s clearest views were mostly seen early mornings). But they only had two bikes available, to I had to wake up super early- like 5:50am to make sure I was the first to rent. It took about 3 hours to complete the 15km loop (including stops for sight-seeing)… so  450 yen and I got to see everything that Kawaguchiko had to offer(I shouldn’t have bought the 2-day bus pass..)

Thought I was early… many people were actually earlier- to fish.
Too bad this side of the lake did not face Mt. Fuji… or it’d be a killer view. 
Biking across that bridge to the other side
It was too early, the road was empty!

There were many interesting museums around the Kawaguchiko (Come on, Japan has all the weirdest museums). I biked by them but did not visit any, since they weren’t opened yet. But I’ll definitely go to the Kimono museum, Teddy Bear and Music Box museum the next time I drop by the area. There were many more, but I’m just posting a few below.

Gem Museum. Not interested, I’m only interested in things that I can afford.
Teddy Bear Museum! I’m not into collecting bears, but would like to custom make one… once in my life at least. 
Herb Museum and Fragrance Museum. But actually they seemed very much like a gift store to me.
Arts Museum. Okay, the tiny hut wasn’t the museum…. just that it happened to be behind the sign.
Imagine playing soccer with Fuji in sight… I would most certainly be distracted!
The locals are really lucky to be living in such a beautiful town. Though Fuji-san is covered by clouds most of the time, it’s still nice to be in its presence. I’m sure I would do morning jogs often if I were them!

Funny thing is being a Vancouverite, I have no intention at all to live near Whistler… Not sure why. Canada has many scenic views too, but I find myself captivated by Japan more… Perhaps because of the four seasons here. You would experience something entirely different in each season: Sakura in Spring, Lavender and other flowers (Hanabi counts too? =D )in Summer, Maple leafs in Fall, and snow in Winter. Okay…. actually B.C. has all of that too. So the reason must simply be “Grass is greener on the other side.” XD

Yet another museum, about teaching people how to live a healthy environmental friendly life.

By this point, I was about to return, because the lake was just too big… the route seemed to be endless and I had to get back by 9am to catch a bus to FujiQ Highland. I biked back for about 15 mins, then remembered to pull out my map… Oh, I was actually half way through… So I decided to complete the route… totally doable as long as I didn’t stop every several minutes to take photos.

See that tiny, tiny person fishing there? I was sooo jealous. 
If I had time, I would canoe/kayak on the lake. I also wanted to try wake boarding (there’s a wake-board school), perhaps next time 😀
Tried so hard to take a photo of myself with Fuji. But still failed…

You know what would be perfect? Camping there! Spend a weekend fishing, chilling by the lake. Wouldn’t that be awesome? Don’t think I’d ever be able to do that as a tourist though.

Many farms around the area…
What were these? Flowers? Or something edible.
If I visit Kawaguchiko later this month, I would see many Lavender fields.
A tiny island in the middle of the lake. I saw some guys canoed around it.
There were several short tunnels to pass through. They had a name, like “Maple Leaf Tunnels” or something. I hate passing through them, guess another fear (besides insects) of mine would be dark, deserted, confined places? Just like the Aokigahara forest. 
Another great way to spend a morning at Kawaguchiko.
Came across a huge park, saw a lovely family picnicking
Fujiomuro Asama Shrine 冨士御室浅間神社. The oldest Shrine of Fuji. 
Again, no one ='( It’s a small scale shrine anyway.
Love biking by lakes, oceans in general. Feels so stress free with wind breezes. No traffic, so the whole road was mine! Yeah! I remember I was smiling the entire time… I really miss biking very much.

Besides farms, there were also many hostels/resorts nearby. So it really wasn’t as deserted as it seemed. In fact, many people greeted me Good Morning when I passed by them… Even dogs barked at me too =)

Saw a hotel(?) up on a hill with weird trees. 
Some museum displaying a famous Japanese artist’s works. It’s got a very nice garden (not shown in photo)
I was wondering what the small ‘island’ on the right was… 
Under the bridge. Almost back to where I began.
Looked like it’s sinking.
Still had time, so I went inside the “Herb Museum”, which turned out to be a giftshop with a small garden and warmhouse
By the time I left the “museum”, there was a group of Japanese tourists going in
Went straight back to the hostel and checked out. Had a photo with Mt. Fuji. Too bad the top was covered by clouds. What can I say, its just never clear at the right time lol
The owner of the hostel was really nice, he gave me two postcards before I left. It was an overall a very decent place to stay. Cheap, clean, convenient… has everything for any short stays really.

It was only 10 am then, but I had to go to FujiQ Highland ASAP, because I heard that lineups were always long, no matter which day you go in the week. Some people went for half a day and only got on 2 rides O_O I didn’t want that to happen to me, though my Day Pass was discounted (with the purchase of bus tickets).

Picked up some breakfast/lunch/food to munch on while lining up at Lawson…
And look at the train with cute Fuji drawings, I didn’t take that… it’s for going to the Fujisan stations.  
This is the one I took to FujiQ~ It was only a stop away, so 3 mins? It had Thomas on it, because FujiQ contained a ThomasLand for young children.
Even trains have vending machines… There are times when I wonder who own those machines? I see them in even the most deserted area. 
There’s a reason why so many Japanese people are train otakus. They are so many designs and themes. It just feels so special to be on a themed train, though I usually sleep during my rides anyway XD

FujiQ Highland

After 3 mins, I arrived at FujiQ…

When I first got in, it didn’t seem to have many people. So I thought I got lucky~ I got on my first warm-up ride within first 10 mins.

My warm-up ride… It’s just a simple splash ride. Notice some people spent 100 yen to buy a raincoat. Some didn’t (including me). BIG MISTAKE! 
It’s NOT your regular spray of water… but a real waterfall kind of splash. I had my waterproof jacket but my clothes still got wet! (Photo taken off their Official site)
You can practically squeeze out water from my pants. Thankfully my shoes weren’t soaked. 

After squeezing out all excess water and blaming self for choosing this as my first ride, I moved on.

Oh look, there’s also a Hamtaro themed area!
Look at how ’empty’ the park was…
I was wrong again… turned out 99% of visitors were lining up for FujiQ’s most popular rides. I finally understand why many people didn’t buy a day pass (they pay as they play), because of the ridiculous wait time. It’s likely to only get onto 2-3 rides in one day.
There was a 1.5 hour wait time to line up for Fuji-yama(my second ride). As I was lining up, I saw this poster- Advanced ticket, basically add 1000 yen and you can just go on w/o waiting.
” As of 2007 it is the world’s 8th tallest, 5th longest, and 10th fastest roller coaster.”- from Wikipedia
While waiting in line, I munched on some Onigiri and drank Coke. Mets Cola just came out in Japan a while ago. What’s so special? It absorbs fat if you drink it while eating your meals. Not sure if it’d work or have any side effects, but figured to give it a try.
While waiting in line, saw this… After the guy took a photo of his wife+son with the masked actor (in black). He got sprayed with water gun lol
The highest point was 79 metres (Photo from FujiQ Official site)

Was this ride worth the wait? Absolutely!!! After riding it, I wanted to line up again! Crazy, eh? Sure, it was tall, there were some great spins, but those weren’t the selling point… let me explain how those 5 mins felt like.

Love how they have lockers , feels more safe rather then just leaving ur belongings on the ground. Though, probably nobody would steal your things anyway.

1. Sat down with belt strapped on: Excited, slightly nervous… but glad that I could finally sit down, after standing for 1.5 hour

2. Climbing up to the highest point (79m): Are we there yet??? Seriously, felt like it took forever to climb up. A little bit frightening especially when they put up signs to tell you the current height.

3. At 79 metre: WOW, just WOWWWW. They stopped for a while at the highest point… I did not blink my eye at all when I saw Mt. Fuji- so crisp and clear. It seemed so much closer too! I wished my contact lenses could take photos (someone please invent that!). It was hilarious that when people saw Fuji, many said “きれい!!~~ ” (beautiful)… then the next second, it turned  into screams.

4. On the ride: Amazing! There were some side spins, and I could see Fujisan and with bright blue sky at different angles.

5. Done: Fixing my hair, and wanted to do it again~

Just for its views, Fujiyama is the best ride I’ve had so far in my life (admittedly I haven’t been on too many). But at least the rides at Playland seem like a joke now.

Giant Fujiyama plushie. I have a smaller version back home.
While lining up for Fujiyama, I planned for my next ride: Dondonpa, the tunnel thing with the green banner. 

The wait time for this one was close to 2 hours~ At this point, I started to wonder what if I had to give washroom a visit? I’d be screwed.

The ride is of course a lot bigger than shown in the picture.Here only shows the scariest hill. (Photo from FujiQ Official site)

Hm, as for this ride… It was the scariest of all, I think… but definitely not the one I enjoyed the most. Should’ve skipped it to save 2 hours. So first, in order to build up the tension… there was this traffic light inside the tunnel. And when the light turns green (sweaty palms during those 10 seconds), you get shot out from the tunnel (it holds the fastest acceleration world record btw). And yeah, the speed was lightening fast and my heart almost jumped out during the first drop. Other than that, nothing memorable. Maybe I was just frustrated with the 2 hour wait time?

This was the next ride – Takabisha… the newest ride at the themepark, opened in 2011. Wiki says: “contains a 121° freefall, as well as seven major twists over 1000 metres of track, and a drop of 43 metres”

Before lining up for this one (another 1.5 hour…), I thought about leaving to go for hotspring instead. But MIGHT AS WELL, because I don’t know if I’d ever come again!

… So I did, and it was another awesome ride!

Wonder if this happened to anyone riding this coaster before? Maybe I’m just too cynical… but what’s up with the shirt on this poster? Why does it have to be a USA flag?
Look at the 121 degree free fall…

At the beginning, there were some twisting and turning in pitch dark, to build up tension. Then once you get outside, the coaster stopped- because it had to climb up the vertical hill (a hill with undefined slope =P) . SO that whole time you would be straight up at the sky, wondering if you’d actually pee your pants later. Again, it stopped for several seconds at the top, going sloooowwwwwy, paused again at the 120 degree before the ‘free fall’.

Enjoyed it to bits! On a scale of 10, it gets 11 for the thrill.

After this ride, I decided to ride one more, to get the most out of my Day Pass =)

Something nice and easy for families. No, I didn’t go on.
One of the FujiQ Rangers, why was he hugging the column anyway?
Even THIS looked more interesting than the rides in Playland T_T
Caught the ‘Villain” shooting water gun at another visitor. What a chill job, sitting on a bench all day long, occasionally playing with water guns.
Tondemina- my final ride. A rotating version of the pirate ship with your feet hanging off. 

No wait time at all! Actually, only those top rides required lining up. If I wish, I could have stayed longer and get on more rides… But I was getting tired, and was desperate to relax at the hotspring.

It reached quite high. (From FujiQ Official site)

This ride was the one where I actually closed my eyes (I occasionally opened them to see the view though)!! It was fun, but felt weird. One second you would be looking down, the next you’d be staring at the sky. And it was a funny feeling with my legs swinging back and forth.

There were still two rides on my wishlist that I didn’t go on – Eejanaika (a 4th dimention coaster) and the Haunted Hospital (a maze like haunted house, heard its really scary… but I didn’t feel like being scared twice in two days). If I do come again in the future, those two (plus FujiYama) would be the ones I go for.

Left FujiQ, and off to the FujiQ Resort (where the hotspring was) next to it.
The hotspring building.

I got there at 4pm, and stay there for 1.5 hour. Admission fee was 1000 yen, discounted with FujiQ day pass. But yeah, this onsen was a little bit disappointing… I like those themed park onsen better (with different types and flavors). All it had was a outdoor hotspring, and 4-5 indoor springs. But the indoor part was quite big. I soaked myself for half an hour (couldn’t stand the heat, especially after the rides)…. then showered  (their bath soap/skincare products are even better than the ones I use) and relaxed a bit at some reclining chairs… I find that japanese people tend to drink milk/ coffee after hotspring.

This was how clear Mt. Fuji was at the time. Completely cloudless!
Bus station to head home…. but before that, I bought some souvenirs at its store.
Had some snacks on the bus, slept some…
and said goodbye to another amazing weekend.

Gift unwrapping time…

Food to share with colleagues.
Food, drinks, etc.
Fuji related things, bought one first day at the Shibazakura place. 

So that concludes my trip to Kawaguchiko. It was a memorable one, and I can’t wait to get back. But I would go for Yamanakako (山中湖)and Oshino (忍野)next time. In July and August, there will be fireworks at some of the lakes. Let’s see if I can make it there.

Took forever to write this post… and it almost made me cry when wordpress gave me an error when publishing the post… I was smart to Copy and Pasted before publishing.

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