From Tokyo to Hachioji
After spending a full day in Tokyo, I had a quick tour in Ginza the next morning. Ginza is another famous shopping district in Tokyo, but it felt similar to Shibuya, so I only stayed briefly before leaving towards Mt. Fuji. I left most of my luggages at the hotel in Tokyo so I could travel light. Since day was short in the winter and it takes ~4 hours of train from Tokyo to Mt. Fuji, I decided to stay a night in Hachioji, which is a major city and train exchange along the way to Mt. Fuji. It also gave me an opportunity to check out another city in Japan.
The streets of Hachioji
I purposely picked a hotel beside the Hachioji station so it was within walking distance. To my surprise, even though it was New Year’s Eve, there were no large crowds celebrating on the streets of Hachioji. A lot of the restaurants and shops were still open in the evening, so it felt like a normal working day. I found a Japanese grill restaurant nearby to have dinner, but they had no English menu nor English speaking waiters. After struggling a while using drawing and sign language, I was finally able to order some food. Fortunately, the service and food were both great, so it was worth the trouble. All in all, Hachioji felt less international than Tokyo as you rarely see any English words or encounter people speaking fluent English. Luckily, I was able to guess many words by looking at Kanji, which is based on Chinese characters.
- Have a translator ready when you go to local restaurants.
Arriving at Fujikawaguchiko
I left Hachioji early in the morning the next day since I wanted to maximize my time at Mt. Fuji. It took me ~2 hours of train ride in total to arrive at Fujikawaguchiko. I had one exchange at Otsuki station to board the Fujisan Express train, which is designed for optimal viewing experience of Mt. Fuji. However, since winter days are short and the sky was overcast, I could barely see Mt. Fuji throughout the day. I heard that it’s not easy to see Mt. Fuji as it’s often covered by clouds. So you will be very lucky to see its entirety when you just arrive.
Fujikawaguchiko is a small, but touristy city, so it wasn’t too difficult to ask for directions in English. You should still have the Japanese name of the hotel ready to show taxi drivers since they might not know English well.
Hotel New Century
After a short taxi ride, I arrived at Hotel New Century. I spent a lot of time finding this hotel since most hotels with good views of Mt. Fuji had already been booked. So please plan WAY AHEAD of time, especially for big holiday traveling! You would be shocked that even three months ahead might not be way ahead for certain time periods and destinations.
The hotel’s decor was simple, clean and well maintained. The room was a classic Japanese style room with tatami mats. I chose this style specifically because I wanted to experience the authenticity of sleeping on tatami. I really loved the room and its culturally classic feel. It had big windows with direct views of Lake Kawaguchi and Mt. Fuji, which was unfortunately covered by clouds.
It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Mt. Fuji without enjoying the various hot springs in the area. One of the popular hot springs in the area is Fuji Yurari Hot Spring, which is one of the hot springs with a direct view of Mt. Fuji. After settling in at the hotel, I took a taxi to the hot spring right away. Besides the nice view it offers, Fuji Yurari Hot Spring also has various private rooms available for booking. These rooms are perfect for individuals and couples who want to enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji while soaking in the hot spring with privacy and a peace of mind. Although private rooms are small, they are all equipped with a changing and shower area, so they are extremely convenient. A big downside for this hot spring location is the lack of public transportation. You should plan your time well and get a taxi ahead of time. The receptionist I encountered that day didn’t speak English well and was slightly impatient (the only slightly rude Japanese I came across during my entire Japan trip), but I managed to get the private room I wanted since all the options were clearly listed.
- Check out their website beforehand so you know what you want before going there.
- It is better to arrange for transportation to return to the hotel before going there.
A rejuvenating bath
The private room booking was for 50 minutes, which was more than enough time to enjoy the hot spring since the water was really hot to stay for long. I could barely see my feet on the other end of the tub due to the hot steam in the room, but it made me feel immersed in the hot spring. It is difficult to describe the relaxing feeling of soaking in a private hot spring while enjoying the beautiful view outside, you should definitely experience it yourself if you have the chance. I felt really rejuvenated after walking out of the hot spring. Although it was dark and freezing outside, I could barely feel the cold since my body was still filled with heat from the hot spring.
A beautiful morning
I woke up early the next morning desperately hoping to catch a clear view of Mt. Fuji before leaving (yup my stay was too short and it was like gambling to see Mt. Fuji that’s very often covered by clouds). Luckily, it was a clear day!!! And there was an extremely clear view of the sky and Mt. Fuji outside looking through my hotel room windows.
- The sky is usually clearer in the early morning, so get up early and monitor the sky every now and then as the degree of visibility might change since the clouds are constantly moving.
View from the Lake
I saw traces of clouds gathering above Mt. Fuji, so I decided to go out and snap some photos before the clouds completely covered the sky and Mt. Fuji. I walked along Lake Kawaguchi to find a non-obstructed view of Mt. Fuji. Seeing its entirety gave me a forever unforgettable and magnificent feeling in my life. Mt. Fuji was so gorgeously sitting solo and afar with its snow covered top. It instantly granted me a sense of tranquility, pleasure, satisfaction and therapeutic relief that I couldn’t get in my everyday bustling and hectic big city life. It made the entire trip so worth it. Thank you for letting me see your beauty within my short spontaneous stay and for all the positive energy you delivered to me Mt. Fuji; I’m forever grateful for that bigger-than-life energy mother nature can offer us.
Leaving Mt. Fuji
It was difficult for me to say goodbye after seeing Mt. Fuji in its magnificent beauty, but I only had time to stay for one night, so I had to leave this divine beauty behind and travel back to Tokyo shortly after breakfast. The sky was so clear, I could see Mt. Fuji in the backdrop while leaving on the train. It was the perfect way to conclude my trip in Japan.
Even though my trip in Japan was brief, but it well served my purpose of having an enjoyable and relaxing tour. I had a lot of fun in Tokyo, and best of all, I enjoyed a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji and had an amazing hot spring experience, which fulfilled my top two goals of the trip. I would definitely visit Japan again in the future. Next time, I plan to visit during the Cherry Blossom season, I heard it is one of the must-see events.