河口湖 (かわぐちこ) – Kawaguchiko

Today was spent leisurely walking around Kawaguchiko,  probably one of the most famous lake areas in Japan. This is to do with where it is situated, the lakes are at the base of the 3776meter tall Mt. Fuji! This is my third time visiting the lakes and every time it is a wonderful and unique experience. Especially at the moment as spring is starting, the daffodils (or narcissists as they are known), snowdrops and the magnolia trees are blooming. This is one of my favorite times of the year, all that’s missing are some spring lambs running around the fields (coming from Northern Ireland were this is a norm), I suppose you can’t have it all?  But what a view of the blue mountain that is Mout Fuji, or Fuji-San as the Japanese refer to it.

As I said before coming here at different times of the year is always interesting, now we have the classic and iconic view of mount fuji with a little snow on the top. Two months ago it was completely white and in 2 months time it will no doubt be rid of its fluffy white winter coat. Coming from Kofu that is surrounded (in a valley if you like) by mountains it has its own warmer sub-climate (if that’s a thing?) Kofu is situated in relatively the same area as Kawaguchiko, in fact, Kawaguchiko is future south. But this 45-minute drive south makes a big difference. The Sakura or Cherry blossoms in Kofu are our in full but in Kawaguchiko are only starting to bud (this just means I’ll have to go down again and get a nice photo for you all!)

While walking around the lakes you can take some time to go out on the swan paddle boat (if you’re feeling romantic) or just soak in the sun and scenery. We decided to go on the Kachi Kachi Ropeway – (http://www.kachikachiyama-ropeway.com/en/), cheating are way up the mountain to what I can only call the most amazing view of Fuji-San in the Yamanashi Prefecture! If you struggle with hiking, walking long distances or are in a hurry this can be a life saver.  !!!Helpful hint!!!  The ropeway can get busy at peak times like early morning and just after lunch because you could get stuck in quite a long queue! It cost 800yen for one adult and 400 for a child!

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View from the cable car overlooking one of the lakes!

P.s Kawaguchiko is great as there are lots of regular buses from around Yamanashi Prefecture and if you drive there are a lot of free car parks. Which of course are hard to come by in Japan! This is the place you will most likely come to when you want to climb Fuji-San.

For lunch, we had some local food, Yamanashi’s famous Houtou which is handmade noodles that would remind you of a homemade tagliatelle in shape and udon in texture in a pumpkin soup. This is famous thanks to Takeda Shingen, (one of the most famous samurai generals in Japanese history that came from Kofu, Yamanashi) originally this would have been a vegetarian dish as it was served to the samurai before marching off to war.

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This was in fact, Takeda Shingen’s meal of choice before war, it is quite symbolic as we will be marching in the remembrance parade for Takeda this Saturday!! This is one of my favourite foods from Japan, but I love everything noodles. Coming in the soup with big chunky vegetables it is thicker than the soups commonly in Ramen and tastes so fresh and wholesome!  We had our food in a big restaurant called ‘Houtou Fufou‘ – (http://www.houtou-fudou.jp/english.html) This was a really impressive restaurant and well-priced (around 1200 yen pp), oh and you can’t miss it! It’s like the Japanese answer to an iglu.

 

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This is definitely worth checking out if you are near Fuji-San and in Yamanashi Prefecture it is a must!! Try Houtou, Yamanashi Noodles!!!

I’m not sure if you know yet but I’m sure you will find out soon that I am a vegetarian, Japan can be very difficult at times when trying to order food but things are changing and it is becoming much easier. For instance, this usually has meat or fish in the soup but I was able to just ask for a miso based soup, Japanese people are very accommodating. It can just be a little awkward when you are a big hairy guy and you say you don’t want meat or fish, you get some very confused looking faces. That being said after the initial shock and horror they will help you out in some way.

The lakes in Yamanashi are well worth the day trip, soaking in the culture and local cuisine. Go to Kawaguchiko, take your time and enjoy it! I know we did!!

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Thanks for reading/looking,

Stephen

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