As I looked at the horizon, I was in awe of what was in front of me: the pride of Japan. The Japanese have so many depictions of their beloved Mount Fuji, that you recognize the awesome sight as soon as it’s in view. I have to plug the Information Tickets and Tours office (Okinawa Tours and Yokosuka Tours) for a moment because had it not been for their incredible tour and guide, I may not have been willing to venture with my kids and family to see it up close and personal.
Our morning started at 0530 on a bus full of fellow sightseers. Our first stop was a rest area about an hour and a half away. I normally wouldn’t write about something so trivial, but this is Japan and of course it’s not your average American rest stop. Boutiques, food vendors, vending machines (which was not a surprise, one even sold t-shirts), a convenience store and super clean, very modern looking bathrooms and a very clean mother’s nursing/baby changing room.
The next stop was Mt Fuji Peace Park. The park has an amazing garden and is home to a beautiful white pagoda, a gift from India with several Buddha relics housed within its interior. There is also a traditional Japanese cemetery hidden behind the pagoda; it’s a small but beautiful shrine. Besides the location being picturesque, the park also has an exceptional view of Mt Fuji.
We were on the road again and on our way to the Mt Fuji visitor center, the fifth station known as Fujisan! The drive up was not an easy one. The road is super curvy and experiencing car sickness is not unusual. There’s also a point in the drive where you can hear the famous Mt Fuji music. We had a limited time at the station to look around the souvenir shops, eat lunch and if we managed our time well, hike to the next station. My husband Brad, climbed Mt Fuji this past summer during an official climbing season. This time around, he watched our baby while my mother-in-law, sister-in-law, and my two year old and I attempted to hike as far as we could before having to turn around. It was a beautiful day and I’m so glad that we decided to hike; we left realizing the challenge of the climb. The souvenir shop is a sight to be seen. Everything you can imagine has a depiction of Mt Fuji on it! There is also a post office where you can send postcards to prove you were there.
The trip was far from over, next stop Fuji Sengen Shrine. I love visiting the shrines in Japan because they are so beautiful and peaceful. It also reminds me of Japan’s rich history and traditions. I recently discovered that certain shrines sell books that are similar to autograph books. The books are gorgeous mementos, but the amazing thing about them is that you can take them to other shrines to get dated and signed. I bought mine at the shrine in Kanji. The young lady was so kind and patient with me while I tried to explain what I was looking for when trying to purchase my book. My only regret is that I didn’t have this book sooner, but now it gives me a reason to re-visit some of the shrines, which are near my favorite areas!
Our last stop before making our way back home was to Oshino Hakkai. This was a very touristy spot, but still worth seeing and visiting. Visitors are attracted to the area to see eight ponds fed from water streaming down the mountain. You can purchase Fuji water or if your tour guide knows where to go, you can fill your water bottle for free. The narrow road is lined with shops where you can discover lavender or soda flavored ice cream. One of the area’s specialties is peach flavored wine….it’s delicious!
I have to say that with a ten month old and two year old, the day was especially exhausting! I’m very glad we decided to go on this very unique sightseeing trip and can mark another check in the box of my must see/do things while living in Japan.