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Fuji-san & the cosmos

The cosmos were blooming on the shores of Kawaguchi-ko, and the late afternoon sun was shining on Fuji-san.  I bought a new guidebook recently, which describes hikes near Tokyo that end at onsens.  The cosmos was kind to us yesterday, by providing sunshine, good views of Mt Fuji across Kawaguchi-ko, and a nearly empty rotenburo (outdoor onsen).Fuji-san, Kawaguchi-ko and the cosmos

The walk I chose took my cousin Robin and I to Kuro-dake, a 1,792 metre mountain overlooking Kawaguchi-ko, one of the Fuji Five Lakes.  To get to Kawaguchi-ko, the rustic and slightly crumbly Fuji Kyuko (Fuji Express) line feels like it’s straight out of the 1970s, and takes around 50 minutes from Otsuki.  It was then a bus past the lake and up the side of the mountain towards Mitsu-toge.  The walk was about 13km, involved a good amount of climbing and descending, but was not very technically difficult, and the track was well marked and well formed.

Bus stop in the middle of a construction site in the middle of nowhere.

We started at the Mitsu-toge Iriguchi bus stop, which was in the middle of a construction site, which was in turn in the midde of nowhere.  The bus driver seemed concerned whether we really wanted to get off there, but convincing him that the map in my guidebook was correct, we got off and headed up the road.

This trusty guidebook will get us there.

The start of the hike was at the bottom of a tunnel on the main road, which replaced a narrow road that headed up the mountain.  But instead of heading up the old road, we headed straight up the side of the mountain and into the forest.  As soon as we were past all the concrete fortifications that dammed up a minor gully (and protected us from the wrath of nature), we felt like we were getting away from things.

To the left!

After quite a slog up the hill, we emerged at a track junction.  It seems that we could have caught the bus further up the hill and walked straight along the ridge line to get to the same place.  However, we felt better for the strenuous workout through the forest.  In a few weeks, the trees will probably be very colourful.  For now, their colour was only starting to turn a tinge of orange or yellow.

Robin finds religion at a small jinja on the mountain

There was a small jinja near the track junction.  Robin said a few words to the kami-sama of the mountain to maintain the happiness of the cosmos, at least until we got to the onsen at the end of the walk.

Fleet-footed Robin

The autumn colours are coming

When we arrived at the lookout near the top of Kuro-dake, Fuji-san was obscured by the clouds.  We ate our convenience-store bento boxes watching the clouds forming near the summit, then billowing in our direction.  No matter how many clouds blew our way, there were more and more coming over the top of Fuji, or forming around its summit.

Kuro-dake lookout, but no view of Fuji-san

From the summit of Kuro-dake, Fuji-san was covered in cloud

We kept moving along the ridge line, stopping at a few lookout points where there were gaps in the trees providing a view of Kawaguchi-ko below and Fuji-san on the other side of the valley.  The clouds were getting slightly thinner, but we thought that the top of Fuji-san was lost for the rest of the day.

In one gap, we found a weird looking contraption that was a solar-powered webcam set up watching over Mt Fuji.  We gave it a wave, but when I got home and tried to find myself on the Internet, I discovered that it uploads photos every half hour only for the first few hours after sunrise.

Someone has set up a solar-powered webcam to watch Fuji-san

The below photo of Robin looking out over the lake is taken from next to the webcam.

Still can't see it

A few more minute along, and the cloud on Fuji-san started to really thin out.  The summit poked through, and we thought that Robin’s earlier conversation with the kami-sama at the small jinja might have had some good effect.

The clouds are clearing

The clouds cleared!

Finally, the cloud lifted, and Fuji-san was unveiled.  I’ve seen this mountain many times, from a number of different angles (including from above, from Yatsugatake, from Tanzawa, from Enoshima), but it never ceases to be captivating and extremely photogenic.

After reaching Shindo-toge, we took the track that steeply descended back down the mountain to the town of Oishi on the lake shore.  When we emerged from the forest and arrived at the lake, Fuji-san was still there, picturesque, towering above.

Fuji-san and Kawaguchi-ko

Fuji-san and Kawaguchi-ko

Fuji-san and Kawaguchi-ko

The final stop was an onsen with a rotenburo, with very few people despite being a long weekend.  A soak to soothe those mountain-climbing muscles was just what was required to end the day.  Ths cosmos was good to us for this walk.

Cosmos, Fuji-san and Kawaguchi-ko

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