Travelogue: Japan – Day Trip to Kawaguchiko

Haven’t done a travelogue in longgg time cos just thinking about it makes me feel lazy already. HA, so let me give this a try to write a summarized version and to see well, if I manage to complete writing this, even though I think by the time I’m finally done, I might already be in Japan again. The friends and I decided on an impromptu trip and so the conversation started off with ‘Let’s go somewhere’ and ended off with booking the flights and accommodation in a week. Talking about being spontaneous, and also how difficult to plan the trip around everyone’s super busy schedule. I really think my friends lead a very busy life. Lol anyway, we flew by ANA and touched down at 2.15pm, which is slightly ahead of schedule. After sorting out the admin like getting the local SIM card from Klook – which the friend said it was not bad for the connectivity, Narita Express, Tokyo Wide Pass, Suica cards from the JR office, we finally made our way to our hotel in Shibuya! We chose Shibuya just so we don’t need to keep changing trains to get to our accommodation, and besides I have never stayed at Shibuya before.

First order of business was dinner. The friend wanted to try Hajimeya Yakitori at Shinjuku but the place was packed and the wait was 2 hours so we ended up at Torikyo which was nearby. Well, they serve yakitori as well and it seems quite a number of locals patronize them so we thought of giving them a try. They have 2 levels of sitting so their space is slightly bigger.

DCS00800

Night life in Shinjuku

DSC00803

DSC00821

DSC00824

Fresh Fish Carpaccio ¥580

DSC00826

Omelette ¥550

DSC00827

Wings ¥280; Mushroom and Eggplant ¥180 each

DSC00829

Chicken Thigh ¥250 (left); Chicken Skin ¥190 (right)

DSC00832

Tsukune ¥280; Chicken Liver ¥210

DSC00833

Chicken Breast with Mentaiko, Plum and Cheese ¥210 each

DSC00835

Potato and Cheese ¥580

DSC00838

Yuzu Sorbet ¥380 (left); Black Honey and Vanilla Icecream ¥400 (right)

Ended up with quite a lot of food but worth ordering was the Tsukune, Chicken Wings, Chicken Liver (for those with a strong heart) and the Steamed Egg. I really thought the Tsukune was quite good, even after 2 days. HA

Torikyo 焼き鳥処 鳥京 新宿本店

1-22-12, Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, 160-0021

DSC00840

The ever busy Shibuya Crossing

And because we over ordered and over ate, we ended up doing some light shopping at Shinjuku before heading back to Shibuya to take…

DSC00842

NEOPRINTS!

Gosh, this is really throwback to secondary school memories. And I can’t believe how cheap the neoprints are. For ¥500 (SGD 6) per machine, we paid like $12-13 back then. But we were a little appalled at the after-effects of the pictures cos it looked like we did plastic surgery. Anyway, that’s it for the night cos it’s an early day tomorrow.

We had a 2D1N trip to Kawaguchiko. The journey was a long one which we need to make transfers to Otsuki station. Piece of advice is if your train allows seat reservations, please do reserve your seats at the JR office so that you can sleep on the train, and especially most of these day trips start early in the morning. Otherwise you have to go to the 自由席 section and pray you get a seat. We got the 3-day Tokyo Wide pass which covers our trip to Kawaguchiko and Izu (which happens the day after) and most train lines are covered by the pass with a few exceptions.

DSC00850

DSC00857

Otsuki Station

Transiting to the Fujikyu Railway at Otsuki, the train we got on was the Fujisan View Express which was so prettily designed! But unfortunately the train broke down at Mt Fuji station (lol) so we finally make it to Kawaguchiko station after some time.

DSC00858

DSC00860

Inside the cabin!

DSC00868

Well, because we had nothing to do so more photos!

The concierge desk at Kawaguchiko station provides baggage storage so for those who prefer to keep your bigger bags, you can do so at the station. And they have all sorts of service. If there is anything you are unsure like which bus to take, here is your one-stop need. lol

DSC00877

DSC00878

We decided to get our 2 Day sightseeing bus ticket before heading to lunch. Do note the bus counter is outside the station

Had lunch at Houtou Fudou, a specialty noodle shop in Kawaguchiko which was just across the train station. We were lucky there was no queue when we reached so we could be seated quickly. Well, their menu isn’t exactly extensive since they are known for their Fudou Houtou. They do serve soba noodles as well, and erms horse sashimi which nobody was gamed to try :/

DSC00883

DSC00884

DSC00885

DSC00897

Fudou Houtou ¥1080

Such a huge pot! We had 2 pots to share among 4 of us and I don’t know how people can manage 1 pot each.

DSC00903

Love the soup which was cooked with vegetables and the sweetness of the pumpkin but less so of the noodles cos they were a little too thick. But well, given this is a specialty there, it’s still worth a try.

DSC00905

Houtou Fudou ほうとう不動 河口湖駅前店

3631-2 Funatsu Fujikawaguchiko Minamitsuru-gun Yamanashi

Headed back to the station to catch the train to Shimo Yoshida station so we could visit the Arakuyama Sengen Shrine. We paid an extra ¥200 for the rapid train which turned out to be a good choice. The train was even more beautiful than the Fujisan View Express and there weren’t much people on board. Yay!

DSC00907

Tokyo Wide Pass and Extra Fare

The station staff told us it was a brown train so we were a little confused when we walked to platform since there was only a blue train and a dark red train. And we figured since it clearly cannot be blue, it has to be the other one. lol

DSC00918

The carriage is separated into Blue and Red which is supposed to represent something. But since we were so busy taking photos, we clearly were not listening.

DSC00929

How cool to have a bookshelf in the train!

IMG_2526

You will be greeted with this map once you stepped out of Shimo Yoshida station which gives you the direction on how to get to the shrine. You can even grab a drink at the cafe before setting off.

On hindsight, we should have left our bags at the coin lockers so we don’t have to carry them around but we only thought about it at the end of the day. Anyways, it’s quite an easy route to follow from the station which takes about 10 mins walk to the start of climb. And yes, it’s 400 steps all the way to the top – do not underestimate them. We were so hot and sweaty by the time we reached the top.

DSC00932

That’s the start of the climb!

DSC00933

DSC00940

You can take a break at the foot if you like some snacks or to grab some souvenirs.

DSC00937

And of course, it has to be a cloudy day. Despite the less-than-ideal scenario, the view is still quite spectacular and definitely worth a visit.

img_32

Even though we look quite nice and glam here, we were actually sweating buckets.

Okay, so we made our way down to the station since we had a train to catch and a schedule to follow. We took one of the sightseeing buses to our hotel and while waiting, we witnessed a bus driver quarrelling with another tourist which they ended up shouting crazy to each other, which was well, quite a sight since you probably don’t expect this in Japan.

We made it to Kawaguchiko Park hotel, checked in, and immediately went out so we can make it for the Tenjoyama Ropeway. I think we spent more time waiting and queuing than taking photos at the attraction so well, unless you are absolutely sure you can see Mt Fuji, you are better off not visiting it. Did some souvenir shopping on the way back (where most of the shops were already closed then), and bought a large sake and snacks so that we can party at night.

DSC00953

DSC00954

While walking to the Ropeway

DSC00956

DSC00957

View at The Top

DSC00960

Pretty clouds while we were coming down though

Snapseed

DSC00993

Kawaguchiko Park Hotel

Dinner was included, which was quite a feast. Dishes came out after dishes and we were so busy eating I felt like it was never gonna end.

DSC00966

DSC00968

DSC00972

DSC00973

DSC00975

DSC00976

DSC00979

DSC00982

IMG_3932

We found the menu after we were done, but not like we could understand what was being written

Anyways, I thought generally the meal was decent and super filling – no joke so we had to play games before we could enjoy their onsen facilities. They only had 2 baths, but it was still nice to enjoy since nobody else was using it. It felt like our own private bath honestly.

DSC00987

DSC00985

DSC00986DSC00988

And so yes, ending the night with this

DSC00992

And this and lots of ktv session

We were praying breakfast will be a simple affair but when we walked in to the banquet hall, we knew it’s not gonna be simple afterall. I have no idea how people manage so much for breakfast. Well, honestly their dinner was better but I think part of it was also due to the fact we had so much the night before we couldn’t really eat much the next morning. And we wanted to eat light cos we were going to Fuji-Q Highlands. 

DSC00997

The first thing that greeted us was this huge pot of noodles which we went ohmygod

DSC00994

DSC01001

DSC00999

I thought Kawaguchiko Park hotel was decent even though there were some bad reviews.  They give you a call before meal times so you can go down and prepare your futon while you are having dinner. Pick-up was available upon request and they keep they key when you are out for sightseeing. Not that we were in the hotel for most of the time, but generally it was still quite a nice stay. And oh, the meal was surprisingly decent too.

The hotel sent us to Kawaguchiko station so we could take the earlier train that reached Fujikyu Highland station where there were already people queuing outside the theme park. So after depositing our stuffs at their coin lockers, we joined them even though there was still 15 mins to park opening. The theme park here uses a different system. After you bought your tickets, they will take a photo of you for face recognition. So before each ride/attraction, you scan your face again so that the system knows your ticket and your face tally and even if you lose your ticket, no one else can use your ticket, which is honestly quite smart given the theme park is free admission. Well, we took the day pass which costs ¥5700 but we only took 3 rides given time limitation. On average, the more popular ride takes about 1.5 – 2 hours to queue so it depends on your luck and running speed, you might be able to have a shorter waiting time

5fde757d-56d6-4dbd-8712-90d7ed6811e0

And look who we found on the second day!

img 15

Mount Fuji spotted!

IMG_9292

IMG_1760

It was a very very hot day

DSC01004

Just one photo of the theme park cos well, we were busy playing

Went back to Kawaguchiko station to have lunch cos we had wanted to go up to the 5th station, but a check with the concierge told us there were really limited timings so we decided to head back to Tokyo earlier after lunch. Lunch was across the street at Cafe Gen cos we wanted somewhere near. It’s a very homely cafe with everything home cooked and home made. They serve a variety of rice, pasta and burgers. It made me felt like dining at someone’s home.

DSC01006

DSC01007

Iced Cafe Latte ¥500

DSC01009

Yamanashi Beef Curry ¥1,600

DSC01011

Chicken Curry ¥1,050

DSC01012

Oyako Don ¥1,150

DSC01016

Baked Cheese Cake ¥500

The food is generally quite decent but not out of the world but if you wanted something else other than Fudou Houtou noodles, well at least this place is something different

Cafe Gen

Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko, Minamitsuru District, Yamanashi Prefecture 401-0301, Japan

And with this, we made our way back to Tokyo which we spotted lots of cute trains on the way

DSC00873

Love the Fuji designed one!

DSC01019

And Thomas!

IMG 06

So after a long journey back to Tokyo, we headed to Ebisu to have Shake Shack cos the friend has never tried it before. Yes, it still tasted as good

DSC01022

DSC01024

DSC01026

Shackstack ¥1,250

Shake Shack

Japan, 〒150-0022 Tokyo, Shibuya, Ebisuminami, 1 Chome−6−1 アトレ恵比寿西館1F

Then ended the night at Dassai Ginza Store to buy our Dassai. They do have tasting menu so for those who can’t decide which one to buy. We probably tried everything there, from the sparkling to the milk. Yup, they have Dassai milk too which was really interesting, though it somehow tasted like vitasoy more than anything. It’s nice though!

DSC01029

Snapseed 2

Price List

DSC01033

DSC01035

And it’s here you realised how overpriced Singapore is

DSC01038

Dassai Milk

Snapseed

The 23s!

Dassai Ginza Store

Japan, 〒104-0061 Tokyo, 中央区Ginza, 5 Chome−10-2 GINZA MISS PARIS

So that’s it for our first few days in Japan. I hope I come back with the second part!

Tata!