Our last full day in Japan was reserved for visiting Mount Fuji. Our tour was booked through Viator, and the group that actually conducted the tour picked us up at a predetermined hotel in Roppongi Hills. After a quick bus transfer, we hit the road to Mount Fuji.
The weather had been threatening to get nasty, so the tour operators decided that we would delay our visit to Mount Fuji and instead visit Lake Kawaguchiko first. We started with a steep cable car ride up the Kachi Kachi Ropeway to a mountain peak that offered some great views of Fuji and the lake.
We had been warned that a clear view of Mount Fuji was tough to get during the summer months, and it was even more unlikely with the day’s threatening weather. But the view was still rewarding for me. The last time I had been to Fuji (Summer 2001) I hardly saw the mountain at all because of the cloud cover, so I was happy with what we got. After a few minutes admiring the view and taking lots of photos, we descended the mountainside and took a ride on the lake. The third photo in this sequence is another view of Fuji.
I have to give our tour operators some credit. The weather reports were not looking good. Because of strong winds, all stations on Fuji except for the first one had been closed to visitors. That’s why we made these other visits first, hoping the weather would clear up before we visited the mountain. By lunchtime, the situation had not changed, so we went as a group to a nearby hotel for a traditional Japanese bento meal. It was delicious. The hotel parking lot also offered its own view of Fuji.
We couldn’t stall any longer; it was time to visit the mountain. The weather had not improved, and I’m sure we were all slightly disappointed to accept that the weather would restrict us to enjoying the view only from as high as the first station. A large gate was cutting off our path up the mountain. Even so, we were still standing on Mount Fuji.
Again, I have to give the tour operators some credit. Because we couldn’t go the rest of the way up the mountain, they wanted to make sure we got our money’s worth. And, we had time. So, they took us to Peace Park in Gotemba City.
As we rode up and down mountain roadways to get to Lake Hakone (our last stop), the weather really got nasty. A thick fog enveloped the mountain. Sunlight disappeared. The wind pushed on our bus. It rained. In short, it was another memorable scene from our travel adventures. We stopped for snacks and souvenirs before wrapping up our day with a ride back to Tokyo on a shinkansen, one of Japan’s famed bullet trains.
It was time to go home. We had to wake up early the next morning to catch our flight back. We made it to Narita Airport with no trouble (we took the Narita Express) and then boarded our plane for the 10-hour-plus flight back to Dallas.
WTAsia 2013 was such a great study abroad success that we’re already making preparations for WTAsia 2015. The plans for that trip are a bit different, though. While we had a tremendous time in Tokyo, we’re thinking we’ll spend the entire two weeks exploring South Korea next time.