Mt Fuji | Sacred Mountain | Lake Ashi – Komagatake Ropeway – Japan

In the snow on Mt Fuji - Japan's 'sacred Mountain'

In the snow on Mt Fuji – Japan’s ‘Sacred Mountain’

Mt Fuji the ‘Sacred Mountain’

A day trip to visit the sacred mountain of  ‘Mt Fuji’ was a special journey. Mt Fuji also known as  the  ‘Shy Mountain’, very rarely is the summit visible, it is always shrouded in cloud or mist. The road verges were deep in snow drifts as the bus journeyed up the winding narrow road to the 5th Station (7,560 ft).

Mt Fuji is 12,389 ft high, the highest mountain in Japan. The mountain is part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. If you wish to climb to the summit of Mt Fuji the official climbing season is from 1st July to 26th August. Most climbers start their climb from the 5th Station. It is considered very dangerous to climb Mt Fuji during the off-season. Mt Fuji, sacred mountain of Japan, has conditions similar to those when climbing the Himalayas, which is why it is so dangerous in winter.

Mt.Fuji 5th Station 7360ft. Mt Fuji highest mountain in Japan stands at 12,388ft

Mt.Fuji 5th Station 7360ft. Mt Fuji  stands at 12,388ft

This day the ‘Shy Mountain’ or Fujisan  lived up to its reputation. It was to say the least, a grey day, the ‘sacred mountain‘ was shades of grey, black and white, the summit not visible with the mountain mist. The pine forest at the bottom of the sacred mountain dark and forbidding.  There are folk tales of demons, ghosts and goblins haunting the forest. I could well believe the tales on a day like today.

Mr Fuji Resort Lodge

Snow Resort Lodge on Mr Fuji, Sacred Mountain of Japan.

Snow lay thick and deep on the Sacred Mountain

I enjoyed the snow experience on Mt Fuji. The snow was probably two-three feet deep in places. Not having experienced snow before I enjoyed it immensely. It was thick and crunchy under our feet, just inviting one to trudge through for the sheer joy of it. We tramped around for 40 minutes, freezing, but so much fun! Then opted for a coffee and a visit to the Visitors Center.  They had some really different souvenirs at the Visitors Center, but there was such a queue we couldn’t get served in time. However, they did have an attractive special  souvenirs sheet to stamp with the date of your visit.  It  made a nice souvenir.

Mr Fuji Souvenir Sheet from Visitors Centre

Mr Fuji Souvenir Sheet from Visitors Center

Following our visit to the sacred mountain of Mt Fuji we stopped off for a welcome lunch at another interesting restaurant. Delicious fresh Sushi, a bowl of fresh hot noodles, followed by sweets; the restaurant staff very welcoming and anxious to please. We headed  to Hakone, then a short trip across Lake Ashi by catamaran to Hakone-en. We admired the Pirate ships on the lake. They are Hakone sighting boats for cruising on Lake Ashi. Very inviting.

Lake Ashi and Mt Fuji a symbol for Hakone

Lake Ashi is a slender lake, a circumference of 20km. It has beautiful reflections of the sacred mountain of Mt Fuji from the southern shore. Lake Ashi with Mt Fuji in the background is the symbol for Hakone. The lake is abundant in trout, black bass and many other fish species, and a popular fishing spot for the local fishermen.

Lake Ash - Pirate ships - Hakone sightseeing boats for cruising Lake Ashi

Lake Ashi – Pirate ships – Hakone sightseeing boats. Reflections of Mt Fuji, the sacred mountain

Komagatake Ropeway – Views of the Sacred Mountain

Disembarking from the catamaran we walked to across to the Komagatake Ropeway to take us to the top of Mt Komagatake.

Mt Komagatake is the central volcanic cone of the Hakone range. It is 1327 meters above sea level and provides a panoramic view of  the sacred mountain, Mt Fuji and Lake Ashi when weather permits.

View to the mountains enshrouded in fog, from the aerial cable -Kamagatake Ropeway

View to the mountains enshrouded in fog from the aerial cable – Kamagatake Ropeway.

The Komagatake Ropeway is a single cable car carrying up to 101 persons, a bit squashy when full, it was full this day! The Komagatake Ropeway is an 1,800 meter long aerial tramway operating between Hakone Park and the summit. The ride takes 7 minutes.

The gondola barely half way up the mountain, when the fog came rolling in. During the rest of the trip the thick white fog totally enveloped the cable car, couldn’t see a thing. Very pleased to get out of the cable car at the top, still hoping for a view from the lookout?? A welcome heater greeted us and we warmed our hands before venturing out to the lookout. Our hopes were in vain. Nothing but thick white fog all around. Disappointed we returned to the cable car.

Komagatake Rope Way - a single cable car to the top of the mountain

Komagatake Rope Way – climbing aboard the cable car for the descent.

It was a bit scary going down, couldn’t see a thing.  However, as we neared the lower slopes of  Mt Komagatake we came out of the fog and had a nice view of the surrounding mountainside. Usually the gondola  provides a panoramic view of Lake Ashi and the surrounding mountains; arriving at the summit on a fine day reveals a wonderful view of the sacred mountain, Mt Fuji. Not today!

Below: A view of Lake_Ashi_from_Mt.Komagatake on a fine day! Beautiful! (click to enlarge)

Lake_Ashi_from_Mt.Komagatake_02

Lake_Ashi_from_Mt.Komagatake,Photo credit: Wikepedia -Σ64 / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Despite the fog, or because of it, it proved a bit of an adventure and our companions were all very jovial, which lightened the atmosphere inside the cable car at least.  Not our day, we did see Mt Fuji before the fog rolled in, so guess you can’t have everything. Just found the photo below, can almost  see the top of Mt Fuji, almost, the sacred mountains is a very ‘shy mountain’!

View of Mt Fuji from the main road as we journey to visit the Shy Mountain.

View of Mt Fuji from the main road as we journey to visit the Fujisan

Cost of a day trip  to see all three attractions above:

  • Bullet train $180 from Tokyo – includes pick-up from hotel and lunch.
  • Coach $144 from Tokyo -  includes pick-up from hotel and lunch.

Back on the bus we traveled to Hakone Hotel at Kowaki-en, a very nice,comfortable hotel with beautiful topiary gardens. The hotel has a wonderful smorgasbord on offer, bit expensive ($60), but the most delicious food, so it was worth it. We also met a young Aussie waiter from Canberra, working at the hotel,  had a pleasant conversation with him as he served our wine. There are also traditional Japanese baths or onsen available for the brave. These are public baths which use hot water from a natural hot spring.

Tomorrow another adventure as we leave the sacred mountain of Mt Fuji behind, and ‘bus it’ to Odawarra Station to board the Shinkansen(train) to Nagoya, then transfer to Limited-express train for Takayama, an ancient tranquil city known as “Little Kyoto”.


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