Photos & Report by Isao Tokuhashi & Alisa Sanada
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The second Tokyo Getaways tour we would like to share is the Mt. Fuji Golden Tour. It features Mt. Fuji and its surroundings. The internationally beloved mountain was registered in 2013 on the World Heritage List as “Fujisan, sacred place and source of artistic inspiration.” On the tour we visited Mt. Fuji’s 5th Station, Oshino Hakkai, Shiraito Falls and Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine.
*Organized by JTB Sunrise Tours
Sunrise Tours Check-in Counter in Shinjuku Keio Plaza Hotel Main Tower
7:40am – The tour begins here at the Sunrise Tours Check-in Counter in the Shinjuku Keio Plaza Hotel Main Tower. About 40 people from all over the world joined.
“Actually we usually travel on our own but we wanted to go to Mt. Fuji. We learned that it is quite difficult to go by train so we decided to buy a tour at a travel agency in our country.” – An attendee from Czech Republic
“I’ve joined the tours to Nagoya and Kanazawa through the website called JAPANiCAN before. So I visited the website again, saw reviews by people who actually joined its tours, checked travel fees and thought that this tour would be right for me.” – An attendee from Malaysia
First, the bus went straight to Mt. Fuji, which is about 120 minutes away from Shinjuku Keio Plaza Hotel in Central Tokyo. Mt. Fuji straddles Shizuoka Prefecture and Yamanashi Prefecture and can be accessed from either of these prefectures. We approached there from the Yamanashi Prefecture side and stopped at the Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station near the Yoshida Trail entrance. This is where the largest number of climbers gather.
Our tour guide was Ms. Yoko Kuroishi, who has ten years of experience as a professional guide.
The tour was informative from the start. During the first 120 min drive from Shinjuku our tour guide introduced everyone to many things such as Japan’s geography, seasons, and currency with a sense of humor and easy-to-understand illustrations. She taught us Japanese greetings such as “Ohayo (Good morning)” “Konnichiwa (Hello)” “Konbanwa (Good evening)” “Oyasumi-nasai (Good night)” using the Happy Birthday song.
“I know each participant joining the tour has varied interests so I always make sure to make minor adjustments to my explanations because I want everyone to enjoy the tour.” – Ms. Yoko Kuroishi, our tour guide
Mt. Fuji’s 5th Station, Yamanashi Prefecture
Mt. Fuji’s 5th Station (Yoshida Trail entrance) was bustling with many climbers. Though it was already summer in July, the temperature was cool thanks to the 2,305 meter altitude. As soon as we got off the bus, everyone was free to wander to see some nature, the shrine, or gift shops for 30 minutes.
These are photos of the station and surrounding areas you can visit during the 30 minutes you are there.
Our guide gave us a coupon and voucher to exchange for the above free amulet bell.
“5th Station of Mt. Fuji was the most impressive place for me in this tour because I was really interested in the mountain. I was so excited to be there!” – An attendee from Malaysia
Then we headed to Oshino Hakkai.
Oshino Hakkai, Yamanashi Prefecture
We enjoyed walking around Oshino Village with it’s eight sacred spring water ponds at the foot of Mt. Fuji.
In the middle of the stroll, we visited Sengen-jinja Shrine.
If you are lucky you might be able to see Mt. Fuji from the village but unfortunately it was hiding behind the clouds when we were there.
“Mt. Fuji is so shy! lol” – An attendee from Malaysia
There are gift shops and food stands in the village where you can try a lot of delicious local foods. Since lunch is an option you can either eat something at the village or if you want to have enough time to enjoy the scenery we might recommend opting for the lunch box which you can eat in the bus.
If you decide to add on the lunch option, you will be able to relax and enjoy a sushi lunch box in the bus.
While eating lunch, we headed to the next destination Shiraito Falls.
Shiraito Falls, Shizuoka Prefecture
After getting off the bus, with just a few steps we were already surrounded by nature. A few more steps and we could see the beautiful waterfall.
Even during the summertime, because we were surrounded by the waterfall it was cool and relaxing.
There was plenty of time to appreciate the surrounding greenery. After enjoying the fresh air, we headed to our final destination.
Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine, Shizuoka Prefecture
The end of our journey was Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine, which is located in Fujinomiya City, Shizuoka Prefecture. It is the head shrine of the 1,300 Asama or Sengen shrines in Japan which has been worshipped by many over the generations. We concluded the trip with a visit to Honden, the main shrine.
On the way back to Tokyo our guide showed us a video that provided an overview of the whole trip.
Then once the video ended, to our surprise, our guide was kind enough to start an origami lesson.
We made a kabuto warrior helmet. The 120 minute bus ride to and from Mt. Fuji might sound daunting at first but the informative explanations the guide provided and activities like this made the time in the bus enjoyable.
“The tour was really nice. The best impression from the tour is the combination of all the experiences which we had like the nature, shrine, and the people together. Because I really believe after just a few days here that the people in Japan, the culture, and the nature somehow feels like it belongs together. That is my feeling from this tour. Tokyo is very nice but this shows more harmony.” – An attendee from Czech Republic
“I’m happy with this tour. And I like Yoko-san, our excellent tour guide! The tour would be much better if we could stay in each place longer.” – An attendee from Malaysia
“I have a different opinion. It’s good for me to cover many places because we can have more choices to go on the next trip to Japan and stay in those places longer.” – Another attendee from Malaysia