Mt. Fuji

For our second tour, we decided to go to Mt. Fuji. On most days since we have been in Tokyo, dark grey clouds hang low in the sky, but this day dawned bright and warm and clear. Unfortunately, Walt was not feeling great, but he gamely popped some aspirin and we headed out.

I was excited. I have wanted to see Mt. Fuji since I first found out it existed, and it looked like we would actually see it - that it wouldn't be obscured by clouds and fog.

When our guide boarded the bus, he didn't look very promising. His English pronounciation was not good, and he didn't seem to have much of a sense of humor. Fortunately, our first impression of him was wrong. He had a very dramatic way of speaking, and he soon had us laughing as he described the Tokyo sights we were crawling past. Traffic in Tokyo always seems to move slowly, and stops at red lights are long, but when we got on the expressway, it slowed even more than usual. Our guide told us this was due to an accident and that it should soon clear. About 2 miles and 1/2 hour later, we abandoned the expressway for the local streets which were not moving much faster. After what seemed like hours, we got back on the expressway. Finally, we were on our way. But, no. There was yet another accident to crawl past. By the time we got our first glimpse of Mt. Fuji we were over 2 hours behind schedule, and I was wondering which activities would have to be cut from the tour.

The first stop was for lunch at a large hotel. The view from the 12th floor restaurant was incredible. The hotel is surrounded by an amusement park - the hightlight of which is a large roller coaster called the Mt. Fuji. Our guide told us that at one time this was the fastest roller coaster in the world and that on a beautiful day like this one the wait to ride would be about 4 hours.

After lunch, we drove up the mountain to the 5th Station which is at the tree line - the end of the road for motor vehicles. The climbers take off from here, but the climbing season ends in September. Our guide told us that people climb up the mountain during the night all summer long so they can view the sunrise. He said that some nights there are 1000 people climbing the mountain.

It was pretty late in the afternoon by the time we got to our next stop, Hakone. We jumped on a large boat for a 15 minute cruise on the lake followed by a ride up a ropeway. We were packed into the cable car about halfway up the ropeway and the sun was starting to set when I clicked the picture that is now on the introduction page for this trip. It is one of those pictures that amazes me because I didn't think it would turn out and yet after a little work in Photoshop it is destined to become one of my favorite photographs. Right after I took it, we rose into a cloud so it was our last view of Mt. Fuji.