Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Autumn Aurora in Japan - Day 17

Fujiyoshida                                                                                 Japan

Thursday 20th October 2016

There was no need to explain how comfortable I was during the night, as I was feeling great once I woke up and ready for another day of adventure. Once again, I would be in the lobby first whilst everybody else was asleep. Moments later, a woman walked into the hostel who was actually a worker here; we said good morning to each other but that seemed to be it. Michal was the next person to walk in and sat with me in conversation straight away about our plans for the day and hers was to head for the famous pagoda. It would be good timing for her too as the weather was absolutely gorgeous today without a cloud in the sky.

Craig was the next person to walk in and joined in on our conversation for a short while. Soon after, Michal left preparing for her day out whereas Craig and I were deep in discussion about what we were going to eat at the beautiful Saint Cloud bakery. Then the conversation got too serious as we talked about donuts. Anyway, our plan for the day was to head to yet another lake called Lake ‘Yamanakako’ that was a good 8 kilometres away from the hostel. Once again, we would rely on our beautiful bikes for a third and final time.

We headed out with our essentials bound for Saint Cloud bakery for a beautiful quick breakfast of sweet bakes that would give us the energy needed to get to our destination. We headed in a southeasterly direction on our way to the lake and immediately, we approached a dreaded hill once again. What a terrible start it was for us but we pedalled all the way to the top without stopping. What was not terrible of course was the treasuring sight of Mt. Fuji clear as day with very little cloud.

Now, we were cycling through a forest area still cycling alongside the main road and to me, this area proved the most difficult as it felt as though I was carrying along two sumo wrestlers on punctured tyres. I had to keep going as Craig was so far ahead; there were times I would lose sight of him. The road looked flat but it had a slight incline for miles. Anyway, as I struggled my way along the road, we seemed to be levelling out and then almost immediately rushing downwards. We then caught our first glimpses of the big beautiful blue lake.

There was something different about this lake as though we were at a European holiday destination with villas and hotels scattered along the hillsides around the lake. That didn’t matter to us as the place was still picturesque and we couldn’t wait to cycle a lap around the lake.

We did take a quick stop on the wooden promenade where we were close by to a small group of swans, ducks and carp. There was also a small pedal boat close by full of people who were being pestered by the swans in which were surrounding the boat as though it was an ambush which I found quite funny. We went on our way cycling anti-clockwise around the beautiful lake looking out for an ice cream parlour. It took a while to find one but when we did, we wasted no time entering the parlour and grabbing a well-deserved ice cream. Once we went outside, we immediately engaged in conversation about the bikes we were using as well as how much we paid for the hire. They found it very hard to believe the fact that we paid only 500-yen for the whole day compared to their hotels price of 5000-yen a day.

We soon parted ways with Craig and I continuing our route making good distance until we headed along the cycle track. At that point was the start of the breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji but, what made it better was the slight fade in the sky amongst this iconic mountain. The area we were at was completely crowd free; just Craig and I along with a couple of locals. We couldn’t stop staring at this beautiful scenery in front of us.

The next sight we had seen was the most adorable little dog I had seen so far. I couldn’t make out the breed but it was small and cuddly. We tried to speak to the dog owner, more so Craig but it was proving difficult yet enough to get us through the conversation.

We soon headed off again making good time around the lake until yet again; we came to a stop three quarters of the way around for a bite to eat. The food we gathered from Saint Cloud was absolutely delicious and we thought a soaring eagle above us was eyeing up on Craig’s cakes. With everything eaten, we actually backtracked as we were searching for a nearby temple that was marked on our map.

It took us numerous attempts to find the quiet little temple hiding in the woods but we found it. It was a truly peaceful place indeed with no body in sight; we felt totally abandoned. We felt nothing but admiration with the place with its beautifully designed cleansing areas and detailed decorations on the temples.

We soon took our leave heading along the north side of the lake where the cycle lane we were on was truly amazing. We were cycling right along the glistening lake on a nice hot day with Mt. Fuji in sight. Time went on and then finally, we completed our lap around the lake, which was another accomplishment to add to our achievements in Japan.

We were beginning to make our way back to the hostel when I stated there was a large shrine area very close to us. The shrine in question was called ‘Sengen Jinja Shrine’ and ‘Suwa Jinja Shrine’. Once we approached the shrine area, we loved it especially the Suwa Jinja Shrine as the small temple seemed to define Japan in one small area. Once more, it was truly peaceful but soon the peace would disappear as a coach full of people came rushing towards the area therefore, we took our leave on our bikes leading away from the breathtaking lake.

We were about to head back up the long treacherous road we used to get here but I suggested we head to an area called ‘Hano No Miyako Park’ due to the fact it looked like an interesting area on the map I had. Therefore, we rode straight for it with no horrible inclines, just nice clear sky and lovely Japanese countryside to gaze at. It didn’t take us long to arrive at the park area but once we arrived, we soon realised it was nothing more than a flower park and garden centre. As we were men, we weren’t really interested in flowers therefore, we decided to take our leave back towards the hostel.

As we were heading back a different way, it turned out to be the best route to stumble upon on our cycling journeys. The first place we came across was a nice quiet temple called ‘Jotenji’ temple. Yet again, nobody was in sight and these were the temples we liked the most. The next and greatest moment was the incredible descent down towards the hostel.

We were cycling along a road known as the ‘Turiichi’ pass where the real fun started as we cycled through the long descending tunnels. It was quite deafening with all the cars racing up and down it but once we exited them, it became extremely exhilarating as we were greatly descending the hillside on continuous winding smooth roads. The cars were actually staying behind us as we were matching their speed plus I think they were admiring the view of us enjoying ourselves. I was smiling, laughing and really having fun but good things end as we hit the busy streets below.

We were extremely happy with what we just did but from here on, we took our time heading back due to the build up in traffic. Somehow, we stumbled upon the hostel a lot sooner than we thought which resulted in us over shooting the building. It was great to be back although I would have loved to do that route down the hillside again. It was 3:30pm when we sat in the lobby relaxing from the day of cycling and horrible inclines.

Throughout the evening, we noticed a few more people in the hostel all from either Japan or Thailand but not at all sure if they spoke English. It was very nice and quiet sitting listening to the faint piano music playing at the reception desk. At this point though, food called to us and so, we headed to the favourite Kappa sushi restaurant.

Firstly, I would attempt to create a crane as I did yesterday but I had to cheat and check the internet as a reminder. The process took me a whole five minutes or so to complete a black crane but it was never going to be as good as Marino’s. Anyway, we left for the sushi restaurant using the same route as last time hoping we were heading the right way without directions. We were soon there though entering the restaurant and escorted to our seats by a shy waitress. We wasted no time picking out the usual items and some new encounters we had never tried the last time. I had octopus, two different types of fish, konbu seaweed with sweet corn and rice.

Over time, our plates would pile up a little more than last time but not enough to beat Marino’s 20 plates; we were stuffed with what we had which was probably half of that. I only had six sushi dishes, 2 special dishes, two ginger ales and one dessert which all came to a very cheap price of just under 1,600- yen. At the seats next to us were three Japanese locals filling up huge bento boxes and the amount of plates piling up was out of this world; it really put us both to shame.

We eventually took our leave from the restaurant back out into the dead of night towards the hostel. Throughout the journey, we were laughing and joking on about our dialects with how it sounded to other locals. Finally, we entered the hostel to the most awkward silenced moment I had ever seen. There were four people sitting in the lobby completely blanking each other and as much as we wanted to join them, we couldn’t as we had to pack our rucksacks as today was our last day in Fujiyoshida. The next 30 minutes was spent making sure everything was packed whilst Craig was performing his Barry White impressions to make the procedure less boring.

Then he realised that he couldn’t see his little satchel with his important documents and money. He thought he left it at the sushi restaurant and thought he would have to run and retrieve it. Luckily, it was hiding amongst his rucksacks and the relief on his face was priceless. Everything was packed and ready now which meant we could finally relax one more time in the lobby. We didn’t stay long though because an earlier night was what we needed for the long journey to Yokohama the next day. We were really hoping for a smoother and quicker journey to it but for now, we would treasure our last moments in this brilliant world of Fujiyoshida.
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