We used our credit card miles from American Airlines to fly round trip to Japan. With the fees we had to pay, our tickets only cost us $45 round trip, each. By saving thousands of dollars on airfaire, it was one of the reasons that we could afford to do Japan right: staying three weeks, getting the Japan Rail Pass for unlimited train rides, and a stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan. Ryokans are hotels that have guest rooms lined in tatami mats, and some have onsen (hot springs).
We opted for a ryokan with a private onsen on the balcony, with a Mt. Fuji view. In Japan, the public onsens are separated by gender. Even more, most onsens do not allow people with tattoos. Having the private onsen insured that we would have the onsen experience, together.
Like I mentioned previously, when we first arrived in Kawaguchiko, it was cloudy and we couldn't see Mt. Fuji at all. I looked at the weather forecast, and we were anticipating that the clouds would clear by 7am the next day. Oh, did it clear. With our room's view of Mt. Fuji, I woke up, realized what time it was, and sprung out of our shiki futon bed. There, through our large window, past our onsen and balcony, was Mt. Fuji clear as day. Once it came into view, I didn't want to leave the room in case it disappeared behind the clouds like it had the previous day.
It was a beautiful day, so we opted for a hike. I would have been happy soaking in the onsen all day, but there was plenty of time for that later. On the lake, there is a manageable mountain called Mt. Kachi Kachi. We took a ropeway up the mountain, and hiked down. The ropeway was a capsule with huge windows, where we got a great view of the tri-colored mountains, and the magnificent Fuji-san.
At the top of Mt. Kachi Kachi, we found a shrine. There were little pieces of paper tied up to it, blowing in the wind. I learned that at many shrines across Japan, you can get a small piece of paper with a fortune on it. If the fortune is favorable, you take it with you. If it's negative, you tie it up, and leave it behind, leaving the negativity behind.
We took some time midway down the mountain to admire the view of Mt. Fuji. It was the most calming and beautiful sight I've ever seen. There is a folk tale that states Mt. Fuji's name means "without equal." I have to say, Fuji-san is the greatest mountain I have ever seen. It's no wonder that many Japanese illustrators include the beauty of Mt. Fuji in their art. I loved it so much, I brought home a little, plush Fuji-san of my own. Kawaii!
While walking down, we were surrounded by maple trees turning yellow and orange, some turning red. The older I get, the more I know that I am a mountains kind of girl. I hope to one day live (or retire) to some mountains like these.
From our ryokan, to the north was Mt. Fuji, and to the south, Lake Kawaguchi. From all angles, from all sea levels, Kawaguchiko was magnificent.
Our ryokan host, the woman that served us our matcha tea in the afternoons and brought us our kaiseki dinner in the evenings, she was born and raised in Kawaguchiko. We wondered, were there days that she woke up, completely unphased by Mt. Fuji's looming presence? Does one grow immune to beauty when they're surrounded by beauty every day?