Mount Fuji, Shibuya, Shinkjuku, and Harajuku

Mount Fuji Travel Blog

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Prior to arriving in Japan, we have booked our full day tour to Mt. Fuji. We had to wake up early in the morning and go to the pickup location. A bus arrived and took us to the tour operator bus terminal where we got our tickets and waited for the tour departure.

The tour guide was Japanese with good English and the tour included visiting Mt. Fuji, Lake Ashi cruise, and Mt. Komagatake Ropeway. In our 2 and half hours drive to Mt. Fuji, we stopped at Mt. Fuji Visitor Center. The center showcased the history of Mt. Fuji and its geological and geographical characteristics. The center was not that big and had a small souvenir shop and restaurant. Nonetheless, soon we were in the coach again, this time making our way to Mt. Fuji 5th station located about halfway up the mountain at 7,545 feet (2,300m).

As usual, the Japanese surprised us with their creativity and invention: when we drove over the road, the road played music as the coach tyres pressed on different musical notes!

Soon we were at the 5th Station, and the clouds were covering everything beneath. It seemed as a sea of clouds as we looked over. The weather was dry and very cold even with gloves and jumpers. We took photos around and went to the Station building and gathered around the heater. The building had a large souvenir shop and a restaurant above. We took a bite and continued our way to Lake Ashi in Hakone National Park for the cruise. There were different cruising ships: wooden old style ship and modern cruise. Our tour package included the regular cruise to the ropeway station at the footsteps of Mt. Komagatake. The lake was surrounded by views of Mt.
Fuji, Mt. Komagatake, and other small mountains. The cruise was short as soon we arrived at the ropeway station. Before going on the ropeway, we strolled through a cluster of souvenir shops. However, the tour guide advised us to save the time for Mt. Komagatake summit and shop on the way back. The ropeway was nice as we slowly ascended Mt. Komagatake and saw Mt. Fuji across the horizon. We spent approximately and hour on top and walked around the snowy grounds taking photos. Mt. Komagatake is a skiing destination when the snow fully covers it's planes. On our way back, we stopped at a shop selling Yosegi Magic Box which is basically a wooden box that can be looked by sliding a combination of wooden slides that made a side of the box. It was a fantastic souvenir and a useful one. The boxes price varied with size and number of combination slides required to look the box.

Being back in Tokyo, we rested for a while at the hotel and went for a walk in Shibuya.  Tokyo as many old cities of the world is comprised of and old and new side, with the old "town" being next to the sea or port. The Emperor's palace located in Chiyoda district in central Tokyo splits the side into two sides. Most of the attractions are in the old side (EAST side) of Tokyo. Shibuya, Shinkjuku, and Harajuku are on the west side of the palace and city. Most of the international brands are available there. It is a good place to walk around in the night and many international cuisines are available, especially if you have a problem with Japanese food.

Shibuya is famous for its bustling atmosphere especially at night when most of the Japanese youth are hanging out there. Once you are out of Shibuya Station, you have to cross the cool intersection with the crowd to the shopping streets. If you are picky enough, you would notice that Shibuya has a triangular shape in the middle which is infact a red light area. Prostitution in Japan is partially legal with loopholes in law and is well organized. I did not go into any brothel or so, but I passed in front of many sex clubs and sex toys stores. The place was friendly and safe, and almost had all our dinners in Shibuya.

Furthermore, Shinkjuku didn't have much and was equally busy. We had a walk around and went to Harajuku.  The style of Harajuku was different with its nice backstreets filled with fashion shops and boutiques. It is famous for Japanese Street Fashion and if you arrive on Sundays you might be lucky to see the "Freak Show" where gothic style clothing is worn. Some bands might be performing as well. Harajuku is another good location for dinning with many restaurants around.

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Mount Fuji
photo by: Lotus28