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Yamanashi Travelog - Four Views of Mt. Fuji

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Yamanashi Travelog - Four Views of Mt. Fuji

By Aimee Wenyue Chen

Though spring officially comes to Yamanashi in March, this year’s march has come late and the cherry blossoms are not yet in bloom. Yet even in this ambiguous time between the full passing of a season into another season, Mt. Fuji remains serene, balanced between the coming and going of seasons.

I visited three of the five lakes on a breezy but surprisingly sunny Tuesday morning in late March. The sky was clear and the breeze brisk, but the warmer temperature and sunny day made one forget that only a few days earlier, one of Yamanashi’s coldest winters just ended.
Though I’ve visited 4 of the 5 of the lakes (all except Lake Shojiko, the smallest of the Fuji Five Lakes), I am always amazed by how different each lake looks, and how they each reflect Mount Fuji differently.

We first went to Lake Motosuko—specifically, the exact location at the lake where the view of Mount Fuji on the 1000 yen bill is taken from. The surface of the lake was very clear and smooth and reflected Mount Fuji quite clearly, much like how it is printed on the Japanese 1000 yen bill. From our particular vantage point, there is only the lake, Mount Fuji, and Mount Fuji’s smaller, less famous mountain friends. It is a pretty untouched place, without many stores or much commercial activity. Simply nature. Quiet, reflective.


Lake Motosuko

Though similarly peaceful, the view and atmosphere from Lake Saiko is different. Unlike Lake Motosuko, which had many people looking out at the lake, taking pictures, and quietly talking, we were mostly alone at Lake Saiko. There were a few other people walking around and sitting at the rest spot, and around the few stores. Yet it was quiet. Felt exclusive. Like it was only us there. Nearby, a vendor was selling seedless dekopon tangerines. The sweet taste of the tangerines burst upon our tongue as we quietly watched Lake Saiko. Then we drove to Lake Kawaguchiko.

Arguably the most developed and commercial of the lakes, Lake Kawaguchiko is surrounded by shops, local food vendors, cafes, hotels, traditional Japanese inns, and onsen hot springs. Yet it is not stress-inducing or crowded. Completely devoid of flashing neon lights or a city bustle, is an almost throwback to a nostalgic age, filled with the chatter of people and the movement of bicycles and cars. A welcoming and relaxing place to stroll through.

Lake Kawaguchiko itself is considerably more sparkly than the other lakes, though less of the twinkle-twinkle kind and more of the brilliant diamond flakes spread over the lake. All kidding aside, Lake Kawaguchiko is beautiful when the sun hits the lake. When the sun is overhead, though it makes it quite hard to view Mount Fuji in the lake like at Lake Motosuko, the lake is brightly alive with light.


Lake Kawaguchiko

After that we headed out to a famous tsukemen restaurant in the Lake Kawaguchiko area. Tsukemen is a type of ramen where the broth and noodles are in separate bowls, and one dips the noodles in the broth. This restaurant, called TSUKEMEN MIWA69’n, is considered one of the best tsukemen restaurants in Yamanashi by the locals. As it is only open during lunch hours and on Saturdays, we relished in our opportunity to eat there.


The tsukemen. I had the medium spicy one. Last time I tried the spicy spicy and had burning lips for a long while. Only try if you are daring!

Last, we went to the Five-storied Pagoda at Fuji Asama Shrine in Fujiyoshida City. I have wanted to see the pagoda for quite a while, because I had seen some pictures of the pagoda with Mount Fuji in the background. That image really captured my imagination and seeing the pagoda itself in real life was as wonderful as it was in the pictures. For one thing, though it does not show in this picture we took since it was against the sunlight, the pagoda is really red. It is a very alive red, not faded or brownish or orangish. Just red, bright and cheerful.     



And it was on this bright note that we started heading back home.