Last May we took a quick trip over to the Hakone area to go to this crazy onsen that has everything from a coffee bath, a wine bath, sake bath, and a pool you dip your feet into and let little fish nibble off your top layer of skin. We also were able to see another side of Fuji I had not seen before once we reached the Gotemba area. The city of Gotemba has got one hell of a view! I took these shots from their shrine, which was also nearby an awesome camp spot we found that was cheap and had a pretty amazing view of Fuji as well. I think I actually enjoyed the Gotemba area a bit more than Hakone, which is probably blasphemous to even say as so many people love Hakone, but that is the problem.. So many people in Hakone!
Of course, every time I go through my shots of Japan I miss it quite a bit, but it is easy to forget that during the spring time when I took these shots I had the worst allergies of my life! I could barely sleep at night for over a month during our last year there. I guess that is the price exacted by Mother Japan for so much amazing photography potential.
My eyes are more than healed enough to process photos, but I am still going to just fish into my archive of photos I have already completed but have yet to post. I think that snow monkeys and Fuji must be my weakness, because after a couple of hours around either, I end up with way, way too many shots! I don’t remember if any of these shots were DRI’s or not, but I am pretty sure that at least one of the color ones was a DRI.
I have only a couple of weeks left here in Japan and kept realizing that there were quite a few shots that I did not have due to my short notice move to Turkey before last summer. Now that I am back, I now have only a few weekends left before leaving Japan for good. We basically only had this last weekend as our only time when we don’t have something planned and getting a good shot of Fuji was one of “those shots” I was missing out on. So we threw our sleeping bags into our small little Toyota Starlet to camp out on Friday night for a 4am viewing of Fuji across Lake Motosu as long as our luck way for clear viewing conditions.
Two people sleeping in a Toyota Starlet goes against the grain of the universe and I would never recommend anyone ever try that. On top of not being able to sleep in 3 cubic feet worth of space, I also omitted my allergy meds, and allergies in Japan kick my ass. Luckily the weather cooperated and we had our first clear skies in what seemed like weeks. Not only did we get an awesome viewing at Lake Motosu, but we were also able to get some nice warm light paint on Fuji across nearby Lake Saiko.
Well after about a month of waiting for my new laptop it has finally arrived. But this semester of school is a lot more difficult than last. So needless to say, it has been pretty desolate in this blog. We barely have time to go out on the weekends except a few when it was a down pour! Anyways, here are a few more pictures from our last Fuji climb.
This picture below was taken about an hour after the sunrise looking up at the last few switch backs. We had already turned back because that line was not moving anywhere and it is not possible to hike away from the trail without endangering everyone below.
Amber took the picture below which I really like. It was so noisy when I first opened it that I thought the camera was dropped before the picture was taken. But sometimes you have to love Photoshop and Lightroom!
On the night of the 30th we set off from our place in Fussa around 1930 to the 5th station on Mt. Fuji. This is the last night of the season before the huts close down for the season. We new it would be crowded, but damn! We had no idea of the spectacle we were about to witness.
We made it to the 5th station around 2120 and found parking right at the base. At this time of the year the sun rises at 0400 and last time we hiked to the top in 5 hours despite me getting killer high altitude sickness. This time I took Gingko Biloba for about 4 days prior to avoid the high altitude sickness this time around. So we thought leaving at 2200 would give us more than enough time to make it to the top.
When we set off, there were not quite as many people around as I was expecting. Then when we reached the 1st hut after the 6th station all hell broke loose! It was complete stop and go traffic from that hut until the very top. Sometimes you would stop forever before the traffic would creep forward. It was crazy to see the zig-zag of lights above and below you as far as you could see.
By 0400 we were still just below the Tori gate before the very top. I decided to break out the tripod right there to catch the sun. The entire line followed suit and within minutes the sun started to make its’ appearance.
Around this time we could have ran up to the top as the line was mostly off to the side taking pictures and admiring the sunrise. But I too wanted to take pictures while the colors were most vibrant. Once I collapsed the tripod to get back on the trail, the line was in full effect. We made it about 4 switch backs from the top and the line was at a complete stand still for unusually long periods of time. I became so frustrated I made the decision to turn around and just start heading back. We had already been to the top before, and the last 4 switch backs would probably take about an hour to complete!
So to make a long story short. Do not climb Mt. Fuji on the last day of the official season! And if you do, climb up the descending trail. I saw a lot of groups doing that but I was not sure if we would get in trouble for it.
Now that the extreme humidity has arrived, it is time to head even higher than Okutama to escape to cooler temperatures. After scouring the Internet, we decided to try out Lake Sai-ko for camping which is located near the base of Mt. Fuji. We ran into unexpected traffic, so about 2.5 hours later and ¥1900 lighter we arrived at the Kawaguchiko exit and elected to drive behind Lake Kawaguchi for the famous view of Mt. Fuji.
Next we drove a couple of minutes to my favorite lake, Lake Sai-ko. The camping areas were all pretty crowded and lacked any shade from the trees. We decided to head over to Lake Motosu as we had been there once before and remembered spying a camping area in the trees near the shore.
We couldn’t find any sort of sign stating we had to pay, so we found a nice spot amongst the hundreds of campers and their vans, it even had firewood from the previous residents!
*Edit- Free was too good to be true. Our third trip up and we found out that Camp Motosuko cost’s ¥2,500 a night! Nothing is cheap in Japan!
Lake Motosu-ko is the deepest of the 5 Fuji lakes with a depth of 563 feet, which also makes it the only lake in the region that does not freeze over in winter. Lake Motosu is a very popular lake for windsurfing and this weekend was full of windsurfers catching the many frequent breezes.
The camping was free, the water was almost warm enough to swim in comfortably, and it was unexpectedly peaceful despite hundreds of people camping all around us. I guess you adapt to being around crowds all the time living near Tokyo.