Tomorrow I’m going back to work after a full week’s summer holiday. We spent 4 days in Yamanashi prefecture, in a very scenic area known as 富士五湖 Fuji go-ko—Fuji 5 lakes. The 5 lakes, arrayed in an arc to the north of Mount Fuji at an elevation of around 800 to 1000 metres, are (from east to west): Yamanaka-ko, Kawaguchi-ko, Saiko, Shoji-ko and Motosu-ko.
The area around Kawaguchiko is quite built up and commercialised, with lots of restaurants and businesses catering for visitors. The other lakes are far more unspoiled.
Our rented cottage was a 2-storey log cabin set in a forest of maple and birch.
Even though it was the middle of July, it had a distinct “out-of-season” feeling, and in fact we were the only people staying there – the other two cottages were empty. It was very comfortable for us, with a great sense of peace and quiet, and the facilities to prepare and cook our own food. There was a supermarket around 15 minutes’ drive away, and the grocery prices were very noticeably cheaper than in the city (especially for fresh fruit and vegetables). One of the local specialties is tou-morokoshi—corn on the cob, which was amazingly sweet. It was advertised as メロンより甘い ”sweeter than melon”. Tomatoes and lettuce were also very cheap.
The complex has a rotemburo (outdoor bath/hot tub), which we had exclusive use of because we were the only people there.
The area is very beautiful, the thickly-forested mountains forming a backdrop to the clear calm waters of the lakes. On clear days, Mount Fuji is reflected in the lakes, but in the middle of the rainy season the mountain was mostly hidden in mist and cloud.
Many of the lakeside buildings are in an Alpine or European style, in keeping with the Alpine scenery.
Our friends from Tokyo came to visit us for a day-trip. They brought their two dogs Walter:
and together we went to a dog resort called “Woof” near Lake Yamanaka.
They know the area well and brought us to an excellent place to go swimming in the crystal-clear water of Lake Saiko.
Miffy is barking because she is upset that I have swum out into the lake and she can’t follow me.
This is Oike park on the shore of Kawaguchiko:
and this is Kameyama waterfall:
The land was shaped by many eruptions of Mount Fuji, the most recent major lava flow being in the 9th century. In the 1158 years since then, the lava was recolonised by life – moss and lichen first, later trees. The area was thus transformed over the centuries from black and desolate to lush and green. However the ground is still extremely rough and uneven underfoot, with many lava caves and holes (gas vents).
The lakes themselves were once a single large lake, until a lava flow poured across the land and divided them into 5 separate lakes.
You can see lava tree moulds, where the lava poured around tree trunks in the earlier forest, forming a (now) empty cylinder.
The main purpose of our visit to the area was to climb Mt Fuji – this we attempted (unsuccessfully) on Wednesday. More detail to follow.