Weekend trip from Tokyo – 48 hours at Lake Kawaguchi

When going to Japan for the first time, there are of course a few things on your list that you will want to see, the Skytree, Akihabara, and number one on people’s bucket-lists: Mt. Fuji! But since Mt. Fuji is only visible on clear days, you might get disappointed when taking a bus tour when you aren’t able to see much of the snow-topped volcano. So what to do then? I’d say, take a weekend trip to Lake Kawaguchi! Keep reading for my itinerary for Lake Kawaguchi.

Read my itinerary for 48 hours in Tokyo here

How to get there

Lake Kawaguchi is one of the big lakes located around Fuji in Yamanashi, West of Tokyo. You can get there quite easily by taking the bus or the train from Tokyo. We took the Highway Bus, as it was cheaper and faster than going by train, though it was quite the hassle to find out where the bus was parked.

To check out time tables for the train you can use HyperDia. (For JR Pass users: Not all train mentioned in here are covered by the pass. Shinkansen such as the Nozomi and Mizuho are excluded from the JR Pass.) 

My highway Bus experience

Since Shinjuku is the biggest, busiest and most confusing station in Japan, finding the bus was not an easy task. After walking back and forth, asking people where we could find the bus, we found this amazing guy who knew just where we needed to go. And even though he was in a hurry, he ended up walking all the way with us. It was parked near a Yodobashi Camera and took us approximately 15 minutes to reach. They also leave according to schedule, so if you miss it you will have to buy a new ticket. The inside of the bus was really comfortable, with a lot of space for your legs. The seats are reserved so you will always have your own seat and suitcases are tucked away underneath the bus, so no worries about those.

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Kawaguchiko train station

Things to do

As it is not a big city like Tokyo or Osaka, you shouldn’t go here for the entertainment business, but instead you take your time and enjoy the AMAZING VIEW over the lake, with Mt. Fuji in the background. There is something relaxing in the air, which is perfect for a getaway from the big city. There are still many things to do however, for example:

  • Go hiking – There is a mountain to climb with lots of forestry for some hiking. The scenery there is beautiful and serene.
  • Ride the Kachi Kachi Rope-way – If hiking up a mountain trail isn’t your idea of fun, you can always take the rope-way. At the top there are a few shops and resting places. It is a lot of fun to hike down the mountain trail and since it is not as tiring you can really enjoy the scenery.
  • Visit the Huji Omuro Sengen Shrine – It is one of the oldest shrines in Kawaguchi and is a beautiful sight.
  • Take a (romantic) boat ride – There are many companies around located around the lake where you can hire a paddle boat to enjoy the lake itself (the best time is during Summer).
  • Visit the Kawaguchi Sengen Shrine – It is a small shrine, but the tranquility of its grounds and the sounds of nature are truly magical.
  • Kawaguchiko Museum of Art – It’s not too strange that Kawaguchi has been inspiration of many artists when painting Mt. Fuji, so why not enjoy some art during your stay.
  • Take a picture of Kawaguchi station – When you go by bus or train, you will most likely arrive at the train station, which looks beautiful. So don’t forget to take a picture!
  • Kawaguchiko Natural Living Center – It is a cultural center with a great view over Kawaguchiko city and Mt. Fuji. During the right seasons, you can walk through fields with blueberries and lavender.
  • Kawaguchiko Herb Hall – It is located near the Kawaguchiko Oishi Park. In the hall you can see, smell and taste many herbs that are grown in the area. Their lavender ice cream is rather famous!
  • Kawaguchiko Oishi Park – Take a stroll through the park and enjoy the view of the beautiful flowers, lake and Mt. Fuji.
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This was our view from the hotel

Itinerary

Day one

On the first day we walked around the Lake a bit. Since we arrived on Friday evening there wasn’t a lot of time left after the bus drive. We checked in, took a look around the hotel, took a stroll along the lake and went to check out the other side of the bridge: Kawaguchiko city. There were many restaurants here, but we ended up having dinner at Gusto. After dinner we headed back towards our hotel for a good nights rest. (When you arrive at the station, make sure to snap a picture of it!)

Day two

On day two we went the other way, towards the Kachi Kachi Rope-way. We stumbled across a small shrine near a local shop, enjoyed the view over the lake from different angles and then took the rope-way all the way up. On top of Mt. Tenjo there were a few shops, and places to rest and view Mt. Fuji. We had a Mt. Fuji ice cream and ran all the way back down the hill. We decided to check out the part around the train station, where we found this super cute place to eat: 平井売店 Hirai baiten. (The Houtou restaurant is located right next to it, for those who are interested in eating Houtou.) That night I went to the hotel onsen with one of my friends, which was amazing!

Even though I enjoyed this day, I recommend you spending this day taking the Kachi Kachi Rope-way up Mt. Tenjo. And after relaxing for a while you can choose to do some of the following things: visit Oishi Park for some more hiking, the Kawaguchiko Music Forest with music box museum, or the Kawaguchiko Sengen Shrine (from the Music Forest, follow the river away from the lake).

Day three

On day three there wasn’t a lot of time left, so we went back towards the Kachi Kachi Rope-way where we entered a small souvenir shop with all kinds of Mt. Fuji related souvenirs. After packing our bags, we took the shuttle bus back to the train station from where we would head towards Matsumoto: our final destination. If you wake up early enough, I suggest visiting the Kawaguchiko Herb Hall with the litle time you have left and have some of that famous lavender ice cream just before you depart.

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View from the Kachi Kachi Ropeway

Where to stay (around Lake Kawaguchi)

For the full experience I suggest you stay at a ryokan (a traditional Japanese Inn). There are many ryokan in the area near the lake. I stayed at Hotel New Century. They have a shuttle-bus service that you can use for free, between the station and the hotel. You can also use this for some sightseeing when it’s not too busy.

There is a onsen on the upper floor that can be used for free as well. When we went in (which was around 12 at night) there was only one woman who just came out, so we had the whole place to ourselves. Read more about the basic etiquette for onsen in this article here.

Hotel Konanso Yamanashi is more expensive, but has a bigger bath and even a karaoke bar. So if you are looking for a very luxurious stay, then I recommend this one.

For those on a budget, there are many hostels in the area. You might not get a view over the lake, but you can always take a stroll to get that perfect view.

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Hotel New Century (ryokan)

Where to eat

There are many great places to eat, you can choose to have dinner at the hotel. Most of these meals consist of kaiseki (small and light traditional Japanese dishes). Some recommendations are:

  • Near Hotel New Century is a great Yakiniku restaurant called 網焼Hana (Amiya Hana).  レストハウス湖波 (Resthouse Konami) is a Noodle restaurant and also located near Hotel New Century.
  • 居酒屋 (Izakaya) High Spirits is a well rated Izakaya, just over the big bridge in town. Izakaya are places where you can order drinks with small dishes and snacks, a great idea for an evening out.
  • Family restaurants such as Gusto or Bamiyan, can be a nice change of pace when you are looking for something simple. The menu at Gusto has a lot of western style dishes and both have a relaxed and friendly vibe to it.
  • Houto Fudou Higashikoijiten serves Houto noodles, a popular dish only served near Mt. Fuji Lakes. The dish is like a hotpot with noodles, served in an iron pot.
  • Don’t forget to try the lavender ice cream at the Kawaguchiko Herb Hall!

What do you think of Lake Kawaguchi?

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The one memory of Flora Banks – Book review (trying to stay spoiler free!)

The one memory of Flora Banks, a book written by Emily Barr, is about a girl whose memory keeps getting reset, making her forget everything that has happened after her 10th birthday. It’s a thrilling mystery book with a hint of romance and teen troubles. These are my thoughts on this book. (I am trying to spoil as little as possible, but there might still be some small spoilers here and there, so be warned!)

‘Be brave.’

 

flora banks cover

Genres

  • Young Adult
  • Mystery
  • Psychological
  • Amnesia

Writing

The writing of book is quite unique, and so is the main character. The protagonist, Flora, keeps reminding herself the things that she remembers and writes notes on what she wants to remember. The writer takes the time to show the reader what actually goes on in Flora’s head and often repeats the things she remembers. I can see how some people might find it annoying the way everything keeps getting repeat, but it didn’t bother me at all. I actually think that this is really important, because we really understand what is going on inside her mind and how she gets to certain conclusions.

Story

The story starts with an intriguing prologue, making you want to keep on reading. After that we get to know Flora, in her own way. Flora doesn’t seem to remember anything after her tenth birthday, even though she is now 17 years old. But one day everything changes. After kissing her best friend’s boyfriend (Drake) on the beach, she somehow is able to remember. She is very excited, as this is something that had never happened before. Thinking that Drake is special, and will give her even more memories, she wants to be with him. The problem is that the boy is going to Svalbard, Norway, for his studies and has to leave the next day. Flora keeps everything a secret from her parents, but when her parents to go to Paris with Flora staying home alone, she seizes her chance go and look for the boy that will heal her.

Protagonist

Flora is a quirky and loving girl, having her own way of living and thinking. She has a strong mind and lots of willpower. Sadly her memory can get in the way of her being able to live her life to the fullest. She is a very cute character and definitely captures the hearts of the readers.

My opinion

Throughout this story we meet many people, we get to see what Flora’s day to day life looks like and we find out many secrets about her life. It is a psychological thriller and a real page turner. Your mind keeps wanting to solve the puzzle, thinking things like: maybe she just has an overly big imagination, or memories might have been distorted. Maybe she is just a stalker or maybe it all really happened the way she remembers. But you don’t know the truth until after you finish the book.

It is a great book that keeps you on the edge of your seat from beginning to end, as you discover secret after secret about Flora’s life. It is not the typical YA romance novel, but rather a psychological thriller, which for me is perfect. All in all I definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a bit of mystery and thriller and cute quirky main-characters.

Ratings

I give this book a 4/5. Goodreads has listed it as a 3,5/5.

Bad, not recommended – 1
Not really my things – 2
It was fun, but.. – 3
Great read, recommended – 4
LOVE IT – 5

What are your thoughts on:

The one memory of Flora Banks?

 

How I got rid of my acne the natural way – (what you might be doing wrong)

I’ve had blemishes and scars ever since middle school, and I thought that once I became an adult those horrible bumps on my face would go away. But no. I tried many products and methods, intensely cleaning my face with scrubs, using alcohol based cleansers, but nothing seemed to work. Until I read an article that explained a few simple things about one’s lifestyle and it ended up doing wonders for my skin!

Continue reading How I got rid of my acne the natural way – (what you might be doing wrong)

My top 4 must-read books

Collecting books. It is something I cannot help myself from doing. I see a pretty book, I take it home! Now, I am a slow reader, but I love reading nonetheless, especially during the spring and summer time: taking your books with you as you go to the park. Today I would like to share with you the “BEST BOOKS EVER”! Nah, just my favorites.

  1. Fallen

    By Lauren Kate

    This is actually the first book that got me into reading. I’ve always hated reading since we had to finish our books quickly in elementary school and I was just really, really slow (like really). But halfway through highschool I found myself browsing through some young adult fantasy books and ended up buying Fallen by Lauren Kate. I took it to school with me EVERY single day. This is such a nostalgic book for me, and even though I rarely read the angsty young adult books with vampires and stuff anymore, this one will forever have a special place in my heart.

  2. An awkward love story

    By Tom Ellen & Lucy Ivison

    This book is actually the last one I finished reading. I bought it on a whim when visiting the bookstore, and it ended up being one of the best purchases! It is just such a funny book that had me laughing the whole way reading through it! It is so cute and relatable, and I love the fact how it was written. There are two authors, and they each have their own character that they write. Tom Ellen writes the parts of the boy and Lucy Ivison writes parts of the girl her life. There are many, many, many awkard moments, leaving you with a feeling of vicarious shame from time to time!

  3. The madwoman upstairs

    By Catherine Lowell

    On our last day in Paris, my friends and I decided to visit this absolutely amazing bookstore: Shakespeare and company. And even though I was almost through my money, I ended up buying two books (which both received official stamps from the store!). An amazingly illustrated version of the first Sherlock Holmes case and The madwoman upstairs. I don’t think I’ve ever finished a book that fast! I read it the whole bus trip from Paris to Maastricht and the days after, not being able to put it down! It has suspense, mystery, and such an amazing main character that is just so relatable and funny!

  4. A darker shade of magic

    By V.A. Schwab

    Now I have yet to finish this book, but the way it is written and themes are so amazing! It feels like a young adult fantasy book, but with a more mature feel to it. It has magic, suspense, and an absolutely amazing world. Seriously, the way Victoria Schwab built all the different places is just perfect. I also have a few friends that are absolutely smitten with the book, so definitely check this one out if you’re looking for a new series!

I also bought two new books (they are both about memory for some reason). One is an English crime called “Mister Memory” by Marcus Sedgwick, about a man who remembers every little detail of his life and murder mystery. And the other one is a young adult book called “The One memory of Flora Banks” by Emily Barr. It is about a girl who has amnesia and forgets everything, day after day, until.. this one boy comes around! I love cheesy romantic books when they have a little bit of an edge, so I hope this one won’t disappoint!

Do you guys read too? If so, what are your favorite books? And did you already know the one’s I listed here? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

Fluffy valentine pancakes

Pancakes are the best things ever! Eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, with maple syrup, ice, butter or fruits. You can combine it with anything! This is a great recipe for valentine’s day, or mother’s day, father’s day, just everyday. This recipe does take a while to prepare, but it is totally worth it! So here is the recipe for these fluffy puffy pancakes! Continue reading Fluffy valentine pancakes

Poffertjes recipe

You might know them, the Dutch mini pancakes: poffertjes. It’s probably been about 10 years since I last made them. Last week, when I was cleaning, I bumbed into a very old, but great cast iron poffertjes pan. Of course I just had to use it, so I made poffertjes for lunch. This recipe for poffertjes is really good for making them really fluffy. Time to put on your apron! Continue reading Poffertjes recipe