Plan for the day
We had planned to travel to Narai Post town in the morning and then to Lake Kawaguchi (one for the five famous lakes of Mount Fuji) in the afternoon. There after if we still had time we would visit Oshino Hakkai before ending at Lake Yamanaka where our accommodation was allocated.
By the end of the day
The heavy rain for the night before had turned into a drizzle in the morning. Even when we reached Narai Post town it was still drizzling lightly. We explored the town from start to end and spent an hour in a town cafe to wait out the drizzle. By the time we reached Lake Kawaguchi it was near sunset so we stayed there till the sun gone down. Lake Kawaguchi was beautiful though the “best viewing” period for Mount Fuji was supposed to end a day before, the cherry blossom at Lake Kawaguchi seemed to be still at its “best viewing” period.
Breakfast at Pension Hanatsubaki
We had our breakfast in the dining room of the Pension. Breakfast looked more pretty then it tasted. Breakfast was part of the staying package. There were four bowls of white and slimy green stuff that tasted “ugh” and all four of us left them practically untouched.
Narai Post town
We left Pension Hanatsubaki drove 1.5 hours before reaching Narai Post town. When we reached the carpark just at the start of the town, it was still drizzling. The parking charge was ¥500 for our car and a higher fee for larger vehicle. The parking attendant handed us three umbrellas and we gladly accepted them. At 11.30 am on a rainy Sunday there were not many visitors in town and most of the shops were still closed.
In the olden day, Narai Post Town marked the mid point between Kyoto and Edo (old name of Tokyo) on the Nakasendo Route. It was one of the 69 stations on the Nakasendo Route and one of the 11 in the Kiso Valley. The houses in the town were restored and today served as guesthouses, cafes and shops to visitors.
We walked from one end of the town to the other end. Luckily the drizzle was light so it was not very uncomfortable to explore the town. The town was off limit to vehicles and visitors had to park their cars at two carparks, one at each end of town. After the walk we sat down in the a nice cafe for coffee and cakes. Unlike Coffee Don at Takayama we were the only customers in the cafe at Narai Town. We had a great time seeping our coffee slowly as we immersed in the quiet and “traditional” ambience of this cafe.
We left Narai at about 2.30 pm, by then the drizzle was over and the sun shone brightly. The town definitely looked nicer in the bright light. Surprisingly at 2.30 pm there were still not many visitors in the town.
It was a long drive (2 hours) from Narai Town to Lake Kawaguchi. The place we were targeting for at Lake Kawaguchi was the stretch near the “music forest”. From our research that stretch was one of the best places to see cherry blossom at Lake Kawaguchi. We were not expecting much as on the Japan Guide website it stated that the “best viewing” period for Mount Fuji ended the day before and from our experience on this trip, one day late was “too late”.
When we reached Lake Kawaguchi it was close to 5 pm. We parked our car at a huge carpark near some restaurants near the lake. The parking was free! This was pretty rare as we were always paying ¥500 to ¥1000 for an entry to a car park. From there we took a short walk to towards the lake. Once the lake came into view so did the Mount Fuji!
The sky was clear, the weather was fine and Mount Fuji looked lovely. The walking path bordering the lake was shaded by cherry trees and the flowers looked good!
Looking down the path toward the direction of the “music forest” we could see rows of cherry trees and from afar they looked like they were in full bloom. Walking nearer and on looking closer we could see many of the flower petals had already dropped leaving their the darker colored sepals behind, anyway there were still million of cherry flowers on the branches and the scene was still lovely.
It was an absolutely beautiful walk, we were near the last few days of our trip and we were still encountering cherry trees in “full” bloom. The cherry petals in countless number, the water in the sparking lake, the cloudless sky with a clear view of Mount Fuji and the setting sun which was “coloring” everything “goldish” came together forming an scene to remember for life.
We waited until the sun set and the walking path lights came on before leaving. We had such a great time here that we forgot that we had a third destination to visit (Oshino Hakkai) before ending at our hotel. It was too dark and to late to visit Oshino Hakkai.
Dinner at Saizeriya
On our way to Lake Yamanaka we drove past a “food” park where there were several “fast food” restaurants. We stopped and picked Saizeriya to go in for our dinner. Our delicious meals came up to ¥2695 with no “seat charges”. Saizeriya also had outlets in Singapore and our conclusion was the outlet in Japan delivered better taste at a lower price.
Accommodation for the night
By the time we reached our hotel, Guesthouse Hatago Sakuraya it was already dark. It was a two storey building and it looked very inviting. We had booked a family room for two nights and the total cost came up to ¥37800. One of the nights was booked on a very last minute situation when after rerouting we found ourselves reaching Mt Fuji one day ahead. The room cost for the additional night was 20% more probably because it was a last minute deal.
The hotel was very cosy and luxurious. Our room was on the second level and it was good for four persons. From the window in our room we could see Mount Fuji. The room even had a coffee maker.
Our room had a toilet with a water closet, no shower and no bath. For bathing we would need to use the Japan style bathrooms on the ground floor. Once we settled our bags in our room we left our room to explore the hotel.
The guest rooms were all on the 2nd level and we counted 7 guestrooms. It was amazing that a guesthouse this huge only had 7 guestrooms. This probably accounted for the quietness of the entire place beside it not being at its peak season.
The entire ground floor was dedicated to shared facilities for its guests. There was a huge sitting lounge with a fireplace and next to it was a huge activity/play room.
Then came the kitchen/cum dining room. Microwaves, toaster, coffee marker, free tea and coffee, cutlery, plates etc etc. A door from the dining room opened out to an outdoor sitting area with BBQ pits.
Shared toilets and baths/onsens were also on the ground level. In each of the bath room was a sauna room too. The bath/onsen came with lock so we could enjoy our private bath without sharing with others!