During our first trip of Japan we spent three nights at an amazing ryokan (that is a traditional Japanese hotel) in the mountains of Hakone. This area of Japan has an incredible amount of things to do and I wish we had spent a lot more time there. We certainly needed it!
Our first full day we spent exploring the the sights around the Hakone Ropeway. As incredible as that was, the next day I thought was going to be the main event of the whole trip. More than anything I wanted to visit the Fuji Shibazakura Festival and Fuji Safari Park.
The Fuji Shibazakura Festival is a yearly flower festival that runs from approximately late April to mid May ever year. Just look at these pictures — it looks incredible, almost otherworldly.
Fuji Safari Park is a zoo near Mount Fuji that has a section that you can drive through. The animal themed buses at the zoo have metal meshing on the sides that allow you to feed the animals. My mission was to go to Japan and feed a lion.
So my genius plan was to first get to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival, then visit Lake Kawaguchiko, and then end the day with a stroll through Fuji Safari Park.
I am a fool.
Long (WAY too long) story short, we spent the whole day on the bus trying to get to the Fuji Shibazakura Festival and only got as far as Lake Kawaguchiko where we realized that we needed to get back to the ryokan in time for dinner (you are on a schedule if you are staying at a ryokan). We had just enough time to eat, look at a small part of the lake from far away, and leave.
On the way back we didn’t time the bus transfers very well, so we had extra time and ended up spending it at Gotemba Premium Outlets. There I was — in the mountains of Japan at an outlet mall full of American stores. I grumbled at the GAP, cursed the Coach store, and, regrettably, made myself pretty unpleasant to be around until we returned to the ryokan.
At least we got some pictures of Mount Fuji from our $100 cab ride we needed to take to get to dinner in time:
So, moral of the story, when you go to Japan take your time and make sure you know how long it is going to take to get to all of your destinations…especially if you are travelling by bus.
Fuji Safari Park, Fuji Shibazakura Festival, and Lake Kawaguchiko…I’m coming back for you!
Want to begin to prepare your children or yourself for a trip to Japan? Check out the first volume of “Let’s Go to Nihon!” on Amazon!