We ventured out of Tokyo to see Fuji, Yokohama, Kamakura and Nikko.
The official season to climb Fuji is from the beginning of July until the end of August or mid-September. We just squeezed in and somehow managed to reach the top in order to see the sunrise. This is what the climb looked like.
One of our goals while in Japan: The 3776-m volcano Mt Fuji.
Heading up, past the mountain huts. The weather’s excellent and the wind hasn’t picked up yet.
The break of dawn at the top of Mt Fuji.
Sunrise – what we all were aiming for.
The torii on the Yoshida trail when you finally reach the rim of the crater. The actual top of the mountain is another 30-minute walk away, on the other side of the crater.
As soon as the sun came up, the temperature started rising as well, thankfully. We rounded the crater, climbed up to the actual top and then started our decent. Some three hours of zigzagging.
Near Mt Fuji, there are five lakes. We rented bikes to check some of them out. These guys were camping next to Sai-ko.
A beautiful evening by Kawaguchi-ko.
Yokohama is Japan’s second largest city and holds an important port. But to us, it felt like another Tokyo neighbourhood, which I’m sure would insult some locals. We took a suburban train for 20 minutes in order to get to Yokohama and spent a day walking around in the waterfront area, which is full of high, glass-and-steel buildings, some pretty parks, a fun fair and some ships, and the more chaotic, but still quite organized – we’re in Japan – Chinatown.
A sunny day at Minato Mirai, which means “port future.” I can see why.
Nippon Maru. The lawns nearby were full of school kids, presumably out learning about Japan’s trading history.
The brick warehouses were full of shops and shoppers, the port full of tourists getting back to their cruise ship.
Yokohama’s Chinatown. Colourful, but still very Japanese.
Nippon Maru after sunset, when the skyskrapers start to shine.
Japan is full of towns with their own local brews. Yokohama is no exception.
An old capital, Kamakura is full of Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines. The town has about 170,000 inhabitants and feels small when you come from Tokyo, but the train trip from the capital only takes an hour. We found a big beach, empty except for some wind surfers. The swimming season had just ended and people were packing up the summer-only beach bars. But the most famous sight in Kamakura relates to religion: The 11.4 m bronze Buddha statue standing out in the open after a tsunami flushed its temple away more than 500 years ago.
The main reason people visit Kamakura: The bronze Daibutsu.
At the entrance of Engaku-ji, a Zen temple.
Leaving the darkness.
View of Kamakura and an excellent place to surf.
All of a sudden, we spotted Mt Fuji in the distance.
Hase-dera temple, beautiful and well kept.
Buddha in the distance at Tokei-ji, a place where women would come if they wanted a divorce back in the day. Spend three years as a nun here, and your marriage is over.
Kawaii! Japanese for cute, and yes they are.
Little Buddha figures. Lots of them.
Nikko is quite a small town in the mountains, a couple of hours north of Tokyo. It’s another shrine and temple place, starring the World Heritage-listed Tosho-gu. It was grey and drizzling when we went there, but that made wandering through the mist in an old forest past ancient shrine structures quite magical. That’s something we both love about Japan. All those religious sites in thick, old forests – it’s a beautiful combination. We also stayed at a great hostel where we got to make decorated sushi plates together with the funny, young host and a silent Thai family whose cranky grandmother fed us Thai spices just to watch us cry. Luckily we like spicy food – hah!
Gateway to Okumiya, the tomb of Tokugawa Ieyasu, who established the shogunate that ruled Japan for more than 250 years.
The shinto shrine Tosho-gu is soon turning 400 years old, so there was a lot of repair work going on…
…however, it was still mighty popular.
Hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil.
Fishing in Daiya-gawa.
Ghost jizos. Count them when you walk past and again when you return and you won’t arrive at the same number. I didn’t, but whether that’s because they come and go as they please or because there are so many of them, I don’t know.
Misty mountains and the bridge Shin-kyo.