Day 10: The Sleeping Mountain
On our last trip to Japan, we spent the majority of it in Tokyo, so this time around we were curious about areas outside of the metropolis. Queue in Mt. Fuji, or Fujisan, as locals call it. In Japan, the mountains are often called -san at the end of their name because the Japanese believe everything has a kami (spirit), so it is given the honorary -san like "Mr. Fuji".
By following the directions by this travel blogger, we were able to navigate to Kawaguchiko, the area with the best view of Mt. Fuji--assuming you can see it. Once we arrived, we were pretty certain we wouldn't be able to see Fujisan, but we decided to walk towards the lake and have a picnic. On the way over we stopped by a little anime shop, and it was my first (and only) experience having to take my shoes off to shop in a store. I've had to take my shoes off to try on clothes in fitting rooms for some of the smaller boutiques, but never to simply walk around a shop. We stopped by the supermarket to grab some snacks on the way to the lake. It certainly wasn't a fancy meal, just croquettes and other konbini (convenience store) snacks. After taking a few snapshots, eating our lunch and walking up a hillside to see the lake view, we made our way to the station.
It should be noted that the only area map we saw was one that was created and sponsored by the local sake brewery. We did make a stop by the brewery where I had to convince Ian to buy some sake for his godmother, as he was concerned that he wouldn't be able to bring alcohol in his luggage back to the US. In case you're wondering, you're allowed to bring up to 1 gallon of alcohol as long as it isn't something banned like Wormwood Absinthe or that cobra scale booze famous in Okinawa. Anyways, it wasn't really the sake that mattered, it was the fact that the bottle was cute because it was shaped like Fujisan. 😝 The time we spent in Fuji wasn't more than about two hours, but it was still a really nice reprieve from the hustle that is Tokyo.
When we got back to Tokyo we decided we'd grab ramen at a couple shops in Tokyo Station. There is a "ramen street" under the station, named as such because apparently one shop opened up, and then another and another and they all competed. Also, it's not really a street so much as a restaurant corridor because when Japan makes a subway station, they're also making a shopping mall/food court/art gallery. The first restaurant I chose wasn't actually part of ramen street, as I assumed, but the displays looked so yummy. Unfortunately, the ramen was not very good. While ramen noodles are originated in China, apparently Chinese-style ramen is not my fortè. We then went to another shop, Rokurinsha, that was rated as the most popular in Ramen Street, with about a 30 minute wait in line. The style of ramen was called tsukemen which is where you're served the broth and the noodles cold on the side. You then dip the cold noodles in the hot broth and slurp away. While Ian had tried tsukemen, it was my first time and I can't say I was much of a fan. Oh, well. Win some, lose some.