Waking up at the crack of dawn, I was thankful that Jewel booked an AirBNB with hot water. It’s my third day in Japan and we were heading out for a sightseeing tour around Mt. Fuji.
We were not climbing the mountain (maybe next time?), we were simply hoping to get a glimpse of this famous World Heritage Site. Because who goes to Japan and doesn’t pay this beauty the attention it deserves?
We were to meet up with our fellow tourists at Shinjuku. A bus would take us to Mt. Fuji’s surrounding areas and there’s a bunch of surprises waiting for us. You know how tour booking sites sell stuff. Only this time, we actually did see a lot of fascinating things for only P3,020. In Japan, that amount wouldn’t get you far, really. So we decided to embrace the Group tour to see Mt. Fuji (and then we planned our own itinerary for other Tokyo sights).
Stopping at the Famous Oshino Hakkai Village
We stopped by a scenic small village where the famous eight springwater ponds are located. These ponds are fed by the snow melting from Mt. Fuji so the water is so pure and clear, you can even drink it!
According to our guide, you can drink the water here to get a long, healthy life. On the spot where you can drink the longevity-giving spring water, tourists can also find vendors selling nuts, fish cakes, and other local street food.
Despite being crowded, the village is beautiful.
Local tourists with their lovely pets also join the crowd. Since it’s a village, there is still a way to avoid the crowd and take souvenir photos without people in them.
At The Foot of Mt. Fuji
Our tour guide said it would be risky to hike Mt. Fuji because of the snow. I knew he was pulling our legs. We only paid for the viewing area, not a hiking trail.
He took us to this stopover where a clear view of Mt. Fuji can be seen.
Jewel and I took some pictures and checked out the mini-museum inside this viewing center. We even took a picture through their cute machine with buttons that we absolutely had no clue how to operate. See below.
In hindsight, stopping to take these pictures is a ridiculous idea, especially when there is a museum within the building. But we didn’t see it right away.
Shopping at Gotemba Premium Outlets
Our last stop was an outlet mall with about 250 stores selling discounted branded items.
At Gotemba Outlet Mall, Jewel was able to find a pair of shoes and I found a coffee place to rest.
The Importance of Time in Japanese Culture
It was call time and almost everyone was back, except for a lone tourist. Maybe she went missing. But the tour guide didn’t consider that. He ordered the bus driver to leave without waiting for her.
In fairness, he explained to everyone why he did so. Being late was a sign of disrespect for other tourists in the bus and the driver was only supposed to work for eight hours. Both are valid reasons.
But I still felt sorry for the tourist who was left behind. She just experienced the grave consequence of being late in Japan.