on May 25, 2006
Kawaguchiko Hotel is a Tudor-styled hotel located at the foot of Mt Fuji, within walking distance to Lake Kawaguchi-ko. This hotel boasts scenic views of both Mt. Fuji and Lake Kawaguchi-ko and once played host to the Japanese Imperial family (pictures are proudly displayed outside the dining hall). Guests choosing the former view must pay extra charges. We booked through Tocoo! and paid ¥7,206 per person, inclusive of breakfast and bathing taxes for a five-sharing Japanese-styled room that has views of both the lake and Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, the weather was most uncooperative and we were only able to admire the lake from our room and a cloudy sky where Mt. Fuji was to be (we should have asked for a discount :P). We chose not to have dinner at the hotel as that would mean an additional charge of ¥5,500; a big mistake when we realized that all restaurants nearby were closed by 4pm. We ended up buying our dinner at Lawson’s, a convenience store nearby that sells cheap bentos and instant noodles (among other things). The hotel has a huge unisex indoor onsen bath that has views of Mt. Fuji and the lake as well. Alas! The weather was persistently cloudy, or perhaps it was the steam from the bath? Nevertheless, we enjoyed a hot dip in the onsen, followed by sauna after a long, cold wet day touring Kawaguchi-ko. The only thing that marred my enjoyment was when a foreign couple walked into the onsen meant for females only (obviously unaware of the local rules). Thank goodness I was dressed by then!Breakfast was a feast after a somewhat miserable dinner, featuring the local specialty Hoto, flat noodles in miso soup, as well as rice, pickles, grilled salmon, salad, and tamago (egg omelette). The hostess, a well-dressed, jovial "mama-san" mingled among guests, sometimes taking photos with guests, but mostly bantering and/or gently guiding foreign guests on how to partake a typical Japanese breakfast. Getting there:We took a JR limited express train from Shinjuku to Otsuki. From there, we transferred to the Fujikyo line (private local line so JR pass is not valid) that brought us to Lake Kawaguchi-ko station. It took a little more than 4 hours, passing through scenic country-side (and if you are lucky, you will get your first glimpse of Mt. Fuji and his cousins en route).From Lake Kawaguchi-ko station, head towards the Tourist Information office located outside, they will contact the hotel manager for pick-up service (available only after 3pm). If you arrive early, you can deposit your luggage at the Tourist information office until 5pm. Note:If you are setting out from Shinjuku and intend to explore both the Fuji 5 lakes and Hakone, I would suggest that you travel to Hakone first and catch the local highway bus from there to Kawaguchi-ko to avoid the ridiculous multiple transfers between the two.
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