David Chart's Japan Diary

July 21st 2009

It has been a very long time since my last diary entry. If anyone is still just following this diary, you should be aware of my blog, which is updated a bit more often. However, the time needed to keep my Japanese blog and Tamao up to date means that I don't have as much time to update even the blog as I would like, still less this diary.

However, yesterday we went on a family day trip for the first time in a while. We've been places near home, but it's been months since we've gone any further afield, and we decided it was about time. I wanted to get out of the city, and Yuriko mentioned Lake Kawaguchi. We found it in one of the guide books, it looked appropriate, and so that was decided. We went by train, and there was a special express, which may only run on holidays, as it is called the "holiday express", which went directly from Tachikawa to Lake Kawaguchi. This meant that there was only one change on the train going out, which meant that, although it was quite a long journey (about three and a half hours from leaving home to arriving there), it didn't feel tiring. Actually, Yuriko and Mayuki slept for much of it, and I got to look out of the window at the scenery. The first part of the journey was along the Chuo Line, which goes through the mountains in the centre of Japan, so the scenery was spectacular.

The cloud-wrapped mountains around Lake Kawaguchi The view around Lake Kawaguchi.

When we got there, we realised that Lake Kawaguchi is one of the starting points for climbing Mount Fuji. Indeed, one of its selling points as a tourist destination is the view of Mount Fuji that you get across the lake. This is, however, dependent on the weather, and as you can see from the picture, we didn't have the weather for spotting distant mountains. As you can also see from the picture, the scenery around the lake is good, and definitely not urban, so I was fully satisfied.

The museum gate The gate to the Kubota Itchiku Museum.

We had lunch at the station after arriving, and then got the tourist bus to our first visit, a museum. We had bought a Free Pass, which meant that we didn't have to pay any more no matter how often we got on and off the tourist bus. That certainly worked out cheaper for us in the end. The museum, the Kubota Itchiku Museum, displays the works of Itchiku Kubota, who made kimono. He revived a style of decoration that had been lost about five hundred years ago, and then made art-work kimono using it. The ones in the museum were never intended to be sold, as, in one case, 80 kimono go together to create one huge work of art, including an image of Mount Fuji spread across a couple of dozen. He did, however, sell some kimono, and looking at the museum he must have made quite a lot of money from them. That's not entirely surprising; the ones on display were very, very good, and also in a style that I liked. The designs were intended to capture the qualities of light, and they were very effective in doing that.

The museum structure was also very interesting. It wasn't really Japanese style, or Western style, but the overall design was very effective. Yuriko said she wouldn't mind living in a house like that, and I have to say I agree. Of course, the chances of us being able to afford such a thing are close to none, but we can dream. Mayuki also enjoyed the museum, but she mainly enjoyed running up and down a ramp in the entrance hall. Fortunately, it wasn't very busy, and the staff thought she was cute.

Our family on the boat Cruising on Lake Kawaguchi.

After the museum, we got the bus back round the lake, and took a cruise out onto the lake. The cruise only lasted about twenty minutes, and the wonderful view of Mount Fuji didn't happen, but the mountains around the lake were enough. Mayuki enjoyed the trip, pulling faces at some of the other passengers and enjoying the wind in her hair. We had to keep tight hold of her, or she'd have gone running around, which probably would not have been safe. The cruise wasn't covered by the Free Pass, but having a Free Pass did get us a discount, from 900 yen each to 500 yen each (Mayuki was free), so it was definitely worth having.

Lake Kawaguchi Lake Kawaguchi.

From the cruise, we crossed the road to take a cable car up a mountain. Sometimes, you can see Mount Fuji from the top, but not yesterday. The view was still good, however, and from the cable car itself we got a very good view of the lake, as you can see from the photograph. On the way down there was a group of tourists (not Japanese; there were a lot of foreigners in Kawaguchi), and they were very aken with Mayuki. She went to sit with them, and then let them hold her up to the windows without complaining. She wasn't smiling much, but we think that was just because she was tired; once we got on the bus back to the railway station, she soon fell asleep. Mayuki is clearly popular with people from all over the world; we had lots of people telling us she was cute.

We had two changes of train on the way back, but the journey was still fairly relaxing, and we stopped off to have sushi for dinner. The only real problem with the day was that Mayuki's schedule was a bit disrupted, and she didn't eat very much. That meant that she woke up quite a bit last night, so I didn't get as much sleep as I would have liked (and neither did Yuriko, naturally). Apart from that, it was a fun day out, and we are planning to go back, on a clearer day, so that we can actually see Mount Fuji.