Kawaguchiko and Saiko: Weekend Break with the Hubby

Most people would travel to Nikko, Tochigi during the early fall season. We were going to stay there for the weekend, that was the original plan. But after I heard stories from friends who’ve been there, I scratched it all out. We didn’t want to deal with heavy traffic and crowded places in Nikko just to see the koyo or colorful leaves. I planned a trip to Mt. Fuji instead. Not to climb it but explore the places around it.

From our house in Ebina City, we drove to our hotel in Katsuyama, Fujikawaguchiko. I chose this hotel because it’s wonderfully located right on Lake Kawaguchi or Kawaguchiko and only a 7-minute drive to Kawaguchiko’s town center in Azagawa.

Coming from Kanagawa area, going to Fujikawaguchiko area by car shouldn’t take long. It’s only about 1.5 – 2 hours if you leave early. Tolls were 2,860 yen one-way from our house. Travel time could take longer during peak season of July, August, and late-October to mid-November.

Going to the areas of Mt. Fuji [from Kanagawa], there are 2 routes: Via Ken-Ō Expressway or Tōmei Expressway. Ken-Ō Expressway has cheaper tolls and shorter distance [this was the route we took]. Tōmei Expressway has more expensive tolls and longer distance but has scenic views as it passes Gotemba Premium Outlet and the beautiful Lake Yamanaka or Yamanakako.

Day 1:

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

The Itchiku Kubota Art Museum was our first stop while waiting for our hotel’s check-in time. This museum lies between the paradise-like forest with breathtaking views of the calm lake of Kawaguchiko and Mt. Fuji. It is so far the most fascinating museum I’ve ever seen. Why? It’s because the building is made up of Okinawan corals and limestones and the foundation of the main gallery building is made from Hiba trees that are more than 1,000 years old.

DSC_0008 by Ada Wilkinson on

With an entrance fee of 1,300 yen, we got to learn the life of Itchiku Kubota and his fascinating artwork “Tsujigahana”. It is a technique in dying kimonos which was prevalent around the period of 13th to 15th century or Muromachi Period and became extinct during the 16th to 17th century. Kubota was 14 when he became a kimono artist. However, when he saw a 350-year old silk fragment, which was a remnant of Tsujigahana in Tokyo National Museum, he became fascinated and devoted his life in reviving. Several years after, Kubota was captured by the Soviets and was imprisoned in Siberia during World War II.

When he was released, he studied the tsujigahana technique and because no instructions survived that explains how to reproduce it, Kubota was forced to experiment on his own for decades. Eventually, Kubota was not just able to revive it,­ he also modernized it. He had his first exhibition in 1977 at the age of 60. His works went around abroad and received various awards due to its exquisiteness and the superb quality of his works.

I would really recommend visiting this museum when you travel in Kawaguchiko and be inspired by Itchiku Kubota.

“When you really want something to happen, the whole world conspires to help you achieve it.”
― Paolo Coelho

Taiko Drums in Itchiku Kubota Art Museum
Taiko Drum performance was the event of the day.
Maple leaves in Itchiku Kubota Art Museum
Trees surrounding the museum were starting to turn color!

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum
The entrance to the museum.
Itchiku Kubota Art Museum
The area where the famous Maple Corridor during late-October and mid-November is. Maple trees are gigantic in that area.

Momijitei Restaurant

It was almost lunch when we finished touring the museum. My husband already knew what food he wanted to eat — Hoto noodles, the local cuisine of Yamanashi! Among all restaurants that serve hoto noodles in Lake Kawaguchi, he chose Momijitei.

Momiji-tei Restaurant in Kawaguchiko, Yamanashi
My husband and I had Beef Hoto, 1,300 yen. Winner indeed!

Momjitei is famous for making the best hoto noodles in Kawaguchiko. Their homemade miso sauce aged for two years is what makes them different from other hoto noodle restaurants. We had beef hoto and it was very delicious! The staff instructed us [pointing to the pepper and soy sauce tray on our table] that we could also add some nanban miso topping for an added oomph to the soup flavor.

It was a speechless lunch and my husband finished immediately. It was soo good that it left us a craving for more. After we finished our meal, my husband gloated, “Who’s very good at choosing a very good restaurant?” “Ermmm… Yeah… You.” Overall, we were both very happy and satisfied with our lunch.

Outside the Momijitei
This beautiful park outside Momijitei.

Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway

One of the things I didn’t get to do on my first visit in Kawaguchiko was riding the Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway.  Well in fact, I intentionally didn’t do it because it would be more fun to ride and enjoy the beautiful view to the summit with my hubby.

Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway
The line to the cable car was quite long and took us about 30 minutes of waiting but the three-minute ride to the top compensated for it. It gave us an amazing panoramic view of Lake Kawaguchi, Mt. Fuji though, was partly obstructed that time. Cable car tickets cost 700 yen round-trip.

Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway
View from the cable car.
Kawarake Throwing
Kawarake Throwing.

We bought clay sake cups for 100 yen (100 yen for 2 cups) and targeted the circle rope. I was only able to shoot one! UGH. My husband of course was very good at it. Then we had a delicious dango and visited the Usagi Shrine for strength and wisdom.

Another thing we did on the summit was ringing the Bell of Tenjo or “Love Bell.” It is said that lovers and families should ring the bell while viewing Mt. Fuji for love and good health. My husband being the corny person, Love Bell was his favorite thing here. He kept reminding me that we should ring it together before leaving the place.

Trees starting to turn color.
Trees starting to turn color.
Mt. Mitsutoge Kachi Kachi Ropeway.
If you have plenty of time, you can hike this trail to Mt. Mitsutoge.

There’s also another shrine if you walk on a trail for 10 minutes from Usagi Shrine. We did attempt to go there, however, my stomach wasn’t feeling well. I had to poop so bad that we needed to go back. After my successful relationship with the toilet, we took the cable car going down. It was starting to get dark too.

As we walked to the parking lot, we stopped by a cheesecake shop called Cheesecake Garden. Who wouldn’t love cheesecake?! They have a great selection of Japanese cheesecakes. My husband was trying to block me from further viewing the different cheesecakes. I found that he was blocking me from my favorite mango cheesecake! He didn’t even offer to buy me one and I hated him. Then he distracted me with a mango gelato. Mango, mango, mango. We ended up getting gelatos but I seriously wanted to try that mango cheesecake too.

Day 2:

Hotel and Restaurant Yesterday

I’d better create a separate post about this hotel. It was the only available hotel in the area with good location and reasonable price. In addition, they served awesome breakfast. They only had twin bedrooms so my husband and I had to sleep separately and that made me missed him in the morning.

07 by Ada Wilkinson on

While waiting for breakfast, we went out and took a stroll. Right in front of the hotel is Lake Kawaguchi and the scenic mountains with pretty trees turning to color. It was absolutely gorgeous outside. Guests in this hotel will definitely enjoy walking and exploring the area. We really loved the fact that we went here few weeks before the autumn peak season. The surrounding area is very quiet and relaxing.

Lake Kawaguchi
Lake Kawaguchi
Playing Frisbee in Lake Kawaguchi
It was 12 °C outside and we’re playing Frisbee.
My husband Eric playing Frisbee
And it’s his turn!
Photoshoot in Lake Kawaguchi
With the help of my tiny tripod…
Weeping Willow Tree in Lakw Kawaguchi.
Pseudo pre-baby shot under the weeping willow tree.
Breakfast at Hotel & Restaurant Yesterday in Lake Kawaguchi by Ada Wilkinson on 500px.com
Look who’s happy with all the breakfast. The bread lover!

After enjoying the beautiful view, photo shoots and Frisbee game on that chilly morning, we headed back to the hotel for breakfast and their restaurant is the perfect place for it. If it wasn’t cold, we could’ve had our breakfast outside and feel the gracious atmosphere.

They served the bread first. We were delighted on the generous amount of breads served in the basket. It was more than enough for us two! The breads were served warm. It was followed by the plate that came with smoked ham, eggs, and salad. We tried the salad and eggs first but the breads were our favorite, definitely fresh and amazing!

We didn’t want to leave the place. We checked out and bid goodbye to the very nice chef/front desk. We left the place with a satisfied stomach and a smile on our face.

Iyashi No Sato Nenba or Saiko Healing Village

The Saiko Healing Village was our last stop. It was the most relaxing part of our trip because of the beautiful clear day and we could see Mt. Fuji.

Iyashi No Sato Nenba

The Saiko Healing Village was once one of the most beautiful thatched-roofing house villages in Japan. These thatch-roof houses were originally built by farmers for raising silkworms back in Showa Period (1926-1989). A typhoon in 1966 destroyed the village. Reconstructed 40 years later, there are now over 20 thatched houses and were converted into shops offering workshops or hands-on activities like paper mache, hina doll making, or weaving.

Iyashi No Sato Nenba

Iyashi No Sato Nenba
Mt. Fuji’s summit covered in snow.
Iyashi No Sato Nenba
Selfie with Mt. Fuji

Saiko Bat Cave

Saiko Bat Cave

We went to Saiko Bat Cave after touring the Saiko Healing Village but didn’t see any bats except for Batman.

Saiko Bat Cave

Moose Hills Burger

I’m not a fan burgers but my husband loves them. As soon as he saw some rave reviews online about Moose Hills Burger, I knew that we had to try to it.

Moose Hills Burger
Then we had lunch at Moose Hills Burger. It was very good!

For a popular restaurant like this, it was no surprise that the restaurant was full when we arrived. My husband had Avocado Cheese Burger (1,330 yen) and I had Mozzarella Mushroom Burger (1,340 yen). As an Asian, I really like the size of the burger, Japanese size! It was just enough to fill my stomach. My husband totally enjoyed his avocado cheese burger, but I knew it wasn’t enough for his American stomach.

My husband and I loved the place and swore that we’ll come back again. If ever you traveled here on an overcast day and Mt. Fuji is obstructed, try not to be bothered by it. There are several attractions around that you can visit and most importantly, the food are surperb in this region. Please try the restaurants I mentioned by all means.

Directory

These are the summary of the places we visited and dined in during our entire two-day stay in Kawaguchiko and Saiko.

Itchiku Kubota Art Museum
Address: [Google Maps]
Entrance fee: 1,300 yen
Website: [English]
Partita Restaurant
Address: [Google Maps]
Menu starts from: 1,300 yen
No website
Momijitei Restaurant
Address: [Google Maps]
Menu starts from: 1,000 yen
Website: [English]
Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba
Address: [Google Maps]
Entrance fee: 350 yen
Website: [Japanese]
Mt. Kachi Kachi Ropeway
Address: [Google Maps]
Round-trip fares: Adult 720 yen | Children 360 yen
Website: [English]
Moose Hills Burger
Address: [Google Maps]
Menu starts from: 980 yen
Website: [English and Japanese]
Hotel and Restaurant Yesterday
Address: [Google Maps]
Room rate: 12,100 yen with breakfast (for two people)
Website: [Japanese]