By Mark Asao
Many people will tell you that July is not the best time to visit Fuji, because it's the rainy season. The clouds will obscure the view, the weather will be miserable, and you'll get wet - it's not worth it. I chose to ignore these warnings, and I'm glad that I did.
I booked a place on the Mount Fuji Golden Tour bus, which took us to the 5th station on Mt. Fuji - 2,300 meters (7,546 ft) above sea level - Oshino Hakkai, Shiraito Falls, and Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha Shrine, all in one day.
Our tour guide advised us to go back in the winter months, when the clouds wouldn’t be a problem. However, whilst I’d also recommend this, I feel I must emphasize how incredible Fujisan (san meaning mountain) and its environment look in the mist. There is a certain mysticism in its beauty when shrouded in drifting clouds - it seems more intangible, more divine.
The 5th station has an amazing view of the surrounding mountains - but if the weather is obscuring it, don't worry. It's still a great place to visit, with an enormous souvenir shop. Inside, you can find Fuji delicacies, such as soft serve ice-cream with the local berry flavour, or the melon bread in the shape of Fuji itself. There's a beautiful Shinto shrine there too, the Komitake shrine, which was built in worship to the mountain god.
The Oshino Hakkai, our next stop, around an hour's journey from this 5th station, are 8 sacred ponds, revered because they are naturally occurring despite Fuji's porous rock making water very limited. We saw the Waku-ike and the Nigori-ike pond, where there are also lots of tourist shops and food stalls. A little sad, considering how sacred these places used to be, but also convenient.
We then made our way to Shiraito falls, which means 'white thread' falls. On your walk to this beautiful waterfall - which I think look even better in the mist and rain than in any other weather - you'll find peach stands dotted around and more soft serve ice-cream. The peaches in the Fuji area are some of the best in Japan, so I recommend you give them a try! There are varying levels of quality and price, the most expensive naturally being the best in quality.
After another twenty minutes on the bus, we reached our last stop, the Fujisan Hongu Sengen Taisha, one of the many shrines built in worship of Fujisan in the country. The temple itself isn’t the only thing worth visiting here; there are lovely little ponds with koi fish too, and a good view of the mountain by the main tori (gate).
This tour also included a bento box lunch. With all of this for ¥7,900, it's a fantastic price. The tour commentary is given in English, and the guide provides interesting information about Fujisan and Japan as whole during the bus trip to the mountain and between destinations.
If you're on a budget and want to fit a lot in your trip, this one day tour is perfect. Fujisan is renowned for its beauty all year round, in all weather - so don't let the rain stop you.
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Hi! My name is Livvy and I've been interested in Japan for as long as I can remember. As a budding magazine journalist and photographer, and someone who is in love with Japanese culture, an opportunity to intern in Japan has been a dream. My photography page (Far Away Photography) has an album dedicated to my last trip to Japan, in March 2014, and I have a blog, 'To Boldly Write' (justkeeptrekkin.wordpress.com). I hope you enjoy my work, as much as I enjoy creating it!