Category Archives: FUJI

Fuji Safari Park

Fuji Safari Park makes for a great day trip, especially fun for families.   Drive your own car through the park for the price of admission or pay extra to ride the park bus or take a walking tour.  Riding the bus will allow a much needed break from the car and give you a chance to feed animals like the bears, lions, and camels. My kids loved this part. Make sure to bring yen for other activities such as horse and pony rides and feeding the kangaroos.  Bring your own food or buy food at restaurants found in the park.  They serve reasonably priced basic dishes such as curry, ramen soup, salad, and donburi. Credit cards accepted.  Be sure to bring your camera! Not only might you get some fun photos at the park, but also it is a great place to take photos of or with Mt Fuji.   The park is stroller friendly and you can leave your stroller at the ticket office during the bus ride.  As a side note, save time to check out the roller slide park in the town of Susano just a short fifteen minutes from the park.
General Admission 2012: Adults ¥2,700, children age 4 – jr high ¥1,500.  Additional cost for bus tour: ¥1,200 per person, children aged 2 and under free. Walking safari open late March through Nov 30, ¥500 per person, age 4 and under free. Open Daily: Summer: 9am-5pm, Winter (Nov 1- Mar 15): 10am – 3:30pm. Coupons are available online and by using your point card before major purchases (like food and the gift store) you can earn points towards a free ticket, good for one year. – Megan Miller entry & photos, November 2012.
Directions  Following our GPS it took us 3 hours to get there on the Tomei expressway but only 1.5 hrs on the way back taking the Chuo.  So, I recommend taking the Chuo there too.  Be sure to look at a map before you go even if you have a GPS.  Go to the Yujo for a map and the guys there can answer any further questions.  GPS Coordinates: 35.260303, 138.810489.  Phone 055-998-1311. 
View Larger Map

Interested in Safari Parks?  Also check out the entry on Gumna Safari Park.

Canady Restaurant

View of the back of Canady Restaurant, Shelley, 2012

Canady Restaurant, near Mt. Fuji, a thatched roof settlement and Saiko Bat Cave, has a great area for kids and dogs.  It has a very simple menu with pictures. They had about five choices: curry rice, beef with onions, udon with vegetables, and a couple other things. Lunch sets were around ¥1500, and single dishes were ¥600 – ¥800. Food was good, but the best parts were outside the restaurant. There was a sprawling grassy lawn where kids and dogs were welcome to play. Thatched-roof buildings with flower boxes and mountain ranges in the background make it a great spot for pictures. In front of the restaurant there was an area with bird feeders where you could see colorful native birds. For about ¥100 you can purchase bird seed and entice them to eat from your hand. GPS 35.49865, 138.65353. -Shelley, October 2012.
Directions from Saiko Bat Cave to Canady Restaurant.  Turn left out of the parking lot at Saiko Bat Cave Information Center.  At 1.4 kilometers turn left onto 21.  Drive 1 kilometer and the restaurant is just off the road on the left.

View Larger Map

View from Canady Restaurant, Shelley, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fuji-2258Comments Sarah Straus, Jan 2014: We went in January and found these strange ice sculptures in the large yard area in front of Canady Restaurant.  We went on a Saturday and enjoyed playing in the snow and a little festival with food vendors and drummers.  The curry and noodles at Canady Restaurant were delicious.

Saiko Bat Cave

You won’t see any bats here, but there is a pretty good sized cave to explore. We went through with three kids 7, 5 and 18 months, and they got through okay. There is a whole area where the cave ceiling is three feet tall, so you have to do some serious crouching or it is possible to go around this part if you’d rather. The cave is lit and paths are well-defined, so we felt safe letting our kids explore. It was a little muddy, but boots are available upon request, and hard-hats are provided and mandatory. My 18-month-old was in a carrier, but she probably could have walked around if I’d let her.  They didn’t have a helmet to fit her, so if you have a child under 3 you may want to take a bike helmet just in case.  Our 7 and 5-year-old stayed pretty clean, but a little one would likely come out covered in mud, so consider bringing a change of clothes.  There is an easy nature walk through the woods to get to the cave, where you can see some smaller cave formations and tons of volcanic rock, lichens, mushrooms, and other marvels of nature. There is a little information display with lots of old batman posters and some local information about bats (all in Japanese.) There was also a poster of all the children’s books about bats, so the kids enjoyed finding some they knew on there. We did this side-trip on a day trip to Fuji, and it took about an hour for the whole stop. Entrance was ¥300 for adults, ¥150 for kids and free for kids 5 and under.  Note: Also see Shelley’s review of Canady Restaurant just 2.4 kilometers away.  GPS 35.49422, 138.67154. -Shelley, October 2012.

 

 

Map:

View Larger Map

Crab-walking in the tunnel, Shelley, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bat information gallery, Shelley, 2012

Hakone

Hakone is a popular vacation getaway about one and a half hours outside of Tokyo. It is a beautiful little area nestled in the crater of a volcano. Just getting there is part of the fun. You take the Odakyu line from Shinjuku to Odawara, then transfer to a tiny railroad line called the Hakone Yumoto line that winds its way up the lower part of the volcano. As it gets higher, it has to reverse directions several times to switchback up the steeper areas.
Along the way, make sure you stop for a while at the Chokoku-no-mori station to visit the Hakone Open Air Museum. It is a beautiful art museum with most of its display dedicated to large sculptures that dot beautiful lawns. They also have a building dedicated to works by Picasso.

All photos by Kevin Green

After getting back on the Hakone Yumoto line, you go all the way to the end and then take a cable car that pulls you straight up a steep section of the slope. From here there is a beautiful view of the surrounding countryside. At the end of the cable car, you get on a ropeway that takes you over the crest of the mountain into the gigantic crater. Looking out the ropeway, you pass a section where they are drilling into the side of the mountain to prevent the pressure from building up and causing an explosion. Make sure you get off at the stop in the middle of the ropeway to see the “sulfurous vapor erupting area.” Here you can take a short nature walk and see the sulfur steaming from the ground, and natural hot springs from the volcano. You can eat eggs boiled in the hot water which the Japanese say will help you live longer. Along the nature trail there are signs in Japanese and English that tell you such things as “This area was once covered with tall trees, but now you can find only the species which have been able to survive such things as Volcanic eruption.” The ropeway will then take you the rest of the way into the crater to Lake Ashi, which you cross on large replicas of pirate ships.
Lake Ashi is a crater lake famous for its reflection of Mt. Fuji on clear, calm days. The boat takes you to Hanokemachi which is a historical area from the 1600’s, including the Hakone Checkpoint and a portion of an ancient highway that was lined with cedars to provide shade hundreds of years ago. By the time we get here we are pretty tired, so we catch a bus to the Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita to spend the night. It is a beautiful hotel established in 1878, making it the oldest western-style hotel in Japan. It has been visited by many famous people including Albert Einstein, Dwight Eisenhower, Margaret Thatcher, Hellen Keller, and many emperors of Japan. It is nestled among trees, and has a beautiful garden in back which is home to the only California Redwood tree in Japan. Inside the decor is beautiful, including many wood carvings. You can also bathe in the natural hot spring onsens. The next day, be sure to see some of the many other attractions in the area including the Hakone Ashinoyu Flower Center (a gigantic greenhouse with many types of flowers and other plants – indoors, so nice even in case of rain) and the Botanical Garden of the Wetlands.
On our way home the next day, we stopped at the Odawara Castle. The old castle town of Odawara serves as the main gateway to the Hakone district. About a 10-minute walk from Odawara Station is the reconstructed five-story donjon (central structure of the castle). It houses a museum of historical materials, ancient suits of armor and swords, folk arts & crafts, and special exhibits. The view of Sagami Bay from the fourth floor is excellent. Open 9am-4:30pm, admission is Y200 for adults, Y100 for children. The park surrounding the castle includes a playground and small zoo. Brian & Kristen Marriott, 2001.
DRIVING DIRECTIONS: Driving in these areas, especially on weekends or in the summer, can be very difficult. Traffic is extremely heavy and slow. To maximize your sightseeing time, it is well worth the effort to leave no later than 5am. To enter the Hakone district at Odawara, take Rt. 16 from Yokota south, until it joins Rt. 129. Just north of Atsugi, you will see elevated Rt. 246 and a sign for the Tomei Expressway. Turn right immediately after passing under elevated Rt. 246 – this leads to a ramp that puts you on 246. Go through Atsugi. Look for signs for Odawara/Atsugi toll road (this will be south of Atsugi). When you see the signs, it will be a right turn. You will drive parallel to the toll road for several kilometers before entering. Once you are on the toll road, you will pass through two tollbooths and pay Y350 at each. When the toll road ends, follow the signs to Rt. 1. At Miyanshita (about 7km), the road will divide. The hotel is at the fork on the left. The right fork of the road will lead to Gora. The left fork will lead to Lake Ashi, which you could visit before checking in at the hotel, since check-in is not until 2pm.


TRAIN DIRECTIONS: Take the Ome Line to Tachikawa. Change to the Chuo Line and go to Tokyo Station. You can take either the Shinkansen (“Kodama Train”, takes 42 minutes, runs every 20 minutes) or a regular train (Tokaido Line, takes 90 minutes, runs every 15 minutes) to Odawara Station. You can also reach the Hakone area from Shinjuku or Machida stations on the Odakyu Railway. Express trains run regularly to Odawara (takes 90 minutes), while the super-fast “Romance Car” runs only every 30 minutes (seat reservations required). Two different transportation companies, Hakone Tozan Railway and Izu Hakone Railway, offer discount tickets from which you can choose. These passes are convenient for multiple use of various modes of transportation after you reach the Hakone area and are valid for four days. The Hakone Free Pass allows you to use the Hakone Tozan Railway, bus, cable car, ropeway, the Odakyu highway bus (between Togendai and the Tomei Gotemba Expressway interchange) and the Hakone excursion boat on Lake Ashi as many times as you wish. These passes are sold at all Odakyu Railway stations and at the Hakone Tozan Information Center at Odawara Station (“Romance Car” ticket not included). Approximate prices from Odawara are Y3,500 for adults and Y1,750 for children (Y4,600 per adult from Shinjuku). Depending on the attraction, the pass includes 10% discounts for Gora Park, Hakone Museum, Chokoku-no-Mori (Hakone Open Air Museum), Hakone Checkpoint, Narikawa Art Forum, Hakone Arboretum, Owakudani Natural Science Museum, etc. A similar pass known as the Hakone-Wide Free Pass allows use of the Izu Hakone bus, cable car, ropeway, excursion bus, and includes discounts at various attractions. The pass is sold at travel agencies and the Izu Hakone Information Center at Odawara Station (for a little less than the other pass.) Cheryl Raggio, Margaret Summers.Lodging in Hakone Fujiya Hotel near the Miyanoshita

(Fujiya Hotel Garden, Sarah Straus, November 2011)

Station. They have a special foreigner’s rate of about $130 per night. All of their employees study English in the United States and making reservations by phone is easy. You can contact them at FUJIYA HOTEL 359 Miyanoshita, Hakone, Kanagawa Pref., Tel.0460-2-2211, Telex. 3892-718, Fax 0460-2-2215. http://www.fujiyahotel.co.jp. E-mail/ info@fujiyahotel.co.jp Camp Fuji. Other people stay at Camp Fuji, a little further away, but less expensive ($25/day in 2001). They then drive into Hakone. The number for billeting is 265-5502. (Camp Fuji Operator is 265-5011)

For more information, see:

• http://www.odakyu.jp/english/ For information on Odakyu Railroad, information, including Hakone Free Pass.
http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/index.html  For the Japan National Tourist Organization’s “Practical Travel Guide” on Hakone. (Click on “Regional Tourist Guides” then “Practical Travel Guide”

Our Hakone Trip

Over Thanksgiving break my husband, 1 year old, 3 year old and I went to Hakone for two nights. It was fun for everyone and there is an amazing hotel there that has a foreigner rate of $133/night plus tax. There is hotel parking. The hotel is: Fujiya Hotel. You have to call to get the special rate, which is offered during the week, not weekends. It is an older hotel with big rooms and a beautiful garden in the back. There is a lot to do in Hakone. We most enjoyed the ropeway ride over the volcano and the Open Air Museum, which houses some fabulous kid friendly sculptures. I thought this webpage was helpful while planning what to do on the trip: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e5200.html. It has a nice overview of the various attractions. We didn’t figure out how to buy the Hakone Free Pass, which allows one payment for two days of transport on all the Hakone trains, funicular, ropeway, pirate ship, and buses. Over Thanksgiving the hotel was not too busy and the fall colors were amazing! We’ll definitely go again. –Sarah S., 2012

Hakone Open Air Museum – kids can climb up into this sculpture and run around at the very center.  Sarah Straus, 2011.