We made our journey from Mount Etna to Mount Fuji for the Shibazakura Festival where a carpet of “Pink Moss” covered the ground with Mount Fuji as the backdrop. When I accidentally came across the flower festivals in Japan and saw photos of Shibazakura Festival, I was like “wow!” I never ever heard of it and I guess it’s right after the famous cherry blossoms that everyone flocked to Japan to see the bloom so the Shibazakura Festival isn’t as well known. The Shibazakura blooms between the end of April to end of May. I have searched previous bloom dates and on average is right around mid-May…..so the dates aligned with our travel date 🙂
Getting from Tokyo to the Shibazakura Festival site near Kawaguchiko Station is easy but takes time (1 hour 45 min). There’s a nonstop bus from Shinjuku to the festival site which I booked at https://highway-buses.jp/course/kawaguchiko.php, it cost 1,750 yen one way per person. The bus was very comfortable like those travel coach, clean, on time, and offered free wifi but extremely slow. The bus:
Plenty of room for the 1 hr 45 min ride 🙂
Even though the bus was “nonstop”, it did make stops on the highway to pick up more passengers LOL. As we were approaching…is that the famous Mount Fuji? I read that it takes luck to have a clear view of Mount Fuji and more chance early in the morning as clouds tend to roll in during the afternoon.
We arrived at the Shibazakura Festival just before 10 am and there were already many buses parked in the parking lot yikes! There was no admission fee to enter the festival site and there were a lot of souvenir and food stalls along the entrance.
Once we entered the site, I was so shocked….what happened to the pink moss???? I guess they bloomed early this year so by mid-May (we went on May 19th), the majority of the flowers were already gone, so sad!!! I made all the way from Mount Etna to Mount Fuji for the pink moss 🙁 I should’ve low expectation because every time I traveled to places where it depended on weather/timing, I hardly have luck. Sigh! Nevertheless, it was sunny that day and I get to see Mount Fuji so not too bad right?
For beautiful photos of how the peak bloom looks like, check out at their website: http://www.shibazakura.jp/eng/
We tried to aim our camera very low for more “pink carpet” look, we tried!
and a selfie hehe!
The site was still packed with people!
All those green grass should be covered by pink flowers…awww when will I be able to see it one day?
The man-made little Mount Fuji, saw it?
The other section of the site had more of the pink flowers still visible:
Then toward the other side of the parking lot, the colorful wildflowers were in bloom.
People were all trying to have the low angle to make it look like more pink flowers like we did!
The festival site is quite small and plus not much flowering so we left in one hour. On the way to the parking lot, I spotted a vendor selling very pretty stamps of the Shibazakura Festival and Jason restarted his childhood hobby of collecting stamp, those were perfect for his collection! From the festival site, there’s a bus to get to Kawaguchiko Station and the short ride cost 1200 yen per person one way OMG so expensive!
The station is located right in the middle of town and before we head to the next point of interest, let’s have lunch first. I used the TripAdvisor app to see what restaurants are nearby and have good rating, I found Hoto Fudo, Kawaguchiko Ekimae that is right across from the station. It was a very cute and traditional restaurant with very friend staffs! The waiter gave us a menu and he highly recommended this dish called “Houtou”
It was like a homemade stew with noodles, various vegetables including pumpkin. Although no meat, it was very filling!
Our lunch cost 2,100 yen cash only! After lunch, we walked to the 7-Eleven next door to get some cold green tea and then to the train station to purchase the train tickets to Shimoyoshida Station.
The next train was in another 15 minutes so we waited right outside the station, there was no seating at the platform. Their train was super cute – Thomas & Friends themed!
Once we arrived at Shimoyoshida Station, there was a picture sign of the direction to Chureito Pagoda! Chureito Pagoda was built as a peace memorial and not a tourist destination but since its location offers an amazing view of Mount Fuji, it got popular!
Along the way, they even have photo tiles:
It was a good 10-15 minutes to the shrine and those stairs on a hot sunny day, luckily, we were prepared by the cold green tea.
Not there yet, more stairs!!!
On each flight of stairs, we took a break to drink and turned back to see Mount Fuji, “is it clear up yet?”
We finally reached Chureito Pagoda but the best view were a few more flight of stairs up!
There is a wooden platform, I guess built for tourists so it’s safe to take this postcard-perfect photo! There were at least 10 people at the platform and we waited for them to finish taking their photos to move out of the way so we could have our turn. I couldn’t believe, the cloud really cleared up and we had a few minutes of viewing the top of Mount Fuji!!!
Our turn for photos with the pagoda and Mount Fuji!
The other side or the exit side of the platform gave a different perspective of the pagoda and the mountain and no crowds at all.
Chureito Pagoda is one of the popular sites during Japan’s famous foliage and it’s easy to see why! I am pretty sure it’ll be packed that you can’t have a photo like this 😉
And by the time we were done taking those photos, the clouds rolled in! What I read was so right, the clouds tend to roll in during the afternoon so be there early! We walked back down to the shrine and took some photos of it:
Since the Chureito Pagoda is the famous site, there was barely any tourists at the shrine so great photo ops there!
The gate at the entrance of the shrine and you can see Mount Fuji already covered by clouds, I couldn’t believe how quickly those clouds rolled in!
This path should be very pretty during foliage season!
We took the cute Thomas & Friends train back to Kawaguchiko Station; it was only a 10-minute ride. Chureito Pagoda is totally worth a visit even without the Shibazakura Festival, cherry blossoms, or the foliage 🙂
I booked the bus ticket from Kawaguchiko Station back to Shinjuku at 5:10 pm but we were finished with the sites at around 3. I went into the ticket office and was able to change my bus ticket to an earlier bus at no charge so we got back to Shinjuku at 5:25 pm. We browsed around the busy Shinjuku and it was crazily crowded!
There was some event going on or something and the square was packed with people just standing there to watch a concert from the LED screen on the building. It was a crazy scene; we just don’t understand it LOL!
Yes, they were watching this screen!
Japanese are known for their politeness and orderly, the line formed to cross the street was unbelievable! We seek alternative route LOL!
Claw machine addiction? There are claw machine stores!!!
We were looking for handcrafts souvenir but the department stores are filled with 7+ floor of women’s apparel and an underground (basement) 3 floors worth of snacks and sweets! Without any luck of handcrafts, we went for dinner – our crab fest at Kani Doraku. We were there early so we were able to get a table without much wait. Then, we were seated in a beautiful traditional Japanese dining room. Their menu is literally a book with so many different set dinner so it totally tested my selective disorder!!! Everything in the menu is crab….crab sushi, sashimi, steam crab rice, crab soup, grill crab legs, tempura, you name it!
It took us a while to compare the sets and finally, we made up our mind on the two sets. Our crab fest started!
The steam egg with crab meat was very fresh and silky.
I am not a raw seafood person so I’ll save those crab legs for grilling.
Our own grill to grill the crab legs 😀
Steamed crab rice to fill my tummy.
The soup was a little bit weird taste, not my cup of tea!
Crab tempura were delicious.
The crab sushi looked very cute! This crab miso soup was good better than the other crab soup.
The only non-crab dish was the dessert – I picked the green tea ice cream, it was refreshing!
Our crab fest cost $121.08 total, we splurge but it was totally a great experience and great quality crab! We highly recommend it and if you want to save some money, go there for lunch instead. Their lunch set menus are cheaper and almost as many dishes so better value! With so many dishes, it took us a while to finish our dinner so we got back to our hotel at almost 10 pm. Even though it was a long day for us, we need to do our laundry as this was probably the only hotel that has coin laundry facility in our 2+ weeks half the world trip.
As high-tech Japan, I was impressed by their all-in-one washing machine….wash, dry, included detergent, and even set your own password so no one can open it after it’s done washing!!! The price was very reasonable too: 500 yen for wash+dry for 120 min. We went back to our room and came back at midnight to pick up our clothes, however, we had so many clothes that majority of them were still not dry. We had to put in extra for extra drying and that took another hour! We finished laundry and packing by 2 am in the morning and we were super tired by then!