Monday, June 29, 2015

Kawaguchi Asama Shrine near Mt. Fuji

Still trying to catch up with my posts from when Andrew was in town!  And, as I was going through these pictures, I realized that I failed to get a picture of the actual shrine!  Oh well, if you're really curious, just google it ;)

The day we went to the Kawaguchi Asama Shrine was a little crazy.  It had been raining a lot on and off for the two previous days, but we were getting anxious to get out and explore, so even with rain on the forecast again, we decided to chance it and head to Mt. Fuji.  Our original plan was to first go to the Chureito Pagoda, then on to either the Shiraito Falls, or to the Bat Caves, but as luck would have it, we didn't do any of that and only went to the Kawaguchi Asama Shrine!  Ha!  This is how the day unfolded . . . 

When we got in the car it wasn't raining, cloudy, but not raining.  We started off great, but then somehow got on the tollway going the wrong direction!  Which cost us roughly 45 minutes because there aren't very many exits off the tollways here :(  That really wouldn't be too bad, except that it only takes about 45 minutes to an hour to get there anyway!  So, we pretty much doubled our time in the car, and we'd forgotten to bring any toys or electronic devices for the kids (that's what happens when Peter's not with me--I get lost and the kids don't have iPhones!), so they were pretty much losing it by the time we got there.  Also, while on the drive towards Mt. Fuji, we began to notice that it was getting cloudier and cloudier and foggier and foggier.  So, in areas on the drive where we'd normally see Mt. Fuji majestically looming in the distance before us, we couldn't see anything at all!  Just the road before us, some of the forest around us in the canyons, and a big, grey sky.  We were trying to be optimistic though, and thought that maybe once we were closer we'd be able to see it, or maybe right as we approached the top of the stairs at the Chureito Pagoda, the clouds would part and we'd be able to get a great shot of Mt. Fuji.  But, alas, we were not so fortunate.  We kept driving towards what we thought was the Chureito Pagoda, but instead of trusting the GPS coordinates that we had used the last time we went, I just put in "Chureito Pagoda" into Google Maps and let it tell me where to go.  Apparently Google was a little confused because it took us right to the Kawaguchi Asama Shrine!  It looked beautiful and worth exploring though, plus we got to drive right by the beautiful Kawaguchiko Lake, so we weren't too upset.  We figured we'd hop out, take a look around, then get back to our original plan of going to the pagoda and on to the other spots.  

We had fun exploring the grounds; this shrine is thought to be the first to have been built on the North  side of Mt. Fuji, and it definitely looks old, but still beautiful.  And just as beautiful as the shrine itself are these grand and magnificent cedar trees.  There are 7 of these trees on the shrine grounds, of which they believe to be holy, and each is wrapped with rope to ward off evil.  

And, on a side note, I think the kids are really perfecting their picture poses.  

After wandering around the grounds for a bit, we decided to get going, and just as we were walking back to our car it started raining on us!  We hurried out of the rain and again looked up the pagoda in our maps, but this time with the correct GPS coordinates.  It was only about 15 minutes away, so we were amped and ready to go for it despite the fact that it was raining and still cloudy with no visibility of Mt. Fuji whatsoever, even though we were at its very base!  I really don't know why we were being so optimistic and gung ho.  Anyway, we were off.  But, suddenly I missed a turn (I actually thought I was making the correct turn, but it was really right before the street I turned onto), and we were at the tolls about to get on the tollway going back home!  Aaaaahhhhh!!!!!  And, at those points, there are no u-turns.  I looked at Andrew, then looked at my map and saw that the first exit and chance to turn around was 30 minutes away!  We'd be halfway home!  Andrew said he didn't really care, and I knew that my kids didn't have all the additional driving in them, and even if we did try and press forward with our plan anyway we A) for sure would never even get a clear view of Mt. Fuji, and B) would probably get drenched in the rain!  So, we just made the decision to go right through that toll and head back home!  Ha!  What a joke!!!!  I mean, the shrine was really cool, and seeing the lake was a treat, but normally would we have gone all that way just to do what we did?  Not a chance.  Those two things were more like add-on activities, not end destination type activities.  Oh well.  We had fun and Andrew got to see another really cool shrine before he left.  AND, we made it back home in time for swim lessons and karate!  Then, that night, we got a babysitter, and Andrew, Peter, and I went out for yakiniku and totally stuffed ourselves.  It was a fabulous end to a crazy day!

GPS Coordinates for the shrine (not the pagoda!):35.532247, 138.774940

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