Our Stay near Fujisan
The five lakes around Mount Fuji are mainly famous for the views of the mystic mountain that can be seen from their shores on a clear day. Besides the incredible views of Fujisan they also offer other activities to tourists and locals – fishing, boating and swimming are just some of the options. Our Japanese inn, Fujitomita was closest to Lake Yamanakako (Swan Lake) and during our stay there we had already walked a part of it on the Tokai Nature Trail that runs past lake.
Cycling through Oshino Village
For our last day in the area we chose to cycle around the entire lake. After unloading our folding bikes from the hire car and checking them over we set out late morning on a bright, sunny day. We cycled along the quiet roads of Oshino Village, past lush green rice fields, local farmers selling their fresh fruit and vegetables at the roadside stands and patches of colourful flowers. We made a brief stop at a pretty local temple before riding on.
The Flower Fields
The road was mainly flat and not very busy, only the odd car would pass us on the road. We soon reached the forest and at this point a pedestrian and bike path started next to the road. We turned right towards the flower fields we had seen in the distance on our hike up Mount Ohira. Anyone who has some kind of knowledge about Japan has probably heard of these famous flower fields, if not you might have at least seen photos of them. These vast meadows of flowers can be found all over Japan and are usually planted with one variety of flowers only, although some showcase several fields with different species.
Zinnia and Cosmo Flowers
Normally you can wander and explore paths through the blooms. Even in Tokyo we have found one in the Hamarikyu Gardens, near Tsukiji (the fish market). The flower fields at lake Yamanakako were divided into two by a bridge that led to the centre’s large green house. The sea of flowers in front of us was a bright orange blanket, upon closer look it turned out to be Zinnia blossoms in the first field and Cosmos in the second. Cosmos flowers have always been one of my favourites and I could not stop myself from taking hundred of photos of them… Jerome and Chris meanwhile enjoyed wandering between the blooms, some were as tall as Jerome. Usually visitors come to these flower meadows to take photos of the pretty flowers with Mount Fuji as a magical backdrop. Sadly Fujisan did not want to show a face to us that day and was shrouded in clouds. This did not stop from busloads of other tourist to come and stroll through the area.
Arriving at Lake Yamanakako
The bike path led us away from the crowds along a stream that eventually joined with lake Yamanakako. When we reached the shore we joined a cycle path turning left, towards Ishiwari Town. We stopped at one of the benches and had a picnic lunch of left overs from our hike up Fujisan the day before. By then the mountain peak was only hidden by a thin layer of cloud as the weather cleared and we could barely believe that we had climbed to the summit just a day earlier.
On the lake ahead of us floated the famous swan boat, a tourist sight seeing boat in form of a swan with a golden crown (only in Japan!), and we watched it slowly glide along. There were also people out on the water in funny shaped pedalos, swans were the most favoured one, but there were also cars and teacups with sunroofs drifting about.
Cycling Around the Lake
Pedalling on next to the lakeside we passed some patient photographers on the lookout for a clear view of Fujisan but not many other people. The cycle path went through patches of trees, which made a great respite from the hot sun. The ride was very peaceful with beautiful views of the lake and the surrounding landscape. We passed some shrines and temples hidden on the way and a group of kids were out kayaking at a camping ground. Families with younger children might want to consider a stop at the Teddy Bear World Museum half way round the lake for an overload of the kawaii (cute) stuffed animals.
In Hirano, the next village on our bike ride around the lake we stopped to have an ice cream. Jerome gaped in surprise when he saw a boat on wheels driving towards us on the road. The amphibious vehicle turned into the little road that connects the village with the lake Yamanakako and drove straight into the water with a big splash. The Yamanaka Kaba (hippo) bus is a fun sightseeing tour that without a doubt has a lot of fans, especially among the Japanese, as it is one of the few buses that can go on land and water in Japan. We have been on a similar tour on the Thames in London and thoroughly enjoyed the ride – what fun to drive into the lake or river when you have just been driving on the road.
Bike Hire on the Lake
Besides the ice cream shop there were some other cool cafes, restaurants and of course plenty of souvenir shops in the village, plus a bike hire store in case you do need to rent bikes for your tour, including children’s bicycles.
Further on along the south side of the lake past the access road to the motorway it was busier as most cars turn towards Fujiyoshida along the lakeside and so even on the lakeside path we had to pay a little more attention to the people and cars rather than enjoying the scenery. Finally after leaving the village of Yamanakako we turned off this busy stretch to the right following the road along the lake. Just after a bowling arena, easily recognisable by the giant bowling pin in the car park, we completed our lake circuit and were back to where we had arrived lakeside earlier that day.
Cycling the track back past the flower fields, there were even more people there visiting this time of day, we headed back to our inn the way we had come. The bike ride around Lake Yamanakako was the perfect end to our stay near Fujisan and we were ready to leave for Tokyo the next day.