Continuing on from my last post about WHERE to STAY with the stunning Mount Fuji view, now I want to share with you my TOP 5 RECOMMENDED PLACES to visit near the Fuji 5 Lakes area.
Maple Leaves Tunnel (紅葉トンネル/もみじ回廊)
The Maple Leaves Tunnel is located near Lake Kawaguchi of Yamanashi Prefecture. Each year from late October until mid November, there will be a Maple Leave festival that’s held here, with many food stalls, and other small counters that sell local produce and hand made artifacts. One of the main attraction for this place is the Maple Leaves Tunnel – a long corridor filled with maple trees, with a small creek that runs in the middle.
Just imagine yourself sitting in an open air hot bathtub, having a glass of hot sake, and right in front of your eyes is the Mount Fuji sunset view surrounded by maple leaves?
It’s the maple leaves season in Japan again, and one of the best place to see the leaves is at the Fuji Five Lake, which is about 2 hours drive from Tokyo. The five lakes are Kawaguchiko, Saiko, Yamanakaka, Shojiko, and Motosuko. It is one of the best places to view Mount Fuji from a close distance, and a great base for climbing the mountains.
There are many hotels around the areas of the Fuji Five Lakes, especially near Kawaguchiko, which is the biggest and the most touristic one. However, if you prefer something quieter, this hotel I’m going to talk about may just be the one for you!
This hotel is right in-front of Shojiko, which is the smallest lake out of the five. Comfortable rooms with Japanese traditional bedding, view of Mount Fuji in your room, private open air hot spring, and amazingly delicious meals all in one place. Better yet, you can get all these for under USD$100/persons! This is one you sure can’t miss.
Each year during the months of September/October, there are two big tulip festivals. One is in the Wynyard Tulip festival in Tasmania, and the other one is the Tesselaar Tulip Festival in Victoria. The later is only 40km East of Melbourne, which makes it easily accessible by car. Don’t worry, if you don’t want to drive, you could also get there easily by a train which departs from Melbourne, then board a shuttle/bus to get you to your destination.
This year, the Tesselaar Tulip Festival was from the 8th September till the 4th October. I arrived Melbourne on the 3rd afternoon, which means the only day I could go was on their last day. During the 4 weeks of the festival, they have different events on every weekend. I would highly recommend you to check out their schedule before your visit.
According to Google Map, the journey shall only take approximately 45 minutes. Since it’s not a long ride, I have decided to have lunch at Melbourne first before we head over to the festival.
Well, a 45 minutes journey ended up being a 2 hours ride! Instead of using my Google map on the phone, I was using a GPS which I borrowed when I rented my car. For some strange reason, this GPS keeps directing me to roads that either did not exist, or was too narrow for my 4WD to get thru… Ok, it may also have to do with my bad sense of directions, and lack of skills in driving too. BUT, thanks to the GPS, we went on a route thru the Dandenong Ranges National Park, which was an extremely bumpy, yet fun ride – I encountered a wild deer in the middle of nowhere!! I have no idea where it came from, but it was there, starring at us. So sometimes, a little detour on a journey aren’t so bad at all.
Finally, I arrived the Tesselaar Tulip Festival at around 3:30pm. The weather was super nice when we got there.
About 10 minutes after entering the festival, it started pouring, and it was so windy and cold and wet, all I could do (and most of the others as well) was to hide in the shelter to wait for the rain to past by. The weather was not very nice that day, it keeps raining, then sunshine, then raining, then sunshine… but it made the flowers look very pretty, with the rain dew drops on the flowers.
“Every single strike brings me closer to the next home run!!”
I’ve never played baseball in my life, but believe it or not, one of my must-do when I’m in Tokyo Japan is actually to go hit some ball! Even though I know nothing about baseball, but it’s actually a very fun activity just swinging your bat and hit the ball (or miss most of the time like me).
Now, you may ask, where on Earth am I gonna find someone who’s gonna pitch, or where are you gonna find the bats? Don’t you worry, we are in Tokyo!! Nothing is impossible here! In Japan, they have something called the “batting cage”. It’s like a golf driving range, except it’s with baseball. All you need to bring is money, and yourself, then you are good to go!
My favourite one to go to is the “Shinjuku Batting Cage” right in the center of Kabuki-cho of Shinjuku. The place is hidden in the little alley behind the Toho cinema at Kabuki-cho, so you may not have seen it around.