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14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

England
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14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Hi All,

I'm back now from my trip to Japan for the first time and I used this fourm a lot to plan the trip i thought it was only fair to post a review if requested for future travellers.

He was the basic background / Itinary

- trip was from the UK to Japan flying with Emirates

- trip was for just me and my 13 year old daughter

- we are both vegitarians

- daughter knows some japanese from school, i know none

- fligts landed and departed from Kansai Airport

- and basically we wanted to fit in as much as possible.

- one firm date was I needed to be in Shizuoka around the middle of the holiday for business.

- do the whole thing on a budget

The final plan was this.

2 nights in Osaka (at Swissotel Namba)

Bullet train to Tokyo

4 nights in Tokyo at New Ontani

(visited Shiboya, Akiharbara, Uneo and took in a baseball game at the Tokyo Dome and visited Tokyo Dome city amusement park

Bus from Shibuya to Kawaguchiko

5 nights at K's Hostel including overnight climb of mount Fuji

and one day trip to Shizuoka (by bus and train)

Return to Osaka for last night and visit opening ceromony of Osaka 2007 world athletic championship.

In the end we cut short our 5 nights in Kawaguchiko but 2 nights and returned to stay in Tokyo Shibuya for two nights, then left to osaka from there.

First let me say, the whole thing, the trip, the country and especially the people were absolutely great. I'd go back tomorrow if I could. The only thing I'd do different is have extended the middle section in tokyo and taken the trip to Shizuoka from there (although its further its a much faster route)

Ueno park and zoo are exceptional and cheap

Exploring the other various areas was great

but climbing mount Fuji was something else. It was a real rollercoaster of thing emotions before we even got to the climb, so many things were not right for it - not least the fact it started rainging and thundering on the one night we could make the ascent. It was a real test but absolutely worth the effort.

All the hotels we stayed in where great 4/5 stars and in all of them i got good deals. K's Hostel is remarkable, its clean friendly and as cheap as chips. Staff are great.

Transport by trains and buses was an adventure, but we didn't go wrong once, although we were close a couple of times. Saw quite a bit of advice about avoiding taxis before I went which I didn't until one day I just wanted an easy option and took one. Wish I'd done it earlier - compared to the UK the fares are dead cheap and its just sooo much easier, on top of the door to door service you get to see the city.

If my trip is of any interest to anyone then jus tpost here and I'd be happy to elaborate and help out anyway I can.

Cheers

Chris

Ballarat, Australia
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1. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

hi chris

i am taking my family to japan in sept and i am interested in ur overnight trip to mt fuji..

who did u book it with..?

what was the itinerary..??

did u stay at k`s

what was the cost..?/

was it worth it..

can you offer any tid bits of advie it would be greatly appreciated

thanks

stuart australia

England
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2. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Hi Stuart,

Yes the trip up the mountain was teh best part and well worth it. I have lots of thoughts on it now I have done it I can pass on. They are all my own personal experience though, so other advice may differ.

First off, you don't book it. At least we didn't. We caught a bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko. There we stayted at K's Hostel, simple rooms with private bathrooms. From here you catch a night bus up to the mountain and at this time of year start to climb at around 10pm. The bus takes you to the 5 station (already above some clouds)

This is your fist issue - if you catch the last bus there and conditions are too bad to climb then you are a bit stuck, with limited options for seeing the night out. Thats exactly what we did and when we arrived there it was raining. We probably should have called it off there and then but there was a bunch of about 20 people that were still going to attempt it so we went too. (it was basically i one and only chance)

First tip, go prepared.

Lots of thin layers (preferable the proper sorts that wick away sweat and dries easily. Take proper rainproof clothes jackets and over trousers. proper climbing boots, A fleece, gloves and hats. Don't turn up in shorts, TShirts, trainers - if everything is great you might still make it, but if, the conditions change you can find youself in trouble fast. Its going to much much harder than you can imagine. The terrain is a mixture of surfaces from loose pebbles to boulders where you have to use hands and feets and are going up very steep inclines. The wind can be incredibly strong too.

Climbing at night makes it harder too. There will be other people there and there is no problem of getting lost but in the dark its very hard to pick the best routes, particularly if the clouds come in.

Everyone sets off too fast, before we'd even made the first base (station) I was thinking about giving up. The bad weather meant we had all our layers on from the off - the main problem there was it probably still 30+ degrees. Thankfully the rain stopped and we were able to strip down a few layers which made it much easier.

As you get higher the air gets thinner which makes it harder. You can get air on the mountian and its worth having a couple of cans to give you a boost when you are feeling low. Key is to climb slowly, rest regularly and keep your energy up with chocolcate bars and glucose drinks etc. Also always make sure you have at least a litre of water with you. Drink often. At each station you can buy more and its not expensive.

At the starting point you can also buy a stick, to help you walk and at each station you get it branded to prove you've made it. It makes it quite a special thing when you get them all. All the way up they are branded and then at the top the first hut you come to stamps it instead - if you go to the next hut, you find the final branding guy, so don't miss him.

At the huts on the way up you can get basic foods and drinks like noodles and hoit chocolate.

Everything I read said you can get up to the top in around 6hrs. Because of the weather after about 8-9 hours we still had another hours climb to go. The bad weather came in again and we were on the point of giving up when we came across the last stop before the summit here, they had a room with bunk beds you could stay in for about 12 uk pounds so we got our heads down. A lot of people start earlier and get here and then rest and finish the journey in time for sunrise. During the 4 hours we were there they bought a guy in who had fell and broke his leg. This is no easy walk - you are actually doing something quite dangerous and there is loads and loads of chances to fall and break ankles etc at every step of the way.

Anyway I woke around 8pm and was just thinking of the easiest way back down, but when I walked out the hut, the dark and the rain had gone and it was a beautiful clear morning - the view was spectacular.Boosted by that we decided to finish the climb. 1-2hours later we were at the top and all the effort was worth it 100%. Its just a fantastic feeling to have made it. On the top there are a few huts to buy souvenirs and get food. Key tip here is to get amuch water as you can carry as on the way day there are toilets but no places to buy food/drinks. Descent is supposed to take around 3-4hrs - think it took us about 4. Going down is completely different, its like running down steep sand dunes all the way.

On the way down, which is different to going up, the route splits at vaious points. There are signs but make sure you follow the route that gets you back to your starting point. Its a mistake that lots make.

Take factor 50 sunscream if you are on the mountian in the day, its cold but the sun is intense.

Overall cost was a few pounds including all the drinks and food. Sleeping cost about £12.00 but without we wouldn't have made it.

Taking children is a tough call. I made it with my 13 yr old daughter who is a triathelete and as fit as a butchers dog and there were times I was thinking "I shouldn't have done this" - that said I did see younger children going up - I have no idea if they made it but they did seem very well prepared int terms of the gear they were wearing.

The whole thing was much harder for us because of the conditions, but the fact we still made it means if you do go prepared you can do it. If you take how hard you think its going to be and them multiply that by 10 you probably be closer to the truth. At the same time though if you think about how pleased you'll feel when you make it and multiple that by 10 you'll be close too.

Any more questions - just fire away. Like I said I'm no expert just someone that made it up and down ok :)

Cheers

Chris

Durham
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3. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Hi Chris,

Was it easy enough to take the bus on your way to Shizuoka? I think I remember you asking about traveling there from Kawaguchi-ko without taking the long way round by train alone.

How did you find Emirates? I'm flying with them to Nagoya in November. Did you use the online check-in?

Thanks

England
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4. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Hi

You have a good memory :)

Catching the bus was easy enough, actually quite enjoyed it - you get to see much more of 'normal' life. The whole process though of bus, train, taxi, taxi, train bus though was quite a tiring drag and coming back in particular was hard work mentally. With hind sight I didn't need to be in Kawguchiko until after the shizuoka meeting so I would have been better going direct from tokyo then back to tokyo and then to Kawaguchiko the next day.

Like I said though, it wasn't really a problem and was certainly good advice compared to trying to get the on trains only.

Emirates was good - the In Flight entertainment is excellent. 100's of movies to choose from (you can see whats going to be on their web site) Drinks and food are all free. On the downside I did find the economy seats a tad uncomfortable and cramped. I found it hard to sleep (others seemed to have no problem. I'm not a big man but even I could sit comfortably with my knees straight out in front. Get a seat with no one in front if possible.

Business class looked great if you are lucky enough to go that way. They virtually had a fully size TV and Bed each!

Don't get me wrong, its wasn't terrible and to say the flight was so long the fact i didn't have more aches and pains probably means it was quite good.

I used online Checkin going and coming back - although I'm not really sure what difference it made. The people in the normal queue seemed to get through as fast as those in the online checkin queue - although that might have just been me getting unlucky with who was infront of me.

Cheers

Chris

Durham
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5. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Could you chose specific seats through the online check-in?

According to seatguru.com Emirates have a couple of inches extra seat pitch compared to KLM who I've used previously.

I'm taking a 48 hour stop in Dubai on the way out to break up the journey.

I'm sure the business class seats are lovely but I'll be in economy thinking of how many £100s cheaper it is back there.

England
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6. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Yes you get to choose your seats.

That said you can only use the online checking 24hrs before you go. I called emirates direct just after i bought my tickets (about 3 mths before travelling) with a question about meals and they let me book my seats at that point - so its worth trying rather than waiting til the last 24hrs.

Also if you've not done it already join emirates points scheme at www.skywards.com

The difference in costs between economy and business is huge - virtually double.

Funnily enough I got an email through today from Virgin and they are doing returns flights to Tokyo for just £450 later this year.

Cheers

Chris

England
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7. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Here are some pictures of the Mt Fuji trip

picasaweb.google.co.uk/netsmithUK/Fuji…

New York
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8. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Hi Chris,

Your pictures look really great!! Thanks a lot for sharing your experience and the pix of the Mt. Fuji trip!!!

:-)

Kiev, Ukraine
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9. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

hi chris :0)

im going to tokyo soon for 2 days

im worried about the subway, how did you find it?

were there signs in english and japanese. Can you read any japanese?

did you travel on it at night? did you feel any intimidation at night from strangers, gangs?

what about the street signs? did you find it easy walking the streets? i understand theyre in numbers not names.

how come you nearly went wrong on the transport?

im also going to shibuya as well, what did you think of it? did you go at night? do you have any pics of that?

it sounds like you had a phenominal holiday, what woudl you suggest for just 2 days in tokyo?

many thanks if you can answer any of my many questions :0)

Japan
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10. Re: 14 days in Japan Inc Mt Fuji - my review :)

Chris,

I very much appreciated your photos! And thank you for the detailed report. Your description of the adventure of climbing Mt. Fuji is the most reaistic I have ever read!