The side-trip that we included on our Japan voyage was to the Mt. Fuji-Five Lakes area, so named because it’s…near Mt. Fuji and the five lakes that surround it. While Mt. Fuji is only open to climbers about two months of the year (and we are not crazy mountain climber types), there is also a fair amount of reasonable hiking in the area, as well as (another) amusement park at which GP could reach his 300-coaster milestone. (Yes, 300. That is a lot.) Our destination in the area was Kawguchiko, just on the shore of Lake Kawaguchi. While the process of buying the bus tickets to get out here was among the most trying parts of the trip, language-barrier-wise, it wasn’t so bad, and after about two hours, we arrived here:
The hotel in which we stayed was a traditional ryokan, complete with an onsen (bath) to share with dozens of naked Japanese people (single-sex, so it was mostly like a spa, but a spa at which I am the lone white lady with anything resembling hips).
Anyway. The ryokan was lovely, and we had our very own fancy tatami room, complete with layered futons to sleep on, and a short table at which to eat our (mostly purchased at convenience stores) breakfasts and dinners.
While nature was, of course, at least half of the draw to this area, there was definitely an ulterior motive: roller coasters! You will remember that GP is, to put it mildly, interested in roller coasters. It just so happens that there is an amusement park in the Mt. Fuji area, Fuji-Q (or Fujikyu, in it’s less-anglicized form) Highland, that has a decent handful of roller coasters, including a recently-opened record breaker called Takabisha. The record in question might be best shown in photo form, I think.
That right there? That’s the vertical second lift, that brings you to the landmark drop. See, first they bring you straight up one side, then they sloooowly bring you over the top. You sloooowly approach the precipice, and then you just hang there for what feels like an eternity. Then you’re taken over a 121 degree vertical drop. Because going straight down wouldn’t make you mess yourself enough. I know there are a lot of italics in this paragraph, but I have to make certain that you know how nuts this ride was. The most pleasant surprise of this at-least-a-little-terrifying-looking ride was that it was incredibly smooth– much more so than some of its neighbors, such as former record-breaker Fujiyama.
The “4D” movement of Eejanaika. For you Californians or other coaster enthusiasts, it’s like a smoother version of X2 at Magic Mountain. For you others fortunate enough to have preserved the brain cells that we’ve likely lost riding these things, 4D means that, in addition to doing the regular spins and loops that are laid out on the track, the cars do independent flips and twists. Disorienting doesn’t even begin to describe it.
Or even the really, really, really fast Dodonpa. (Yes, 107 miles in 1.8 seconds sort of makes you forget where you left your heart…until you find it in your throat.)
One of the few rides we skipped, despite the warm temperatures (and mostly because of ridiculous humidity) was a raft ride. However, if you think that this means I didn’t put my face in this cat’s mouth for a photo, you haven’t been paying much attention.
And this concludes my three-part review of our trip to Japan. Someday I’ll finish curating and editing all the pictures we took, and of course I’ll share them, but I hope I’ve provided enough inspiration to make everyone want to take a trip to someplace that seems at least a little intimidating, whether its because of how far away it is, the possible pitfalls due to a language barrier, or the fact that there are rides there that may or may not cause brain injuries.