Mt. Fuji: Japan's Most Sacred Mountain

When I used to picture the land of the rising sun as a child, somehow Mt. Fuji and its perfectly shaped cone always came to mind. You know the school activity: draw a horizontally-longer triangle on a piece of paper, add criss cross lines near the peak to signify snow, add a sun behind the peak, and you have Mt. Fuji.  It was grand yet mysterious, elegant yet mystical.

So when I had the opportunity to visit Tokyo, I knew that it was the right time to pay my respects to Japan's most sacred of mountains.

* And boy did she not disappoint! Despite the freezing temperature, what a view!

* Also due to the aforementioned weather, this was the closest any of us were able to get to the peak. So this is what a perfect cone looks like up close!

* A sign denoting that we are 2020 meters up; Station 4 to Mt. Fuji. 

* Angling for that perfect shot with the busloads of tourists.

* And I do mean busloads of tourists!

* Along the way, I was able to get a glimpse of the eerie Aokigahara Forest, found at the northwestern base of Mt. Fuji.  Known as the sea of trees where ghosts dwell in Japanese mythology, the Forest has become infamous for being Japan's suicide forest where as many as 80 bodies are found each year.

* Lunch for today was the single-portion smorgasbord of goodness known as the bento.

* Post-lunch stroll around the town of Hakone; a town full of souvenir stalls and random touristy goodies.

* Are those... pirate ships?!

* Sailing does not get any cooler than this! Trying to unleash my inner "Master and Commander" Russel Crowe at this point.

* Though sailing and the freezing weather DO NOT make a good combination, especially when one wants to take lots of pictures of the scenery.

* Understandably, bicycle boats float unused and unimpressed at us unfortunate travelers.

* Wait what?!

* Now here's a good idea: ice cream in the winter!

* Just in case any of us get lost as we're darting to and from the safety of warm shelter.

* What a fine selection of incomprehensible snacks!

* Snow for the frozen children to get even colder with!

* Lake Ashi is a famous local attraction known for its hot springs, historical sites, and charming shops and stalls, along with this spectacular view.

* Of these historical sites, the most famous is definitely Hakone Shrine, visited by shogun, samurai, and now travelers throughout the centuries.

* Does anyone remember the Three Ninjas film series from the 90s?

* Mt Fuji, Lake Ashi, and Hakone Shrine showing-off their stuff.


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