We went from mountain to flowers to strawberries to sake on the Mount Fuji and Shibazakura festival tour. It proved to be an excellent way to see the largest mountain in Japan and experience a different side of this magnificent country.
Almost synonymous with Japan itself is the iconic Mount Fuji, or Fujisan as the Japanese call it. Although we had seen the mountain from Hakone, we were looking forward to the more up-close views that this tour provides. Unfortunately, it was cloudy in Tokyo and chances of seeing the famous volcano mountain were slim to none.
An hour and a half drive from Tokyo, we were, however, treated to wonderful views of the Japanese hillside on our way to Mount Fuji second station. Our tour guide was entertaining and had much information to share. Some of it was related to the reasons why it’s hard to see Mount Fuji during this time of the year. It was during one such narrative, that she excitedly started yelling, “Fujisan, Fujisan, Fujisan!”. The weather had seemed to miraculously clear up and there was Fujisan in all it’s glory. I couldn’t decide if it was more entertaining to see the esteemed mountain or bear witness to the sheer excitement with which our guide was proclaiming its sighting. It was to be our only sighting of the mountain, and we were fortunate to have seen it. After a quick impromptu stop to take pictures, we headed to our next stop, the Heavenly Tulip Festival.
Heavenly Tulip Festival
The drive through the foothills of Mount Fuji on the way to the Heavenly Tulip festival, a part of the Grinpa amusement park, is beautiful. Once there, we were treated to rows and rows of multicolored tulip flowers. If it hadn’t been as cold (aka, if I was more suitably dressed for the high altitude weather) I would have loved to spend more time taking in the flowers. After spending a quick half an hour there, we headed to another flower stop, and definitely one of the highlights of our trip, the Shibazakura festival.
We had deliberately tried to read very little about the tour and really weren’t too sure of what to expect here. The sight, an endless carpet of flowers is spectacular. Eight hundred thousand of anything would make for quite an experience, when it comes to these flowers, the effect is astonishing. Even though it was cloudy and we didn’t get to see Mount Fuji in the background, this never ending sea of flowers left us speechless.
From flowers we went to fruits. Our next stop was an all-you-can-eat strawberries at a local strawberry farm. Trust me, when I say that this is one of the best strawberries I have had, and I am not even a strawberry fan. I was sad that our stop there was super short, it seemed like an entire day spent here would not have been a waste. With fruits in our belly, we headed to the Shuyukan brewery for sake tasting.
Sake tasting – Shuyukan brewery
The sake tasting at the Shuyukan brewery was our second sake tasting of the trip. Compared to the Gekkeikan in Kyoto the experience here was far superior. We had an extremely knowledgeable and friendly staff member who took us through the entire sake making process. It was so much better than having to sit through a video (Gekkeikan you need to do better!).