Starting the day lucky. Weather forecast earlier in the week was cloudy and raining today Saturday, but the skies were done with the rain after nonstop downpour yesterday and this morning we finally have the sun. So its time for Mount Fuji, and exactly, the five lakes region. Destination town will be Kawaguchiko at the foot of Fujisan. Have tried to see the mountain twice before in the past. In Kamakura there was rain, in Hakone dense fog. Elusive as it is, I going closer each time. This trip I’ll be bringing some serious lightweight firepower. Leica M6, Ricoh GR Digital and a Fujifilm GA645i. 120 films are a combo of Fuji Velvia 50 and Fortia. 35mm includes Kodak 160VC and a host of black and white films. Not intentionally for landscape, but just happen to have it with me. Will test out the 160VC for landscape. Wierd choice I know.
Will not have my gps with me this time, and a rough idea of where all the stuffs are, but this is almost strictly a photo outing, so in theory all I should care about would be the lakes overlooking the mountain.
At the keio bus ticketing counter almost at 10am. Its located just across from the main Yodobashi Camera at Shinjuku. There are 6 counters, each selling tickets to different sets of destinations. Counter 6 sells Kawaguchi-ko. The queue is reasonably long, moving a little quicker than a typical chines queue in Shanghai. Too bad the ticketing office is probably too small. And its 10am and my next available ticket will be for the noon bus. Lucky its just next to Yodobashi so thats where I’m heading to.
Arrived at Kawaguchi-ko at 2pm right at the train station. Bought right away the bus tickets back to Shinjuku at 1700Y and also the Rokuroku Goko pass at the same price. Not too sure but it seems that this pass will get me all the way to Motosuko and the smaller Syojiko (I’m sure i got it wrong since I don’t have a reference where I’m standing here). Will go to the smaller remote lake first this afternoon. There are only 2 buses per day there and the next one is at 1528hrs. Once I get there it should be 1600 and the last bus is at 1630! The next time I come here I’d have to get a car. There is no way to shoot morning photos at the most western two lakes.
Argh! It has to be the curse of fujisan. Took the 45min long bus to Lake Shoji and fujisan is obscured! I can still shoot some landscape with blue skies, but Mount Fuji is attracting too much cloud! Not too happy. Will come again to Panoramadai Shoji bus stop on the banks of Shoji-ko.
Checked into K’s House Hostel around 5pm and since the sun is still up, decided to take a stroll around kawaguchiko. Loaded the Neopan 1600 and did some night vision shooting with the Leica. Not really that cold today, but still no view of mount fuji. Could see a little of the peak here and there but on the digital point and shoot it looked a little like cloud. Had ramen for dinner with clear soup. The hostel has wifi so I checked the internet and realised I have to wake up at 5am to catch the sun rising over fujisan. I’ve already scouted the northern banks of the lake near the and will be there tomorrow. Also did some research on how to do both Shokiko and Motosuko tomorrow morning before the bus back at 3pm. Ok then, time to sleep.
Photographers are a crazy bunch. Stayed in a 4 bed dorm last night and one guy was what they call a 1000 horse power diesel engine when it comes to snoring. I’ve really never had the thought of snuffing someone’s life quiet till lasty night. Anyway, 5am was the time, and went to the spot I scouted last night on lake Kawaguchi, and just sat on some large boulder waiting for Fujisan toi emerge from the clouds. At 6ish, it happened. First it was the summit that was visible, then the whole mountain, basking in the clear morning sunlight. Loaded some medium format Fortia into the GA645i and 160VC into the leica. Strange choice I know. There was a couple on the lake bank with their silver Canon DSLR and while they were snapping away I was visibly much much more selective. Maybe its after some time on film. The early morning brought calm waters and a nice reflection. There was a scene where some goose was preparing to take off in front of Mt Fuji but if only I had a D3. But it happened so fast I doubt I would have been able to capture it. Ok, so that aside, happy with the morning session. Back in the hostel for a cup of tea and then 9am its time to go out and go to Shoji and Motosu lakes by bus.
Damn bus schedule. Looks like my 940am bus doesn’t exist after all. There goes my plan of doing Shoji and Motogu in the same morning. Will take the 1048hrs bus instead and since I was already at Shoji yesterday, will take it to Motogu and leave Shoji for the next trip in the future. Bus passed Shoji and the view is spectacular. Too bad the sun was at the apogee, top, so it will look washed out when photographed since there is just too much atmospheric fog.
First disappointment. The bus to motoguko does not go around the circumference. In fact it only stops at the first car park near the main road. So to take a photo of the lake with fujisan in the background will require a half an hour walk at least. Not that I bothered to try it with the bus leaving in less than 1 hr! But heres another tip. Go down to the lake level and there is a little path complete with black volcanic rocks that leads around the lake. And there are some nice views here with and without the volcano in the background. This is a revelation. Didn’t go away from this place disappointed. Just that next time I do really need a car.
Back at the kawaguchiko train station 2hrs before the bus was scheduled to depart. Spent 30mins wandering around the town with the leica for some street shots without people. Had a taste of the local udon with miso soup. Funny I can’t remember the two syllable name. Its vegetarian by the way.
Happy happy with this trip. Got some nice shots with my lightmeter, also known as the Ricoh GR Digital. Cannot really tell for the medium format but if the digital is great, I can’t really wait to see the film result! Finally I can say I have seen Mount Fuji, but not just that, this trip has made me think that I will need to return to this place again. There are just too many different vantage point for photo taking to be bored. Can’t wait to see the photos, especially the medium format!!!