Shiraito Falls, Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, Mt. Fuji

Trip Start Apr 02, 2006
Trip End May 17, 2008

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Flag of Japan  , Chubu,
Sunday, January 23, 2011

I had a reason to make a living alone for a while, so I felt a bit nervous. From my experience, I knew it was a good idea to climb a mountain in that case, because it clears my mind of worries while climbing a mountain. However, I was not used to climbing a winter mountain and I hate to take a risk. To tell the truth, I was eager to climb Mount Fuji again. In fact, however, it is officially prohibited to climb the mountain from September to June. Somehow there are a few pictures of Mt. Fuji in my office. They were pictures of Mt. Fuji reflecting on Lake Tanuki, "Diamond Fuji", the sunset at the top of Mt. Fuji, etc. Then I hit on an idea. People enjoy not only climbing the mountain, but also viewing it. Especially, it is said that the best season to view Mt. Fuji is winter. So I thought even just a view of Mt. Fuji would make me feel better. So I searched for the best spot to view the mountain. Eventually, I found a lot of choices, but I decided to choose one of the nationally recognized scenic beauties: Nihon-daira Plateau or Miho Pine Grove. Miho Pine Grove was more accessible by bus than Nihon-daira Plateau and it has been selected as one of the New Three Most Scenic Spots of Japan. On the other hand, Nihon-daira Plateau was famous for Mt. Fuji views over Nihon-daira Hotel garden and over a tea plantation. In addition, it was close to Mt.Kuno and Kunozan Toshogu Shrine. I took the latter, because I wanted to see Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, and I was right. If I had taken the former, I would have had a chance to see nothing.

A few days ago, I happened to see commemorative pictures of the school trip to Tokyo 22 years ago. We stopped by the Shiraito Falls on our way back to Nagoya and took a commemorative picture there. In the picture, the teachers and students were arranged to form rows in front of the falls,... like "hiding" the waterfalls... It was difficult to tell where the picture was taken... Actually, I didn't remember anything about the waterfalls, so the picture which was supposed to remind me of the falls was pretty disappointing to me. Then I made up my mind to visit the waterfalls as a side trip.
My first destination was the Shiraito Falls. I got up a bit early in the morning and took the train to Fujinomiya. I used JR Holiday Pass for JPY 2,600, which enabled me to hop on and hop off JR trains unlimited times between Toyohashi and Kofu. Fujinomiya was farther than I had thought and Shiraito Falls were even farther. On my way from Fuji to Fujinomiya, Mount Fuji was vividly seen, because it was clear in the morning. People on the train was excited, viewing and photographing the mountain. It was an enjoyable thirty minute's ride. At Fujinomiya, the ticket seller kindly told me how to get to Sengen Taisha Shrine as well as the waterfalls. From Shiraito-no-taki Stop, Otodome Fall was a few minutes' walk and Shiraito Falls were another five minutes' walk. When I reached the Shiraito Falls, I couldn't remember anything about the last visit 20 years ago. The waterfalls were 20 meters tall and 200 meters wide. The water came from melting snow of Mt. Fuji. According to a survey, they were the most popular waterfall of Japan. They didn't give a tremendous impact, but gracious impression.

As I had planed, I headed back to Fujinomiya Station by way of Sengen Taisha Shrine. The shrine was vermilion-lacquered and grand. I was scheduled to take a picture of Mt. Fuji with the main torii gate of the shrine, but unfortunately the mountain was already covered with clouds, when I reached the shrine. The top attraction of the shrine was Wakutame Pond, which was registered as a special national natural treasure of Japan. The water was thawy snow of Mt. Fuji and crystal clear. I drank some water from a spring on the spot, although it was said that you must boil the water before drink it. Then I walked back to Fujinomiya Station. Unfortunately, a train for Fuji just had left before I reached the station, so I had 20 minutes left to catch the next train. I happened to find a fried noodle restaurant in the station building. Actually, I was not so hungry at that time, but because fried noodle was a speciality of Fujinomiya, I decided to taste it. It was JPY 450, a bit expensive, but I didn't realize the difference between Fujinomiya fried noodle and other fried noodle. 

The next destination was Nihon-daira Hotel of the Nihon-daira Plateau. The reason why I visit the hotel was not to stay there, but to see a beautiful Japanese garden against a background of Mt. Fuji. Unfortunately, the buses to Nihon-daira was very infrequent and I had to wait at Higashi Shizuoka bus stop for 50 minutes. Then I found 18m life-sized Gundam model across the railway. It was the same model displayed in Odaiba two years ago. I had seen it in Odaiba, so that I could not get interested in it this time. However, I had to kill time and had no alternative. So I was willing to head to Gundam. The model of Shizuoka was a bit different from that of Odaiba in that it held a weapon called "beam saber", but it was not its original colour pink. 

Gundam in Odaiba, etc. (my blog entry)
The Gundam didn't hold a beam saber at Odaiba.
Gundam in Shizuoka Video
The performance takes 7 minutes, which is longer than 5 minutes at Odaiba. Take a close look at the beam saber changing colours. 
Anyway, I took a bus to Nihon-daira. After I got off at Nihon-daira Hotel Entrance Stop, I headed for the building which I mistook for the hotel. Actually, it turned out to be the ruin of Nihon-daira Museum of Art and it proved that the number of visitors at Nihon-daira was declining. The hotel was beyond the museum. To be honest, I didn't expect a good view of Mt. Fuji any longer, because the mountain had been already covered with clouds, even when I was in Fujinomiya. Still, I wanted to take a chance .... and found out the mountain was totally covered with clouds.

Then I left for Kunozan, or Mt. Kuno, to visit Kunozan Toshogu Shrine, which included Tokugawa Ieyasu's first tomb. He was buried there in 1616 after he had lived in Sumpu Castle of Shizuoka late in his life. Actually, the second tomb of his is located in Nikko Toshogu Shrine, which was built 19 years later than Kunozan Toshogu by testament. The mausoleum of Nikko is more gorgeous and has been registered as a UNESCO's World Heritage Site since 1999. On the other hand, the main hall of Kunozan Toshogu Shrine just got registered as a national treasure last month. There were two ways to get to Kunozan Shrine: by ropeway from Nihondaira or on foot from the foot of Mt. Kuno. I took the former and if I had taken the latter, I must have "enjoyed" 1,159 steps. When I reached the shrine, it was half past four and I had only 20 minutes to see the mausoleum. I thought I had to see everything quick, but I didn't need to do and 20 minutes was just enough time. After that, I descended the steps to the foot of the mountain, taking pictures of old steps and Suruga Bay sometimes. Eventually, I was the last visitor who left the shrine. 

Nikko Toshogu Shrine, etc.(my blog entry)
A part of Ieyasu's body was transferred to Nikko. Incidentally, his funeral was held in Zojoji temple of Tokyo, the tablet with his posthumous names on it was set up in Daijuji Temple of Okazaki, the family temple of the Tokugawas.
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