With two uses left on the seishun juu hachi (18) kippu, we decided on a Saturday trip to Kofu in Yamanshi prefecture, just west of Tokyo. Sleep deprivation accumulated through the week meant a 7 am start was definitely preferable to a catching the first train of the day around 5am.
A train to Shinjuku, a rapid to Takao, and then a local train to Kofu had us there in about 3 hours. I'd expected that an early morning trip out of Tokyo would have meant few passengers; between private school students who still have Saturday classes and retirees dressed in hiking gear, the train was more crowded than I imagined and we stood part of the way between Takao and Kofu. At Kofu station it was apparent that many passengers, including a group of Chinese students, were using seishun 18 kippu.
Kofu isn't really on the foreigners tourist circuit, though with stunning views of Mt Fuji and Shosenkyo Gorge, I'm surprised it's not better known. Hiro had already checked the bus times to Shosenkyo and we had enough time to supplement the ume boshi onigiri I had made in the morning.
The bus went through Kofu and up a narrow winding mountain road and we got off at the terminal station where there was a ropeway. I suspect Asia contains the vast majority of the world's ropeways... where there is a mountain there shalt be a ropeway. It puzzles me that Mt Fuji has remained ropway free - I guess it's too high and would only be accessible a couple of months of the year. Against our better judgement we decided to see what there was to see at the top. The view was pretty, though we couldn't see Mt Fuji. The shrine and the like on top were a bit tired and tacky - toss some money into a collection box, beat the two sticks of the taiko drum at the same time and good luck would be yours for a long time.... A short wander from the ropeway up was a car road up to the summit... hmmmm...(something that always leave one feeling a bit duped)
But the view from up top was pretty, and we didn't feel it a waste of time; on a clearer day I imagine it would be spectacular.
View from the top
Looking down on the Arakawa dam
The shrine to the Taiko drum
The top of the ropeway
Bus times from Kofu to Shosengyo http://yamanashikotsu.co.jp/noriai/timetable01.htm