Chas had a few days off from work so he decided to rent a car and drive us to Mount Fuji. The mountain is about three hours away by car (using the highly tolled but perfectly maintained expressways). The scenery was so nice that we would have driven straight through. However, the Toyota Vitz we rented was displeased and after two hours advised us, politely and in English, to take a break.
There was still snow on the ground in places so we were only allowed to visit the first station on the mountain. We lucked out as ten minutes after reaching the viewing platform the clouds covering the mountain blew away and Fujisan finally appeared. For the rest of the weekend the views of it only improved. The pictures don’t do it justice.
Off season and the fact that we could share a room meant that we could afford to splurge on a room at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. It was pleasant sitting at the kotatsu, the heated table one sits at with folded knees, eating convenience store dinner as a rainstorm passed. I didn’t understand the appeal until I finally realized from knee pain that I managed to fold them in the wrong way. A visit to the inn’s onsen, or hot spring baths, was a relaxing end to the day.
After an additional visit to the onsen and a delicious traditional breakfast, we drove around to see sights at the ninja village, a traditional pilgrimage site, and at several Shinto and Buddhist shrines. The trips were hitch-free if you don’t count the time when we accidentally parked in the employee parking lot at one of the shrines.
We gave ourselves plenty of time to drive back to Ota in case of traffic. Thus, we were able to fit in a trip to the local Sega World before returning the car. The arcade machines we played were similar to Guitar Hero and were a lot of fun to play. The claw machines were really challenging. I didn’t see the appeal of “Star Horse 3: Exceed the Limit” though – maybe since it allowed a dozen people to play at once? I later learned that you compete not just with other Ota Sega World patrons but with players across Japan as well.