Mt. Fuji Part I – Fuji-Q Highland Resort Hotel and Surrounding Areas
Before I start, I have to confess that I’m no fan of Mt. Fuji and not a hiking enthusiast. Therefore, Mt. Fuji is definitely one of the top destinations on any Japan trips (in fact, I know several Japanese friends who had never visited the mountain).
Now, so what was I doing there? The answer: I was there for a concert. Again, it’s no ordinary concert; the special event commemorates the tenth anniversary of Lantis Records – a record company specializing in anime songs and voice actors. The company is known for releasing records of anime song big names like JAM Project, the band known for its Super Robo genre songs.
Anyways, after going through all the trouble of getting the tickets, we (me and my Singaporean fellow otaku) reserved a room at the Fuji-Q Highland Hotel Resort. Being a resort hotel, the price is no doubt on the high-end. However, one cannot deny the convenience offered by its location – a five-minute walk from the concert venue. Given the close proximity and the fact that it’s located right next to an amusement park and ONSEN (hot spring), I think it was well worth the extra bucks. (Thanks to my diligent friend, we managed to secure a room with a view of Mt. Fuji).
The transportation to the hotel was very convenient. After arriving in Shinjuku, I rendezvous with my friend Johnny who secured a coach ticket to Fuji-Q Highland. The high-speed bus from the west gate of Shinjuku station has a stop literally in front of the hotel. My ticket for the trip cost 1700 yen. The trip took about 2 hours, so we arrived in the evening – too bad I wasn’t able to take shots of Mt. Fuji on the first day.
However, the good news was that each guest receives a ticket to the hot springs for each night of his or her stay at the hotel (well, you could also use the stub for a morning bath between 9AM and noon). So after we set down our stuff, we wanted some food for the stomach before washing away the fatigue from the body. Since we’re not exactly loaded with cash, the first mission was to look for affordable food in the area.
Fortunately, the national freeway (though it doesn’t look much of a freeway. In fact, it reminds me of Foothill Boulevard back in LA at the Claremont end. The shops and restaurants were more like the US than anywhere I’ve been in Tokyo or Osaka, with big parking lots and tons of space in between. Yes, there are also oversized billboards to make sure drivers can identify them. With some adjustments to my perception of distance, it wasn’t all that bad trying to get around.
We actually found diners and restaurants offering different kinds of cuisine, from the traditional Japanese Ramen (noodle) to cook-it-yourself Okonomiyaki (Japanese pancakes). Of course, we also found a 7-Eleven and a Family Mart to resupply drinks and snacks for the night.
After a hearty meal at the Ramen restaurant (I had Ramen with Miso and butter – quite a combination) and scavenging for drinks at the convenience store, we headed back to the hotel to prepare for the visit to the hot spring. We were told that all that’s required is the admission ticket, so we brought nothing (though the hotel people also warned us not to wear bath robes and slippers – something that Johnny decided to ignore. So yes, he was in his slippers when walking in public area). The ONSEN building is connected to the hotel by a long walkway (I found that the walkway was actually a bridge, suspended 4 stories up in the air).
Arriving at the ONSEN counter, we had to put our shoes in a locker box. After dropping off the locker key at the counter, the receptionist handed us a wristband that includes a tag with a barcode. He told us we can use the barcode to buy milk and other stuff inside the hot spring areas, so we can enjoy the comfort of milk after a hot bath and settle the bill later. By the way, the hotel also offers a complimentary small towel (we get to keep) and a body towel (which we had to return). Of course, there were also Japanese bathrobes available, but we couldn’t bother.
The setup inside the locker room area was identical to Taiwanese hot springs, so we didn’t have much problems figuring out what to do. Now, the part that impressed me was the huge wooden building that housed the baths (there was also an exquisite outdoor area – great for a cold evening). The main bath area was divided into the showering area (more like you sit down and wash yourself, sitting on a small stool with a small mirror and shower hose); a massage bath pool (with a reclining chair-like setup where you can enjoy a water massage); a Mt. Fuji mineral hot spring pool, a cold water pool (to cool yourself off after a long soak in hot water); a pool that uses different ingredient each day (I soaked in Lavender-flavored and lemon-flavored water for two days in a row); and a HUGE public bath.
Frankly, I think the hotel was actually one of the most enjoyable part of my stay in the Mt. Fuji region. During my previous trips, the hotel was used as a place to store my items and goodies and a bed for the night. After this trip, I can finally say that the hotel itself is as enjoyable as the other attractions.
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