While in Japan, we hired a tour guide named Miko of Miko Tours. Knowing our time was limited and there was much to see Miko planned out an amazing itinerary for us to follow. Our first day with her was packed with a tremendous amount of activities.
We began our day dropping off our luggage at the Shinjuku station where we would be leaving it overnight.
Isn't it funny how colorful we look compared to everyone else?
We began our morning at the Meiji Temple. It certainly is fun to travel with friends!
Although Derek and I had been there the day before, this time we went to visit an inner garden that we hadn't seen yet.
It was beautiful in the garden. While there we got to see many beautiful water lillies in bloom.
The garden grounds were beautiful and peaceful.
It was an absolutely beautiful day.
MIko took us the Kiyomasa Well. A few years ago a television show shared that if you took a photo here it would bring you good fortune.
It led to this place being very popular after the airing of the show.
After leaving this beautiful garden we went exploring in Harajuku.
We went exploring down the famous Takeshita street which is popular for Harajuku fashion. We came across an arcade and Miko showed us how to use a Japanese photo booth.
After a full day of exploring we boarded a bus and headed towards the town of Kawaguchiko where Mt Fuji is located. I had never seen Mt Fuji in person but had heard that often it is covered with clouds and difficult to see. Recently I saw Mt. Fuji on an adorable card my friend Jodi made for her parents 50th wedding anniversary. Isn't this card adorable? It reminds me of our amazing time visiting Kawaguchiko.
You can read more about how Jodi created this card by visiting her blog The Stamping Owl.
This next part of the trip is what I would consider to be the "highlight" of our time in Japan. It was so special. We arrived at the Kawaguchiko station, we took a small bus to the Wakakus No Yso Maruei Ryokan. A Ryokan is a traditional Japanese Inn.
We were all taken to our beautiful rooms.
We dropped off our overnight bag and then gathered to learn how to properly wear a Yukata which is a light cotton kimono.
Once we were all dressed and ready we headed to experience a Japanese Kaiseki dinner.
When we opened the screen entrance to this beautiful setting it took my breath away.
It was a spectacular sight! We all were in awe as our host lit little candles on a small grill in front of each person where we would be able to cook some of the items displayed at our beautiful place setting.
The table sparkled.
It was a magnificent meal I won't soon forget. It was extra special to share this moment together with friends and family.
That evening we all were able to experience the Japanse Onsen or "hot bath". I wasn't sure I was going to do this but they had a private bath and that made it more comfortable for some of us who were feeling a little shy about using the public bath together! I am glad we had the opportunity to experience what it was like in private.
When we returned to our rooms, our futons were set out for us and we enjoyed a peaceful nights rest at this beautiful Ryokan.
Early the next morning I woke up when it was still dark out. I was anxious to go outside to see the mountain because it was too dark to view it when we arrived that evening. I woke up Derek and asked if he wanted to go with me and he said yes! We climbed up to the observation deck at the Ryokan and saw this amazing sunrise.
I was in awe of God's creation.
At first Mt. Fuji was covered with clouds just as we were told it might be, but as we stood there we watched the clouds roll away and viewed Mt. Fuji for the first time.
It was a moment I won't soon forget. With all the health challenges I've been facing and knowing that I was almost not going to be able to go on this trip I was filled with a tremendous amount of thankfulness and gratitude to God for allowing Derek and I to be together at that very moment.
As we looked at that mountain we vowed to return and climb it one day. Perhaps as a celebration when I am through with all my treatments!
Since we were up early we went for a walk.
It was a beautiful morning. Of course Derek went off to explore the edge of some rocks as he usually does. His mother warned me that he liked to live on the edge and I've experienced him doing just that many times!!!
It did make for a really nice photo op with the reflection on the water.
We went back to the Ryokan and enjoyed a traditional Japanese breakfast before heading off to start our day.
Miko took us to two different places to view Mt. Fuji. First to the Lake on a boat ride that was really pleasant.
Second to the top of a mountian on the Katchi Katchi Yama Ropeway,
While we on our way up, we learned a story about a rascal Japanse Tanuki.
We took a bus on our way to explore some ice caves. However on our way we stopped for some amazing shave ice.
It was topped with fresh mango and so delicious. Then we went a little further till we reached Saiko Iyashi no Sato Nenba, a traditional thatched roof village.
We spent a couple hours there. We enjoyed a delicious lunch.
There was craft classes for the kids.
and unique snacks for us to try.
Next we headed to the Narusawa Ice Caves. This is just the type of thing my adventurous friends, Meg and Lynsay have been "dragging' me to do since I met them.
I have to admit, it was really a COOL experience, no pun intended.
Here are some pictures from inside the caves.
Derek especially enjoyed the cool temperatures of the ice caves. I on the other hand prefer warmer temperatures.
The forest around the ice caves was so mysterious and beautiful.
As we left one of the ice caves I took this photo of a trash can.
I thought it was such an odd sight as trash cans in Japan are a rare sight so it was kind of funny to me to find one in the middle of this beautiful forest.
Our dinner that evening was another unique and amazing experience. We ate at a barbecue restaurant called Sanrokuen in Fujikawaguchiko-machi.
Here are some pictures of the amazing dinner we had there.
I loved the tofu and fresh corn while Derek loved the fresh fish.
I am so glad we got to experience this type of meal in Japan. It was really unique and delicous.
We certainly did a lot this day but I didn't feel overly tired. I felt healthy and strong and very thankful that God was strengthening me and helping me to enjoy every second of this amazing adventure. Guess what... there is even MORE because we headed back to Tokyo and checked into a cute 3 bedroom apartment where we all stayed together for the rest of our adventures in Japan. I'll share a little about that in my next post. Till then I hope you enjoyed traveling with me to experience one of the most amazing days I've ever had.