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The day started with a perfect sunrise over the eastern Lake Kawagushi mountains. Keith ran upstairs at 6 a.m. to photograph Fuji, in all its sunrise splendor, perfectly cloudless and looming snowcapped majestically in the South. Breakfast was another elaborate affaire with salmon, rice, mushi cakes, fruit, blueberry milk custard, lots of tea, miso soup in enoki mushroom broth.

After breakfast we drove to Oshina Hakkai, a partially restored Edo era village with views of Mt. Fuji and 8 natural springs. The weather began to get rainy and windy so we pushed on to Saiko lyashi no sato Nenba in the Saiko Valley, but by this time Mt. Fuji was completely shrouded in cloud cover and the rain comes down heavier. Saiko lyashi is a thatched roof village featuring local craftsmen and cultural events. The village has a restored water-mill for grinding wheat, rice or buckwheat. Many of the town craftsmen specialize in distinctive ceramic owls seemingly a good luck charm for the region. Tourists tried on kimonos and samurai armor, viewed potters shaping clay, bought paper crafts, washi and mobile ornaments and ate soba noodles.

The rest of the day Peter spent driving to Keiunkan Ryokan deep into the Mt Fuji forest region. Peter drove around hair pin turns, and down into canyons of raging rivers and creeks. The weather got worse and worse, rain pouring down and wind howling. A car came screaming around a corner trying to pass two trucks on the right, and worse right between us and the trucks. Was there enough room? Pete swerved the Prius to the left, barely avoiding a head-on collision and also avoiding a plunge over the guard rail into the chasm below. We followed more hairpin turns, more canyons and raging rivers, washouts, rock slides and finally a tunnel totally destroyed by a landslide, making a by-pass necessary. We finally reached our destination: The Keiun-Kan Ryokan perched 200 feet above a roaring creek, and surrounded on each side by steep mountains. Changing into Yukata, Peter and Anne ventured into the Onsen waters which smelled of sulfur. Anne followed the shower instructions this time soaping up and washing and rinsing off with hot spring water and then stepping into the onsen, the water much cooler than the previous evening’s onsen. Grandmothers, their daughters and granddaughters also enjoyed the waters, got out of the onsen and took a 20 minute shower for a second time, this time washing their hair and then stepped back into the onsen.

The keiunkan staff served dinner in our room. See side bar...

Keiunkan Dinner Menu

Our Japan Blog

Oshina Hakkai

Saiko lyashi no sato Nenba

Sunrise, Mt Fuji Summit

Dinner at Keiunkan Ryokan

Dinner at Keiunkan Ryokan

See menu and place mat with matching cherry blossoms. Keith ordered Soryu Kai Noir, a low quality wine at a very high price!

The feast included tofu, green peas and spring vegetables. Fish broth with local vegetables, beef tartar radish with mustard dollops, take (bamboo) with prune and lemon. The next course is tofu with mixed green beans, local river sashimi, yuba, fresh or dried layers of soy bean milk skin, and stuffed tomato with beef gravy. Delicious! Next course is acorn noodles and salt roasted local trout, followed by marbled beef, mushrooms and onions cooked with Mt. Fuji rocks, aka Koshu Beef “Lava Rock From Fuji.” Then we feasted on lime jello with kiwi, blueberry, plum and tomatoes, and udo (white fat from edible stalk of plants). Fuki pickles, daikon and cucumbers, bamboo rice, and bamboo bowl miso soup followed the lime jello. Finally dessert was a pudding with cream, strawberry, grapefruit and apple...all from nearby farms.