Tl;dr – silent taxi, bags in lockers, cable car, traditional food, sitting about, night bus, Maccie D’s with invincible bird sized bugs, underground walk
We had carefully considered our options on how to get to Kyoto. We could have got a 2 hour bus back to Tokyo and from there get a number of buses that took between 6 and 9 hours, or a 3 hour bullet train for £100. We had one direct option from Kawaguchiko – an overnight bus. 9 hours for £45. This meant saving £25 odd on our accommodation in Kyoto and was the cheaper bus option, so we went for it.
We got back to the station by taxi as we had just showered after our big bike ride and wanted to remain fresh. Again, no words were shared until we departed his vehicle and this time, while heaving Kate’s backpack (nicknamed “Big Bertha”) he said “ooo, heavy”.
Our bus was at 20:52 and we had wanted to see the Kachi-Kachi Ropeway, a gondola up a nearby hill. Once there we paid our round-trip fee and whizzed our way to the top of the hill. We had fantastic views of Lake Kawaguchiko on the way up.
At the top, the great selling point of the ropeway is the uninterrupted view of Mt Fuji. We were beaten once more by our mortal enemy, clouds.
The top was another typical set-up of vending machines, gifts and a cafe. There were also a lot of rabbit paintings and statues with a miniature shrine based on rabbits, that oddly seemed to be the theme of the gondola.
All that gondolaing made us hungry so we set off in search of the Fuji 5 Lakes specialty dish – hoton foudou or vegetable noodle soup. What makes it special is the noodles are big. I may not fully understand the intricacies of it but it didn’t seem that special. However it came out in a big black pot, it was delicious and it looked the part, as did the restaurant.
After all this we still had a fair wait for our bus but we were worn out from all the cycling so we just went and sat in the bus station. A relatively large wait later 2 busses turned up outside bound for Kyoto. We didn’t know which one ours was so we queued up for the popular one and waited. The guy in front assured us we were waiting in the right queue. At the front of the queue the driver asked us to get on the other bus. Thankfully it hadn’t left, despite everyone (bar us) being on it so we got on and found our seats.
All the curtains were drawn and it was all a bit disconcerting but, with a quick check of Google maps from time to time showed we went south first to a few other towns around Mt Fuji. Once the last people were on and the bus was almost completely full, the curtains were drawn at the front and all the lights went off. So with my seat back and sexy neck pillow on I dozed off.
We had been told that, due to roadworks, we would likely arrive in Kyoto at 7am. I had a delayed overnight bus before and it was great because I got some extra sleep. True to Japanese punctual form we arrived at Kyoto at 6:00am. It seemed that everything in Kyoto station opened at 8am, as our hostel reception did. However the station did have a 24 hour McDonalds so we camped there with some breakfast. Whilst there a giant bug flew at my head. Like the size of one of those tiny little birds. Maybe a baby little bird… It crashed onto the floor and I instinctively stood on it. When I lifted my foot up it started crawling away so I panicked and stamped on it, multiple times and pushed down as hard as I could for 10 seconds or so. When I lifted up my foot again it started crawling away again! So I just held it under my foot while I tried my best to eat my breakfast.
At 7:50am we set off in search of our hostel. We walked under the Kyoto station to the north exit. This took around 10 minutes, having arrived at the south end and with Kyoto station being another huge station. Once we surfaced we were on the crossroads for our hostel. So 2 minutes later we arrived.
16:30 (GMT +9) taxi from K’s Hoste Fuji View to Kawaguchiko Statiom: 10 minutes, ¥1,360 (£10.22)
20:52 bus to Kyoto Station: 9 hours 8 minutes, ¥12,400 (£93.16)
07:50 walk to Hana Hostel: 12 minutes
Total time in transit: 9 hours 3 minutes
Total travel time: 15 hours 32 minutes
Total cost: £103.38 (£51.69 each)