Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Mt Fuji Caves

Yesterday was Labor Day Monday, which I have off from work.  We didn't want to waste it, but neither did we want to do a big trip since Kerri and Rowan just recently returned from the US.  So we decided to get out of town and check something out that we've been meaning to forever:  Ice Caves!

Along the northern slope of Mt. Fuji there are several lava formed caves that have very cool interiors.  They have been used for centuries to freeze ice and were one of the only sources of ice during the summer months for the very rich.  It's still pretty muggy and hot here, so going in the summer is the best time to appreciate the extremely cool temperatures.

It's about a 2 hour drive from Yokosuka, and the toll road takes you right by Fuji Q Highlands, the amusement park that we visited last year.  As tempting as it was, we didn't stop there this time.  We arrived at the first cave (the one called "ice cave") just after 4 or 5 busloads of kids on a school trip was disgorged.  So we bought our tickets at the machine and went to stand in line behind hundreds of blue tracksuit clad teenagers.  It was slow going, but still fun.  The temperature drops almost immediately as you descend the staircase, and the roof constantly drips little droplets of water on your head and clothing.  We were given helmets at the entrance, but you didn't really need them.  Deep inside at the bottom of the stairs were several piles of ice just hanging out.  Then we trekked back up the way we came and headed to the next cave.

 Down the road a short ways was the Wind Cave.  There wasn't any wind to speak of, but I guess they needed a different name.  There's a short walk in the woods from the parking lot and then another ticket machine and more helmets if you want them.  The immediate change in temperature here was even more noticeable.  It was an easier cave to navigate with a gentle slope most of the way.  There was also some ice here, and a section with what appeared to be silk worm storage.  We theorized this was how they kept the silkworms from becoming moths during the warmer months.  Unfortunately there were no ice columns, which this cave is famous for during colder months.

On our way to the Wind Cave we noticed a sign for a "Bat Cave" so we had to check that out.  It turns out there are bats, but not as many as there once were, and the section where they live is not available.  The walk to the cave was our favorite part as this is actually part of the Aokigahara Forest (aka Suicide Forest due to the number of suicides that occur here every year).  What is so neat about this forest is that it has grown on top of a huge lava flow, so the ground is all broken up and nigh impassable due to the lava formations.  It's very unique and quite beautiful.  The "Bat Cave" itself was one of our favorites.  There are some slightly harder passages where the ceiling is so low you have to get on your hands and knees.  We elected to bypass that section and send Rowan on ahead.  We met him on the other side.

Back at the parking lot is a little museum of sorts with random posters of bats and Batman movies because...why not?

It was a perfect day trip and we had a great time!  Check my food review blog for a review of the restaurant we ate at (Moose Hills Burger).

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