Finally figured out what city we’re in. I knew the Prefecture (Yamanashi) but not the city. It’s Fujiyoshida and appears to be dominated by this hotel, the amusement park behind it and a commercial strip with restaurants, some with familiar names (McDonald’s, Big Boy, KFC,) but the good is different than the starts. Word has it the burgers at Big Boy were more like meatloaf with gravy. We stuck with Japanese food and went to Aiya, which we decided was the Applebee’s of Japan, a chain restaurant with serviceable fare – we had sashimi, tempura, tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlet) etc. We were the only westerners there (for awhile) and it was a useful experience to be in a place that didn’t cater to tourists (i.e., no English menu or English spoken). We sat next to a couple and their elderly mother who ordered a lot of food. (The woman started with an ice cream sundae.)
Today we went to Saiko lyashi no Sarto, a reconstructed ancient village with thatched roofed wood houses climbing up a thickly vegetated hillside lined with purple and pink hydrangea. We’d already had a taste of this environment in Kyoto and it reminded us a bit of Living History Farms in Des Moines but it was a pretty place to stroll and Mt Fuji peaked out from the clouds now and then.
After a good lunch at the Japanese restaurant in the hotel, we drove on the bus about 45 minutes to station 5 of Mt. Fuji, so we were actually on the mountain. Clouds broke up the view below but we could see most of the peak — dark brown earth with patches of green. Lovely. Just back from the onsen (bath house) feeling refreshed. On to the last banquet.