Silver Week is another long national holiday for Japan beside Golden Week. I got days off from September 21st-23rd which makes it 5 days including weekends. On Saturday, my friend who’s working in the Air Force told me that they’re having a Friendship Festival on base. I’ve been to this festival once but on a different base. It’s that time of the year when American military bases are opened for anyone (not exactly everyone..they don’t let people of certain nationalities inside but you know what I mean.) There are some shows/food booth/live music provided and you can expect a lot of Japanese people joining the festival every year. I love food and love spending time with my friends, of course I went to the festival this year. Yokota Air Force base is closed to Fussa station. It’s soooo far. It took me around an hour to get there. My friend picked me and some other friends up at the station, otherwise we would have to walk an extra 20-30 minutes to reach the base. Yokota is probably the biggest American military base in Tokyo. The festival was pretty cool. I saw a lot of planes and got to see the inside of this really big plane that’s use to carry cargos. I had Maguro burger and it was not as bad as I thought. I told my friend I want to see guns. I was actually joking because I like to tease him about how he owns many guns and that having more guns doesn’t mean less crime. Our group is quite international and we discussed about guns issue in the US before. I still can’t wrap my mind around their ideas about guns to be honest. Anyway, he thought I meant it. He called his cop friend and let me see the gun. He couldn’t pull it out from his pocket though, so I just stared like an idiot. We chatted for a while after and I felt super tired. Before I left, my friend let me borrow his sleeping bag for my camping trip on Monday. It was a mistake. It’s pretty big and took so much space. So I decided to make an even worse mistake. I didn’t bring it but took my blanket instead. I definitely underestimated how cold it could get at night time. I learned it the hard way. 😦
I didn’t come up with the idea of camping during Silver Week. My French friends did. They are a very nice couple I got to know at a house party earlier this year. We made a list of camp sites closed to Tokyo and called to ask on Sunday evening if it would be okay to go on Monday. Some camp sites do not have reservation service, and we knew it’s pretty risky to go during Silver Week because a lot of Japanese people will be there. We got a hesitant yes (which means yes in this case) from Tanuki Lake camp staff. Hooray!
It’s my first time ever to go camping with a tent and all those cool stuff. We chose Tanuki Lake because it looks stunning in the pictures and we thought they have some equipment like BBQ stands for rental. (They actually don’t. haha Learned it the hard way again.) Tanuki Lake is in Shizuoka – about 3 hours by bus from Tokyo. Unfortunately, the earliest departure time is 9-10ish, we had to go by train instead. On Monday, I woke up at 4.20AM and got on a 4.58AM train to Shinagawa station which was our meeting point. We took a Tokaido line bound and switched trains several more times. We arrived at Tanuki Lake campsite a bit before 9AM. We filled out a registration form and paid about 2000YEN/person/2 nights. We thought it was a reasonable price.
We then asked the staff where we could rent BBQ stands/kettle and other stuff. The answer was, “We have nothing. You need to bring everything here, if you want to do BBQ.” We were stunned and felt very unprepared. The French guy was disappointed because he was looking forward to BBQ the most. He was talking about it all the way there. We tried to make each other feel better saying it’s okay we’ll figure it out after we put our tent down. Once we walked to the camping area, I almost laughed. It’s no where near camping I had imagined. There were so many people and all the tents were set right next to each other. There was barely private space for each tent.
We walked to the end of camping area but didn’t find a good spot at all. However, it was almost check-out time, so we started to see some people cleaning up and putting their tents away. We got a very nice spot right by the lake. It was a bit slopey but not a problem. Once we were settled, we walked around to observe the facilities. We wanted to know what else we needed apart from cooking equipment. The restroom was slightly stinky but there were both traditional toilets and western toilets (warm seat!). There were 3 shower rooms and all of them looked kinda nasty. You definitely need to put your shoes on while taking a shower, so please don’t forget to bring your flipflops. One more thing, it costs 200YEN/5 mins to take a shower. Bring a lot of 100YEN coins! Both cold and hot water are provided, so don’t worry about freezing cold water.
There was a “cooking facility” nearby and there was nothing except a sink to wash/clean stuff.
We ended up thinking 1000YEN per night is overpriced since there’s nothing useful for campers. I guess we paid for our tent spot and a pretty scenery. It was prohibited to swim in the lake. Why did I even bring my swimsuit? 😦 We will probably prefer to go camp somewhere else next time. This place was not bad at all but we wanted more activities and facilities because we don’t have a car. It’s difficult to bring a lot of stuff and carry it around on the train. We walked further to a hotel and asked if there’s any supermarket around. They suggested that we should take a bus to either Fujinomiya station or waterfalls. The bus stop was in front of the hotel parking lot, so we waited there. The bus was 10 minutes late. I wouldn’t feel anything if I were in my home country but wow 10 mins late is a big deal in Japan. Maybe because we’re not in Tokyo.
We got off at a stop near a spot where waterfalls are located at. We first saw Shiraito Falls or 白糸の滝. It was stunning! I wish we could get in the water and have fun but no Japanese people did that. We figured it must be inappropriate or maybe they prohibit people from playing in the water. We just took photos, sat on the rocks, and admired the view.
We walked up the hills and found many souvenir shops. I bought some oranges and chatted with the shop owner. We walked a bit further and there was another waterfall called Otodome. It’s not as pretty as the first one but it was special. We saw a rainbow!!! That made my day. 🙂
We observed around the area and tried to find a supermarket but there was nothing beside a convenient store. We had to go into the city and the next bus would come in half an hour. My friend started thinking of hitchhiking; I wrote big letters on a paper saying, “富士宮駅おねがいします~” which kinda means Fujinomiya Station please. People in the cars mostly looked and laughed but no one stopped. 😥 But, miracle happened! A man in his 50s took us in and drove us to a big DIY store where we bought tiny bbq stands, charcoals, and other necessary stuff. Then, he took us to a supermarket to buy food. He even drove all the way back and dropped us off at our camp. He also gave us some fish he got when he went fishing today. We were really grateful for his help and it sure made us thought of the concept of paying it forward. We asked for his contact info, so we can send him a photo we took together and some little gifts to say thank you. 🙂
Later that night, we had a pretty awesome BBQ time. I love having fire in the middle while we enjoyed our meal and talked about every single topic we could think of. We didn’t have to worry about work and stuff. Just us under the moon and nice music. It would be even more fun if we had more friends though.
We planned to wake up early to see sunrise the next morning but no one woke up. Haha…no surprise! It got pretty cold at night. I wasn’t actually sleeping until it got warmer in the morning. I promise to myself I will bring a sleeping bag next time. We took a walk around the whole area. It’s pretty big and took us more than an hour. We saw some people fishing, kids riding bicycles etc.
The next day we woke up early but it was cloudy, so we couldn’t see Mt.Fuji that well. We could see a reflection on the lake too. I cannot imagine how incredible it would be on a bright sunny day! 🙂
We had to leave that day and checked out around 2PM. The bus to the city came at 2.15PM – perfect timing. We had plenty of time to go back to Tokyo so we decided to stop by at Atami station which is close to the beach. It took us around 20 minutes to walk to the beach from the station and we were not that impressed. There were something in the middle of the sea and it kind of ruined the view.
We had dinner near the beach and headed back to Tokyo on a long train ride. I was so exhausted when I got home. I cannot wait for a holiday next week. I’ll go to Sendai and visit a Fox Village! I will let you know how it goes.