After our lunch over looking Lake Kawaguchi our tour took the Kachi Kachi Yama Ropeway up to Fujimidai station which is near the peak of Mount Tenjo. I takes about 45 minutes to hike up to the station if you want the exercise. It’s a great spot to see Mt. Fuji.
After taking the little cabel car up we were given time to wander around the observation point and warned not to continue on (through the Mitsutoge trail) because it would take too long.
There’s a couple small things to do at the observatory. You can practice Kawarake throwing, where you throw kawarake (a type of pottery) to get rid of evil spirits and find a good match. Or-
There’s a shrine with two stone statues of Usagi. The one on the left is standing and you stroke it for strong legs, it’s called the Fujimi Usagi. The other one is covering its face and curled up, it’s called the Yumemi Usagi and you rub it to gain wisdom.
If your hungry there’s a Tanuki (racoon dog) Tea House to buy snacks like dumplings. They also serve other snacks and drinks and there’s a souvenir shop. Nearby is the Bell of Tenjo. The Bell of Tenjo is used mostly by groups. A couple rings the bell, first once each while looking at the other then together. Families ring the bell for health.
You can also get your picture taken with some of the statues and with Mt. Fuji in the background. The statues, found throughout the observatory and area are of a rabbit and a racoon dog. (Usagi and Tanuki)
Why are these creatures everywhere? It has to due with a Japanese folktale. In the mountains there was an old man who lived with his wife. He found the Tanuki running around in his field, destroying his crops and caught it. He then left to get supplies to deal with the raccoon dog (to cook and eat it) and while he was gone the Tanuki tricked the old man’s wife into letting him go, promising to help her finish making mochi only to turn around and kill her. The Tanuki pretended (shape-shifted) to be the old man’s wife and made dinner, of her, to feed to the husband. After the old man ate, the Tanuki revealed itself and left the old man distraught. The old man and his wife had a friend in the mountains, an Usagi (rabbit) who comforted the old man and told him that it would get revenge. The rabbit set about befriending and torturing the Tanuki in various ways, be it with hornets nests, treating the stings with a peppery salve or getting the Tanuki to help carry wood up the mountain on it’s back only to set it on fire. (the sound it makes is Kachi Kachi) Eventually the raccoon dog and the rabbit went for a race in the river, or went fishing (depending on the version of the story), the rabbit in a wooden boat and the Tanuki in a boat of mud which eventually sunk. As it sunk and the Tanuki not knowing how to swim called to its friend the rabbit for help, the Usagi explained it’s revenge and why the Tanuki was getting what it deserved. There is also a novel inspired by the folktale.
The observatory was a nice spot to see Mount Fuji. Though it was still pretty cloudy so we couldn’t see all of it.
It was also super hot so it was a bit too much and I quickly retreated back down the mountain towards the bus and the lake to cool off. Which was fine because there were plenty of shops by the bus.