Our first stop with the campervan was Mt. Fuji. She must have been in a good mood because we got to see her very clearly for almost two days.
Fujisan has no rivers flowing out from her flanks, instead the water filters down through the rock into massive aquifers over a period of 80 years. The water is suppose to be incredibly pure and there are many sake breweries nearby. We visited there Ide sake brewery and got a great tour from the owner, who speaks good English, to entirely non-Japanese speaking group. He showed us the whole process and let us taste the sake casoul, a white, waxy paste that remains when the sake is filtered. It’s sold as a food supplement or cosmetic additive. After the tour, we tasted 2 sakes and an umeshu (Japanese plum wine). Unlike to Choya brand that makes it to the states, their umeshu wasn’t quite as sweet. Their sake is also very good. We liked the ginjo the best. If you’re in the area, stop in for a visit. The tour, tasting, sake glass and souvenir Fujisan postcards cost 500 yen per person.
Leaving Fujisan, we met a women at a rest stop/local food market, who was shopping while her husband was paragliding. She asked if we had come to try it since it is apparently a popular activity in the area. When we found out how perfect the weather conditions were and how reasonable the rates are, we decided to go for it. They drive you out to this tiny monorail that you take up a steep hill to the launch point. It was pretty awesome although next time I’ll take the Dramamine beforehand. We used the thermals to get higher than the launch point and watched other folks take off. After about 15 minutes of cruising around, we descended into a big field. My pilot made it seem so easy.
Afterwards, we celebrated our first “flight” with gelato at Fuji Milkland, a roadside dairy products store+restaurant+small farm, and a quick waterfall
detour en route to Kyoto via Nagoya and Nara.