Our recent travels (to Izu and the safari park) brought back memories of our first trip to Shizuoka, and we were both reminiscing with certain amusement how different our trips were then and now, so I thought to write a post on it (Flashback Friday is still alive, yo!)
It was our first time living in Japan (this is our second time around! story here) back in 2010, and Fu was a graduate student on exchange in Tokyo while I was a poor teacher.
Not taking into account essentials like student loans, rent, utilities and groceries, we each received an allowance of $200 a month. While it may sound like a minuscule amount, we actually managed to live pretty decently! Minimal, yes, but still decent! And we’re living in Japan. Who said Japan is expensive to live in?
We even managed to save some money, which we put towards traveling Japan! And one of such trips was to Shizuoka.
The most memorable part about that trip – and one that makes us laugh till this day – was the part we had to hike for an hour to this obscure farm in the middle of nowhere.
In the blazing hot Japanese summer weather.
Believe it or not, summer here is actually worse than Singapore’s weather! We were literally cooking ourselves in the sun. Or at least I was. I was kinda busy trying not to keel over from heatstroke to keep track of what was happening to Fu.
Unlike big cities like Tokyo or Osaka, public transportation is next to non-existent for less populated prefectures like Shizuoka. There is only limited bus service, and you couldn’t even flag down a cab along the roadside even if you could afford it because there are NONE.
Everyone drives. Everyone except us.
As a result, we had to follow the bus timings very closely or risk turning our trip turning into a literal road trip. Hurhur. I’m so witty.
Because of this, we made sure to arrive at the bus stop way before the arrival lest we miss the bus. We often spent a long time waiting for the bus, which led to a lot of funny photos born from our self-amusement.
I’m feeling in the mood, so I will go ahead and share the other highlights of our trip as well. Let me show you how we had fun even on a budget!
SHIRAITO FALLS 白糸の滝
OTODOME FALLS 音止滝
These two waterfalls are in Japan’s Top 100 waterfalls (yes they have Top xx for almost everything), and are located right beside each other.
I liked Shiraito Falls more because we had to descend a trail to get to it, and the moment we crossed the invisible boundary, it was a moment of “Ahhh….” because the air suddenly turned refreshingly cool! Such welcome bliss from the humid summer heat! Another reason is because it is very unique, as it falls in an extremely wide cascade. You literally have to pan yourself around to take in the entire waterfall!
Otodome Falls has an interesting tale to it though. Oto-dome literally translates to “sound stop” and legend has it that this pair of brothers wanted to avenge their father’s death and were having a secret meeting. But the thunderous roar of the Otodome Falls made it difficult for them to conduct the meeting (why they couldn’t just change location, I have no idea) so they prayed to the gods and right there and then, the waterfall fell silent.
Needless to say, getting to these two waterfalls involved 20 minutes of hiking.
FUJI SAFARI PARK
Fuji Safari Park is similar in concept to Gunma Safari Park which we visited recently, but bigger and a lot more interactive. We could pet animals and even a lion cub!!! (but all the slots were taken up by the time we realized so we didn’t get to do it boohoo.) There was even a pony derby race that we could bet on! Haha.
Again, involving a 30 minute hike from the nearest station. But the scenery is SO. WORTH. IT.
So yep! Those were our shoestring budget traveling days, but lots of fun! (I can say that now since I am not on the verge of beaten to death by the sun or the road lol)
This trip was 5 years ago, but I think we are pretty much the same… both outside and in. Because I would do it all over again with this person :)
This time with proper shoes.
Hello, I am a silent reader of your blog. I love your blogposts as they are very interesting and entertaining. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. As I am planning a trip to Tokyo this Dec and am considering doing a road trip (with 2 young kids) to the Shiraito Falls and Fuji Safari Park (and maybe combine Gotemba outlet). From your experience, do you think if this can be completed in 1 day?
Hi Jenice, it’s great to hear from you :) I’m happy that someone else (besides myself) appreciate the posts haha!
As for the road trip you mentioned, are you planning for it to be a one-day trip as in, drive from Tokyo to Shizuoka and then back to Tokyo on the same day? If so, it will be a little hectic (especially with 2 little ones) because driving around alone will take about 4.5 hours, and that’s not even taking into account traffic and weather. In addition, the sun also sets early in December (about 4.30pm).
But it’s still doable if you start the day early. After that, it’s just a matter of how long you stay at each spot. Here is a map that you might find helpful (start and end points are arbitrary; replace it with wherever you are staying at :)
Have fun planning your trip and I hope you enjoy Shizuoka as much as we did :D
Thank you so much for the map! I had planned to spend a night at one of the hot springs in Hokane but plans changed after we read about the volcanic alert so I guess it will be a 1 day trip. hmm… 4.5hrs car ride… wonder if I can keep my sanity after this trip XD
Thanks again for the helpful info. Do keep more posts coming in!
Wishing you and hubs in great health!
You’re welcome :)
Yeah, Hakone has been closed off since May due to Mt Hakone. Alternatively, you could consider staying a night in Shizuoka so that it won’t be so hectic. No trip is worth losing your sanity over ;)
I’m also another silent reader of your blog ;p. Coincidentally just few hours ago I was trying to plan a 2-day road trip to Kawaguchiko for my upcoming trip to JP and wanted to look at your blog for inspiration before I stumbled across your google map recommendation. Right now I plan to stay one night at Kawaguchiko so I might indeed take your suggested route and drive past Shiraito Falls + Gotemba on the way back the next day. Also, do you have details of where the paragliding takes place?
Anyway, catch you soon!
Hi Shu, not so silent anymore considering you just left about a million comments HAHAHA.
Anyway, this is the place where we went paragliding. I would advise you to skip Gotemba. I don’t think you’ll enjoy it. Just like me hahaha. The place is big and spacious and very nice, but nothing to buy + discounts are next to nothing compared to US outlets.