After spending a few days in the ancient city of Kyoto, I was greatly looking forward to my stay in Fuji where I was booked at Hotel Mystays Fuji Onsen Resort, a newly opened resort hotel, close to Lake Kawaguchiko and Fujikyu Highland. Even though I had missed the cherry blossoms in Tokyo and Kyoto (Ninnaji-ji Temple in Kyoto was the only place where I found the cherry trees still blooming), my timing for 'sakura' viewing in Fuji was perfect.
While in Kyoto, a friend had suggested to check train schedules and routes on www.hyperdia.com for my trip to Fuji. Hyperdia is a service to check railway and aviation routes and timetables within Japan. After checking train schedules, I took the Hikari Shinkansen train at 12:58 p.m. from Kyoto to Shizuoka where I changed to the JR Tokaido Line and arrived in Fuji at 3:26 p.m. Heaving a sigh of relief, I wheeled my two heavy suitcases to the taxi stand and showed the address of my hotel translated in Japanese, to the first available taxi driver. He did not speak any English and seemed somewhat startled at the location of the hotel, but after some good humored jibes (which I did not understand at that time) with other taxi-drivers, he put my luggage in his car and we drove off.
It was a warm, sunny day and I was enjoying magnificent views of Mt. Fuji while riding in the cab. I was also quite exhausted and was looking forward to a relaxed evening at the hotel. However, when the hotel did not arrive even after 20 minutes of driving, I thought that there was something wrong. I attempted to speak to the cab driver but he didn't understand a word of what I was saying and kept replying to me in Japanese. Then he pointed to the meter showing me that we would arrive at the hotel in two hours! At that moment I realized, that I had got off at the wrong railway station; I was supposed to go to Fujikawaguchiko Station and not Fuji Station.
When I begged the driver to stop the car, he brought me to the police station! I was frightened because I was not sure what was going on. The police too did not speak any English and it took about an hour and a half to finally settle matters. In the end, one of the police officers called the hotel where I was booked in Fuji, and with the help of the front desk manager who spoke English, gave me exact directions to reach the hotel. It turned out that I was about 3 hours away from the hotel! I went back to the Fuji railway station and took a train from there to Mishima Station. From Mishima Station, I took a shuttle bus to Kawaguchiko and arrived at the hotel very late in the night!
It is also worth noting here that credit cards are not always accepted in Japan. Sometimes, even the ATM machines don't accept international credit cards. If you are planning a trip to Japan, always make sure that you have enough cash on you to take care of any emergencies. Also ensure that you have a phone connection with internet and a good translating app, just incase you get down at the wrong railway station!