Currently I have two small-group tours starting from Shimizu Port, referred to as "Private Tour from Shimizu Port #1" and "#2", on the TripleLights website. As the number of cruise ships visiting Shimizu has been increasing, it seems to me the number of inquiries coming my way is also gradually increasing. And here I would like to give you a brief introduction to the places covered by these tours and show you exactly where each stop is located in relation to Shimizu Port. Please see the rough map below.
My "Tour #1" includes areas ①, ②, ③ and ④, as indicated on the map. ① is about 8.5km (5.3 miles) to the southwest of Shimizu Port, and it will take 25 to 30 minutes by car to reach there. It should take about four hours to visit this area. Meanwhile, ⑤, ⑥, ⑦ and ⑧ comprise my "Tour #2." As you can see, this area is relatively far from Shimizu Port. For example, ⑥ is located about 40 km (25 miles) to the northeast of Shimizu Port and it will take about 60 minutes by car to reach there (of course, we can take the expressway to ⑤). To visit and enjoy this area, at least 5 hours will be needed, and in case there is heavy traffic, I think we should allow for some extra time. Next I will tell you the general characteristics of each stop covered by these two tours.
Area of Tour #1 (Southwest Tour)
② and ③ are both located at the top of Nihondaira hill at a height of about 300 meters (980 feet) above sea level. A variety of green tea items are sold at ③, where you can sample a cup of locally produced green tea. ① is probably the most famous sightseeing spot near Shimizu Port and it was designated as a National Treasure in 2010. To reach there, usually we need to use the cable car from the top of the adjacent Nihondaira hill. It's a 5 minute ride. However, since this shrine was constructed at the top of the mountain, it has some stone steps in its precinct. I think it will take at least 50 to 80 minutes to take everything in at ①. After that, we will drive about 15 to 20 minutes to reach ④. And when we return to Shimizu Port, probably 4 hours will have passed already. If you want to spend one more hour in this area, I recommend you go to either S-Pulse Dream Plaza or Ryugeji Temple. The former is a big shopping & entertainment complex located a 5 minute walk from Shimizu Port; and the latter is a small but charming Buddhist temple.
Area of Tour #2 (Northeast Tour)
⑤ is one of the biggest and the most popular service areas on the Tomei Expressway. Aside from the popular "Mt. Fuji Viewing Lounge", which commands a great view of Mt. Fuji over Fujikawa River, it has many restaurants and souvenir shops among others. ⑥ and ⑦ are the representative sigtseeing spots in this area, both being listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites as the "component parts" of Mt. Fuji. Maybe a 40- to 50-minute stay at each would be ideal to appreciate these places. On the other hand, we need to think carefully if we visit ⑧. If the weather is fine, this lake is beautiful, with Mt. Fuji seen prominently over it. But when it is rainy or cloudy (Mt. Fuji is barely visible), this lake turns into just another lake known for camping, fishing and bird watching, and that is why I made it "optional" in my "Tour #2." Other than ⑤, ⑥, ⑦ and ⑧, this area has several "alternative spots" to visit. For green tea lovers, there are a couple of green tea farms in Fujinomiya city, and for Sake lovers, a couple of sake breweries welcome international visitors (but please note that, since these facilities are family-run businesses or rather small-scale companies whose main focus is producing sake or tea, not hosting tourists, the booking is subject to change at the last moment). And there are two popular "Animal Lands" near ⑦ where you can interact with animals like sheep, cows and rabbits among others.
Is it possible to visit both areas in one tour?
Sometimes people want to visit ⑥, ⑦ and ①, for example, in one tour. And while it's not impossible, it's usually difficult and impractical, considering the limited time cruise ship passengers have. For example, if we stay at ⑥ for only 10 minutes and ⑦ for only ten minutes, then maybe we can have a chance to see ① for 5 minutes. But this style of travel is very exhausting and we have to drive a very long distance with little time for sightseeing, so I do not necessarily recommend this to my clients (unless they are "land travellers"). And it also depends on how much time you are allowed to spend in and around Shimizu. If your ship docks at the port at 8:00 a.m. and leaves at 7:00 p.m., it may be possible for you to do an 8-hour tour (from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.). But if your ship docks at 8:00 a.m. and leaves at 3:00 p.m., your tour will probably start at 8:30 a.m. or 9:00 a.m. and end at 1:00 p.m. or 2:00 p.m., but dropping you off at 2;00 p.m. is a little risky because you will already be pressed for time. So in this case, we have around 5 hours at most. Besides, if you want to see the welcome ceremony held at the port by local people, you need to think of allowing some time for it.
Consequently, I recommend to the cruise ship passangers visiting Shimizu Port that they head for either the southwest or northeast, but not for both. Either way, I will do my best as your tour guide and I look forward to seeing you at the port.
P.S. Please note that Mt. Fuji can't be seen well when it is rainy, cloudy, or misty. The deity of Mt. Fuji is a bashful female, and all we can do is just follow whither she leads.
Check out the tours I told you about here:
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