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Mom in Japan: Kawaguchiko

Wow, I was on a roll there for awhile and I lost it. Almost a week with no update. Shame on me! Since I still have one more day to talk about from out trip around Mt. Fuji, might as well finish off with that. I have been working on my translation of “The Night Patrol Teacher,” but that is going slower than I would like. Maybe in another day or two I will have another installment ready. Anyway, onto the trip!

After getting as much sleep as we could, I was enjoying the feeling of a real bed and would be sad to return to my futon, we checked out of the hotel and got some breakfast. Thankfully, everything we were planning on seeing our last day around Mt. Fuji was within close proximity of each other, so we did not have to spend too much time in the car. Our first stop of the day was the Kawaguchiko Konohana Art Museum which displays the artwork and stories of Dayan the Cat written and illustrated by Akiko Ikeda.

Welcome to the Konohana At Museum
Welcome to the Konohana At Museum

I had never heard of this story or character before, but once we arrived at the museum I felt like I had at least seen a picture of the cat before. Dayan may be one of the most famous cats in Japan (behind Hello Kitty and Marie of course). The story of Dayan is that he was just your usual house cat who, on the night of the Eurocka Festival, happened to wandered off into magic snow which took him to a land where animals walk on two legs: Wachifield. Dayan then began to live alone in a cabin in the forests on the outskirts of the town where he made many friends. Some of his more well known friends are Marcy the rabbit, Иbah the alligator, Jitan the cat, and Willy the mouse. Wachifield and was actually something that she imagined when she was a child. When she began putting her imagination onto paper in the forms of words and drawings, Wachifield and its character grew and grew.

Dayan on a cake with merengue owls
Dayan on a cake with merengue owls

Dayan’s first picture book was published in 1988 and was titled “Dayan’s Yummy Dream” which has grown to 39 different titles to date. I think Akiko Ikeda could be considered Japan’s version of Beatrice Potter – their art styles are a little similar if you ask me. The author says that she writes each of her books with the universal message that shows all living creatures living together in harmony with nature, appreciating nature’s blessings, value life, and are experiencing the wondrous inspirational forces around them. I was unable to take any pictures inside the museum, but I did manage to take a few of the outside and of the adorable picture cards I bought in the gift shop.

each of these has 8 postcards inside
each of these has 8 postcards inside

Unfortunately, the gift shop did not have any of the stories in English (although the Japanese is really simple that I could have read it), but I did discover that Dark Horse has begun translating the books. You can order some of the books from their website.

monkey!
monkey!

After I finished freaking out over how cute everything was and wondering if I should really just shove out all the cash needed to buy all the Dayan books (mom bought a cute bag with Dayan on it and something about being sick from eating too many strawberries), we went across the street to the Kawaguchiko Monkey Performance Theater which was specifically built for the purpose of the “Suou Monkey Show” that is a traditional stage performance with over (nearly?) 1000 years of history. I didn’t know Japan liked monkeys so much. Anyway, the show was really cute and my personal favorite performance from the monkeys was when one of them pretended to be a dying cockroach and he skidded his way around the stage on his back. After the show you could go shake hands with the monkeys, so of course we did that.

some of the buildings at Kawaguchiko Music Forest
some of the buildings at Kawaguchiko Music Forest

After lunch we went to the Kawaguchiko Music Forest which is essentially a giant music box museum with music boxes from all over the world and live performances by Prague Symphony Orchestra from the Czech Republic daily. The museum was established in 1999 and is built in the style of the residences of medieval European nobility – yeah, it is kind of trippy to see European architecture with Mt. Fuji in the background. To be more specific, the architecture is more Swiss based than general European. There is also a rose garden with 550 varieties of roses that all happened to be in bloom when we were there.

inside the room that is a giant music box
inside the room that is a giant music box

There was also an exhibit of old music boxes from all over the world on display including one that was a miniature (well, it was still HUGE!) Palace of Versailles where inside the castle there was a ball and outside the figures walked around the gardens. I kind of wish I had a giant music box like that in my home. We also got to see the Prague Symphony Orchestra perform in a room that had on display pipe organ based music boxes. One of these was supposed to have been on the Titanic, but the creator did not have time to finish it and get it installed on the boat before it had to leave port. His music box finished but unable to get it on the Titanic, he boarded the ship and was never able to hear his completed music box.


There is also a room that is really a music box with dolls scattered all over the walls (see also the above picture).


Outside there is a fountain that has a musical water show every 30 minutes.

a music box in the shape of a bird. it was so cute.
a music box in the shape of a bird. it was so cute.

We also had lunch at the restaurant inside the museum because a “free” dessert and drink was included in our ticket price (aka Jun’s mom paid extra when we entered). I had a strawberry éclair with some tea, Jun had a chocolate cake with coffee, and mom had the special of rose bud tea and a rose bud chiffon cake with rose jelly. The tea even came with rose sugar which I also put in my tea for a little extra flavor.

my delicious dessert
my delicious dessert

After eating our delicious desserts we took a walk around the rose garden which was in full bloom. I went a little picture crazy because I love taking pictures of flowers. When we had completed our walk through the rose garden we decided that it was time to call it a day and head back to Saitama.

my favorite rose picture
my favorite rose picture

A this is the end of our trip.

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4 thoughts on “Mom in Japan: Kawaguchiko

  1. Oh wow, those music boxes are crazy! And that desert looks really yummy. It sounds like it was a really fun trip!

    Just so you know, I’m one of those people who comments on everything, so it might start looking like I’m spamming your blog or something. ^_^;

  2. Alexis >> They really were amazing and I have all the pictures on Facebook if you are curious. If/when you come back to Japan you might want to check out the place. It is really interesting and the area is also a nice vacation spot – lots of onsen too.

    Mom >> remember, you can always print the page. That way you will remember everything.

    1. Oh, I’ll go look at the pictures, then! And (hopefully!) I’ll be back in Japan sometime after I graduate next spring. I’ll have to remember Kawaguchiko as a place to visit.

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