When you arrive at the top of Mt. Kachi-Kachi in Yamanashi, you will no doubt wonder why there are so many statues of a rabbit and tanuki raccoon dog. The statues show the rabbit bullying the tanuki. There are many stories about tanuki from ancient times and tanuki statues are everywhere in Japan. Believed to be tricksters and originally seen as evil creatures, the tanuki is ironically now the symbol of generosity and prosperity. They have become one of the most famous creature in Japanese folklore and their figurines are common in stores and souvenir shops.
The Tale of the Tanuki
Here is why the rabbit is bullying the tanuki. The Tale of the Tanuki starts off with an old man catching a tanuki. The old man hangs the tanuki on a tree who then convinces the old man's wife to set him free. In return he offers to help her make mochi rice cake. The tanuki, however, kills her after she sets him free.
With his shape-shifting abilities, the tanuki then decides to play a horrible trick on the old man when he returns. Now, the rest of the tale can be a bit gruesome so its available online if you would like to hear those details. Essentially, a rabbit, who the couple were friends with, decides to play tricks on the tanuki hence all the statues showing the rabbit avenging the death of the old man's wife.
When you get to the observatory, there is a little shop selling food next to the souvenir shop. The Kusa Mochi, Japanese mug wort mixed with sweet bean paste-filled mochi, is very popular here. It costs only 200 yen.
Another popular item on the menu is the Tanuki Dango. Dango is a Japanese sweet dumpling made from rice flour. It is similar to mochi and is usually coated with a sauce. You can enjoy 3 dango on a skewer for 400 yen.
How's the view?
Well, the view is really great from the observatory deck, especially when the weather is good. There are photographers at the top of the ropeway who will take your picture and so you can purchase it as a souvenir. Of course, when it is rainy or too cloudy, Mt. Fuji will be covered by the clouds but the photographer can still take your picture and edit Mt. Fuji in the photo if you really want them to!
At the top of the ropeway, you can see the nearby town and Lake Kawaguchi. The view is breath-taking courtesy of all that nature. You can ring the Tenjo Bell and take pictures with the Rabbit Shrine (Usagi Jinja). There are hiking trails available too - one of them takes you to Mitsutako. From the observatory, there are many interesting things to do and cool experiences to try out.
The Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway is a very interesting part of the experience at Mt. Fuji. Just be careful of raccoon dogs there...