Just so you've got an idea what I'm talking about, here's a very badly drawn map of our route!
I don't know exactly how far the walk was, but it was hard work, and took us a long time. We left at about 9am, and didn't get back until it was pretty much dark (so I guess about 6:30pm). We did stop off at an onsen on the northern shore of Saiko on the way back though, to wash (due to our campsite not having any wash facilities at all) and to rest our weary bodies after the day! The initial climb was by far the hardest part of the day. Really steep and really tough, but we made it! The rest of the day was basically a ridge walk, followed by a descent into Aokigahara (the Sea of Trees) and finished off with a walk back along the northern shore of the lake. The ridge walk wasn't quite as flat as we'd hoped, and there were still a lot of ups and downs along it, but it was a very clear path, and we all thoroughly enjoyed our day! The only disappointing thing was that Mount Fuji lived up to its shy reputation, and other than a tiny glimpse of the top at the end of the day, it stayed shrouded in fog all day. Despite that, there were some lovely views over the lakes, and I 100% recommend this hike!
Mum and Dad on the climb up
Our first view of the day, over Lake Kawaguchi
Arriving at the top of Mount Ashiwada (Otherwise known as Gokodai, 5 lake view. We couldn't see all 5 though!)
All four of us at the top!
If you're wondering what Dad is holding, it's an unidentified berry that he found and wanted to eat. He made me and John ask every Japanese person we found what it was and whether it was edible. The eventual consensus, several amused and confused Japanese people later, was that it wasn't poisonous, but it was very sour!
The view we should have had from the top of Ashiwada...
...but the view we actually had! Stupid clouds.
Luckily, the view the other way, over Lake Kawaguchi, was far better!
View from Sankodai, over the Aokigahara. Aokigahara (Sea of Trees) is infamous as a suicide location, due to its size and how dark it is. Read more about it on this Tofugu article
Looking out over Aokigahara. The trees really do seem to go on for ever and ever.
Heading down the mountain, towards Aokigahara
Gloomy and creepy. We stuck firmly to the main path, but I still found my skin creeping at times. I wouldn't want to be in here near dusk, or alone, or wander anywhere off the beaten track.
View along Lake Sai, from the western end. Our campsite was one of the collection of buildings you can just about make out at the far end.
The day's one view of Mount Fuji! At least we knew it was really there!