It is easy to get lost in the busyness of life. The feat of balancing work, friends, family, and sleep can seem impossible–leaving you feeling mentally and physically drained.
For many Tokyoites stuck in this fast-paced loop, Yamanashi prefecture serves as a refreshing break from city life. Located about a two-hour train ride from central Tokyo, Yamanashi is renowned for its expansive nature—including the northern part of Mount Fuji—refreshing onsens, wineries, and fresh cuisine. Whether you are looking to submerge yourself in steaming waters or clear your mind with a hike through the trees, Yamanashi has something for everyone. Discover your own personal oasis right outside of Tokyo!
ZEN & BED Mochizuki-an
Trade in your apartment walls for the cozy woodwork of a traditional Japanese accommodation. ZEN & BED Mochizuki-an, located in Koshu City, is a truly rejuvenating stay that incorporates zazen meditation, tea ceremonies, miniature dry landscape art, and vegetarian shojin cuisine into its guests’ lodging experiences. For zazen, a monk will guide you through the proper techniques, and you will spend about an hour meditating to clear your mind. The rooms themselves exemplify traditional Japan and feature shoji and tatami floors, light woodwork, and minimalist designs, creating a perfect space for you to rest after a day of zen activities.
SUP Yoga on Lake Yamanaka
Start your morning with a SUP yoga experience in the presence of Mount Fuji. As you float on the calm waters of Lake Yamanaka, your worries will melt away with the rising sun. SUP, or stand up paddle boarding, is a relatively recent water sport that has gained recognition globally. With this class, you will learn a number of balance and relaxed yoga poses atop the SUP board. Stretch your body in the early morning light, and bask in the majestic form of Mount Fuji. The class is perfect for people of all ages and offers a stimulating environment where you can reconnect with your body. Classes are held every weekend at Hakutaka Marine, located on the lake’s northwestern shore, from 8:00–9:30 and 10:00–11:30.
On a relaxing getaway, nourishing one’s body is essential. For a taste of authentic cuisine, stop at Takekawa Udon in Fujikawaguchiko Town, Yamanashi Prefecture. This off the beaten path restaurant is a favorite among locals and is always busy around lunchtime. Do not be surprised if you are the only outsider among the repeat customers. The homemade udon noodles are known for their thick, chewy texture and are garnished with quality toppings, such as cabbage, green onions, tofu, seaweed, egg, and meat. The entire dish is tied together with a clear broth that allows the udon to shine. The restaurant’s humble interior features Japanese tables and seating mats where you must remove your shoes and sit on the floor. If you are in the area, be sure to stop by this affordable and flavorful spot!
Takeda no Mori Forest Park
Located on the north side of Kofu City, Takeda no Mori is an expansive 2,500-hectare park that overlooks the Kofu Basin and Mount Fuji. The park’s numerous hiking trails create a tranquil haven where you can refresh yourself among the trees. In fact, part of the park is designated as a “Forest of Health.” The park’s Service Center runs multiple forest therapy programs throughout the year and focuses on a mindful approach to health where physical and mental wellness are treated as one. During these programs, guides lead you through a series of activities that are meant to heal and stimulate the five senses. The area is also home to observation desks, educational facilities, and a campground. With your feet firm to the Earth, close your eyes and allow the melody of the leaves to soothe you.
For an atmospheric dining experience, stop by Minaki in Koshu City. This upscale udon restaurant is located in a 130-year-old private house and features a traditional interior filled with tatami floors, shoji, and both western and Japanese styled tables. Outside, an immaculately sculpted garden encircles the facility, completing the tranquil scene. The simple yet refined menu includes multiple varieties of hoto soup—a Yamanashi speciality—and udon noodles. The hoto soup, which is crafted with fresh ingredients and homemade noodles, is especially popular. The menu’s rich flavors, coupled with the alluring ambience of the interior, is guaranteed to refresh your mind and body.
Suntory Tomi No Oka Winery
Treat yourself to a luxurious sip of wine at Suntory Tomi no Oka Winery in Kai City. This beautiful facility has been in operation since 1909 and prides itself on crafting wines with its own homegrown grapes. The winery’s 25-hectare vineyard features over ten varieties of grapes and has an observation deck where you can enjoy panoramas of the fields, the Kofu Basin, and Mount Fuji on clear days. Partake in the winery’s grape field tours, winemaking tours, wine cellar tours, or wine tasting to fully immerse yourself in the rich industry. Unsurprisingly, the site’s most popular experience is its wine tasting! Try a variety of handcrafted wines and buy a bottle of your favorite one to immortalize the experience. Once you return home, the wine’s smooth flavors will instantly transport you back to the verdant fields. The winery reopened in September 2022 after undergoing renovations.
Takedano sato Hakusan Onsen
Nothing epitomizes relaxation quite like a hot spring. As you submerge your body in the hot waters, you will feel your anxieties evaporate with the steam. Takedano Sato Hakusan Onsen, located in Nirasaki City, is a perfect place to take advantage of these healing waters. The day spa is home to both indoor and outdoor baths and features mesmerizing views of Yamanashi’s mountainscape. Thanks to the indoor baths’ floor to ceiling windows, the encircling nature always feels within reach. From the outside baths, enjoy calming views of Mount Yatsugatake and Mount Kayagatake, and at night, witness the glittering lights of Nirasaki City. Aside from simply being relaxing, the clear, green-tinged water also soothes a number of physical ailments, such as muscle and joint discomfort, chronic digestive issues, and fatigue.
Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake
Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake, situated in Hokuto, is an accommodation like none other. With luxurious rooms, a variety of activities, high-end cuisine, a pool, a spa, and more, the resort is your gateway to an all encompassing lodging experience. The facility is designed to look like an Italian streetscape and features cobblestone streets and quaint ivy-decorated storefronts. This European-inspired boulevard makes for a lovely day trip where you can enjoy cafe delights and shopping. For more immersive experiences, explore the outdoors with activities such as horseback riding, paragliding, forest walks, vineyard tours, and more. Then, nourish your mind and body at the facility’s bookstore cafe where you can enjoy the written word with a cup of tea, or stop by one of its onsite restaurants for an exquisite meal. No matter how you build your day, Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Yatsugatake’s diverse range of offerings will leave you feeling like royalty.
Minobusan Kuonji Temple
Situated in the lush nature of Mount Minobu, Minobusan Kuonji Temple is an awe-inspiring temple filled with spiritual charm. The 750-year-old temple is the head building of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism and is just one of many temples that dot the mountainside. The fresh mountain air, coupled with Kuonji’s sacred atmosphere, will lull you into a state of serenity and self-reflection. One of the most mindful spots on the grounds is Bodaitei, which translates to “stairway to enlightenment.” This 287-step stairway was constructed in 1652 and reaches a height of 104 meters. As it is located just past the Sanmon Gate, but before the main hall, the stairway serves as a place where you can challenge yourself physically before entering the main grounds. Once you reach the top of the staircase it is said you will feel the same joy as when you attain enlightenment. After the staircase, the area opens up to the main hall, which is a mesmerizing feat of traditional Japanese architecture. Lose yourself in the building’s vermillion coloring, golden accents, ornate carvings, and curved roofs, and reconnect with your inner self.
Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan
Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan, located in the small town of Hayakawa, is a traditional hotel that exemplifies Japanese hospitality. Established over 1,300 years ago, the hotel is recognized by Guinness World Records as the oldest hotel in the world! Although the facility was remodeled in 1997, it still pays homage to its roots with a traditional, yet slightly contemporary design. Since its conception, the hotel has been blessed with the natural waters of Nishiyama Onsen. Today, you can enjoy both open-air and indoor baths, all while taking in the refreshing nature of Yamanashi’s countryside. The clear, 52°C water helps soothe gastrointestinal diseases and muscle pain and is known to have beautifying effects on skin. After soaking in the hot springs, retire to your guest room, which is imbued with charms of the past, and nourish yourself with an expertly crafted meal of local and seasonal flavors. Needless to say, a stay at Nishiyama Onsen Keiunkan will leave you feeling reborn—mind, body, and soul.