<p>In the forest area at Mt. Daibosatsu.</p>
In the forest area at Mt. Daibosatsu. (Photo: Victoria Vlisides)

Onsen, Wine, Mountain: Repeat

A refreshing weekend trip to Yamanashi

In the forest area at Mt. Daibosatsu. (Photo: Victoria Vlisides)
Victoria Vlisides   - 3 min read

Japan had yet another national holiday (Oct. 12) this week, which means I skipped out and had a stunningly gorgeous and relaxing weekend in Yamanashi Prefecture. Unlike my home prefecture of Chiba, Yamanashi is covered in mountains and the views are worth the trip alone.

The combination of onsen (hot spring bath), wine and hiking is unbeatable! Even after arriving home on Monday night from a 4-hour train ride, I felt refreshed.

We (myself, my co-worker, his wife, another assistant language teacher (ALT) and my friend who just moved here from the USA) got to Yamanashi early on Sunday at 10 a.m. But, it was rainy, so we did some sightseeing in the Fujikawaguchiko area, a tourist destination.

We visited Kawaguchiko Herb Hall and herb garden, where they sold dandelion coffee, and the Yamanashi Gem Museum.

The next day, we hiked on a perfect autumn day, called an “aki bare” (ah-key bah-ray) in Japanese. You have to take a bus up to the starting point and then a bus back down. Starting at 8:30 a.m., we hiked up Mt. Daibosatsu. This mountain has a spectacular view of Mt. Fuji. The view was complemented by the autumn colors on a really clear day to make it even better. The sun was shining, and it was a rather brisk day -- exceptional outdoors weather. The hike is quite moderate as it is only about an hour and a half long, but we took the easy route this time.

To stay "genki" (energetic), we ate lots of traditional Japanese and seasonal foods, including:

  • soba noodles (buckwheat noodles)
  • muscat grapes, which were out of this world
  • persimmon
  • oyster
  • horse sashimi (raw horse meat)
  • horse motsu (baked horse intestine in sauce)
  • pumpkin
  • tempura
  • and hoto, which is fat udon-style noodles in soup

I had the mushroom hoto with 4-5 different types, plus other veggies. The hoto was really delicious, but definitely TOO MUCH FOOD! A few other types of hoto included pork, snapping turtle, boar and even bear! Those were really expensive, though. It was about the equivalent of $40 for the snapping turtle.

We enjoyed two different open-air hot springs. One of them, in Katsunuma, had a view of the whole city with the mountains in the backdrop at sunset. We also enjoyed wine. Lots of it, and it was all good. Yamanashi is famous for wine, you know, because lots of grapes are grown there. You can get it by the bottle, by the glass, or buy it in small glass jars as you travel about.

Victoria Vlisides

Victoria Vlisides @victoria.vlisides

Trained journalist who's not yet jaded. Can't get enough of meeting new people, the view, cheap travel, cherry-blossom-flavored food, dinner&drinks. Painfully addicted to Japan's gochya-gochya machines. If you're the type of person to try something new vs. something you know you like, we'll get a...