During my stay at RISONARE Yatsugatake, I explored the area at the foot of Mount Yatsugatake. Being a countryside area, the places introduced in this article are accessible mostly by car only.
As Yamanashi is a mountainous region, there are many bridges linking mountains together. The Kougen Ohashi is a big bridge where cars and pedestrians can pass. From this point, you can see layers of mountains in the distance and in autumn, the leaves turn beautifully golden and red. The view is simply fantastic!
To get a higher view, I recommend going to Fujimi City Bokyo Park. You can either walk up, or take a little buggy car that operates automatically up the little hill. RISONARE Yatsugatake’s GAO activity center organizes trekking, a variety kids’ activities and picnics here. It’s a great view from which you can see the Minami Alps and Mount Yatsugatake. On a clear day, the tip of Mount Fuji can be seen as well. We laid out a picnic with La Terra Spa’s flower tea, and bagels and cookies from the shops in RISONARE.
You can also drive to nearby town, Kiyosato to visit the Sei-sen ryo, a hotel with an expansive farm space. Sei-sen ryo is built by the “Father of Kiyosato,” Paul Rusch. The ice-cream is the main reason why hordes of people come to Sei-sen ryo. It was indeed, really fresh and soft!
A short drive away from Sei-sen ryo is the Makiba Koen, where you can get close to farm animals like sheep, goats, pigs, horses, and cows. It’s a great place to go with children! I released my inner child there when I came close contact with these animals.
Kiyosato is also dotted with cafes that have been refashioned from old Japanese houses. The Engawa Café is the earliest pioneer of this trend. From the café, enjoy eating or sipping a hot café latte while observing the goats and resident duck in the garden.
At the foot of Yatsugatake, you can also find many stables where you can try horse-riding through the beautiful nature. The autumn colours and mountainous scenery really made my experience at Canadian Camp Riding Club a fantastic one.
Yamanashi prefecture is one of Japan's top fruit producers, hence its nickname, "King of fruits". No matter what season it is, you can visit an orchard to pick and eat the freshest fruit right from the trees! For that, I recommend Nakagomi Orchard as Nakagomi-san is really warm, generous, and effectively bilingual in Japanese and English.
Yamanashi's soba has rubbed off some of the fame from its neighbouring prefecture, Nagano. Just a 5 minutes walk from RISONARE Yatsugatake is Rishun Soba. I tried their tempura soba and was just delighted with the freshness of each ingredient used! There was pumpkin, prawn, capsicums, brinjal, mushrooms, and sweet potato in the tempura. The noodles are soft and have a full flavour. The hot soup was also very comforting for a chilly night!
If you’re feeling like something heavier, do head to Tajimaka for yakiniku! This restaurant is a favourite among the locals. The appetizers are all made from scratch from fresh ingredients grown locally. The kimchi is a must-try! Also, the menu changes with the season, which ensures quality freshness in the food served! The meat is well-marinated and taste incredible with an ice cold beer.
Although it's a countryside area, there are many options for food and play! If you are staying at RISONARE Yatsugatake, the hotel staff can certainly tell you more about the area. For a city dweller like me, it's rare and special that everything at the foot of Yatsugatake is produced locally and in most restaurants, only seasonal ingredients are used. That aside, the scenery in this mountainous region is just plain beautiful. I've fallen hard in love with Yamanashi.