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Your Ultimate Guide To Yamanashi (Mt. Fuji, Fuji-Q, & Wine Country)

Yamanashi is an area in central Japan renowned for its natural beauty, vineyards, and fresh produce. The region sits in the foothills of Mt. Fuji and offers many incredible viewpoints of the iconic mountain.

For those who love outdoor activities, Yamanashi is an ideal weekend destination from Tokyo. Just two hours outside of the capital city, this region feels worlds away with many opportunities to hike, paddleboard, sample fresh fruit and wines, and immerse yourself in the Japanese countryside.

I recommend taking at least two full days to visit Yamanashi so that you have ample time to explore the many sides the area has to offer. This destination is pleasant nearly year round, but is particularly spectacular in the warmer summer months when the lavender fields bloom and you can full take advantage of the cool lakes.

In this guide, I’ll share my tips about how to plan the ultimate trip to Yamanashi, Japan.

What is the best way to enjoy Yamanashi?

How To Get There

You will need to rent a car in order to comfortably and conveniently explore the Yamanashi area. Places are fairly spread out and public transportation isn’t has frequent as in large cities like Tokyo or Osaka.

To get to Yamanashi, you can either:

  1. Rent a car from Tokyo and drive about 2 hours west

  2. Take the Fujisan Eki bus from Shinjuku Station to Kawaguchiko Station and then rent a car (the bus also stops in front of Fuji-Q Highland amusement park, so you could go directly there to start your trip).

For my own visit, I took the bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko then rented a car from one of the nearby rental stores (Nippon Rent-A-Car has a location right by the station).

Note that if you arrive late at night to Kawaguchiko Station, the car rental agencies may be closed and taxis are very limited. Book a car service in advance from your hotel to avoid long waits for a ride.

Where To Stay

View of Mt. Fuji from the hotel room

View of Mt. Fuji from a room in Fuji View Hotel

I recommend staying around Lake Kawaguchi to minimize commuting time between the various activities in the area. The lake is centrally located and offers a stunning backdrop for your visit.

I stayed in Fuji View Hotel during my trip and enjoyed its proximity to the lake as well as the incredible views of Mt. Fuji from the hotel rooms.

Below are some hotel suggestions in Yamanashi:

What To Do

Fuji-Q Highland

A rollercoaster in FujiQ

The rides at Fuji-Q are some of the most extreme in the world.

Fuji-Q Highland (“Fuji-Q”) is not for the faint-of-heart or weak-stomached. This small amusement park near the base of Mt. Fuji has some of the most intense roller coasters in the world.

According to this article from Japan Guide, the four main roller coasters hold world records as some of the fastest accelerating and steepest rides around. Some even require riders to remove jewelry and shoes before boarding. I don’t advise anyone with any kind of preexisting back or neck issues to go on the rides at this amusement park – they are exhilarating, but far more extreme than any I’ve gone on at DisneyLand or Universal Studios.

Wine Tasting

Japanese grape vineyard in Yamanashi

Gorgeous vineyards in Yamanashi Prefecture

The Yamanashi area is the home of Japanese wine, so visiting at least a few wineries in the region is a must. While the winemaking culture in Japan isn’t nearly as developed yet as it is in Europe or California, more and more resources and expertise are focused on developing Japan as a leader in quality wines.

Inside a winery in Japan

Inside the wine cave of Katsunuma Budou no Oka

Katsunuma Budou no Oka has gorgeous vineyards and an impressive wine cave where you can try dozens of different wines from across the region and country. In the wine cave, for only ¥1,520 (~USD $13), you can sample up to 180 different kinds of wine.

Another winery that I visited on my trip was Chateau Jun. The interior bar sells tasting options and bottles that you can bring home as a souvenir.

Historical Car And Air Museum (August only)

Japanese fighter plane

The Kawaguchiko Museum is only open in August.

If you are a history buff or have an appreciation for cars and planes, you will love Kawaguchiko Motor Museum/Kawaguchiko Zero Fighter Museum. This museum boasts a massive collection of automobiles and aircrafts, mostly from the middle of the 20th century. You’ll learn about the recent history of Japan and how these machinery shaped the course of the country.

This museum is only open to the public in August.

Lake Kawaguchi

Lake Kawaguchi shores in Yamanashi, Japan

Views of Lake Kawaguchi from near “Sakuya Bell of Love”

Lake Kawaguchi is one of Yamanashi Prefecture’s most popular destinations for tourists and locals. Situated at the foot of Mt. Fuji, it provides breathtaking views and is surrounded by lush forests, making it an ideal spot to relax or do outdoor activities like boating, fishing, kayaking or swimming.

You can follow the small trails that loop around the lake to enjoy the beautiful scenery. The two photos above are from near Sakuya Bell of Love, a large bell that is dedicated to love.

Lavender near Lake Kawaguchi with a view of Mt. Fuji

Yagizaki Park is best known for its lavender fields and views of Mt. Fuji.

Yagizaki Park is another great spot from which to enjoy Lake Kawaguchi. The park is famous for its large lavender fields that blossom in the summer. You can buy various lavender-based products at the park’s souvenir store as well.

From Yagizaki Park, you can see fantastic views of Mt. Fuji across the water.

What To Eat

Fruit from Akasaka Orchards in Yamanashi Prefecture

Fresh fruit from Akasaka Orchards

Yamanashi is famous for its fresh fruit orchards, particularly its grapes and peaches. One of the highlights from my trip was eating freshly picked produce from Akasaka Orchards while overlooking their vineyards.

The area is also home to a wide selection of top-notch restaurants and cafes. Check out:

  1. Lake Side Café Ku (coffee shop)

  2. HAOSTAY COFFEE (coffee shop)

  3. Akasaka Orchards (fruit orchard)

  4. Toriihira Restaurant (French)

  5. La Luce (Italian)

  6. Dino DINER (burgers)

  7. Fuji Tempura Idaten (tempura, battered and deep fried seafood, meat, or vegetables)

  8. Tetsuyaki (teppanyaki, grilled Japanese dishes)

Enjoy Your Trip To Yamanashi!

I hope that through the tips shared in this guide, you’ll be able to plan an incredible trip to Yamanashi and experience a different side of Japan. From the gorgeous surrounding nature to the large amusement park to the lovely vineyards, Yamanashi has a phenomenal variety of places to experience.

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