May 23, 2015


(Updated in Spring 2018)

Yamanashi Prefecture(山梨)is located at the west of Tokyo, where the northern half of Mount Fuji(富士山)and the Fuji 5 Lakes(富士五湖)lie in.

As I have high attitude sickness, climbing Mount Fuji is never something on my to-do list. Well, even if I don't have that sickness, don't think I'd climb because I don't quite see the point, just like running marathons. I guess different people have different things they want to achieve in life, just like how my wish to stay in Japan and aim to cover every prefecture in Japan are meaningless to most people.

Anyway, went to the Kawaguchi Lake(河口湖)region for 2D1N. To cover more extensively, 3D2N would be better. Daytrip from Tokyo is definitely not an option.

Took a bus direct to Kawaguchiko station from Shinjuku(新宿)Bus Terminal in Tokyo. Reserving bus ticket and finding out the location of bus terminal in advance is recommended. Journey was around 2 hours.

First went to Chureito Pagoda(忠霊塔)which was more out of the way (10 minute train ride). It is the spot for the famous pagoda + sakura + Mount Fuji view, though when we went during Golden Week, there was no more sakura already. Still, we were thankful that Mount Fuji showed us its face that day.

There are 2 retro bus services departing from Kawaguchiko station that cover the attractions around Kawaguchi Lake and Saiko(西湖)to its west. We bought the 2D unlimited rides pass. On the 1st day, we mainly covered Kawaguchi Lake's attractions. Took the Kachi Kachi Ropeway to see the scenery from the top, glad to find some sakura still in full bloom!

After that, went to the other side of the lake to see some weeping sakura trees(枝垂桜)that were still blooming. Then headed to Kubota Museum exhibiting works of Kimono artist, Kubota Itchiku. It isn't a huge museum, but the works are quite impressive (needs a lot of effort) and the building structures are unique too.

One of our main purposes was to catch the Fuji Shibazakura Festival(富士芝桜祭り), however the flowers bloomed late that year (2014) (only 30% when it was supposed to be full bloom), so we decided to give it up and head for Iyashi no Sato(いやしの里)near Saiko instead the next day.

To our surprise, there are actually many weeping sakura trees there and they were in full bloom! Was really delighted as weeping sakura is my favorite type of sakura.

Enjoyed trying local handicrafts and local food in the open-air museum and traditional craft village. Spent more time than expected there, and just like Miyama(美山)in Kyoto, Hida no sato(飛騨の里)in Takayama(高山)and Gassho mura(合掌村)in Gero(下呂), really liked the vibe and enjoyed roaming around the village. Tried paper making and ceramic painting.

Also checked out the Ice Cave along Saiko route. There are Bat Cave and Wind Cave too, which we didn't visit. Not quite interested in caves I guess. These attractions are near Aokigahara(青木ヶ原), the famous suicide spot.

Didn't check out the other 3 lakes-- Yamanakako(山中湖), Shojiko(精進湖)and Motosuko(本栖湖), which are less developed.

Stayed at Lakeland hotel Mizu no Sato for the night. Splurged on a room that comes with a private rotenburo(露天風呂)with Mount Fuji view! Around 18000 yen per pax, inclusive of 2 meals, which is actually quite cheap for ryokan(旅館)packages with private bath. Food and service was good. Fruits was buffet style and there were actually strawberries!

Hoto noodles is a local specialty, but it tastes starchy, not quite my type of noodles.

The remaining 3 lakes are not as developed as Kawaguchi Lake, so we didn't check them out. Also didn't go to Fuji Q Highland, the amusement park nearby with crazy roller coasters.

Update in Spring 2018:

Managed to catch Fuji Shibazakura Festival (and Mount Fuji) at its best state during Golden Week in 2018~ The place is smaller than I thought. Like how the flowers are fenced up such that everyone is able to take nice photos without people in them :P


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