Roots of Japan

Yamanashi

Yamanashi is a prefecture surrounded by mountains, including the iconic Mt Fuji.Mountains cover around 80% of this landlocked prefecture.While there is no airport and no shinkansen line, it is easily accessible by taking a limited express train from Tokyo.As it takes only two hours or less, it’s still an easy area to visit.In addition to famous tourist spots such as Mt Fuji and the Fuji-Q Highland amusement park, Yamanashi is home to numerous other fascinating places.Let’s take a look at some of them!

Yamanashi has an approximate area of 4465㎢ and an estimated population of 820,000 people.It has a Central Highland climate which is a typical inland climate that experiences large temperature differences depending on the region.The plains receive a low amount of rainfall annually and enjoy long hours of daylight. However, typhoons can trigger heavy rain.The foothills of the mountains have a lower temperature and get more rainfall than the plains.

When speaking of Yamanashi, we might first think of Mt Fuji, but there are in fact many other attractions to be found!One of them is Fuji-Q Highland amusement park, where both children and adults will have a blast!Check out our list of the top ten tourist attractions in Yamanashi.
1/ Fuji-Q Highland
2/ Kawaguchiko Konohana Museum
3/ Kawaguchiko Music Forest
4/ Yamanakako Hananomiyako Park
5/ Oshino Hakkai Springs
6/ Aquarium in the Forest
7/ Katsunuma Grapark
8/ Fuefukigawa Fruit Park
9/ Kofu Castle Ruins
10/ Shosenkyo Gorge

Yamanashi is simply packed with spots you will want to visit.The most famous entry on the list, Fuji-Q Highland is a must-see and lately everyone is talking about how you can now enter for free.Thomas Land is a favorite with small children and Lisa & Gaspard Town is a perfect relaxing day out for couples.Have fun screaming on the roller coasters, too!Kawaguchiko is full of trendy tourist spots, including the Kawaguchiko Music Forest.At this European style theme park, you can even make your own music box.Make sure you check the schedule before you go, so you don’t miss your chance to hear performances played on historical mechanical organs.

Yamanashi is also home to numerous lakes and many spots, like Kawaguchiko, offer stunning views of the lake and Mt Fuji together.Let’s take a look at a group of lakes known as the Fuji Five Lakes.
1/ Lake Kawaguchiko
2/ Lake Yamanakako
3/ Lake Saiko
4/ Lake Motosuko
5/ Lake Shojiko

Lake Yamanakako is one of the Fuji Five Lakes.As it is located at the foot of Mt Fuji, you can enjoy stunning views of the mountain close up.Nearby there is a variety of cottages, B&Bs and other types of accommodation where you can enjoy the different scenery that morning and evening bring.Lake Shojiko is the smallest of the Fuji Five Lakes.As Mt. Fuji seems to be cradling Mt. Omuro in its arms, the view is called “Kodaki Fuji”, which means “child-holding Fuji”.How about coming to see it in person?

Next, let's take a look at some of the popular festivals and events held in Yamanashi.If something catches your interest, you may want to time your visit to coincide with one of them.The area is packed with interesting attractions, so let’s check out a few of them.
1/ Hokuto City Akeno Sunflower Festival
2/ Yamanakako "Yuyake no Nagisa, Fall Foliage Festival"
3/ Kawaguchiko Winter Fireworks
4/ Fuji Shibazakura Festival
5/ Saiko Ice Festival

At the Hokuto City, Akeno Sunflower Festival, enjoy magnificent views of sunflower fields with as many as 600,000 beautiful yellow flowers!The main venue is called Heidi’s Village.This event is held every year from late July to mid-August and it attracts a lot of visitors, even from outside the prefecture.We recommend you aim to visit during summer so you can see beautiful scenery that is truly unique to this season.On the other hand, the Kawaguchiko Winter Fireworks, held at Lake Kawaguchiko, is one of the events held in winter.Here, not only can you watch fireworks exploding into the night sky, but you’ll also see them create magical reflections on the surface of Lake Kawaguchiko.Perfect for a date night!How about warming up your winter by coming to see these fireworks?

Next, let’s look at the best places to see cherry blossoms and autumn colors.All seasons can be enjoyed in Yamanashi, but the cherry blossoms in spring and the colorful foliage in autumn are especially beautiful.In a uniquely Yamanashi style, many of these places also feature Mt Fuji in the background.Here are the top places to see cherry blossoms:
1/ Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine
2/ Maizuru Castle Park
3/ Yamataka Jindai Zakura (ancient cherry tree)
4/ Kiyoharu Art Colony
5/ Fuji Shibazakura

Fuji Omuro Sengen Shrine is known for its connection to the famous military leader Takeda Shingen.

It lies on the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko, and in spring around 100 Yoshida cherry trees blossom within the shrine grounds.Its stunning beauty has made it a popular destination.You will definitely want to see it in person!Picture “sakura” and one usually thinks of cherry blossom trees, but in Yamanashi “Shibazakura”, or pink moss, is so spectacular that an event has been created around it.Many people are able to visit each year as it is open from the middle of April to the end of May.The colorful gradation of magenta, light pink and white is the highlight of the Fuji Shibazakura festival!The view of fields of shibazakura, with Mount Fuji in the background is absolutely breathtaking.It's a perfect spot for you to take a beautiful photo!

Next, here are some of the best spots to see autumn colors.
1/ Nishizawa Valley
2/ Lake Kawaguchiko
3/ Saruhashi Bridge
4/ Shosenkyo Gorge
5/ Ashigawa-keikoku Valley

Yamanashi, which is surrounded by mountains, is packed with places where you can see the beautiful colors of autumn.In the Nishizawa Valley, enjoy impressive views of autumn colors alongside the Nanatsugama-Godan-no-Taki, a five-tiered waterfall.This amazing spot draws visitors not only with its beauty but its immense power.Saruhashi Bridge, one of the Three Unusual Bridges of Japan, is also a popular spot.Seeing colorful maple and beautiful ginkgo leaves set against Saruhashi bridge in autumn will take your breath away.It has the added benefit of being close enough to Saruhashi Station that you can walk there, so how about stopping by?

As you travel in the area, you’ll no doubt want to try out the local cuisine too.Yamanashi has a variety of different local dishes, including the popular Houtou noodles.It is a well-liked cuisine, with many specialty shops in the area, so try some out while you are exploring!Here are five local dishes from Yamanashi, including the famous Houtou noodles.
1/ Houtou (Flat udon noodles and vegetables in miso soup)
2/ Yoshida Udon (Udon noodles topped with vegetables, tofu skin, and sometimes meat)
3/ Wild Boar Curry
4/ Kofu Chicken Tripe Stew
5/ Horse Meat Sashimi

While Houtou noodles are definitely a popular choice, Yoshida udon, made with spring water from Mt Fuji, is the classic local dish.This dish’s unique ingredient is horse meat.Make sure you stop by one of Fujiyoshida city’s many udon restaurants while you’re out sightseeing.As the name suggests, wild boar meat is the main ingredient of the much talked about local dish, wild boar curry.The chewy and tasty texture of the wild boar meat makes this popular curry rather addictive.If you’re interested, why not give it a try!

While reading about Yamanashi’s best tourist spots, places to see blossoms or autumn colors and the local cuisine, did you come across some things you would like to check out?We might first think of Mt Fuji, but the popular Fuji Five Lakes are also exhilaratingly beautiful.Come and enjoy the beautiful and refreshing scenery!

It is my opinion and summary. Please acknowledge that there are various opinions.