Yamanashi Prefecture, which lies next to Tokyo, is an area that has Japan’s premier mountain and World Heritage site, Mt. Fuji. The nation’s No. 1 mountain is on the border of Shizuoka and Yamanashi Prefectures, and from the Yamanashi side, Mt. Fuji can be seen with Fuji Five Lakes and the Springs of Mt. Fuji. The prefecture is known for having abundant notable springs so it has the largest output of mineral water in the nation. It is also the origin for Japan’s wine industry with about 80 wineries within Yamanashi. The prefecture is also blessed with mountains such as the Southern Alps and Mt. Yatsugatake, so it is an area filled with natural attractions with good access from the capital within 2 hours.
The climbing season for Mt. Fuji is only from early July to mid-September. Among the 4 climbing routes, the Yoshida Route on the Yamanashi side is the most general route with over half the climbers using it. The surrounding vicinity has the very popular Lake Kawaguchi as a resort area, Fuji Five Lakes including Lake Yamanaka, the Springs of Mt. Fuji which act as the fountainhead for the underground water flowing from Mt. Fuji, and the Narusawa Ice Cave which is frozen all year. Other examples of nature include Shosen Gorge and Aokigahara Forest, along with the amusement park of Fuji Kyu Highland and Arakurayama Park where you can take photographs of Mt. Fuji, cherry blossoms and a pagoda all in one shot.
Hōtō noodles are an example of a regional dish representing Yamanashi in winter. As well, dishes such as Yoshida udon and otsuke dango (soup dumplings) are well known. Also, there are the popular local dishes including Kofu tori motsu-ni (stewed chicken offal of Kofu) and tomato yakisoba. Yamanashi Prefecture also boasts the nation’s largest production of grapes and peaches. And the prefecture’s wineries can be toured when the annual fall event of Wine Tourism Yamanashi is held.
It’s common to take a train from Tokyo Station to head for Yamanashi. A trip to Kofu via Shinjuku Station takes about 2 hours. Access to Mt. Fuji varies depending on the climbing route taken, but to reach the most popular Yoshida Route, it takes 2.5 hours to Lake Kawaguchi Station via Shinjuku. There are plenty of regular buses and tourist taxis moving around Mt. Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes area. If you want to expand your travels within Yamanashi, the Yamanashi Bus Concierge is handy in providing information on regular bus routes in the prefecture and local tourist sites. Unfortunately, there is no information in English in which case traveling by rental car might be better.
There are plenty of hotels and ryokan since Mt. Fuji and the Fuji Five Lakes region are considered resort areas with onsen. Also, there are similar accommodations around Kofu Station, Isawa Onsen and the resort areas of Kiyosato and Mt. Yatsugatake.