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Japan’s wine country in the Fuji foothills

Pack a prized Yamanashi piece of fruit in your camping bag and head for the hills.

A ring of emerald mountains around a low plain forms landlocked Yamanashi prefecture in the Chubu region, a landscape ripe for outdoor activities. Hiking, climbing, fishing, camping and hot springs are all within easy reach, while fertile conditions have blessed the region with some of Japan’s most delicious fruit.

Yamanashi is also a premier producer of wine and growing champion of wine tourism; this can only be a good sign.

Mount Fuji is the highest peak in Yamanashi, reflected in the pristine waters of the Fuji Five Lakes. Kawaguchiko, Yamanakako, Shojiko, Motosuko and Saiko run along Fuji’s northern foot with Kawaguchiko being the main gateway to the region. Take the Fujikyu railway for a scenic approach, or hop on a direct bus from central Tokyo for easy access to Japan’s most iconic views.

See the spectacular shibazakura at the base of Mount Fuji.

See the spectacular shibazakura at the base of Mount Fuji.

Yamanakako is a popular summer resort, especially for water sports, with lots of camping spots around the lake. The surface of Shojiko is where you can photograph the classic reflected image of Fuji upside-down, while at Motosuko you can recapture the scene of Mount Fuji that’s printed on the ¥1000 bill. During late April through May, get your camera ready for the spectacularly photogenic shibakazura flower festival, where thousands of tiny pink and purple moss phlox form a giant flower carpet with Fuji as a backdrop.

Lake Saiko is the least developed, sadly notorious for the Aokigahara suicide forest at its southern shore. It’s still a beautiful place for hiking though, perhaps all the more so because of its mysterious power to draw people into the abyss.

Aokigahara is also known as Jukai or Sea of Trees. It’s notorious for being a common spot for suicides.

In the Southern Alps, Mount Kita is Japan’s second-highest mountain, famous among climbers for its challenging 600m sheer rock face known as “The Buttress.” Sacred Mount Minobu attracts worshippers to Kuon-ji temple, headquarters of the Nichiren sect of Buddhism.

The hills of Katsunuma draw a different kind of devotee, come to sample some of Japan’s finest Koshu wine. Produced since the late 19th century, Koshu wine is gaining international recognition and there are around 100 wineries in the area offering plenty of options for tours and tasting sessions.

Get your fill of fruit in Yamanashi prefecture.

Get your fill of fruit in Yamanashi prefecture.

Don’t leave without picking some of Yamanashi’s incredible fruit. Peach, grape and plum are the fruity frontrunners, but you can also harvest your own strawberries, blueberries, apples, persimmons (above) and pears.

Places to visit

Fuji-Q Highlands

Thrill seekers of the world: listen carefully.

Kawaguchiko Music Forest

Travel in a picture book-like scenery with Mt. Fuji in the backdrop.

Lake Kawaguchiko

The gateway to the Fuji Five Lakes area, this lake holds hot springs resorts, museums and both lakeside and mountain views of Mount Fuji.

Lake Motosuko

Lake Motosuko

Anyone who has ever paid for something with a ¥1,000 bill should be familiar with this lake’s view of Mount Fuji.

Lake Saiko

In and around this lake, you can see Mount Fuji, visit a thatched-roof village, explore three lava caves, and hike the Jukai Nature Trail.

Sunrise at Lake Shojiko

Lake Shojiko

A serene hideaway with its own special view of Mount Fuji and hiking access to a panoramic lookout.

Ide Sake Brewery, Kawaguchiko

Ide Sake Brewery

Generations of experience combine with the pure spring waters of Mt. Fuji to create the perfect tipple.

Yoshida Fire Festival

Fireworks at the foot of Mt. Fuji.

Ice, Wind and Bat Caves of Mount Fuji

Explore the subterranean lava caves of the 'Fuji Five Lakes' area.

Kinseiken Daigahara Confectionary Shop

Water mochi is magical but this smalltown sweets shop has all your Japanese faves.

Mount Tenjo & Mt. Fuji Panoramic Ropeway

An iconic view, a lovers’ bell, and a vengeful rabbit…


Katsunuma Grape Festival

Come for the wine, stay for the fire!

Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine

A shrine of mountains and fire in the Mt. Fuji foothills.

Other Destinations in Chubu

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

Karamon Gate in Fukui Prefecture


Discover dinosaurs and the art of Zen in fossil-filled Fukui.

Traditional street in Takayama, Gifu prefecture


Scenic Gifu prefecture is a rewarding stopping point on the way from Kanto to Kansai.

Kenrokuen Gardens, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Pref


Rich cultural heritage, great seafood and some stunning coastal scenery - if you're into that sort of thing.

Monkeys bathing in the onsen in Nagano


World-class winter sports, hot springs (occasionally monkey-filled), delicious local food and a foreigner-friendly vibe.

Maruyama rice terraces at sunset, Mie prefecture


The rice is right in Niigata prefecture where there's skiing in winter, festivals in summer and sake all year round.

Mt. Fuji and tea plantations


It's resorts galore in serene Shizuoka.

Lake Kurobe in Toyama Prefecture


Toyama's speciality is mountains and there's no better place to experience them than here.

This Month’s Top Spots

Nagoya, Japan city skyline, Aichi Prefecture


Aichi prefecture is the dynamic capital of Japanese industrialization.

People eating and drinking in Yurakucho Tokyo Japan.


From glittering skyscrapers to rickety ramen shacks, Tokyo is a dazzling mix of the ultra modern and traditional.

Tap into Tokyo’s Manga and Anime Scene

Tokyo, Japan - August 1, 2015: Crowds pass below colorful signs in Akihabara. The well known electronics district specializes in the sales of video games, anime, manga, and computer goods.


Ah, Akihabara. Where to even begin? Electric town. Cool Japan. Anime Center. Themed cafes. The list is...

Manhole cover in Ghibli museum, Tokyo-Japan.

Ghibli Museum

A whimsical wonderland that is heartbreakingly charming.