A summer's trip to Yamanashi - Waku Waku

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A summer's trip to Yamanashi

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A summer's trip to Yamanashi

One of home to Mt. Fuji, Yamanashi is easy access from Tokyo. This small but nature-rich prefecture hosts various sides of Japan with full of attractions. Here is my getaway last year in Yamanashi.

Kevin Chan

Kevin Chan

Published on 12 May, 12:00

A beautiful, smaller prefecture just southwest of the bustling metropolis of Tokyo, Yamanashi was a place that I'd never been to before but finally had a chance to visit. In July of 2021, I had to go there for personal reasons for a few days and found the time to explore a bit of the prefecture before returning to my home to continue responsibly socially distancing.

Food

Hōtō (ほうとう) is a local noodle dish that's compared to udon
Hōtō (ほうとう) is a local noodle dish that's compared to udon

From my local friend, I learned a bit about Yamanashi. It's a land-locked prefecture, which means that it doesn't have ready access to seafood, perhaps the cuisine that Japan is most famous for around the world.

Instead of seafood, Yamanashi found hoto (pronounced ho-u to-u), a noodle dish very similar to udon that features vegetables and a soup base inspired by the mountainous area and the kinds of products that can be readily found there: carrots, hakusai (or Napa cabbage), onions, mushrooms, and the like.

I found it extremely delicious, with the noodles slightly bouncier in texture than the thinner udon that I'm used to eating, and the soup a nice, light miso-accented flavor.

The restaurant that I went to was the head location (the main branch) of Hoto Fudo. It had an incredible classic interior and we were able to enjoy our food whilst looking outside and seeing the incredible scenery of Yamanashi.

A summer's trip to Yamanashi

From my local friend, pears, strawberries and peaches are also famous foods that can be enjoyed in Yamanashi. I went to Yamanashi in the summer and apparently was just in time for the peach season, which is short-lived.

Don't be disappointed if you're going at other times of the year, because there are many other different foods that can be enjoyed all year round, but I can tell you that the fruit that we sampled during our stay was something to remember!

Sightseeing

These beautiful crystals and stones can be seen near Senga Waterfall, Yamanashi
These beautiful crystals and stones can be seen near Senga Waterfall, Yamanashi

Of the little that I knew of Yamanashi before going, I had heard that Yamanashi was a smaller, more rural area of Japan. One thing we went to do is to see Senga Waterfall, which was a beautiful, quaint little waterfall in Yamanashi Prefecture.

A summer's trip to Yamanashi

Walking towards the waterfall, you're greeted with a wonderful little shopping town, with wind chimes and small souvenir shops manned by friendly locals, and also shops that feature crystals and stones that are mined in the area! I'm personally not a collector of jewelry but they were beautiful and impressive in size, and I would definitely recommend checking it out if you're in the area!

On the way back to the train station, we drove by Mount Fuji (cover photo) which was majestic; we were lucky enough that the weather was fairly clear and allowed us to get a relatively unobstructed view of the mountain.

We also went by Fuji Q Highland, an amusement park known for its record-breaking rollercoasters and ridiculously scary haunted houses. We went on the rollercoaster Takabisha, with the world record 120-degree vertical drop, and Dodonpa, the world record holder for acceleration on a roller coaster.

A summer's trip to Yamanashi

I'm not going to lie: It's not for the faint of heart. But if you're into adrenaline and that sort of thing, go for it! I certainly had a lot of fun listening to my friends screaming beside me!

Traveling during COVID

During our short stay in Yamanashi, I was driven around by friends, and also took the bus and Shinkansen on the way home. While on public transit (the bus and train), I clearly heard announcements asking customers to mask while on board.

As well, when at restaurants, I noticed that staff were clearly masked, and during our trip to Fuji Q, we were required to stay masked while on the rides. Frankly, with the speed of the rollercoasters, the masks came after the ride began, but please remember that you'll need to have a mask with you to get on the ride in the first place.

It was nice to see basic measures like masking mandated and alcohol available in different places. If you're planning to travel to Yamanashi in the near future, know that they're taking measures to keep you and the local people safe.

Yamanashi is a wonderful little place, and certainly much more than just Mount Fuji and "near Tokyo", as many of the local rural spots are reduced to. I would absolutely recommend traveling there!

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Kevin Chan

Kevin Chan

Kevin is a professional writer with experience in music, education, news media and entertainment. He graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in English before moving to Japan for work. He's lived all over Japan, spending time in Kanto, Chubu, Kinki and Okinawa.

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