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The Yatsugatake Mountains mark the border between Yamanashi Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture. Boasting clear highland air, majestic views, and rich history, this is an area worth spending several days in, no matter what season you’re visiting in.

At the southern foot of the Yatsugatake range lies the resort town of Kiyosato, popular for its old-fashioned charm, beautiful views, and delicious dairy. Another noteworthy destination is Kobuchizawa, a settlement with a long history of horse breeding, where ranches, stables, and horse clubs dot the landscape.

The Umenoki and Kinsei prehistorical archaeological sites and the Hokuto Archaeological Museum offer a look into the lives of Yamanashi’s earliest residents, while Daigahara Shuku, a “post town” along the Koshu Kaido route that historically joined the capital of Edo with Shinano Province (present-day Nagano) via Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi), makes for a trip back into the time of the samurai.

  • Ōmura Art Museum was opened as a private art museum in 2007 by Professor Satoshi Ōmura, a prominent biochemist and joint winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the development of the anti-parasitic drugs avermectin and ivermectin.

  • Believed to have been built in 822, the Takeda Hachimangu Shrine sits on a tree-lined mountainside overlooking the city of Nirasaki. The sanctuary served as the guardian shrine of the Takeda clan, which ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from the 1100s until 1582.

  • Shinpu Castle once stood at the top of this small mountain at the southern tip of the Shichiriiwa Plateau, which extends from the border with Nagano Prefecture to the center of Nirasaki for about 30 kilometers from north to south. The castle was built by the feudal lord Takeda Katsuyori, who ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from 1573 to 1582.

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    Daigahara Shuku

    Daigahara Shuku was the 40th of 44 post towns along the Koshu Kaido route that historically joined the capital of Edo with Shinano Province (present-day Nagano) via Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi). The small town has maintained its Edo-period character and feels almost like a time capsule from the past.

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    Located in the Kiyosato Highlands at the southern foot of the Yatsugatake mountains that mark the border between Yamanashi Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture, the resort town of Kiyosato is popular for its old-fashioned charm and beautiful views.

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    The town of Kobuchizawa in Yamanashi’s Hokuto region is located at the southern foot of Mount Yatsugatake and has a long history of horse breeding. There are still many ranches, stables, and horse clubs in Kobuchizawa and owners from other parts of the country keep their horses here.

  • Umenoki Iseki Park is a place where you can get a first-hand experience of Japan’s prehistory. The park marks the location of the Umenoki ruins, a prehistoric archaeological site and a designated National Historic Site.

  • Kinsei Iseki Park on the southern foot of the Yatsugatake Mountains is a historical park marking the location of the Kinsei ruins, a prehistoric archaeological site. The area includes the remains of a settlement from the Late and Final Jomon periods, which run from circa 2,470 BCE to circa 300 BCE.

  • Hokuto Archaeological Museum is surrounded by local history, and its collection covers items found in what is now the city of Hokuto, extending from Japan’s Paleolithic period (beginning around 40,000 BCE) to the Warring States period (1467-1568).

  • Heidi’s Village recreates a slice of the Swiss Alps, themed around the Japanese anime version of the Heidi stories written by Johanna Spyri in the late nineteenth century. The park invites visitors of all ages to forget their modern-day cares and concerns.

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    Heiwa Kannon

    This giant standing statue of Kannon, the bodhisattva of compassion, has become a symbol of the city of Nirasaki. From its position on a hill in the city center, the statue serves as a very visible call for world peace and is a prayer for the safety of mountain climbers.

  • This sprawling cherry blossom tree is estimated to be about 330 years old. From its position in the middle of the river terrace of the Kamanashi River, among the stepped rice paddies of Nirasaki, the Wanitsuka no Sakura offers stunning views on all sides.

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    Mount Mizugaki

    The 2,230-meter Mount Mizugaki has an unusual jagged peak, making it particularly inviting for rock climbing and bouldering. The mountain also has a long history as a hiking destination, with the main road to the peak believed to have started as a pilgrimage trail more than 1,000 years ago.

  • The Kawamatagawa Valley is one of the most popular nature spots in Yamanashi Prefecture. Named for the Kawamatagawa River that runs through it, the valley is filled with trees and is home to attractions such as the famous Doryu Falls and the Higashizawa Bridge.

  • Utsukushimori means “beautiful forest,” and the Utsukushimori Lookout has some of the best views of these visually pleasing woods. It boasts panoramic 360-degree views of the Kiyosato Plateau and the surrounding mountains, and on a clear day, the Southern Alps can be seen along with Mount Fuji.

  • This magnificent cherry blossom tree at Jissoji Temple in the highlands of Yamanashi’s Hokuto region is one of the “Three Great Sakura Trees” of Japan. The tree is considered a symbol of long life and seedlings grown from it have been planted elsewhere in Japan and around the world.

  • The Sanbuichi Yusui Kan museum is dedicated to the Sanbuichi Yusui, a more than 400-year-old mountainside weir. An impressive feat of engineering in the sixteenth century, the weir remains in good condition today and its water is still used for rice farming and other agricultural purposes.

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    Happiness Walk

    Happiness Walk is a commemorative path dedicated to Professor Satoshi Ōmura, a biochemist and joint winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. It is the most scenic route from Nirasaki Station to the Ōmura Art Museum and features nine sculptures by different artists.

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    Ojiragawa Gorge

    Ojiragawa Gorge is named for the Ojiragawa River and is one of the most famous nature spots in Yamanashi Prefecture. The gorge is popular at any time of year, but is especially beautiful when the leaves change in autumn and during the period of lush greenery in early summer.

  • The Ojiragawa Suspension Bridge and the Kaikomagatake Shrine beside it are two of the highlights of the Ojiragawa Gorge. Easily accessible via a five-minute walk from the gorge’s parking lot, the bridge is a popular photo spot that affords views of the Ojiragawa River and its clear mountain water.

  • The still, peaceful, and secluded Lake Mizugakiko is a popular destination for its sweeping views of nature and its proximity to the Masutomi no Yu hot-spring area. The pristine surface of the lake reflects the trees around it, making for a particularly colorful display.

  • Camping in the mountains, surrounded by nature, is the perfect way to relax and recharge, and Friend Park Mukawa makes the ideal destination for such a laid-back getaway. On hot days, the Omu River with its clear water from Mount Kaikoma is an ideal place to swim, while the park’s barbecue area provides a place to cook food out in the open.

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    Masutomi no Yu

    The Masutomi Hot Spring Resort area has a history dating back to the time of Takeda Shingen, the warlord who ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from 1540 to 1573. According to legend, miners digging for gold in the area discovered an underground hot spring and noticed that the water helped heal their wounds and cure their illnesses.

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    Doryu Falls

    Doryu Falls is considered the most beautiful waterfall in the Kawamatagawa Valley. The name Doryu means “Spitting Dragon Mouth” and, with water flowing in multiple paths down moss-covered rocks, it is not hard to imagine it gushing from the mouth of a dragon.

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    Makiba Park

    The expansive Makiba Park, located on rolling hills backgrounded by the Yatsugatake mountains, offers plentiful opportunities to reconnect with nature. Amiable animals including ponies, cows, and rabbits roam freely around, enjoying the purest air at elevations of 1,200 to 1,700 meters.

More Venues in the Area

  • KEEP - Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project

    KEEP (Kiyosato Educational Experiment Project) is a lodging facility that was opened in Kiyosato Highland in 2000 by the public utility foundation, and a camp site with a history of over 51 years where school students can stay together in a camp and learn how to live in nature.

  • Nakamura Keith Haring Collection

    The Nakamura Keith Haring Collection is the world’s only art museum to exclusively exhibit the works of the artist, Keith Haring, who dominated the 1980’s art scene in New York.

  • Suntory Hakushu Distillery

    Suntory's Second Malt Whiskey Distillery, also called "The Forest Distillery."

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