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A Prefecture of many charms

Yamanashi Prefecture lies just west of Tokyo and is an area often praised for its beautiful nature, welcoming residents, and delicious fruit and wine. Although quaint in nature the prefecture still boasts ranking in the top ten most traveled to prefectures in the nation according to a 2016 study by the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Although World Heritage Site Mt. Fuji is part of the reason for these outstanding numbers, among Japanese natives the prefecture also boasts the titles “Fruit Kingdom” and “Wine Prefecture”. Enjoy a taste of excellency at our top 2 wine and Fruit destinations below!

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Iwashita Onsen Ryokan

YAMANASHI-SHI

          In Yamanashi Prefecture’s very own Yamanashi City, there is one traditional inn where you can enjoy unique Hot Springs, Koshu Styled Kaiseki Cuisine, Yamanashi Wine, and cute kitty illustrations to your heart's content. And that is Iwashita Onsen Ryokan.

          Oh, and did we mention? The natural hot springs that flow beneath this Ryokan are the oldest in the nation! Although the inn itself was built in 1875, these waters sprang up over 1,300 years ago and that is not the only surprising fact about them.

 Come wash away your tiredness from the inside out in a unique traditional styled inn!         

•        Getting there: From Shinjuku Station take the JR Chuo Express Line Azusa to Kofu Station, there change to the Chuo main line (towards Takao) to either Yamanashi-shi Sta. or Isawa Onsen Sta. the Ryokan staff will pick you up from there! 

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 Enjoy a bath in natural spring water unique to this region before indulging yourself in local fruits and delicacies.

Iwashita Onsen Ryokan located in Yamanashi City is a unique inn overflowing with history and local delights. It features 4 different baths spread across an old and a new building. Once you raise from your bath’s guests have a chance to enjoy a traditional Koshu styled Kaiseki which is a multicourse meal featuring may local dishes and of course, delicious local wine and fruit for dessert.

When our team first arrived at the inn, we were given a rather interesting map featuring their kitty mascot character Mimi that explains a fun walking course around the area. The weather had finally started to cool down, so it was quite a relaxing walk I very much recommend. Depending on the season, you can see grape, peach, and even cherry fields. There is also a Buddhist Temple as well as Shinto Shrine along the path and if you're lucky, a local kitty neighbors walking along the path as well!

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The map of our walk with the new and old buildings at the very bottom.

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Post-harvest grape fields, a temple, and a shrine.

 
Once our little walk was over, we decided it was the perfect time to enjoy a dip in the 1,300-year-old waters of the old building. The older building of the inn is registered as a tangible cultural property as it has existed from the 8th year of the Meiji Emperor (that’s 1875 on the Western Calendar). But that isn’t the only unique thing about it. The two baths it houses are to be entered in a special way and a special order. And even if you don’t understand, the adorable Mimi illustrations are posted on the walls of the changing room to fill you in.

1)      Drink one cup of water before entering the baths

2)       Enter the hot baths on the higher floor and relax as long as you’d like.
3)       Wrap your tower around you and make your way across the hallway to the lower baths

4)       Remove your towel and place your hands tight underneath your armpits and sink into your colder bath

5)       Feel free to switch the baths 3~5times! Even just putting your hands or legs in is super effective! 

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The directions on the changing room wall.


Of course, there is also the bath available in the new building which also includes an open-air bath! However, these are reserved only for those staying the night, unlike the old building baths which you can just enter and then go home.
Once done with your unique bathing experience, do not forget to make time for dinner and also—plenty of space in your stomach for this healthy multi-course meal.

Personally, I have never liked kaiseki. I am a rather picky eater and can barely finish my food. However, this particular Koshu styled Kaiseki was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had. Delicious vegetables and meat all in season topped off with classic Yamanashi wine for my friend and yummy grape juice for myself. And of course, my favorite part—fruits for dessert. This was overall the best Kaiseki meal I have ever had, and the fruit was so fresh and delicious. I really felt like we were given a taste of what it meant to be Wine Prefecture and the Fruit Kingdom. I cannot recommend enough having a trip here of your own!

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 Just a small portion of our delicious meal!

Although prices for staying a night vary by room, date, and course plans, it is still quite an affordable destination. Plus if you act now, you can visit as a part of Japan’s GoTo Travel Campaign! Reservations can be made on their website (limited English).

2020budou16( External link ) For more information on the best places to stay within Yamanashi please visit our Instagram page WelcomeToYamanashi. Updates are made every week in English, Portuguese, and French!

 

 

 

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Ichikoen Orchards

Koshu-SHI

          Private events, outdoor barbeques, group tours, gift shopping, and grape picking are but a few of the specialties of Ichikoen. Ichikoen is a gorgeous vineyard property that invites you to rest, relax, and have a glass of wine along with local meat and vegetables all while enjoy the southern country aesthetic. Family owned and operated Ichikoen maintains a friendly and quaint atmosphere despite the vastness of its various grape fields. It is the perfect place for walking tours with friends and family, rain or shine! At capacity, Ichikoen can comfortably accommodate up to 800 guests although it is currently accepting smaller numbers to ensure a pleasant and safe social distancing environment. Reservations are recommended.

•     Getting there: From Shinjuku Station take the JR Chuo Express Line Azusa to Kofu Station, there change to the Chuo main line (towards Takao) to Katsunuma Budoukyou Sta. Ichikoen Orchards is located 20min walk from the station.

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Enjoy this gorgeous vineyard that beautifully represents the richness and yet simplicity of the so called Fruit Kingdom Yamanashi.
Conveniently located, there are four entrances at which staff will greet you and direct you to your activity of choice – whether you’d like to come inside and try a tasting menu of different grape varieties, or perhaps pick your own. When I arrived I could choose from the following options:

•        •          Standard All-You-Can-Eat grape picking - choose your own grape variety
•        •          Standard All-You-Can-Eat grape picking and 2take home souvenir bunches
•        •          Specialty ’Shine Muscat’ All-You Can-Eat grape picking
•        •          Specialty ‘Kyoho’ All-You-Can-Eat grape picking with a sit down grape tasting of three special world varieties
•        •          Speciality All-You-Can-Eat Kyoho grape picking and barbeque lunch Ichikoen style
 

            I was only stopping for a quick visit so I elected to do a walking tour instead of a full course of grape picking with the hope of coming back next time with my family. That is not to say I didn't get to try any grapes though. My colleague and I were allowed to pick one bunch each as special guests. And let me tell you – they were incredible! They were the biggest grapes I have ever seen in my life! They were so incredible, at the end of the day I picked some up at gift shop so my wife could try them once I got home.

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            I also did a grape tasting and tried three different grapes. The owner of Ichikoen, Mr. Kazuo Furuya explained all about the different varieties of grapes and how they were all sweet in different ways. I also learned he hand-selected the antiques throughout the property and crafted many of the wooden benches and décor himself. His gentle and kind manner humbled me, and I felt grateful that Mr. Furuya put so much special care into making every corner of Ichikoen into a beautiful place.

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            Mr. Furuya knows just how much both children and adults love looking at the fish pond when they come for grape picking, and at the at lamps and lanterns, happy buddhas, and the sun sparkling through the sea of grapevines that makeup the ceiling.


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At Ichikoen grape picking fields are separated by group size (from small groups to bus tours) as well as by grape variety. If you book right now, you can visit as a part of Japan’s GoTo Travel Campaign! Reservations can be made on their website (limited English).

2020budou16( External link )For more information on the best places to stay within Yamanashi please visit our Instagram page WelcomeToYamanashi. Updates are made every week in English, Portuguese, and French!

 

Published on

  • December 25, 2020

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