A short rail ride from hyper Tokyo, Yamanashi prefecture lies in a central valley wreathed by Japan’s tallest mountains, including the beloved Mount Fuji.
Located in Japan’s Chubu region, Yamanashi comprises the Five Lakes region with its principal city of Fujiyoshida, famous for its udon noodles.
Fujiyoshida is also home to the Kitaguchi Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine, the historic entrance to the Yoshida trail that ascends Mr. Fuji. The shrine is the main gateway to Fujisan.
Yoshida fire festival
Dedicated to Princess Konohanasakuya, the Shinto deity intimately bound with Mount Fuji, the shrine represents the north access to the volcano.
Amid a thick forest and set before a long path lined by stone lanterns and towering cedar trees, the shrine hosts the annual Yoshida fire festival each late August, marking the official closing of the mountain.
Firewood bonfires line Fujiyoshida’s main street during the festival, which dates a half-century back. The soul of Princess Konohanasakuya is said to be enshrined at the temple site, and once transported to traveling shrine, is carried around the town. Strict protocol is followed, so as not to cause Mount Fuji to erupt.
Other festivals include the Shingen-ko festival held each March (the largest Samurai parade in Japan), and the Yatsugatake County Fair and Paul Rusch Festival. The event celebrates the life and work of Paul Rusch, a missionary and educator, and the bond he helped create between the U.S. and Japan. The festival is held each October in Kiyosato.
Shiraito no Taki waterfalls
The Shiraito waterfall forms a crescent that wreathes a shallow lake in the southwestern foothills of Fujisan. Rock walls soar 20 meters high with an expanse of 200 meters. Water cascades in what many describe as thin white, silken threads, or shiraito – hence the falls’ name.
Otodome Falls are located just up a walk lined with souvenir stands. They plunge 26 meters. Both falls are counted among Japan’s 100 most famous waterfalls.
Yamanashi: 78% covered by forest
Mountain climbing, hiking and visits to hot springs are among the many outdoor activities Yamanashi offers. The Chichibu-Tama area is great for hiking, as well as the pastoral setting of the Yatsugatake area. Peruse a full list of hot springs found in Yamanashi.
Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park harbors Yamanashi’s crown jewel: Mount Fuji. The park also contains Fuji’s Five Lakes, the Izu Peninsula and islands as well as Hakone, home to the famous Hakone Gongen Shinto shrine.
The Yoshida Trail
Leading from the 5th Station halfway up Mount Fuji, the Yoshida Trail is a popular base for many climbers who wish to view the sunrise once they reach the top. An ascent takes from 5-7 hours, with descents from 3-5 hours.
Further up, the trail is lined by a dozen or more rest and sleeping between the 7th and 8th stations. Overnights in the huts cost from 5000 yen per person without meals and for an overnight with two meals, 7000 yen.
July and August are Mount Fuji’s official climbing months, when the mountain is normally free of snow. This climbing guide offers more information.
- More information on Yamanashi prefecture.
- The Five Lakes region.
- Ways to view Mount Fuji.
- Lodging. Yamanashi’s Hotel Regina offers a hot-spring bath, indoor pool and spa, and views of Mount Fuji. Kawaguchiko Train Station is 5 minutes away via the hotel’s free shuttle.
- Mount Fuji climbing guide.