3 Yamanashi Sightseeing Spots/山梨の三つ観光スポット

Mt. Fuji at Lake Kawaguchiko

With less than 2 weeks left until I visit Japan for a month in December (yay!), I have most of my plans made. Since I’ll be mostly staying in Tokyo, I’m going to be exploring the Kanto region. You can see my other top sightseeing spots in Tokyo (part one), Hakone, and more Tokyo (part two).


This time, I’m discussing my top 3 sightseeing spots in what I consider to be my hometown, Yamanashi Prefecture (aka Yamanashi Prefecture). When I studied abroad in Japan I was in Yamanashi, so of course I want to visit again. Most of my Japanese classmates have moved back to their hometowns or to other prefectures, but a few of my friends still live in or near Yamanashi so I’d like to visit them.


1. Fuji Five Lakes/富士五湖

The Fuji Five Lakes are (gasp) 5 lakes at the northern foot of Mt Fuji in Yamanashi Prefecture. The 5 lakes are:


  • Lake Kawaguchi (Kawaguchiko)/河口湖
  • Lake Yamanaka (Yamanakako)/山中湖
  • Lake Sai (Saiko)/西湖
  • Lake Shouji (Shoujiko)/精進湖
  • Lake Motosu (Motosuko)/本栖湖

These lakes were formed hundreds of years ago by lava flows from multiple eruptions of Mt. Fuji, which dammed up rivers. Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Yamanaka have a long history of use as spots for religious bathing. The 5 lakes are also part of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park.


I’ve been camping and boating at Lake Kawaguchi and Lake Yamanaka in the summer, but in the winter I hear there are great views of Mt. Fuji when the air is clear. The natural beauty of the five lakes is spectacular!


Mt. Fuji at Lake Kawaguchiko

View of Mt. Fuji from shores of Lake Kawaguchi – Photo by Kei

2. Saiko Iyashino Sato Nenba Healing Folk Village/西湖いやしの里念場

This destination with a lengthy name is the Saiko Healing Folk Village. It is a replica village from the Showa Period (1926-1989). It has reconstructed thatch-roofed houses that contain shops. From the village you can see Mt. Fuji and the Aokigahara Sea of Trees.


In addition to shops, there are hands-on activities such as Japanese paper making, doll making, and soba noodle making. These activities all require advance reservation, and I probably won’t do them, but I think they are a great opportunity to learn some traditional Japanese crafts.


A side note: the Aokigahara Forest is also known as Suicide Forest because many people choose to end their life in this forest. It is full of rock caverns and the density of trees blocks most wind. With the addition of lack of wildlife, it is an eerily quiet forest and is associated with demons in mythology.


3. Shrines

There are many shrines in Japan, and quite a few in Yamanashi Prefecture, but the two I am particularly interested in are Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine and Arakura Sengen Shrine.


Fujiyoshida Sengen Shrine/Northern Entrance Hongu Fuji Sengen Shrine/北口本宮富士浅間神社

This shrine is in Fujiyoshida, near Fuji Five Lakes, and it is the northern entrance to Mt. Fuji. Pilgrims would purify their body and mind here before climbing Mt. Fuji. It is in the midst of a dense, old forest, with 3 trees marking the border of the area that are about 1000 years old.


Fuji Sengen Shrine - Photo by Kei

Fuji Sengen Shrine


Arakura Sengen Shrine/新倉山浅間神社

This shrine is also in Fujiyoshida, and it is on a mountain, allowing it to offer great views of Mt. Fuji. It is famous for its night view, and it is recommended to watch the change from daylight to nighttime during sunset.


Fuji Sengen Shrine Tree

Fuji Sengen Shrine – Photo by Kei

Those are my top 3 Yamanashi spots! Have you been to Mt. Fuji or Yamanashi Prefecture? Any other recommendations in the Mt. Fuji area? Let me know in the comments!



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