The Yamanashi Grapevine 2022 - Special Edition

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The Yamanashi





SPECIAL EDITION The Osano Memorial Foundation was established on May 13, 1987, thanks to a generous contribution from Mrs. Eiko Osano, wife of the late Mr. Kenji Osano. Originally from Yamanashi Prefecture’s Koshu City (previously Katsunuma), Mr. Osano left a lasting impression on his wife with his visions for the prefecture he loved so much, including promotion of international exchanges, regional development and the creation of a new culture. On April 1, 2012, the foundation began a new chapter as a public interest incorporated foundation.

Since its founding, the foundation has held essay contests for elementary and junior high school students, international exchange events for high school students, grant programs, along with numerous other ventures aimed at promoting international relations. Of these, The Yamanashi Grapevine is a noteworthy example. The Yamanashi Grapevine is a magazine that introduces Yamanashi in English to audiences around the world. The magazine was first published one year after the foundation was established, and has since won the hearts of readers both in Japan and overseas. For this year’s issue of The Yamanashi Grapevine, our staff compiled a special edition with select articles from over the years that deserve another read. It would be our greatest joy if this magazine could help inform a wider audience about the foundation and contribute to its goals of international exchange promotion and regional development in Yamanashi. Last, we would like to thank all the readers for their continued support of the Osano Memorial Foundation.

HAVE A GREAT READ! The Yamanashi Grapevine Editorial Staff



Rhapsodies on an Autumn Night, The Kofu Machinaka Music Festa (2009)


On Takeda Shingen’s Footsteps (2011)


Daigahara-juku: Along the Old Traveler’s Road (2012)


Yamanashi Landscape


Into the Healing Village (2015)


The Town of Hayakawa (2017)


Staff Picks


A Word from The Editors


Special Thanks




Rhapsodies on an Autumn Night, The Kofu Machinaka Music Festa (2009)


ime seems to flow slowly here, in this city locked by rolling mountains. Always within sight, Mt. Fuji is an eternal constant. It is the same sacred mountain depicted in Hakusai and Hiroshige’s woodblock prints, splattered across the Japanese government’s PR campaigns, and glued into the scrapbooks of travelers. From afar, the slopes do not change from summer to summer; the winter peak always glistens beneath the sunlight. But history still manages to slip through the valleys and railway tunnels into Yamanashi. Take the history of Kofu City’s Sakura-za Theater. During the Edo and Meiji Eras, Sakura-za flourishes as a performance hotspot in Kofu’s old downtown district, showcasing kabuki, engei, and various traditional art forms. It is only one of many theaters in the area frequented by enthusiastic locals. However, due to the changing of the times and the popularization of moving pictures during the early Showa Era (1926-1989), the Sakura-za Theater quietly closes its doors as the silver screen takes the stage.

JENKA EUSEBIO USA The night of October 25, 2008 is a special one. Bathed in the spotlight of Sakura-za’s stage is Kondo Fusanosuke, one of Japan’s greatest blues singers, an electric guitar cradled in his arms as he belts out B.B. King‘s “Sweet Little Angel.” Theater patrons sit atop fragrant tatami mats, sipping wine and tapping their feet. Welcome to Kofu Jazz Street. One night, one pass, six venues. It is the crowning night of the Kofu Machinaka Music Festa, the prefectural capital’s yearly celebration of musical pursuit as locals drift from the opening ceremony at Sakura-za to Alfie, Hanagumi, Cotton Club, Alone, and the Vault. This event had its beginnings in 2006 when the Kofu Daisuki Festival, normally held in October, was moved to late summer. In its place, the city’s Chamber of Commerce & Industry launched the Kofu Machinaka Music Festa, taking advantage of Kofu’s lively music culture and the establishments like Sakura-za which devote themselves to promoting the arts.

"I asked my baby for a nickel and she gave me a twenty dollar bill. I asked her for a drink of liquor and she gave me a whiskey still!" - B.B. King History moves on undisturbed. A war blasts through the world and air raids destroy nearly three-quarters of the city. Fast forward. Kofu is rebuilt; and eighty years after having vanished, Sakura-za reemerges as a vibrant performance venue for music concerts, dramatic plays, comedy acts, and movies.


“One of the main goals of the Festa,” says Hiroshi Koshiishi, director of the Kofu Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Regional Revival and Promotion Division. “Is to bring life to the city center, to bring something more to the area besides shopping. Something fun, artistic, and cultural.”

"The memory of things gone is important to a jazz musician. Things like old folks singing in the moonlight in the backyard on a hot night or something said long ago." - Louis Armstrong With Japan working vigorously towards the internationalization of its rural areas, ventures like the Kofu Machinaka Music Festa play leading roles at infusing life and wonder into the oppressive atmosphere festering around unstable economic conditions. It should not be forgotten that jazz, blues, and rock n’ roll were born during times of social and economic turbulence. To summon them now is a gesture of faith in the midst of hard times, and a historical reminder that the creation of art is a sacred tradition, always within hearts reach, that will never change. Every year since the Festa’s inception, October has been geared towards performances by both professionals and amateurs alike, the latter participating in competitions to test their talent and gain exposure. Street musicians hit the pavement along Kasuga Mall for jam sessions, breaking out their guitars, trombones, trumpets, drums, and keyboards. Call it a celebration of the three cornerstones of popular music: jazz, blues, and rock n’ roll. “While jazz may appeal to a smaller and older audience, it is an art form that has its fair share of ardent fans,” Koshiishi goes on when talking about Kofu’s jazz scene. The buzzing milieu of Kofu Jazz Street attests to the popularity of this American cultural import, which carries with it both African and European influences. It is a music based on improvisation and spontaneity, the creation and recreation of variation; a sound that effortlessly crosses international borders and makes itself at home in the jazz clubs and theaters of lands miles away from its own birthplace.

A note from our staff Nicole Oliver USA Grapevine 2022 Editor in Chief

At first glance, Yamanashi may seem like a straightforward place with some nice scenery and great wine. However, Jenka’s beautifully written piece draws a picture of a Yamanashi that short-term visitors may have never seen. I hope this article inspires people to dive deeper into another side of our wonderful prefecture. Although the Kofu Jazz Street Festival (i.e. Kofu Machinaka Music Festa) is no longer a yearly event, Sakura-za continues to host many jazz concerts and events throughout the year. Please visit their website for more information:


On Takeda Shingen's Footsteps (2011)



oday Yamanashi is known as a region blessed by abundance of nature, boasting the top production of grapes, peaches, and plums in Japan and is known as the Kingdom of Fruit. But it has not always been this land of harvest. Indeed, Yamanashi, or Kai Province at the time, used to be one of the poorest provinces in medieval Japan with poor soil and a small population. You might have heard of Takeda Shingen, a famous warlord in Kai Province during the Warring States period of Japan. Shingen is mostly known for his strong military strategies and his war banner with the famous phrase of Fu-rin-ka-zan which translates into swift as the wind, silent as a forest, fierce as fire and immovable as a mountain. It was adopted by Shingen from Sun Tzu’s Art of War as an insignia for his army. Over some thirty continual years of warfare, Shingen fought against Uesugi Kenshin, Oda Nobunaga and Tokugawa Ieyasu. He conquered the surrounding provinces one by the other, and was considered a serious candidate for achieving the unification of Japan. Under the ruling of Shingen, his territory became one of the strongest provinces in Japan. Shingen’s legend inspired the Japanese mythical film director Akira Kurosawa for one of his last movies, Kagemusha. Nowadays in Yamanashi, Takeda Shingen is considered a hero and is without a doubt a major figure in the prefecture as well as Japan’s history in general. Places associated with Shingen’s life are still worshipped. At the Shingen-ko Festival held every April on the weekend before the anniversary of Shingen’s death, locals and spectators from all over the country gather in Kofu to celebrate the legacy of this famous warlord.


Shingen is also remembered by the people of Yamanashi for his sound civil administration and public works. Shingen was strongly influenced by ancient Chinese philosophy which was at the time very insightful and eminent for feudal lords. During his ruling time, he enforced policies that would benefit not only his contemporaries but also the future generations. For instance, the Shingen Zutsumi, a levee constructed by Shingen four and a half centuries ago to protect the region from floods still remains an important location for flood controls today. Thanks to his administration, the limited resources of his lands were efficiently utilized, and the province was led towards prosperity. Under the influence of Chinese philosophy, Shingen also showed unparalleled talent in the use of people. He did not favor any one type of people. Instead he was surrounded by eminent scholars and skilled craftsmen in different fields because he wanted to fully utilize his people’s skills. As a result, Kai Province was able to develop advanced techniques in accurate weight measuring and gold mining which later developed into the money system in Edo period. Shingen’s human resource was so valuable that immediately after Shingen’s death, Tokugawa Ieyasu came straight to the Kai Province to persuade Shingen’s subordinates to join his authority. At that time, because of Shingen, Kai Province was probably the closest country to China in terms of the way of thinking. Perhaps Shingen was the only warlord who thoroughly studied Sun Tzu's theory and successfully realized it in ruling.

Unfortunately, Takeda clan perished a few years after Shingen’s death, and there is no object left of his life. However, remaining letters and documents are priceless treasures for historians. These materials reveal details such as Shingen’s diplomacy with the other provinces and the contents of his orders. They also show that, while being a fierce warlord, he was also an attentive father. Another document which helped create Takeda Shingen’s legend is one of Edo period’s best sellers, Kôyô Gunkan. This novel gives many details about the battles fought by the Shingen’s clan as well as the strategies used by Shingen. It is also where the famous image of Shingen in Japanese folklore–Shingen in his white fur helmet defending himself from Uesugi Kenshin’s attacks with his iron war fan during the fourth battle of Kawanakajima–came from. Moreover, the novel created the legend of the 24 generals of Takeda Shingen, often depicted in Japanese woodblock prints.


Legends surrounding Takeda Shingen’s life are born from various paintings, books, films, dramas, etc. over the years. Some are true; others are totally fictive. In any case, Takeda Shingen has inspired Japanese folklore for almost 500 years now and is viewed differently in different eras. Once regarded as a vicious samurai at one point in history, he is now a pride of Yamanashi. We invite you to discover by yourself the legacy that Takeda Shingen has left behind the land of Yamanashi, in the heart of the locals.

A note from our staff Diego Ramos Brazil Grapevine 2022 Reporting Staff

Originally published in 2011, Victor Balsan reminds us of the sheer military brilliance of Takeda Shingen. Although perhaps less famous than his contemporaries, Shingen was one of the fiercest and most successful warlords of feudal Japan. Balsan gives an interesting account of how Shingen’s military leadership and infrastructure projects were idealized by the Tokugawa Shogunate and led to the use of gold currency in the Edo Period. Respected even by his rivals, Shingen continues to be revered in Yamanashi to this very day.


Daigahara-juku: Along the Old Traveler's Road (2012)


ave you ever wondered why Shinjuku is called Shinjuku? Or why Harajuku is called Harajuku?

Often, we take the names of things at face value without probing into the often varied and colorful histories behind the naming of places. In the case of these two areas in Tokyo, Shinjuku and Harajuku, the “juku” in both of the place names are the same Chinese character and mean “lodgings.”

AIMEE WENYUE CHEN USA Great feudal lords and their samurai, merchants, wandering poets and artists traveled along these roads in their journeys. In fact, if you’ve been to Yamanashi, you may have driven or walked along one of the old routes yourself.

It turns out that the “juku” is referencing to a “shukuba,” or post station, during the Edo period (1603-1868). The crowded city center of Shinjuku means the “new shukuba,” while the center of hip teen fashion, Harajuku, means the “original shukuba,” and has origins that go back even further than Shinjuku. Post stations are not just limited to Tokyo, however. I traveled to a famous one in Yamanashi called Daigaharajuku. Like at Daigahara-juku, post stations in the past were bustling centers where travelers would stop to exchange and house tired horses, get food and drink, share current news, and sleep for a night. There were luggage movers, horse traders, horseshoe fixers, taverns, teahouses, Japanese sake bars. They were located along old highway routes that connected areas in Japan back to the capital, Edo (modern-day Tokyo), during that same period. There were many roads used during the Edo period, but the largest and

The old Koshu Kaido is the one of the Five Routes, and it connected Kai Province (modernday Yamanashi Prefecture) to Edo. It is roughly 200 kilometers and starts at Nihonbashi in Tokyo, with its first post station at Naito Shinjuku (modern-day Shinjuku). The route passes through a little bit of Kanagawa Prefecture, goes through the length of Yamanashi and ends at the tip of Nagano Prefecture. National Highway Route 20,

In fact, if you’ve been to Yamanashi, you may have driven or walked along one of the old routes yourself. most famous are known as the Five Routes. Rebuilding of old roads into the Five Routes began in 1601, under the orders of the shogun, Ieyasu Tokugawa.

the highway my friends often use, closely follows the original route of the Koshu Kaido.


Along the route, there used to be 44 post stations. Yet of the original post stations, many of them are now gone, replaced by buildings ever remodeling and technology ever modernizing. It all changes rapidly, so rapidly. Daigahara-juku, the post station I traveled to, is one of the few remaining post stations that still retains much of its history. It is located in Hokuto City, along the northern tip of Yamanashi and near the end of the Koshu Kaido. It is the second-to-last post station before the Koshu Kaido goes into Nagano and is the 40th post station out of the original 44 post stations along the route. I arrive at Daigahara-juku on a quiet Wednesday afternoon in January. My breath hovers before me like a friendly ghost. There is peace and calm and snow on this narrow street,

with only the friendly chatter of neighbor calling out to neighbor and the wind under the eaves. I stop to speak with Mr. Hyougo Kitahara, president of the sake brewing company Shichiken. His family has been creating Japanese sake since the middle of the Edo period in 1750 and he is the twelfth generation owner. Like many of the old buildings that still remain in Daigahara-juku, Shichiken has buildings that are generations old and carry remainders of its days as part of a post station. It is a great source of pride at Daigahara-juku that the Meiji Emperor visited while on an Imperial visit in June of 1880. Of the 400 retainers the emperor brought with him, 50 stayed at Shichiken, including the emperor


himself. The emperor was accorded three tatami rooms directly connected to a special gated entrance on the side. That entrance is only for the use of royal and other important visitors. Because of the emperor’s visit, the site has been designated by the Ministry of Education

as a Historic Site (1933) and by Yamanashi Prefecture as a Tangible Cultural Property (2000). What makes this all the more interesting is that up until post-WWII, the emperor was believed to be a divine god. The rooms were sealed immediately after the Meiji emperor’s use and only reopened again after WWII when the emperor historically declared on the radio that he was not a god. It would be the first time most people had ever heard his voice. At Daigahara-juku, an emphasis is placed on the importance of remembering the history here and teaching it to future generations. Because a typhoon in the 1950s damaged large areas of Yamanashi, including main roads with access to Daigahara-juku, the new roads bypass Daigahara-juku. Development in this area has

What indeed? I started off with the simple question of asking why to a place name. It has led me all the way down the road to here, caring and knowing so much about a place I never even heard of until a few months back.

①A sign marking the

rooms as having been temporary lodgings for the emperor.

②A portrait of the

Meiji emperor.

③Shichiken’s signboard.

faltered. Yet because of this, it is also why so many of the buildings have been preserved as they were years ago, and why they are historically important. Recently, however, more and more young people in Japan are leaving their hometowns and going to big cities to work. Places such as Daigahara-juku, a place of such history and memory, are being left behind. To Mr. Kitahara, Daigahara-juku’s “greatest resource” is its history. He expresses his hope of passing this history along to future generations, so that they can remember this place with love and pride. “I want to make this place as lively as it used to be, once again,” he says. In particular, he emphasizes the need for people living in Yamanashi and in Japan to appreciate historic places like Daigahara-juku. It is, in fact, oftentimes foreign visitors who come to Daigahara-juku that ask many questions and show interest in the culture and traditions here, and he wishes the same of his fellow Japanese. The people here hope for a renewed increase in visitors to Daigahara-juku, but before that, many things are needed. Signboards explaining the history of the area and an easily accessible route by major roads, for one, would greatly help. Near the end, Mr. Kitahara says to me, “Like that old saying, history repeats itself. But what is important to us is to ask the question, what situation will repeat itself here? What situation now allows a good repeat of history?”

I can only hope this same journey will happen for others. And maybe, if you just listen carefully, if you only turn your ear to the ground, you might hear sounds as if from faraway: the footsteps of travelers treading upon the white sand, the clack-clack of tired horses carrying luggage, the shouts of tavern owners crying out, “Welcome, welcome! Please enter, enter!”

A note from our staff Camille Lé France Grapevine 2022 Reporting Staff

The history-lover I am felt carried back in time when reading this well-crafted article. Aimee takes us to Daigahara-juku, the 40th post station out of the 44 that line the old Koshu Kaido, which is the road that connected Edo to modern-day Yamanashi Prefecture. Like travelers during the Edo period, I recommend dropping by the Hakushu area to take a stroll around the old houses and get a taste of one of Japan’s most renowned sakes at the Shichiken distillery. The family who owns the well-established sake brand, Shichiken, has been producing sake for almost 300 years. They even hold guided tours of their distillery (as of June 2021, tours are suspended because of the coronavirus). It's a must-do for sake and history enthusiasts!







Into the Healing Village (2015)

What comes to your mind when you think of Japan? Most people, including me, from Indonesia would probably think of Fujisan or kimono. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that we can find all those things in one place at the splendid healing village called Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba in Fujikawaguchi Town, Yamanashi Prefecture.


Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba

aiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba is well-known as the healing village with many unique thatched-roof houses. This village is located in the Nenba area close to the Lake Saiko which is one of the volcanic lakes in Mt. Fuji area. The word iyashi means “healing” or “harmonizing,” and the word sato means “village.” The village was named Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba with hopes of being able to heal the hearts of every visitor. With traditional thatched-roof houses and the magnificent view of Fujisan, Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba takes visitors back to the old times of Japan. The village has many interesting festivals throughout a year; there also are, along with a breathtaking view of Fujisan, historical memorial museum, galleries, and traditional restaurants.


This place also has many interesting workshops, such as wearing Japanese traditional clothes, making Japanese paper, poittery, painting, etc. for very affordable prices.

Inside of the Thatched-roof House

The experience which take me to the past I tried on kimono, a Japanese traditional dress, and some of my friends tried on yoroi, Japanese traditional soldier clothes. There are many kimono and yoroi in this place, so you have an option to choose the design or color that you like the most. For only 500 yen, you get to wear the costume for as long as you want without any time limit. There are 2 friendly senior staffs to help you put on the kimono or yoroi. They also provide various accessories like Japanese umbrella, geta (Japanese traditional sandals), and sword. After putting on kimono and yoroi, my friends and I took many pictures with the view of Fujisan in the background. It felt as if I got into a time machine and travelled back in time!

Making Various Figures

The other activity I tried was making various figures with silk cocoons. I have always been interested in such activities, for Yamanashi is famous for silk woven fabric that has been produced since the Edo Period (1603-1868). For a very affordable price, we got to experience making cute small animal figures with silk cocoons.

The Real Story Behind The Village: This village is thought to be found in 1938 with 240 people still living there until terrifying natural disaster swiped out this area. In 1966, heavy rain and typhoon attacked this village. Since there were not any dams in the Nenba area at that time, this rain caused the water level of rivers to rise and to overflow, which led to the massive landslide. People call this disaster "mountain tsunami" because it apparently looked like a tsunami in the mountain. This disaster took lives of 63 people and destroyed 37 thatched-roof houses, other properties and the infrastructure of this village. The survivors of this disaster moved to the other areas around the Nenba area, leaving the village empty. This disaster took lives and homes of many people, but people always had the village in their hearts. 40 years later, people started rebuilding the village with thatched-roof houses. This village was built with hopes of reminding people of Japanese history. The old village was reconstructed and renovated, preserving its original structure. Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba reopened for the first time as a tourist attraction on July 15th, 2006.

Mountain Tsunami Attacked The Village 4 years later, people rebuilt the thatched-roof houses in the village; currently, there are 20 thatched-roof houses inside.

To the future – The forward-thinking village The people in the village have learned their lessons from the past. Hoping that the village won’t have to experience the same consequences of the natural disaster, Japanese government has built more than 5 dams to prevent water from overflowing. The government also built an erosion and sediment control museum for anti-erosion work. All these works protect the village from being affected by possible disasters. Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba also provides various services for foreign tourists. Not only are brochures and informational panels available in foreign languages, but there also are English speaking tour guides available at the entrance of the village. For Muslim visitors, all the restaurants inside the village offer Halal food (reservation is necessary). 17

Same Place, Same View, but Back to the Past Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba may not be the largest tourist village in size. However, the village offers both opportunities to learn and experience Japanese traditional practices. All the activities are suitable for visitors of all ages and cultural backgrounds. I have been to Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba more than 4 times, both for work and private visits. The more I visit, the more I like this village. Different views of Fujisan each season are also something I look forward to. Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba is covered with refreshing, natural greens in the summer, colorful leaves painted red and yellow in the fall. At the end of every visit, I always leave feeling wanting to come back soon to enjoy the beautiful nature, experience more activities, and learn more about Japanese culture.

Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba


This is why people in Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba started educating themselves and learning how to manage their thatched-roofs, so that they can help with the management.

A note from our staff McK Komai USA Grapevine 2022 Co-Editor

People in Nenba area truly care for this village. They welcome the visitors, serve Japanese tea inside the house make the charcoal kilm, organize yearly events, and many more for Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba. They also help with the maintenance of the thatchedroofing; in fact, this is not an easy work and requires a professional thatched-roof craftsman to do the job.

This article introduced me to one of Yamanashi’s greatest hidden gems: the Saiko Iyashi no Sato Village in Fujikawaguchiko. If you’ve ever dreamed of traveling back in time to a more traditional Japan—then read on to find out more about how you can plan your day at this historically rich, open-air museum located near the base of Mt. Fuji. The village is full of different attractions where you can relive the past through an array of traditional Japanese sweets, handicrafts, and attire—such as kimono or samurai armor.

Every thatched-roof house must be changed once a year. Since the roof of only one house gets changed every year, it takes 20 years to change the thatched-roofs of all the houses in this village. Unfortunately, the number of thatched-roof craftsmen in Yamanashi has been decreasing. It is a concern that thatchedroofing craftsmen might become extinct with no successors.

The village is more alive than ever—with new crafting and cuisine options to explore. Specifically, the “Silk Cocoon Animals” crafting workshop mentioned in this article is no longer available. You can stay up to date on what’s new by visiting the village’s website:

The Town of Hayakawa (2017)


eeply nestled between the mountains of the Minami Alps in the most western region of Yamanashi Prefecture is the secluded town of Hayakawa-chō. Despite its small size, Hayakawa-chō is a culturally significant place to both Yamanashi Prefecture and Japan as a whole. Even in a country notable for its shrinking population, with only an estimated 1,100 inhabitants, Hayakawa-chō is famous for being the town with the smallest number of people. Yet, its geographical isolation and dwindling number of residents only serves to add to its appeal. Hayakawa-chō has been recognized by The Association of The Most Beautiful Villages in Japan, and rightly so. It is also the only town in Yamanashi Prefecture to have made the rankings. Surrounded by rolling green mountains in its backdrop and wholly devoid of tall metropolitan buildings, Hayakawa-chō retains a unique old world charm. The town is abundant in history, and the beautifully preserved inns of Akasawa-shuku pulls in visitors even from far away prefectures. Also located in Hayakawachō is the world's oldest inn, the Keiunkan of Nishiyama Onsen, as certified by the Guinness World

CINDY LIU CANADA Akasawa Records. Opened in 705 CE, the inn dates back a remarkable 1300 years. In addition to the Nishiyama Onsen, there are also numerous other impressive hot springs for the weary traveller to rest. Like many other towns in Japan, Hayakawachō is actually a conglomeration of several villages which have steadily united since the Edo Period. The name comes from the Hayakawa River that runs through the area. A major tourist attraction of Hayakawa-chō is the historical area of Akasawa-shuku, where centuries-old inns remain beautifully intact. The area was designated under the Important Preservation Districts for Groups of Traditional Buildings in 1993. Akasawa began as a resting stop for those braving the pilgrimage to the nearby Kuon Temple of Mount Minobu, as well as the sacred Mount Shichimen, during the Edo Period. These two locations are designated as holy grounds to the Nichiren sect of Buddhism, and thus, the Edo Period saw countless pious travellers come this way. The steep incline of the mountains made for a difficult journey, and the village provided a brief respite. As such, it was known to be a lively religious town with numerous inns operating specifically for pilgrims. It became customary for travellers to stay the night in Akasawa after visiting Kuon Temple, and to continue onto Mount Shichimen the following day. The inns of Akasawa hold significant


historical and cultural value for Yamanashi Prefecture. Today, nearly all of the inns are no longer operating. However, some buildings remain open for visitors to enter and browse. One of these is the inn Kikuya. On the first floor is a Japanese hearth used for heating and cooking, a commonplace sight in traditional homes. Oftentimes, the lever for raising and lowering the kettles is delightfully shaped like a fish, as you are able to see at Kikuya. The upstairs balcony is also open, and from there you can see all over the rest of Akasawa. On a warm sunny day, the balcony makes for a great place to relax and sip green tea. The idyllic scenery in Akasawa makes it easy to leave your worries behind in the city. The small, cobblestone pathway sloping upwards, lined with rustic wooden inns on either side, makes for a breathtaking scene. It is not difficult to imagine why travellers of today, just like travellers of the Edo Period, undertake the difficult trip in order to see Akasawa. One cannot help but be charmed by its simple beauty.

Kagiya Cafe Before heading into the hot springs district, a well-worthy stop for hungry travellers is the Kagiya Cafe. Kagiya is a homey little cafe/museum inside an old fashioned Japanese building. They offer a variety of savoury meals, desserts, and drinks, many of which utilize Hayakawa's locally grown ingredients. These ingredients include Nishiyama beans, Hakuhō miso, Amebatake tea leaves, and mountain grapes. A personal recommendation on the menu is the Amebatake black tea, an aromatic and light black tea fitting for any of the desserts on the menu. Dessert and drink sets are also available. Furthermore, Kagiya also has a space dedicated to exhibitions about Hayakawa, ideal for browsing after your meal.

Nishiyama Onsen Besides its historical district, Hayakawa-chō is also famous as a hot springs town. Hayakawa-chō's distinctive geography is the source of its abundance of hot springs. The town lies on a tectonic fault line, named the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line, and emerging from the crevices of the two tectonic plates is the natural hot spring water special to this area. Hayakawa-chō has been recognized as a source of hot springs water for over 1300 years. The world’s oldest inn, Keiunkan, opened in 705 CE, is evidence of that. It is certified by the Guinness World Records as the oldest inn in the world. Keiunkan prides itself on preserving traditional practices, as passed down through its long history. The hot spring water of Keiunkan is completely unaltered from its source, drawn without any reheating, and remains at an optimal temperature of 52℃. There is a constant flow of new water flowing


into the baths, so guests can bathe comfortably. Keiunkan’s dedication to this principle is clear: from the communal hot springs to the showers in the private rooms, all the water used in Keiunkan is unaltered natural hot spring water. Even if you are just passing by Keiunkan, there is a small fountain outside the inn to try the water. It smells faintly of sulphur as a testament to its authenticity, yet not overwhelmingly so. At Keiunkan, there are six different hot springs for guests to enjoy, and each is unique. The most iconic bath is the Mochitani no Yu. The bath itself is made of Japanese umbrella pine: soft on the skin and fragrant, especially suitable for women. It is an outdoor bath so guests can gaze at the stars while relaxing. Keiunkan also has three other gorgeous outdoor baths: Hakuhō no Yu, Kawaoto, and Seoto. The Hakuhō no Yu is special in that it is made of a type of stone called Hakuhō, taken from the Hayakawa River. Kawaoto and Seoto are large outdoor stone baths only available by reservation. The last two baths, Ishikaze and Hinokikō, are indoor baths located on the very top floor of Keiunkan. Ishikaze is made of stone, while Hinokikō is made of a 2000 year old cypress tree. Both offer an outstanding view over the river below. Hayakawa-chō also has many other onsen to explore. There is the Narata Onsen, which draws water from what stories tell us used to be the Empress Koken's (718 - 770 CE) favourite hot springs spot. Other hot springs include Kougen no Sato Onsen, Villa Amebatake, Kusashio Onsen, Ōtaki Onsen, and Shichimensan Onsen. I invite visitors to Yamanashi Prefecture to travel the off-beaten path and visit Hayakawa-chō. No matter the season, the scenery has something new to offer. The town will undoubtedly give you an unforgettable cultural and scenic experience unique to beautiful Yamanashi.

A note from our staff Diego Ramos Brazil Grapevine 2022 Reporting Staff

Hayakawa-chō is an award-winning village, home to the oldest inn in Japan, yet one of the smallest places to live with only 1000 people! Cindy Liu reveals the historical importance of Hayakawa-chō as a pilgrimage site for travelers to Kuonji Temple. Following her journey to one of Japan’s most beautiful villages, you will learn about the local inns, onsen, museums, and caféssome have been operating in a traditional fashion along the cobblestone roads for over 1000 years.


Staff Picks:

Looking for something inte trip to Yamanashi? Check ou

A ring made for you, by you

Nicole's pick

Where to buy: Yamanashi Prefectural Jewelry Museum Price: ¥2,500 (includes ring and workshop fees) I was given the chance to craft my own ring during a reservation-only metalworking workshop at the Yamanashi Prefectural Jewelry Museum in downtown Kofu. At first, I was a little sad that there wasn't an option to craft earrings, since I do love earrings. But after putting on the ring I worked hard to make, I couldn't have been happier. There's just something special about wearing handmade jewelry that you crafted with your own hands, so I find myself choosing to wear it every day.

Diego's pick

Siwa Briefcase Where to buy: Price: ¥18,000 All of Siwa’s luxury products are made in Yamanashi using an exclusive technology that combines traditional washi paper and recycled plastic bottles into naturally beautiful, environmentally progressive fashion. Siwa cares deeply for their customers and values transparency, reusability, and the repairability of their products. Even if you happen to get caught in the rain, there’s no need to worry about it ripping, because the material only gets stronger when wet!


: Souvenirs

eresting to commemorate your ut our top staff picks of the year!

Shingen Mochi Crêpe

Camille's pick

Where to buy: Local souvenir shops, Kofu Station Price: ¥270 Shingen Mochi is one of Yamanashi's local delicacies; it consists of small rice cakes topped with soybean flour (kinako) and brown sugar syrup (kuromitsu). I do love Shingen Mochi, but the Shingen Mochi Crepe tastes even better to me! The exquisite crepe and rich vanilla ice cream bring a nice twist to the typical Japanese flavors of kinako and kuromitsu. All those ingredients blend perfectly together, making for an amazing dessert!

McK's pick

Custom Incense Sachets Where to buy: Saiko Iyashi No Sato Nenba Price: ¥1,100 My interest piqued when I laid my eyes on these tiny, ornate pouches. At first glance, you may wonder what’s inside of them… fairy dust? Upon getting a closer look, a pleasant smell will tell your nose that these are incense sachets. Choose from high-quality ingredients to craft your very own, custom fragrance at their workshop. Then, select a colorful, delicately woven sachet for your fragrant blend to be stored in. Thanks to their compact size, you can easily place them in drawers or closets—anywhere you want the scent to remain.


A Word from The Editors This year marks my third and last year as the Editor in Chief for the Yamanashi Grapevine. Each year was incredibly different and proposed its own unique challenges, such as overcoming the early struggles of acclimating to a new job, brainstorming ways to produce travel content in the middle of a global pandemic, and single-handedly designing this year's issue from scratch. But even still, it has been one of my greatest joys to have been able to keep the Yamanashi Grapevine alive and to be able to share the wonders of Yamanashi with the world once again. Now, the time has come for me to pass the baton to my great friend McK. I truly look forward to seeing what she has in store for Yamanashi.

Nicole Oliver

I’ve had the honor and privilege of assisting with the Yamanashi Grapevine over the past three years. Since Nicole left her post here to pursue a new position in Tokyo, there have been some big shoes to fill—but I am grateful to have had the wonderful opportunity to apply what I’ve learned and help foster the growth of our annual magazine. To me, what’s most charming about the Grapevine is the diversity that characterizes our editorial team. Since we all come from different cultural backgrounds, I believe we each possess a unique way of articulating our experiences through our writing. Going forward, I hope Yamanashi will continue to flourish, welcoming new visitors and residents from all over the world for many years to come.

McK Komai


Special Thanks It is due to the many wonderful contributions that we were able to put together this year's edition. In closing, we would like to give a special thanks to those listed below.

Articles by: Jenka Eusebio Victor Balsan Aimee Wenyue Chen Jennifer Sarah Cindy Liu Photos by: Karen Z. Jase Bloor Sunil Naik Joseph Chan Zhaoli Jin Nicole Oliver


Erinji Temple