introducing its land and culture to a wordwide audience.
magazine aimed at promoting Yamanashi Prefecture by
The Yamanashi Grapevine is a freely distributed annual
Cherry Picking and Jam Making in the Fruit Kingdom
Unlocking the Secrets of the Yamanashi Peach
– What is Hidden Behind the Sweetness? –
No Fruits No Life
A Visit to Misawa Winery
Places Where We Want to Stay Again - Hotorinite Inn - HOSHINOYA Fuji -
Climbing the Tallest Mountain in Japan
A Delightful Trip Aboard the Fujisan View Express
Indonesian Battalion in Shingen-Ko Festival
Editor's Note 02
The Yamanashi Grapevine is written and edited by Coordinators for International Relations (CIRs) from the Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme, with the assistance of trainees and exchange staff from Yamanashi's sister states.
Cherry Picking and Jam Making in the Fruit Kingdom by : Kendra Evans (former CIR from the United Kingdom)
rapes and peaches are the famous fruit of
gave farms in the area an edge in sales over the northern
Yamanashi, with more of these grown here than
prefectures of Hokkaido and Aomori, which have the largest
anywhere else in Japan. But up in the mountains
cherry growing areas in Japan after Yamagata. Cherries
of Minami-Alps City, the farms are famous for a different kind
became, and still are, a profitable choice for farmers in
of fruit: cherries.
Ono Orchid & Orchard Farm in Minami-Alps City has been
Of course, there is still a huge amount of work involved
growing cherries on Yamanashi soil since the 40th year
to produce these cherries. In the early years of cherry
of the Meiji Period (1907). Mr. Takashi Ono, the seventh
growing, the fruits had to be picked before the rainy season,
generation head of the Ono family, takes pride in the long
which would otherwise damage the cherries still on the
history of his farm and the high quality of his fruit. While
trees. Today, Mr. Ono and many other cherry farmers use
Yamanashi Prefecture has only the fourth largest area of
greenhouses, which help to protect the fruit and allow for
cherry tree farms in the country, it is second for sales of
a longer harvesting period. The trees, however, bear fruit
cherries after Yamagata Prefecture in northern Japan, which
between late May and late June, which still only gives
produces 70% of domestic cherries.
farmers a month to pick, box and sell as many cherries as they can. This one month is incredibly labour intensive and is
According to Mr. Ono, this is in large part due to the history
their busiest time of the year – but the rest of the year is all a
of cherry growing. Across most of Japan it is difficult to grow
build up to harvest time.
a variety of fruit in one place, but in Yamanashi, the climate
Many things can affect the quality of cherries: the water
and soil suit many different kinds of produce. Its reputation
purity, the amount of sunlight, the thinness of the leaves.
as the “Fruit Kingdom,” coupled with its proximity to Tokyo,
Leaves at the top of the tree receive the most nutrients
meant that from as early as the Meiji Period shipments of
from the soil and the most light from the sun, so usually
high-quality, fresh fruit from Yamanashi direct to the capital
the fruits that grow at the top are redder, brighter and more
delicious. An interesting fact is that they also need cold in
then takes care of the processing, labeling, and bottling for
winter. Cherries thrive in cold northern Japan – as well as
them. Tourists who come to Happy Park can also experience
in Yamanashi, thanks to its extreme weather – because
jam-making for themselves. We were fortunately able to do
low winter temperatures help them bloom later in the
so during our visit.
year. Minami-Alps City in particular not only has delicious
The jam making process was much easier than I thought it
water from the Minami Alps mountains, but it is also at a
would be. First, you pluck the stems and remove the seeds
high elevation with long sunlight hours. Within Yamanashi
from the fruit with a special tool. Then, the fruit is put into a
Prefecture, this is the best location for growing good cherries.
large pan over heat with skin still intact. After stirring it for
Mr. Ono taught us the best way to pick cherries from a tree.
a while, you add some sugar and a small amount of yuzu
Under the leaves on the branches of the tree are small
puree. Usually for jam, lemon puree is added, but lemons
nodules, brown and triangular-
are not grown in Yamanashi, and the
shaped. Cherries always grow from
mission of Happy Park is to promote
these nodules, and they always grow
local agriculture, so Yamanashi Yuzu
in the same place. If you are too
is used instead. Once the fruit has
forceful when you pick the cherries,
broken down and is simmering, the
you risk impacting future growth. The
heat is turned off, ready to be put into
best way to pick cherries is to hold it
by the fruit, twist it slightly, then pull it
We received a brief lesson on how to
away from the branch in the opposite
seal the jars. They must be cleaned
direction to how it is growing.
and soaked in hot water beforehand to neutralize any bacteria, but if the
There are several different types of
lid is not properly closed, too much
cherries grown at Mr. Ono’s orchard.
air or bacteria can get into the jam
His own personal favourite is the
and contaminate it, so it is very
Takasago, a strong flavoured cherry
important to close it correctly. We
with a bright colour and slightly sour
poured the mix into our jars, sealed
taste. There is also the Sato-nishiki,
them, and then put them in a hot
a firm, juicy cherry, and the Beni-
water bath for thirty minutes. Done!
shugo, which I liked the most. It is strong and sweet, and reminded me
From visiting Ono Orchid and Orchard
of the cherries you can find in the UK. If you come to Ono
Farm and seeing how cherries grow, to visiting Happy Park
Orchid and Orchard Farm during the cherry picking season,
and seeing how the fruit is cooked and sold, it became clear
you can pay a flat rate to spend 40 minutes eating as many
just how important fruit farming is in the Minami-Alps region
cherries as you would like straight from the trees. Tourists
and in Yamanashi Prefecture as a whole. Cherries are just
from across Japan come to Minami-Alps City for cherry
one of the many fruit that are grown with love and care,
picking. But that is not all there is to do here.
enjoyed both in and out of the prefecture. Anyone visiting Yamanashi Prefecture during fruit picking season should
Mr. Ono also runs a local NGO called Happy Park, which
definitely try it for themselves to see how delicious this
specializes in agricultural production, sales, and community
important produce truly is.
outreach. Happy Park is a hub for local produce as well as a pleasant location for lunch at their restaurant. They also hold cultural events such as the Cherry Festival, which this year included a cherry seed spitting competition! But, for Mr. Ono, Happy Park’s most fundamental activity is jam-making. Mr. Ono produces many different jams and marmalades from his fruits, and his organization even won the 2017 Dalemain World Marmalade Award in the UK in March for his Japanese Yuzu and Gold Leaf Marmalade (under the name “South Alps Farm Field Trip”). He also makes jams for other farms in the area, who send their homegrown fruits to Happy Park, which
Unlocking the Secrets of the Yamanashi Peach – What is Hidden Behind the Sweetness? – by : Mengdi Wang (Exchange Staff from Sichuan, China)
One of life’s simple pleasures: biting out of a chilled, sweet, and fresh peach on a hot summer day and then feeling the rich juice glide down your throat until it quenches your thirst. Therefore, I was excited when summer came as Yamanashi Prefecture is well known for producing some of the best peaches in the world – peaches with a lovely appearance, tender flesh, and an elegant sweetness. Yet, I was disappointed when I saw the exceptionally high price of these peaches at a local supermarket. Peaches were first documented around the 10th century in China, my motherland, and they were later introduced to Europe before being commercialized around the world. Nowadays peach production in China accounts for more than half of the total market in the world. Hence, what makes such ordinary and cheap fruit in the Chinese market so much more expensive in Japan? To find the reasons behind such a steep price tag, I began my peach journey one sunny day in July.
Yamanashi Peaches: Merely a “Gift from Nature”?
particularly suitable for growing sun-loving fruits, especially peaches, of which Yamanashi produces the highest yield
countrywide. However, is it safe to stop here and draw the
addition, the dramatic change in temperature between day
Mr. Horii, the owner of Takara Peach Orchard, which is
and night helps greatly in fruits’ sugar accumulation. Also,
located in Ichinomiya Town in Fuefuki City, a place known
rivers running across the region provide the land with rich
for being “the best land for peaches,” resigned his position in
irrigation. Given these natural characteristics, Yamanashi is
an IT company in Tokyo around eleven years ago and came
ocated in Central Japan, Yamanashi Prefecture
conclusion that peaches in Yamanashi are expensive merely
enjoys the longest hours of daylight in the country
because they are what you could call a “gift from nature”?
and thus the climate is warmer than elsewhere. In
back to Yamanashi to help his wife in the orchard founded
labor accounts for only twenty. Nevertheless, to me it seems
by her grandfather more than sixty years ago. Even though
that the natural environment pales in comparison to Mr.
it was not an easy decision for him at first to say goodbye
Horii’s efforts, as he tirelessly nurtures his peaches in order
to the bustling entertainment in one of the biggest cities in
to make them as delicious as possible. As Kazuo Inamori, a
the world and, instead, to return to a peaceful and small
representative figure in the Japanese business world, once
town surrounded by mountains, Mr. Horii eventually came
said when describing his method to success, “you cannot
to embrace his new life as a fruit farmer, having the time
expect to achieve anything unless you never stop working
and space now to invite his friends over for barbeques in
harder than everyone else.”
the spring and enjoy the pleasures offered by sunshine and blooming flowers.
Winners Never Quit, and Quitters Never Win
When I first learned that only three persons take care of this
After Takara Peach Orchard, I headed for Tanzawa Orchard
orchard, which produces about sixty thousand peaches per
to look for more answers. Unlike Mr. Horii, who switched to
year, I immediately took it for granted that raising such an
work as a farmer later in life, Mr. Tanzawa has been engaged
extensive amount of fruit was thanks to the help of modern
in the field of fruit planting his entire lifetime. Mr. Tanzawa
technology. Yet, this was not the case.
used to work in the Department of Agriculture for Yamanashi
music as the slender branches in the orchard become full of
Prefecture and, now, he runs his own nectarine orchard with Peaches in Takara Peach Orchard are not grown in
his family. Though most peaches produced in Yamanashi are
greenhouses but in the open field, where they have full
pink in appearance and milky white in flesh, the nectarines
access to sunshine, soil, and rainfall, each of which helps
from Mr. Tanzawa’s orchard, with their smooth skin and
them to preserve their natural qualities. Peach farmers’
yellow flesh, are also well-known for their ideal balance
busiest period begins when the flowers bloom in spring. Mr.
between sweetness and tartness and should absolutely not
Horii’s family will pollinate each flower manually to get as
many buds as possible, remove the less prominent buds by
hand to assure the rest have enough space to grow, monitor
Nectarines are not a cross between a peach and a plum as is
the remaining buds carefully to track their growth, and wrap
commonly believed but in fact a variant of a peach. Despite the
their peaches one by one to protect them from birds and
subtle genetic variant between the two, they are almost identical.
insects. As a result, a perfect, juicy, and sweet peach is
The main physical difference is that peaches have a fuzzy
ready to be harvested when the weather becomes warmer.
coating whereas nectarines are smooth and without a coating.
According to Mr. Horii, Yamanashi’s natural environment
The story begins when Mr. Tanzawa was sent to California
accounts for eighty percent of the role in cultivating fruit while
by Yamanashi Prefecture as a trainee in agriculture more
than four decades ago. When he first came across the
nectarines at his own orchard, Mr. Tanzawa nowadays
charming sight of ripe nectarines, whose skin caught the light
devotes himself to being a nectarine missionary of sorts,
of the sun and shone with a deep red color, he went to take
teaching his cultivation techniques at other orchards and
a bite. Feeling the sweet juice running down his chin, Mr.
Tanzawa decided immediately that he wanted to introduce these nectarines to Yamanashi, where there were no
“The road ahead will be long and our climb will be steep”. As
nectarines planted at the time. However, this would require
implied by this Chinese verse, Mr. Tanzawa will most likely
never quit his journey but continue with passion and effort to create an even more perfect nectarine.
It took years to transform the fruit and adapt its flavor to Japan’s sweet tooth by breeding new varieties. The time at
Monozukuri as a Key Principle
which to harvest the fruit was also a problem. Compared
After visiting these two orchards, I was impressed by the
with other countries, where much of the fruit crop is used for
spirit of working hard and focusing on a single career for
processing into juice, jams, or wines, and thus its appearance
a lifetime. This experience reminded me of the Japanese
tends to be of little concern, the Japanese prefer eating table
word monozukuri, a term that describes the Japanese style
fruits or giving fruit as gifts, and thus fruits need both look
of manufacturing with an intangible sense of responsibility,
and taste good. Unfortunately, the season for harvesting
an emphasis on quality, attention to detail, and dedication
nectarines is quite short. Nectarines are best served when
to continuous improvement. This craftsmanship concept is
ripe, but not overly so. If the nectarine is not fully ripened,
not only vital to Japan’s strength in manufacturing, but it also
it will taste sour and hard; however, if it is fully ripened, its
acts as a fundamental philosophy that guides Japanese in
delicate body can be easily damaged when displayed in
their attempt to make things as best as possible in almost
stores. It took time and effort for Mr. Tanzawa to find a way
to overcome such issues. But even when other fruit farmers in Yamanashi had given up raising nectarines, he, with the
I realized that more than the natural environment, it is the
help of his wife and daughter, kept trying: wrapping the
unremitting efforts and the sense of craftsmanship among
fruits manually, putting mirrors to reflect all sides of their
farmers in Yamanashi Prefecture that contribute to the
appearance, checking the fruits every day, and choosing the
making of such sweet gifts. However, can such a simple
best-ripened ones. Thanks to Mr. Tanzawa’s commitment to
answer in such a neat package really cover every possibility?
promote the nectarine in Japan, more and more customers
If you, too, are interested in exploring the fruits of Yamanashi,
are now able to enjoy such a wonderful treat in the summer.
come visit the orchards here and find out for yourself one
However, Mr. Tanzawa is not satisfied yet. Beyond raising
summer day what is hidden behind the sweetness.
No Fruits No Life by : Aurora Pop (CIR from France)
Coming from France, one of the top producers of wine in the world, I was extremely excited to have the opportunity to live and work in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan’s top producing wine region. Yamanashi is the place to be if you want to discover more about the production of grapes and wine. In fact, this is the prefecture where the Japanese wine industry first began. During the late 19th century, the Dainippon Yamanashi Wine Company was founded in Kofu City, the capital, by Takano Masanari and Tsuchiya Ryuken. They traveled to France, where they learned French techniques of growing grapes and producing wine, and returned to Japan to implement these techniques here. Now, the “Country of the Rising Sun” has become the “Country of the Raisin Sun” (raisin , in French, meaning “grape”).
Yamanashi’s Incredible Grapes
grapes for daily consumption. Both are well known in Japan, famous for their high quality and beautiful appearance.
nlike in France, where grapes are mostly grown
In France, it is the end product that we talk most about
for producing wine, grape cultivators in Yamanashi
but not so much about the grapes. Therefore, until visiting
grow two varieties: grapes for producing wine and
a beautiful grapevine in Fuefuki City, I never could have
In France, we do not wrap grapes but usually pick them immediately once they ripen or fall to the ground. I have never seen this technique before coming to Yamanashi, and I was really impressed by the amount of work and dedication that is needed to cultivate them. It also requires a lot of technical knowledge to grow grapes in so many different shapes and colors. Mister Higuchi also told us that there are more than thirty varieties of grapes in Yamanashi. We had the chance to taste 17 of them. The names of the grapes we tasted were, for example, My Heart (which is shaped like a heart), Scarlet (because of its color), Miss X, Shine Muscat, Shirogane, Pione, Violet King, Kotopi, Rosario Bianco, Queen Nina, and many more. Their tastes and colors, but also their shapes and names, were very different from one another. It was so fun to explore! Appearance sells in Japan. Japanese people like to buy big and good looking fruits. French people, however, tend to think big and shiny means full of GMOs! But fruits in Yamanashi are grown to be big and beautiful without using artificial substances. Of course, the natural techniques used also require a lot more effort on behalf of the cultivator, which is why Yamanashi grapes are considered “high class imagined that grapes could be so diverse and intriguing to
grapes.” Mister Higuchi explained that their price, therefore,
taste and observe.
is not cheap, a bunch of his grapes typically costing from
During my visit to the grapevine, I found myself comparing
five-thousand to twenty-thousand yen (roughly $40 to $180)
the grapes we ate to artwork, in which a vibrant color palette
and sometimes more.
is used to accomplish a beautiful landscape painting. There
They look incredible, though, do they not? Imagine this.
are no other words to describe the amount of effort and
These grapes could even become a fashion, or a new trend,
mastery that must have been necessary to produce such
perhaps incentivizing children to even eat more fruits and
color and intricacy.
stay healthy. Models could appear on TV or in magazines
One of these grape “artists” I had the chance to speak to was
talking about their little stashes of their “high class grapes,”
Mister Higuchi, who emphasized that growing grapes is “like
which they keep inside their purses for special occasions.
creating a beautiful piece of artwork.” He then let us in on
Imagine them wearing outfits that match the colors of their
some of the secrets to his grape cultures.
grapes. It would be so interesting to see this fruit become
The first was location. Yamanashi is the best place in all
such a fashionable trend!
of Japan for growing grapes because it receives the least amount of rainfall but the most daylight hours. Another
Yamanashi’s Exceptional Wine
important factor is the attention and care given to the grapes.
As any proud French person would do, it is important
Mister Higuchi wraps them in water-repellent paper bags,
that I also talk about how Yamanashi grapes are used for
which helps give them a certain shape. The bags also help to
producing wine. I had the chance to learn about grapes for
protect the grapes from diseases and insects, eliminating the
winemaking during an event called “Wine Tourism,” which
need to spray them with insecticide and thus keeping their
is held in Yamanashi every year during spring and autumn.
skins beautiful and healthy.
The event promotes its winemaking regions such as Koshu,
Fuefuki, Kofu, Yamanashi (the city), and Kai, and when
structure at a certain distance from the ground, which works
visiting the wineries in these cities you can learn about their
well in the highly humid summertime weather here.
history as well as about the winemaking process itself. You
The second type is the European and American style of
can also taste some of the best wine in Japan.
cultivation called kakine saibai in Japanese, or the process of
After paying a fee for participating in Wine Tourism, you are
growing grapes on hedges. With this method, there are few
given a wine glass from one of the reception desks, which
harvests and the grapes accumulate more sugar thanks to
are located by the train stations in each city, and you can
being easily reachable by sunlight.
then taste wine to your heartâ€™s content. In our case, we had
Wine Tourism is also a great opportunity to meet other wine
gone to Katsunuma Budokyo Station, in Koshu City. You
lovers from all over the country and even overseas. Many of the
may also glass holder necklace made of inden, which is one
Japanese with whom I talked that day came from Tokyo just to
of Yamanashiâ€™s traditional crafts, if you would like to take
attend this event having been attracted by the superb reputation
the tour in style. I loved the idea and design of the glass, as
of Yamanashi wine. I was amazed, also, to see that the owners
this is what you will be using for all wine tastings during the
of all of the wineries spoke fluent French. It turns out that many
tour, helping to reduce the amount of waste produced by
of them have gone to France to learn about the winemaking
the event, and it also becomes a charming souvenir! After
process just as Takano Masanari and Tsuchiya Ryuken had
receiving our glasses, we departed via the free bus to get to
done more than a century ago. I felt like I was home.
each of the wineries and vineyards.
Visiting magnificent wineries, tasting all kinds of wine,
During the tour, I was amazed to see two types of vineyards
meeting new people, and admiring beautiful landscapes. I
in Yamanashi. The first type is called tanashiki saibai in
will remember those vineyards for a very long time. Once you
Japanese, or the process of growing grapes on a grapevine
have visited them, the memories will remain forever in your
trellis so that grapes can grow horizontally on an overhead
heart, and you will want to come back.
A Visit to Misawa Winery by : Kendra Evans (former CIR from the United Kingdom)
ou can hardly talk about Yamanashi without talking about wine. Yamanashi is the
number one domestic producer of grapes in Japan, and a significant amount of those grapes go towards making wine. There are over 80 wineries dotted around the prefecture, each with their own history. One of the most popular Yamanashi wines, both domestically and internationally, is Grace Wine. Established in 1923 in Katsunuma under the name Choutarou-in Wine, the company has grown and evolved throughout the years. It was one of the first wineries to make an internationally renowned Koshu wine (made from the local Koshu grape), first winning Best Japanese Wine in the Hong Kong International Wine and Spirits Competition and a bronze in the London International Wine Challenge in 2009, and then continuing to scoop up awards in Hong Kong, London and Tokyo in subsequent years. Koshu from Grace Wine is an excellent example of the Japanese wine industry, and is a very popular choice for wine lovers in Japan. Grace Wine has its main winery in Katsunuma, the center for Yamanashi wine. However, they also have a 12 hectare vineyard in the mountains of Akeno, Hokuto City, set up in 2002 by fourth generation and current head of Grace Wine, Mr. Shigekazu Misawa. We were very kindly invited to Akeno, to visit the Akeno vineyard and to find out more about grapes, wine, and Mr. Misawaâ€™s company.
as Koshu. Thus the wines made from
during the rainy season or typhoons.
these grapes are also known as Koshu
Instead of using plastic covers, one of
The Grace Wine Akeno Vineyard is
his vineyard tactics specific to Akeno
located 700m above sea level, with
west. In 2015, the sunlight hours in this
In Japan, with its rainy season and
to create natural drainage. The rain,
area were ranked the longest in Japan;
typhoons, the pergola or canopy style
instead of pooling on the ground or
from April, when the vines begin to
overhead vines are usually preferable
even on the plant, flows down into
grow green, to October, when the
to the vertical vines. Grapes do not
the small valley. This is Mr. Misawaâ€™s
grapes are harvested, there is plenty
need much water, and too much rain
very own drainage measure he put in
of light. Yamanashi also has very low
can often lead to disease. Pergolas
place himself, and is rarely found on
annual rainfall, and clouds can rarely
help to encourage airflow as well
other vineyards. However, it definitely
make it past the Minami Alps to reach
as increasing the yield. Mr. Misawa
seems to be doing the trick!
the farms on the Akeno hills, reducing
estimates that with one hectare a
the plantsâ€™ unnecessary water intake.
farmer can grow enough grapes for
In fact, the grape cultivation at Akeno
These features, combined with the
150 hectolitres of wine if grown on a
is currently the subject of many
clean air and rich soil, make Akeno
pergola, but only 50-70 hectolitres if
agricultural studies and research.
an excellent location for growing wine
There is a machine installed in
However, Mr. Misawa does not use
the vineyard to record almost all
pergolas. His cultivation techniques
the details of the plants and their
On this farm, Mr. Misawa grows
lend themselves better to the vertical
environment over the next couple
several types of grapes, including
vines. There are several reasons
of years for future research into
Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and
for this. Firstly, the vines need to be
grape cultivation, and students from
Koshu, the native grape of Yamanashi.
pruned very severely. The smaller the
universities in Yamanashi work at
The Koshu grape came to Japan
grape bunches, the better the wine,
Akeno over the summer to learn more
almost 1000 years ago, most probably
and so any sub shoots or extra growth
about wine grapes and how to grow
via the Silk Road. Grapes were
has to be trimmed. The fruit comes
them. We spoke to one girl doing
not only seen as good offerings at
in around the third shoot on the vine,
research at Akeno, who said she
Buddhist temples, but were said to
so there is a long stretch across all
hopes to run her own winery someday.
have healing abilities and were eaten
the vines where the grapes grow.
The wine industry is an important part
as medicine. Koshu, the old name for
By growing the vines vertically, both
of the identity of Yamanashi, and so
Yamanashi Prefecture, proved to have
pruning and harvesting are much less
it is good to know that young people
the perfect climate for growing these
time consuming and labour intensive,
are interested in continuing this work.
grapes domestically, and soon many
and also more efficient. Plus, the
I hope that the industry continues to
farms began to cultivate the fruit. It
view of the rows and rows of vines
grow in the future.
was not until centuries later that they
stretching out across the landscape is
were used to make wine, by which
hill, with run off on either side down
Making Wine So what is the best kind of grape for
time the grape had come to be known
is to have the vines grow on a slight
the Minami Alps mountain range to the
You may have seen
wine? Unlike table grapes, each grape
grapes growing in
has to be small. Small buds have a
vineyards in Japan
lower pH, which makes them more
before. Often there are
resistant to disease. Since there is not
plastic covers on each
much space for extra growth on the
bunch of grapes. These
vines, and there has to be so much
are also to protect
pruning, if a disease wipes out even
from rain. Although
just a few plants, it can significantly
the rain is rare in
affect the output, so it is good to keep
Akeno, Mr. Misawa
the risk to a minimum. However, as
still needs to protect
the grapes ripen and become less
his fruit, particularly
vulnerable to disease, the pH rises â€“
the Extra Brut 2011 sparkling rose (my favourite type of wine), described as “history-making” by Ch’ng Poh Tiong of Decanter as it won the first Platinum award for sparkling wine in Asia. It was rich and flavourful, with some citrus hints. We were also able to try his newest 2016 Grace Koshu, a delicate white wine renowned for its pairings with Japanese cuisine. When asked which would be his favourite wine which is, according to Mr. Misawa,
amongst his products, Mr. Misawa told
much better for his wine. White or red,
us he does not have a favourite – like
it is very important to keep the plant
children, he cares for all of them equally
relatively short, and trim below the fruit
and each has its strong points. I think
line, to make sure the nutrients from
it is clear from the flavour of Grace
the soil are going to the fruit.
Wine alone that Mr. Misawa’s efforts in
Once the grapes have been grown and
his growing techniques and cultivation
harvested, they are made into wine.
choices definitely show through in the
We went down into the wine cellars to
see the result of Mr. Misawa’s grapegrowing efforts. Inside, it was filled with
Wine specialists and reporters across
barrels, which can store almost 100
the world have been drawn to Grace
bottles of wine each. Mr. Misawa told
Wine, as a standout among Yamanashi
us that his red wines are usually aged
wineries. This is not to say other Koshu
for around two years, while white wine
wines have not found their way abroad
only needs nine months. He is working
– but Grace Wine has a very strong
on building up a collection of vintages
forward-facing attitude to the wine
of his own wine, and selling a few older
industry. Mr. Misawa has helped to
bottles every year at auction.
organize the annual prefectural Wine
He also showed us his library, a beautiful
Promotion in London, and often travels
small building tucked away amongst the
to promote and further the reputation
trees. The library contains many works
of Grace Wine and Koshu as a whole
in English, French, Japanese and more,
in many foreign countries. And even
all about wine. Some of these books
beyond Mr. Misawa’s work, the current
are priceless, and it is perhaps the
chief winemaker and future fifth master,
largest collection of wine-related books
Mr. Misawa’s daughter Ayana, also
in Yamanashi. Many were donated to
takes a very international approach to
Mr. Misawa by Mr. Hiroshi Yamamoto,
wine. She studied in France, Chile and
a famous Japanese wine scholar and
Australia, and experienced working
lawyer. He feared that upon his death
in wineries abroad, before returning
the collection would be sold off and
to Yamanashi to focus on her family’s
separated, and so he gave them to Mr.
business. When Mr. Misawa retires,
Misawa, so that they might be kept in
Ms. Misawa will continue the work he
one place for future wine scholars.
has done – and develop it even further – to share Yamanashi wine with the
Lastly, we visited the store area of the
rest of the world. I hope that those of
winery, and were very kindly allowed
you reading will find the chance to try
to try two of Grace Wine’s Platinum
some Yamanashi wine for yourselves
award-winning wines. The first was
in the future.
Places Where We Want to Stay Again by : Soon Hee Woo (Exchange Staff from Chungcheongbuk-do, South Korea)
Dear Readers: when you came to Japan, where did you stay? Or, if you are planning to come to Japan, are there any specific places where you would like to stay? Business hotels, guest houses, local inns, traditional ryokan: the list goes on. There are countless types of places to stay in Japan and if you are, like me, the type of person who struggles when it comes to choosing where, keep reading and this article may inspire you! We will introduce two places to stay in Yamanashi. Each offers a completely different experience, but both are highly rated and beloved by Japanese and foreigners alike.
Hotorinite Inn : Experience Culture, Experience Heart The Place There are five lakes around Mt. Fuji, and Hotorinite Inn is located just in front of one of them, Lake Yamanaka. A unique inn, chosen as the number one place to stay in Japan by the reservation website Booking.com, it has also been highly rated by the siteâ€™s users for many years. Hotorinite Inn was a budget resort owned by the same family for more than sixty years, but in 2011 it was renovated by its third generation and the current owner, Mr. Takamura Naoki, along with his wife and son. They made the place more convenient and comfortable for customers, improving and adding to the facilities and services year by year.
The Facilities From the outside, the inn looks as if it was a typical three-story house, but inside you can find three western style rooms and ten Japanese style rooms as well as relaxation spaces (a book corner, a massage corner, and a bonsai room) and common areas
(bathing rooms, toilets, a refrigerator, and a beverage corner). On the first floor also is a soy sauce stall, at which you can buy soy sauce from all over the country. Outside, bicycles are available for use by any guest, including child seats for those with kids. The bonsai room on the second floor captivated us the most. The space used to be one of the guest rooms, but Mr. Takamura turned it into a bonsai themed room in order to create a pleasant area that guests can enjoy. We felt relaxed just by walking through and exploring this room and it was also a good opportunity to learn about the art of cultivating miniature sized trees.
The Guests Extremely popular among foreigners, around eighty percent of the guests come from other countries. Most guests are from Asian countries, the majority being Taiwanese, Chinese, and Thai guests, but many tourists also come from Europe and America, and during our visit we happened to bump into a couple of visitors from Germany. Some years ago, it was typical for reservations to have been made by groups of ten or more, but nowadays as the style of traveling has changed, the number of solo travelers has increased.
The Heart The thoughtful service provided by the owner himself is beyond comparison. A former musician, Mr. Takamura had no experience with hotel management but he knew that he wanted to work somewhere that he could interact and communicate with people. He used the facilities that were once run by his family and started Hotorinite Inn, creating services and thinking up strategies to assist and serve his guests. For starters, for each group of incoming guests he spends thirty minutes giving an overview of the facilities and its surrounding areas including what to see and where to eat, utilizing a map he made himself to illustrate each location and give directions. Of course, there is plenty of other material that he provides, but one item in particular caught our eyes. Given the increasing number of visitors with diet restrictions due to health, culture, or religious reasons, and because many of them face problems when they are not able to communicate these restrictions in Japanese, Mr. Takamura provides a simple chart, also made by himself, that can be used at any store to explain what kinds of foods cannot be consumed by the guest. Mr. Takamura kindly helps his guests not only before they check in by providing them with directions on how to get to Hotorinite Inn, but also when they check out by explaining what is the best way for them to reach their next destination â€“ a service that I have never seen before. From these apparently small actions, he shows his thoughtfulness to all guests, making them feel at home.
HOSHINOYA Fuji :
Reconnect with Nature, Reconnect with Yourself
The Place Located on top of a hill from where you have a beautiful view of Lake Kawaguchi, HOSHINOYA Fuji is the first glamping resort in Japan, where you can fully enjoy the best of what nature has to offer . But what does “glamping” mean? A mix of glamorous and camping, the word glamping might not be well known worldwide but it is attracting a lot of attention lately. Usually, when camping, it is necessary to prepare food, drinks, a tent, and other miscellaneous supplies, but glamping provides you with everything, ready to be used, including comfortable accommodations. It is a hassle-free way to enjoy camp activities and thus is gaining in popularity. HOSHINOYA Fuji is a place where you can escape from your daily routine while enjoying a variety of outdoor activities. Moreover, it is a place to get in touch with nature and heal the body and soul.
The Facilities After leaving your car in the parking lot and checking in at the reception area, guests choose a special backpack full of camping tools. A glamping guide escorts you uphill in HOSHINOYA Fuji’s customized Jeep, taking you through a secluded road. This road takes you from one world and into another: a world full of nature. About one hundred meters higher than the check-in area, you arrive to an area with the cabins, a front desk, a restaurant, and outdoor facilities. There are forty cabins
Places where we want to stay again
in total, all private, and coming in four different arrangements to cater to different group sizes. Unlike normal camping accommodations, each is equipped with a bath and other amenities, providing a comfortable and relaxing ambience. The front desk is open 24/7, able to provide support in both Japanese and English for guests during their stay, and depending on staff availability, support is also provided in Chinese and Korean. Guests can enjoy preparing their own meals outdoors at the “Forest Kitchen,” having it prepared by a chef at the dining hall, or eating on the cabin’s terrace while appreciating the majestic scenery of Mt. Fuji. The menu is diverse and anyone regardless of religion or culture can find something to appreciate. There are also plenty of outdoor activities and spots to enjoy, bringing you closer to nature. Immersed in a sea of giant trees there is a wooden deck with comfortable chairs, a library café, and hammocks where guests can relax while having a drink next to the bonfire. After the sunset, the pathways are illuminated by gentle lighting that perfectly suits the nature around them and the stars that shine brightly in the night sky.
The Experience It is captivating to gaze upon Mt. Fuji from within the cabin, to see the changes in the natural environment as each of Japan’s four seasons pass by, and to reconnect with nature. But guests staying at HOSHINOYA Fuji can also participate in several activities that are only available in Yamanashi, such as the hunting tour, which impressed us the most. With the guidance of a professional hunter, those willing to take part in this tour can step into the forests located at the foot of Mt. Fuji and watch a hunt from up close. Through this experience, it is possible to learn about the entire process of hunting, from shooting an animal to preparing it to be an ingredient. Besides this tour, guests are also offered seasonal activities such as a luxurious Mt. Fuji climbing tour in the summer and horse riding in the autumn, the latter being a prime season to admire autumn foliage.
Home o f M t. F u ji , Y a m Prefectu anashi re has a wide div o f to u r ersity is t s p o ts th a t apprec c a n be iated t hrough season o u t all s. But beyond beautifu these l places are also accomm amazing o d a ti o n s th a t w tu rn y o il l h e lp u r tr ip to J a p a n in unforgett to a n able one . From th and wa e cozy r m -h e a r te d H o In n to th to r in it e e g la m o rous ca experien m p in g ce at HO SHINOY why not A Fuji, stay in Y amanas time you hi next come to Japan?
Forest Adventure by : Justin Ehringhaus (CIR from the United States)
e are all too familiar with the typical equation when it comes to visiting a famed historical metropolis or a renowned cultural property: 1) you struggle through throngs of tourists to get to said location; 2) you spend precious moments at said location taking a snapshot (or, if you are lucky and do not mind angry glares, a selfie); and 3) you are forced to evacuate the area as quickly as possible or risk getting shoved aside by an unforgiving line of tourists. However, it is never too late to take steps into the unknown â€“ to ignite your sense of adventure by leaving your guidebook, and the already well-traveled path that it details, behind. And you, the reader, have already taken your first steps by opening the pages of this magazine. Yamanashi Prefecture, a land whose many facets and various charms have yet to be thoroughly documented or discovered by the tourist, is an ideal location to embark on any number of adventures. This article focuses on one in particular that removes you from the hustle and bustle of city life and puts you into the quiet company of trees. But this is no summer picnic â€“ in this adventure it is your task to navigate in and between those trees, relying only on your own balance, dexterity, and strength.
Welcome to Forest Adventure
intent here was to ensure that we could manage the equipment
We set off in the morning by car. An hour and a half away
course. The staff member, of course, would monitor us from below
from Kofu City, the prefectural capital, the journey took us into
– but he would not be accompanying us.
the northeasternmost parts of the prefecture. The drive was
Successfully completed, we ascended into the treetops, now
smooth, the roads having been recently renovated. And what a
confident in our readiness to embark on the first of five stages in
the Adventure Course. Each segment posed various challenges:
responsibly by ourselves before taking our first steps onto the real
climbing, crawling, balancing, swinging, hanging, gliding, or We stepped out of the car to be greeted by clear blue skies and
jumping. One by one we committed ourselves to each task at
rolling green hills. “FOREST ADVENTURE KOSUGE,” the sign
hand, trusting the strength of the ropes we were clipped to and
read up ahead. Before us were steps leading to a thinned forest
putting our physical abilities to the test.
clearing, and from the parking lot below we could see hints of
At points in each stage, an “extra difficult” route was available.
intricate wooden obstacles, crisscrossing ropes and slacklines,
It took every ounce of my energy and concentration not to fall
and long-stretching zip-lines. I felt my excitement awakened, ready
at these points. Tip toeing across hanging wooden poles with a
for any challenge that lay ahead.
diameter the size of a small tomato was
The concept had originally been
not an easy task.
developed in France in 1997 by the
Laughing together with (and sometimes
company Altus, but it has since then
at) my coworkers as we attempted
been exported to over fifteen different
(and sometimes failed) to make it
countries. Forest Adventure in Kosuge
past each obstacle is what made
Village is one of twenty-five other
this day most memorable. Unlike the
parks in Japan under the same name.
throngs of people through which one
Opened in 2013, it is known for having
must fight when visiting the typical
the most scenic zip-slide view in Japan.
tourist destination, this day took place
Yamanashi Prefecture is home to another
in the absolute stillness of the rural
Forest Adventure park in Narusawa Village. This was the first to
countryside. Surrounded by nothing but lush woodland and proud
be created in Japan and the most famous. Located nearby the
mountaintops, the only thought on my mind was the task in front
base of Mt. Fuji, it allows for stunning views of Japan’s most iconic
of me: to work together with my coworkers to make it through the
mountain – from the unique perspective of up in the trees.
treetop course. The experience became an opportunity to see
One of the goals of constructing these treetop courses is to
and to know each other in a new light. That, and an opportunity
revitalize otherwise neglected forest areas. Almost 67% of Japan
to amount a collective total of almost five hundred photographs
is forested, yet much of that number is unattended to, resulting
– or at least more than the blurry scraps of a single selfie that
in canopy growth too dense for sunlight to any longer reach the
my friends on social media seem to garner when uploading their
ground. To re-stimulate the growth of diverse species of plants,
visits to the Louvre or The Great Wall.
human intervention is required to thin these forests. Forest
While living and learning in Japan, it is up to you how you spend
Adventure accomplishes this, but it also provides lovers of the
your time whether here as a temporary traveler or as a permanent
outdoors with an experience unlike any other.
resident. And while it is a valuable experience to visit the most well-
When visiting a Forest Adventure park, the goal for the adventurer
known cultural heritage sites and the most famous cities in order
is to have fun, to stay safe, and to challenge oneself. With courses
to learn more about Japan’s history, culture, art, music, literature,
available for children (Canopy Course), for families (Discovery
or whatever else is of interest to you, it is my belief that there is
Course), and for adults (Adventure Course), there is plenty of
beauty in exploring the unknown. Yamanashi Prefecture is a prime
opportunity for all ages and all persons to meet and exceed each
location to do just that, and Forest Adventure is an example of a
of those goals without ever stepping outside of one’s comfort
getaway that not only brings you away from the city and into the
countryside but also places you up into the trees, from which point
After signing an agreement (also available in English) in
you can see and feel Japan’s natural beauty for yourself, up close.
recognition of the possibility of injury, our first task when arriving
It is also a fun and unique experience, especially for those like me
was to learn the safety protocol. A staff member gave a brief,
and my coworkers who had never before embarked on such a
verbal overview of the harness, the carabiners, and the pulley
treetop adventure. And, like the best of adventures, it is also one
cable system before detailing our first task: without instruction,
that brings you closer to those traveling alongside you.
we were to navigate a miniature, practice course on our own. The
May your adventure start soon. Best of luck!
Climbing the Tallest Mountain in Japan by : Yuri Yuhara (CIR from Brazil)
Every summer, visitors from all around the world challenge themselves to reach the top of the 3,776 meter (12,395 foot) Mt. Fuji, otherwise known as Fujisan in Japanese.
To Climb or Not to Climb Mt. Fuji?
Recognized as a World Heritage Site since 2013 under the title, “Mt. Fuji: Object of Worship, Wellspring of Art,” this mountain has been a pilgrimage destination and has inspired countless pieces of artwork and poetry since ancient times. The number of climbers increases year by year, and near the summit the routes can become extremely crowded before dawn, when long lines can be seen from afar as the head lamps of climbers illuminate the trails, in the middle of the pitch black mountain. Many difficulties stand in the way between the point of departure and the summit, but none seem to faze those whose desire it is to reach the top of tallest mountain in Japan.
and for ascetic Buddhism. Shrines, and temples dedicated to
irst off – to climb. Mt. Fuji's unique cone shape and its intermittent volcanic activity make it a sacred place for Shintoism, the Japanese ethnic religion,
the worship of Mt. Fuji can be found in the surrounding areas as well as throughout Japan. Therefore, the journey to the top of Mt. Fuji is considered by many to be a spiritual one. To others, it is a way of demonstrating resilience, a challenge for the body and mind. And for some it is simply a visit to the highest point in Japan. There are many reasons that might lead one to climb Mt. Fuji, but this is a task not accomplishable without a certain degree of preparation. During 2017's summer climbing season, more than 172 thousand people climbed Mt. Fuji through the Yoshida Route, in Yamanashi Prefecture, from a total of 285 thousand climbers. Most of them are far from experienced climbers, and this fact leads to a common misconception among travelers that reaching the top of Mt. Fuji is an easy task. But it is not that simple, and difficulties involved can be a determining factor for one not to climb. Without adequate hiking gear, not to mention physical strength, it is unlikely that one can make it. The sheer height itself is a challenge that not many are willing to accept. The weather in the mountains
also can change rapidly; the difference in temperature between the 5th Station, where most people start climbing,
Journey to the Top
and the summit can be 15 Â°C (59 Â°F) or more. Trails, too,
There are four routes to the top of Mt. Fuji: the Yoshida
can become tricky to navigate at certain points, requiring
Route, starting in Yamanashi Prefecture, and the Subashiri,
one to be in good physical condition as well as the use of
Gotemba and Fujinomiya routes, starting in Shizuoka
sturdy boots, gloves, raingear, and so on. Finally, it is not
Prefecture. The Yoshida Route is the most popular one,
uncommon for there to be sudden rainfall, which can cause
offering two separate trails for the ascent and the descent
less-than-desirable climbing conditions and pose a danger
as well as a number of huts for overnight stays. It is easily
even to experienced climbers.
accessible by bus from Shinjuku, Lake Kawaguchi, or Fujisan stations, and most commonly climbers start climbing from the
It is not unusual to spot unadvised climbers wearing flip flops
Fuji Subaru Line 5th Station. It was from there, 2,305 meters
and summer shorts climbing Mt. Fuji. These are the climbers
(7,562 feet) above sea level, that we departed. We began
who find themselves struggling the most, or even getting
our climb at noon, envisioning what it would be like to watch
injured, due to their inappropriate footwear and inadequate
the sunrise from the summit of Japanâ€™s tallest mountain.
preparation. Especially in the upper parts of the mountain, where it is hard to seek specialized help, the only option
With a group as large as ours, it took six hours to reach the
becomes to call for a police rescue.
hut we had made a reservation at, which was located at the 8.5 Station (3,450 meters or 11,319 feet above sea level). A
Due to all the difficulties listed above, the reasons not to
smaller group might be able to reach this point in less time.
climb may outweigh the reasons to climb. Many residents
Reservations are required for staying at any of the huts,
in Yamanashi, for instance, insist that Mt. Fuji is a mountain
in which you are given a warm meal and a place to sleep.
to be seen, not to be climbed. But, aware of the conditions
Most people, however, stay only for a few hours as an early
and prepared both physically and mentally to the best of our
morning wakeup is necessary to make it to the summit before
abilities, we, a group of a dozen foreigners hoping to make
sunrise. Some of the huts also sell food and drinks for those
this summer unforgettable, decided to accept the challenge
who only want to make a quick rest stop.
of climbing the most iconic mountain in Japan and departed
Staying at any of the huts is far from a comfortable
for Mt. Fuji during the last weekend of the climbing season.
experience. With dozens of climbers sharing the same
room, there is minimum space, no privacy, and – given that
as lack of sleep can result in fatigue or, even worse, injury.
the huts are not connected to a water supply network – no
Some of our group’s members were affected by altitude
showers. But we were all grateful to have a spot under a roof
sickness, but fortunately everyone was able to make it to the
where we could rest our bodies and warm our hands with hot
hut to rest and resume the climb the next morning.
tea and blankets. Even with all the difficulties, the stunning views made From the 8.5 Station, it would require yet another hour and
everything worth it. During the ascent, at the summit, and
a half of hiking. Despite the rain, cold, and darkness that we
upon descending, the true beauty of the climb involved more
set foot into upon exiting the hut, we were all excited for our
than just impressive natural landscapes. It was also the
arrival to the summit from which we could view the sunrise.
view of so many different climbers from so many different countries – all gathered in the same place, all heading for
There is a reason the climbing season only lasts from the
the same destination – that made the hike an unforgettable
beginning of July to the beginning of September. This is the
experience. Independent of each person’s country, culture,
only period when the top of Mt. Fuji is free of snow and ice.
age, or life experiences, everyone was facing the same
But that is not to say the weather is ideal. Even in summer,
challenges. But seeing that it was Mt. Fuji that had invited
as we experienced for ourselves, weather changes rapidly;
such a diverse crowd made me realize how awe-inspiring
within seconds a cloudy day can become a hot day, a hot
it is, not only for the people of Japan, with their long history
day can then turn into a rainy and chilly day.
and deep tradition of artwork and poetry dedicated to this mountain, but also for the entire world. As a World Heritage
An even greater concern for climbers is altitude sickness.
Site, this is a title that is more than well-deserved.
Due to the high altitude, even people in perfect physical condition can suffer from severe headaches, difficulties in breathing, nausea, dehydration, and the like. Taking regular
More information about the climbing season, trails, equipment, huts, and transportation can be found here:
breaks and drinking sufficient water helps to prevent this,
and it is recommended to rest at one of the huts on the way
A Delightful Trip Aboard the Fujisan View Express by : Andre Amorim (former Trainee from Minas Gerais, Brazil)
Usually we use trains to move from place to place â€“ from Point A to Point B. But some trains can be more than just a transportation method. During the cold month of December, several of my coworkers and I took our first steps aboard the Fujisan View Express, a train that gives one the pleasure of enjoying views of Mount Fuji as well as access to the many attractions in areas nearby. Continue reading to find out more . . .
History and Features of the Train
he Fujikyu Railway was founded in 1926 as Fuji Electric Railway. Before then, the same route was used as a horsecar road to connect the Fujiyoshida
textile industry in Yamanashi to Tokyo. In 1929, trains started to run from within Yamanashi, connecting Otsuki to Fujiyoshida, and then the line was extended to Kawaguchiko. This helped boost tourism in the Fuji Five Lakes area. The railway company runs two additional types of express trains that take passengers from Kawaguchiko to Otsuki. The first, a blue and white train covered with drawings of Mt. Fuji, the Fujisan Express, started running in 2014. The second, a
end-point; in under an hour, passengers can feel the climate
red train, the Fujisan View Express, started running in 2016.
differences between Kawaguchiko and Otsuki.
Each trip lasts about forty five minutes. And, since this is Japan, the trains depart from and arrive at each station neither a second too late nor a second too early.
Local Attractions and Specialty Products
The blue and white Fujisan Express is painted with fifty
The trains make brief stops at several other stations during
different Mt. Fuji characters that were selected from over a
the trip, and nearby each of these are beautiful locations from
hundred designs in a contest. The most voted on characters
which to enjoy views of Mt. Fuji and its surrounding scenery.
can also be seen embroidered on headrest covers on the
For example, the cable car on Mt. Tenjo in Kawaguchiko
train seats. This train is very popular among children, and all
Town is widely known for being a great way to take up-high
sorts of keychains, magnets, binders, and even socks with the
photographs of Mt. Fuji. Another scenic spot is the Arakura
characters featured on them are sold onboard.
Mountain in Fujiyoshida City, and its Chureito Pagoda is
But our goal for this issue of The Grapevine was to ride the red
known for being one of the most famous places in Japan for
Fujisan View Express train. Designed by the famous Mitooka
taking a photograph of Mt. Fuji with cherry blossoms in the
Eiji, this train is retro in style, resembling an antique hotel or
foreground. But Mt. Fuji is not the only place of interest. Although the number of passengers taking this train line has increased significantly since Japan’s most famous mountain became a World Heritage Site, there is much more to be enjoyed. A pamphlet with information about nearby attractions is distributed to all passengers riding either of the express trains and staff onboard are prepared to answer any questions to help tourists make the best of their trip. As for local attractions, for example, at the end of the line in Otsuki City is the Yamanashi Prefectural Maglev Exhibition Center, where it is possible to see tests of, and learn about, this high speed train. It is also a good place to go to see
a countryside house. With an interior made out of wood, it
beautiful landscapes and unique spots such as Saruhashi, or
emulates a cozy livingroom atmosphere while also blending in
the “Monkey Bridge” in English, which is known for its one-of-
with the landscape.
a-kind structural design.
Both trains, the Fujisan Express and the Fujisan View
As for specialty products, you may enjoy local food and drink aboard
Express, are designed to give passengers a great view of Mt.
the Fujisan View Express train when taking first class. For example,
Fuji. They travel at an average speed of fifty kmh (31 mph),
available for these passengers is rice beer made in Kiyosato;
slightly slower in comparison to typical express trains because
roasted green tea, or hojicha in Japanese, which is very popular
their route is full of slopes and curves. The speed decreases
among foreigners; a seasonal sweets box; bento lunch boxes; and
in the more sinuous stretches and slopes and also in places
so on. The sweets box is prepared by the chef pâtissier from Fujikyu
from where it is possible to see breathtaking views of Mt. Fuji
Highland Resort Hotel, and it always features local ingredients such
– to passengers’ delight. There is a difference of five hundred
as Yamanashi’s famous grapes, blueberries, or peaches – the roll
meters (1640 feet) in elevation between the start- and the
cake filled with the seasonal fruits being the most popular.
Curiosities about Tourists and their Preferences
to mean that they are much closer to Mt. Fuji than they are
Passenger demand is greatest during the summer, when
by foot. Yet, this is not the case; Mt. Fuji is about twenty
the Mt. Fuji climbing season is at its peak and thousands
kilometers (12.4 miles) from the station. The train’s staff
of climbers from all over the world head to Kawaguchiko.
encounter this misunderstanding frequently, and so it is
Others board to visit the famous FujiQ Highland amusement
necessary for them to be able to explain in other languages
park or the Fuji Five Lakes. Winter attracts fewer visitors
the location of, and methods by which, to reach Mt. Fuji.
than in summer, especially during January and February, but
Mr. Katsumata wishes that tourists coming to Yamanashi
on the other hand this is the best time to see Mt. Fuji covered
Prefecture have the chance to enjoy as many of its local
with snow. The extra space on and around the train during
specialties such as fruits, wine, and crafts as possible. He
the winter also makes it a prime time for taking photographs.
believes that all of these are both cultural and valuable
But no matter the season, for me it was stepping aboard and
assets of this land and he would be happy if the express
riding the Fujisan View Express itself that made this trip so
trains operated by Fujikyu Railway help passengers get to
know more about the prefecture beyond just Mt. Fuji.
We interviewed Mr. Katsumata, assistant manager of Fujikyu
In this way, Fujisan View Express offers much more to the
Railway, who emphasized the importance of language
tourist than just a method of transportation. With its cozy
training for onboard staff. It is estimated that forty percent
interior, beautiful landscapes, and unique products that
of passengers are non-Japanese. Among them, the most
can be enjoyed from the comfort of your seat, 45 minutes
frequent are Chinese, followed by Filipinos and others from
seemed to pass by amazingly fast. The service and attention
Southeast Asia. Given the influx of foreign tourists, it is
we received onboard made our ride even better, and we
essential that staff undergo specific language training in both
were all grateful for the kind staff onboard, all of whom do an
English and Mandarin in order to be able to communicate
outstanding job when it comes to answering the questions
with and answer questions from foreign passengers as well
of passengers, even those of foreigner passengers such as
as handle emergency situations should any arise.
myself, in languages besides Japanese.
in reality. Consequently, they plan their trips with it in mind that reaching the mountain is an easy walk from the station
Mr. Katsumata explained that language training especially comes in handy when foreign hikers going to Mt. Fuji board
To you, dear reader, remember this: Come and be enchanted
the train. Foreigners oftentimes confuse “Mt. Fuji Station”
by this experience. Come ride aboard the Fujisan View Express!
Every year on the first weekend of April, Yamanashi Prefecture
the Indonesian Battalion had to be prepared to face the cold and
holds a major event in its capital, Kofu City, called the Shingen-Ko
the wind. Not that this would be easy – us Indonesians are from a
Festival. In order to celebrate the heroism of Takeda Shingen, who
tropical country after all!
was lord of Yamanashi Prefecture (called Kai Province at the time) during the Warring States Period in the 16th Century and one of
On the day of the festival, after all battalions had changed into
the strongest warlords at the time, this festival reenacts the war
samurai attire, we strolled around to enjoy the festival’s food stalls
deployment ceremony. This is the largest samurai parade in the
and rehearse. The parade started from four o’clock. All battalions
world, recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records in 2012
marched from the Yamanashi Prefectural Government office to
when more than one thousand “samurai” participated. By going to
Kofu Castle, where the war deployment ceremony would be held.
this parade, you can experience for yourself the heroic spirit and
We enjoyed the cherry blossoms along the walk. Even so, we were
historic atmosphere created by this event.
worried about the cloudy weather, but thank God there was no rain. Phew, we were saved!
Yamanashi Prefecture has been trying to attract more tourists from Southeast Asia and from Indonesia in particular. In 2013, the
Once at the castle, all battalions began parading to the downtown
Prefecture signed an agreement with the airline Garuda Indonesia
area. The Fuu battalion was deployed first, followed by the Rin, the
to promote tourism on both sides. Thanks to the close relationship
Ka, the Zan, and finally the Honjin battalions. First, we marched to
between them, representatives from Garuda Indonesia had the
Kofu Station. The “General” from each battalion was mounted on
privilege to participate as the first ever foreign battalion in the
horse, and one by one they and their battalion were deployed by
Shingen-Ko Festival. This year would be the 46th festival, held in
“Takeda Shingen.” We were surprised when we saw many people
2017 from April 7th to the 9th. Around forty people from Garuda
waiting to see the samurai parade on both sides of the road.
Indonesia, including Indonesian celebrities who helped promote
Some of them even greeted us in Indonesian thanks to the festival
this event to their social media followers, took part in the parade,
announcers who had kindly introduced the Indonesian Battalion
and they were all extremely excited to march through downtown
to everyone present. Then, as we marched, we waved to the
Kofu dressed as samurai along with the other battalions, of which
crowd, giving high fives to the kids and taking pictures with crowd
there were five: the Fuu (wind), the Rin (forest), the Ka (fire), the
members. What a festival! We really enjoyed it.
Zan (mountain), and the Honjin (main). It was here, the main battalion, where the Indonesian Battalion marched.
The photos and videos uploaded by the Indonesian celebrities to their social media accounts helped to attract much attention.
Before the big day, the Indonesian Battalion was told to be
Garuda Indonesia also published an article about the festival in
prepared rain or shine. The parade would be held no matter the
their inflight magazine, which can be accessed online helping to
weather conditions as long as there were no major storms, and
spread the news to other media outlets in Indonesia. We were all
based on previous festival data the festival was held twenty six
happy that our participation in this festival helped raise awareness
times when it was sunny, six times when raining, one time when
about Indonesia and the relationship between Indonesia and
snowing, one time during a spring storm, and so on. At the least,
Yamanashi. See you during the next Shingen-Ko Festival!
The Grapevine, a publication supported by The Osano Memorial Foundation, has been promoting Yamanashi Prefecture to an English speaking audience worldwide for almost thirty years. This year, on top of receiving a new design for the magazine, we have also revisited some of Yamanashi's old favorites â€“ from peaches, grapes, and wine to, of course, Mt. Fuji and the ShingenKo Festival. In order to show the different ways of enjoying each of these, we have set out to learn about the cultivation of fruits and wine making, ridden one of the most unique trains in the country, visited accommodations with breathtaking views and heartwarming services, and participated in the famous and historic Shingen-Ko Festival. At the same time, we aimed to show important aspects of Yamanashi that are still unknown to the general public such as an amazing cherry production in Minami Alps City to a wilderness adventure course in Kosuge Village. Discovering new places, or rediscovering well-known ones, we hope you enjoy this edition of The Grapevine and come visit and revisit Yamanashi.
Editor Profile Kendra Evans
Soon Hee Woo
Andre Amorim andre.amorim.908579
Fadly Agustimahir fadly.agustimahir
Global Tourism and Exchange Division Yamanashi Prefectural Government 1-6-1 Marunouchi, Kofu City Yamanashi Prefecture, 400-8501 Japan TEL: +81 055-223-1435 For any questions, comments, or suggestions, contact us at : firstname.lastname@example.org Past editions of The Grapevine are available online at : www.osano-memorial.or.jp
The Yamanashi Grapevine is a freely distributed annual magazine aimed at promoting Yamanashi Prefecture by introducing its land and culture...
Published on Mar 5, 2018
The Yamanashi Grapevine is a freely distributed annual magazine aimed at promoting Yamanashi Prefecture by introducing its land and culture...