Yatsugatake in Yamanashi Prefecture
Yamanashi prefecture is located in the Chubu region of Honshu Island, north west of of Tokyo. In the Yatsugatake area which spreads across Yamanashi prefecture and Nagano prefecture, you can see Yatsugatake (Volcanic Group) to the north, Mt. Fuji to the south, the Chichibu mountain range to the east, and the Southern Alps to the west. Yatsugatake was originally higher than Mt. Fuji, and it is said to have erupted about 2 million years ago to take its current shape.
The Yatsugatake area is a resort area with many attractions, but it is mainly characterized by its beautiful natures.
Yatsugatake is as vast as Mt. Fuji, and there are as many as 80 to 100 springs in the area, with “Sanbuichi Spring” and “Doryu Waterfall” being representative examples. The Suntory factory that produces “Minami-Alps Natural Water” is also located in Hokuto City which is a part of the Yatsugatake area. The Yatsugatake area boasts the best pure, high-quality mineral water in Japan.
The Suntory Hakushu Distillery is also located in Hokuto City in Yamanashi prefecture. Suntory
Yatsugatake is about 2.5 hours from Tokyo by car if there is no traffic and is also known as best destination for a weekend gataway if you live in Tokyo.
Trip to Yatsugatake
We made a weekend trip to Yatsugatake in the middle of July. The traffic was so bad that it took more than 4 hours to get to Yatsugatake from Tokyo, including a few breaks in between.
We got onto the Chuo Expressway from the Takaido Interchange (“IC”) in Tokyo and took a break at two different service areas – 1. Dangozaka Service Area (談合坂SA（サービスエリア）上り | サービスエリア・お買物 | 高速道路・高速情報はNEXCO 中日本 (c-nexco.co.jp)) and 2. Futaba Service Area (Futaba Facility/Service Information | Central Nippon Expressway Company (c-nexco.co.jp)). The service area in Japan means “rest area” on the highway. You can eat some local food or buy souveniors at the service area. Driving from Tokyo to Yatsugatake is pretty easy as you just have to take one highway (i.e. Chuo Expressway) to Yamanashi prefecture from Tokyo. However, if the traffic is bad, it is better to take some rest at the service area along the highway.
As it was raining heavily on the first day when we arrived in Yatsugatake, we went to the photo museum called “Kiyosato Photo Museum”. The photos used in the exhibition actually came from the museum of photographic arts in San Diego. We enjoyed the beautiful pictures that were mostly from 1900 to the present taken by the photographers from all over the world.
Also, we went to a cholocate cafe for a break which was not too far from our hotel in Yatsugatake. You can find the same cholocate shop/cafe in the Shin-Marunouchi building in Tokyo.
B&B in Yatsugatake
We stayed in a little B&B in Yatsugatake called Marionetto. They served really good dinner using local ingredients. Especially, the vegitables that they grow in their backyard were very delicious!
It was a little old but very warm and cozy B&B!
Seisen-ryo Jersey Ranch
On the second day, we went to the Seisen-ryo Jersey ranch. It was misty and sprinkling in the morning but the weather got better toward the lunch time.
Not far from the ranch, there is a park called Makiba Park which is owned and managed by the Yamanashi prefecture.
There were many different kinds of animals, including cows, sheep, pony, and goat in the park.
The souvenior store in the Seisen-ryo Jersey ranch had a lot of great dairy products such as mik, yougurt, butter, soft serve, etc. The bakery there also offers fresh and tasty bread and pastries.
It was great to be away from Tokyo and stay in the countryside for the weekend where we were able to enjoy some fresh and clean air!