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Japan Travel Guide: Hoshinoya Fuji

Hai! We visited Mt. Fuji, stayed at Hoshinoya Fuji and wrote a post about it, both of us! Flip through the tabs to see my side & Mike’s :)

PS – The photos are different too!

One of the things Steph and I have always had in common is our mutual appreciation of mountains. Not just any mountains though, they need to be lonely freestanding introverted mountains, preferably symmetrical, preferably snowcapped. We have a bunch of them on the west coast — Robson, Baker, Rainier, Hood, Shasta (sort of) and St Helen (sort of), just off the top of my head. We’re pretty lucky to have so many nearby — or unlucky if Rainier ever erupts. Before Steph and I started dating, we were snowboarding buddies, so mountains have an extra special place in my heart.

Our love of mountains combined with all time we spend in Japan makes it no surprise that we both came to be pretty crazily obsessed with Mt. Fuji. One year we spent days in Tokyo tracking down very specific, very overpriced Fuji-san shaped beer glasses and dish sponges. We’ve never opened the wooden boxes that the glasses came in, so we have never seen them or know if they survived the flight home, but we both love our Fuji-shaped Schrödinger glasses.

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

We’d always look at Fuji-san from rooftops and random hills in Tokyo, or on the train from afar, but we never really found the time or inclination to go, even though it’s so close to Tokyo that you could do it as a day trip. So this year, while planning our annual semi-traditional trip to Japan, we told ourselves this was the year we’d finally make it to Fuji-san.

When we plan these trips we split the duties: I arrange the flights, Steph finds the hotels. It works out well most of the time, because it plays to our strengths and interests (for me, points and upgrades, for her, cozy spaces), but it can sometimes backfire.

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

One of the things I’ve always loved about Steph is how easily excitable she is. When she gets excited about something, she just goes nuts and really doesn’t think. This can be both a blessing, because it’s super funny (and cute) to watch, and a curse, as when she panic-booked a non refundable, credit card-guaranteed reservation at Fuji-san for the wrong dates – actually, before we even had dates at all. In her defence, she claimed it was the only room left for months.

Outside of the panic-booking tendencies, I utterly trust Steph’s taste when it comes to these things and her ability to find cozy spaces no matter where we are in the world. Because of this, I never actually look too closely at what she books, and consequently I was blown away when we finally made it out. The hotel she chose was incredible, and I was reminded again of why I trust her taste in hotels.

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

This year, because we went big on the camping front, we also came to fall in love with Japanese camp style.

When camping in North America, the idea (for us, at least) is to get away from the luxuries and pressures of modern life and really get back to basics; cooking food over a fire we’ve built, living off only what we could bring in, sleeping under the open sky. In the camping world, there’s even something of a hierarchy about camping: the tent people look down on the RV people, the backpackers look down on everyone. At the end of the day though, it’s about going as primitive as you’re personally willing to go.

Japanese camping, on the other hand, is where you take the best parts of your home with you and hang out with all your friends in one big social gathering. The typical Japanese campsite (from what I’ve seen on Instagram, so take that with a grain of salt) seems to be composed of a sleeping tent, a living tent, a cooking tent, 5-6 coolers worth of food, and at least three methods of cooking, including sometimes what seems to look like a full fledged pizza oven, all set up out on an immaculate open field with dozens of friends with similar setups around you.

I’ve always wanted to take Steph camping in Japan, but the sheer cost and difficulty of it – thousands of dollars worth of equipment, renting an SUV big enough to carry it all, not knowing anyone at the campsites – made it seem like a pipe dream that could never happen.

At our hotel however, I was in for a surprise: this wasn’t just an ordinary hotel with a nice view of Mt. Fuji, it was a glamping themed resort, and it turned out about as close as I can imagine to us camping Japanese style, in Japan, for real.

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

The staff had custom jeep wranglers to get us and our luggage up the hill (Steph thinks they’re Range Rovers and I didn’t want to spoil the fun). Both the the jeeps – and later, our cabin – reminded me of our trip to Iceland. Ever since we and our little rental mazda were rescued from an impassible mountain pass by an Icelandic super jeep, I’ve lusted after one and have been hinting to Steph that we should go to Iceland in the summer with a rented super jeep.

Our cabin, once we got in, reminded me of a cosier, more modern, and much warmer version of an airbnb we booked in the north of Iceland that was one of the best parts of our trip. Where the Icelandic version was all grey and muted (and freezing cold), the Japanese version was all white with soft lighting and possibly the world’s greatest bathroom, with a full panoramic view of Mt Fuji.

We filled our time with camp activities. We both chopped wood for the very first time. We smoked our own dinner, Japanese style, using wood from Hakushu (one of my favorite Japanese Whisky distilleries). We roasted marshmallows over a firepit, and Steph even got to cook part of a dinner, Japanese camp style with five dutch ovens over snow peak burners (I declined and filmed it instead). We went canoeing on the lake with Fuji-san in the background.

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

It was a bomb-tastic time, but the best part of camping isn’t the activities you do, it’s the quiet times in between when you can sit with your camp buddies enjoying the silence with a somewhat cold beer (or if you’re me, whisky) in hand. Here, we got to go one better and spent our downtime sitting out on the deck underneath the warmth of the kotatsu in the cold crisp late autumn air and appreciated some of the thirty-six views of Mt. Fuji. We had a personal tiny outdoor fire on the deck and watched shooting stars as the sunset turned into late night.

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

I fell in love with the cabin and the view, watching the sunsets and sunrises with whisky in hand and my wife by my side. Steph fell in love with the kotatsu.

She’s always known that I wanted to take her camping in Japan but dreaded the thought of getting so much equipment across the Pacific ocean. The last morning we were there, as we were having ‘camp’ pourover coffee and watching the sunrise again under the warmth of the cozy kotatsu, she asked me if instead of bringing a ton of camp equipment across the ocean, could we bring the kotatsu home instead? I found myself promising that yes, somehow we’d figure out a way to get this giant coffee table and blanket setup on an airplane on the way home. It took some thinking, but I have a plan to do just that.

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

japan travel guide - hoshinoya fuji - www.iamafoodblog.com

26 Comments • Add yours!

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  1. Really makes me want to travel there! Beautiful shots

  2. The views of Mt. Fuji from your room were absolutely SPELLBINDING! Thank you so much for sharing – I’ve always wanted to go to Japan ever since I went to Japanese summer camp when I was in third grade, so reading this post was a delight :)

  3. This is seriously a vacation goal. SO beautiful and cute! Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. This must be one of the best views in the universe. When we were in Japan in 2015 Mt Fuji was covered in fog and ever since we said, that we’ll come back at least to see him. I guess now we found THE PLACE to go :)

  5. This looks absolutely amazing. Love the cabin you stayed at and the view is spectacular. All the places you visited look so cool!

    x Annabelle
    travelsandtea.com

  6. This is so beautiful, thanks for letting us live vicariously through your adventures!

  7. This was such a cool way to share your travel experience! I love seeing how different people experience the same trip :) -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

  8. I’ve been to Japan a couple times, but haven’t made it to Fuji-san yet. I’ve just pinned that glamping resort, it looks amazing! Travel goals!

  9. love the two points of views. and love the photos of pretty steph! gorgeous everything! x

  10. Amazing!!

  11. magical!!! you’ve both sold me on this resort (which i’m sure wasn’t the intention but i’m still sold). also, holy crap are all these photos beautiful. happy almost new year guys!!

  12. Thank you so much for sharing Steph! I’m half-Japanese so still have family in Japan (near the Nagoya area) so have been a dozen times or so but still haven’t made it to Fuji-san. This looks like an amazing place to stay! I’m definitely going to keep it in mind for the next time I go.
    Love your writing xxx

  13. My boyfriend and I have been starting to think about taking a trip to Japan sometime in the next year or so, and this post just took me from, “hmm, could be pretty cool” to “okay, let’s book NOW”. What a gorgeous place! I think I’d probably spend most of my time under the heated blanket-table (what an amazing invention… I need one!), but with views like that right from the room… Who actually needs to venture out?

  14. I have discovered this place last year but did have not got a chance to visit yet !!!
    lets hope 2017 will the time !!! very jealous!

  15. A-mazing! We’re booking our honeymoon in Japan (in about a month) and I was just looking up places to stay to view the majestic Fuji-san! I was able to Google translate most of the site, but was wondering if they were English friendly? I know you lived in Japan before so not sure if you got by with Japanese or if we could do it too. Also, I think it’ll be too cold to do hiking in Feb, but would you recommend this hotel still if you just plan to stay in? PS. Jimmy (my Mike) is Canadian too! I asked him what a Canadian canoe was too and he just shrugged and said they just call it a canoe :)

  16. Somehow I had assumed that camping was the same around the world – clearly not. There seems to be no end to the number of interesting things I keep learning about Japan. I can’t wait to visit. Also – just majestic photos of Mt. Fuji – how amazing!!

  17. Your entry was ADORABLY writen. And now, I realize that I’ve been recreating a kokatsu with my laptop and a blanket for years!!

  18. Your photos are AMAZING! I just keep scrolling through – what a stunning place to travel. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Those pictures make me wanna visit Japan again, specifically the Fuji mountain for the view. Thanks for sharing awesome pictures!

  20. How’s the surrounding area with english speakers? I try to visit once a year and am planning on booking a room for this November because of this post, awesome spot!

    • hi royce,
      the kawaguchiko area has a lot of tourists so i think you will probably be okay! at hosinoya you’ll be fine, they have pretty good english!

  21. Wow I missed this amazing post. LOVE the two little switch-over tabs!! It’s so nice seeing more of the two of you on the blog in photos – and the photos, are incredible, you guys. Sheesh!!!! I hope Rich, Teddy and I get to Mt.Fuji one day!!!! XOXO

  22. Your photos capture the serenity in all its essence.

  23. Great Photos! I love Japan!

    Mahee Ferlini on February 12, 2017 at 2:42 pm
  24. Super amazing photos