The landlocked prefecture of Yamanashi is nestled to the south-west of Tokyo where it sprawls across the fertile valley of the Kōfu Basin. It includes the northern part of Mount Fuji, the Fuji Five Lakes Area, and the bustling industrial city of Kōfu.
Yamanashi’s natural beauty makes it a popular destination for hiking, skiing, rock-climbing and fishing, with protected landscapes at Chichibu Tama Kai, Fuji-Hakone-Izu and Minami Alps National Parks. Visitors come from near and far to tackle the summit of Mount Fuji and witness sunrise across Honshu Island, while the Fuji Five Lakes region is undeniably picturesque with its vistas encapsulating this iconic mountain. The highland resort region of Kiyosato in the north-west of Yamanashi is a favourite location for skiing and horseback riding overlooking the Minami Alps, while the Senga Falls cascade within the magnificent Shōsenkyō canyon just to the south. Mount Minobu is a popular Buddhist pilgrimage site within Yamanashi and home to the Kuonji Temple which boasts outstanding views across the rugged surrounds. The region’s volcanic activity has resulted in numerous natural hot springs known as “onsens” throughout the prefecture, with those at Shimobe, Isawa and Yamanami among the most popular places for a soak. Yamanashi is also renowned for its wine, particularly the white wine grape variety known as “Koshu”, named after the city in which it is grown, boasting more than 80 wineries where visitors can sample it direct from the maker.
Yamanashi prefecture is well connected to Tokyo and other major cities on Honshu by train, with the Chūō Main Line passing through Yatsugatake near Hokuto. There are also public buses which access all corners of the prefecture, or private rental cars can be hired to explore at leisure.
The region was not referred to as Yamanashi until the early years of the Meiji period when industries began developing around silk textile production and winemaking. When the Chūō Railway Line from Tokyo finally reached Kōfu in 1903 following the construction of the Sasago Pass tunnel, and the area flourished rapidly with new trade routes opened for local industries through the port of Yokohama.