Towns in Yamanashi:
Kosai, Minami Alps [南アルプス市]
Kushigata, Minami Alps [南アルプス市]
Neighboring Kens: Shizuoka [静岡県]
ENZAN SHI 塩山市
Enzan is a small city 20 minutes northeast of Kofu on the Chuo line. It’s the town with a mountain smack-bang in the middle of it.
Transportation: The JR Chuo lines runs right through Enzan. The last train back from Kofu leaves at about 11 pm. The fare from Enzan to Kofu is 320 and takes about 22 minutes. At Enzan station you can catch a bus or get a taxi.
Sports and Recreation: Enzan has an indoor gym called Kenko Club Win which has a weight room, aerobic machines, step classes and a swimming pool. The sign up fee is 10,000 and the monthly membership rate for an evening pass is 6000. Karate lessons can be taken at one of the elementary schools for about 1000 a month, lessons are on Wednesday and Friday nights. There are many hiking trails in Enzan. Within walking distance of the station is Enzan mountain. It takes less than an hour to get to the top and on a clear day it offers a beautiful view of the Kofu valley and Mount Fuji.
Shopping: There is a department store down the road from Enzan station called Silk. There is a grocery store on the basement level as well as various clothing shops and a CD shop. Tsutaya, a video and CD rental shop, is on the south side of the station. (Getting a membership can be a little tricky here).
Food shopping: On the Enzan bypass road there is an Ogino grocery store, it also has a small 100 shop. On the opposite side of the same road but further down there is a hardware shop. There are many small, family run businesses where you can buy fresh fish or fresh fruits and vegetables straight out of someone’s backyard!
Sites of Interest: Enzan has many small temples and shrines to visit, all of which look exceptionally beautiful in the springtime. Erinji temple is the most famous in Enzan and is about a 40 minute walk from the station. It is a great temple with a ‘whistling’ corridor, pagoda building and Japanese garden. If you walk there from the station you will pass Enzan mountain, Kokaguji temple and many vineyards.
Restaurants: There are some great restaurants in Enzan. I will list the top three that I frequently visit;
1. San Julia is located on the right side of the Enzan bypass past the Ogino if you are heading towards Route 20. It is a small, family run business, and the service is very friendly. There is also a menu printed in English. The food ranges from spicy Indian curries to American club sandwiches.
2. Furaipan is just off the Enzan bypass. If you are heading straight on the bypass towards Route 20 you would take a right just after the Doremifa Karaoke and then it is on your right. It’s a great little place with great staff and nice ambiance. They have some great Korean food and my favourite dish there is called “bipimba,” it’s a delicious fried rice meal.
3. Japanese Restaurant is a fast food Japanese place with a picture menu for you to choose from. The food is, like the name says, Japanese, and they have things like soba, udon, tempura, eel, etc. There is a Mos Burger across from the station, which is a fast food burger place. Also, there is a Gusto family restaurant on the Enzan bypass.
Bars/Pubs: I only frequent one bar in Enzan and it is called Boston. Boston is a cute pub with darts and karaoke. The master is very friendly and welcoming and it is a great place for a drink. There is also a karaoke bar right beside the Ogino on the Enzan bypass, it is called Doremifa and has an alright selection of English music.
FUJIYOSHIDA SHI 富士吉田市
Nestled in the valley under the gaze of Mount Fuji, Fujiyoshida is absolutely beautiful. It is about an hour southeast of Kofu and is easily accessible by car or train.
Transportation: Last bus to Kofu at 6:45 pm and last bus to Tokyo at 8 pm. The Fuji Kyuu line runs to Otsuki. There is no direct train line from Kofu, you have to go to Otsuki and then transfer. Sports and Recreation: Fujiten (ski resort), finishing in lake Kawaguchi, climbing Mount Fuji, Fuji Pines Park, Oshirin Graden, bowling and of course pachinko!!!
Shopping: There is Kamui (sports shop), Uni-qlo (clothing store), Ito Yokado and Bell Shopping Center (department stores), Nojima (electronic shop) and many other small shops.
Food Shopping: Sun Foods, Ito Yokado, Ogino, Ichiyama (x2), Seifu and many mom and pop shops Sites of Interest: Fuji Sengen Shrine, Mount Fuji, and Lake Kawaguchi, Fuji-Q Highland amusement park Other: Fire Festival, August 26-27.
Restaurants: Kaiten sushi; Kappa sushi and Atomboy (recommended), udon shops out the wazoo (55 or more), lots of ramen shops, Yakiniku, Royal Host, Seizariya (pasta joint), Skylark Gusto, Jolly Pasta, Jonathan’s, McDonalds, KFC and Yoshinoya.
Bars/ Pubs: Fujiyama Beer Garden and Micheal’s American Pub, Jun-Bar (jo dan dai o) Area Maps:
See the Fujiyoshida website: http://www.city.fujiyoshida.yamanashi.jp/div/english/html/top.htm Other maps and info on festivals can be obtained at City Hall or the Fujiyoshida visitor center
HAYAKAWA CHO 早川町
Hayakawa is a tiny mountain town down south near Minobu.
Transportation: The closest train station is Hadakajima station and you need a car to get there. Sports and Recreation: Many hiking trails. There is great fishing in the Hayakawa River and camping parks here and there.
Shopping: The closest stores are in Minobu- basic grocery stores, Coma center, pharmacy, gifts, Eastern sized clothes. Masuho Shopping Center has grocery, video, pharmacy, and home goods and is about a 45 minute drive.
Food Shopping: Fujimaki grocery store, see above
Sites of Interest: Many small rural temples and shrines. Shimobe onsen in the next town has many restaurants, shops, onsens, museums, etc.
Restaurants: two izakaiyas in town, one by minami elementary and one by kita elementary.
Other: Nakatomi Hospital in the next town over
ICHIKAWADAIMON CHO 市川大門町
Ichikawadaimon is a small town 30 minutes south of Kofu, famous for washi paper and fireworks. Transportation: The Minobu Line is the only train line into/out of Ichikawa. It originates in Kofu and you can travel quite a distance south, into Fuji city. Only local trains stop at Ichikawahonmachi Station, the first station going south on the Minobu Line from Kofu. Local and express trains stop and Ichikawadaimon Station. The train stations are mere minutes apart from each other and there are no ticket machines at either station. Trains begin running around 5:30 am and the last train towards Kofu leaves at about 11 pm (Ichikawadaikon) and 11:20 pm (Ichikawahonmachi). Heading south, the last train to terminate in Minobu leaves at about 11:20 pm. The last train south going all the way to Fuji leaves at about 9:30 pm. There are often taxis parked as you exit the station at Ichikawadaimon, and sometimes there are taxis at Ichikawahonmachi. There is a pay phone and sign to call taxis at both stations. Sports and Recreation: There is a small lake just outside Ichikawadaimon called Shibireko where YETI has its annual camping trip. Shopping: There are two moderate-sized stores, Kurogune and J-Mart, in Ichikawadaimon. Both are about a 10 minute walk across the town from the train stations. They are similar to WalMart/ Target-type stores in the US. You can find reasonably priced things at both.
Food Shopping: The best supermarket by far is Sun Foods. As you exit Ichikawahonmachi station, turn left and head down the street for about 3 minutes, you will see the large sign in English for Sun Foods. It is attached to a good drug store, too. Recently Sun Foods started carrying a pretty extensive supply of alcohol, too, including different types of beer (mostly Japanese), sake, shochu, wine and various other hard liquors. Sun Foods is open from 10 am to 8 pm most days. There are other supermarkets in Ichikawadaimon, but Sun Foods is the best and the least expensive. There are also a few fresh fruit & vegetable stands on Shopping Street in the middle of town.
Sites of Interest: The most popular festival is the Fireworks Festival held annually on August 7 or 8. Take the Minobu Line to Ichikawadaimon Station and there will be signs, officials, and many, many people to show you where the grounds are. Get there early as most locals stake a claim by the river a full day before the event. In the late afternoon, dozens of festival booths sell food and toys and such. The fireworks begin mid-evening (when it is fully dark) and last for about 2 hours. The fireworks are choreographed to music and are amazing. Often a local Ichikawadaimon lady “hosts” a place for the area JETs to sit, so you might want to contact the Ichikawadaimon JETs. It is definitely worth catching! Get there early as the trains are QUITE crowded before and after the display.
Restaurants: There are only a few restaurants in the town itself. A Yakiniku place at the edge of town is delicious but difficult to get to without a car. It is open from 5:30 to 11 pm. Ichikawa has no bars or pubs that I know of.
ICHINOMIYA CHO 一宮町
Ichinomiya is a peach and grape growing town 25 minutes east of Kofu.
Transportation: The closest train station is either Kasugai or Isawa Onsen on the Chuo line. There are also buses out this way, and schedules for these can be found at the Kofu bus station. To drive to Ichinomiya, take Route 20 from Kofu and head east toward Tokyo. When most signs of city life have disappeared, you have arrived. From Kawaguchiko take 137 north. Sports and Recreation: There is a Blue Earth health club in Isawa next to the McDonalds party bus on Route 20. Ichinomiya Sports Park has a small gym and other facilities.
Shopping: There is a shopping center on Route 20 with a computer store, clothes store, bookstore (no English books), pharmacy, 100 store, sake shop, Ichiyama grocery store, McDonalds, Bamiyan, and Baskin Robbins ice cream.
Food Shopping: The aforementioned Ichiyama. Also Cook Y in Isawa (see map) has a good selection of foreign foods and great fresh vegetable and meat markets.
Sites of Interest: Kanegawa no Mori Park is a great place to hang out. It has nice walking paths and fun stuff for kids and adults. Ichinomiya also has a library. There are shrines here and there, see the website for a walking tour map.
Restaurants: You can see most of the restaurants from Route 20. Ramen and yakiniku shops are everywhere. Other: Where Ichinomiya meets Isawa on Route 20 there is an oasis of love hotels. Prices and quality vary. I recommend the Hotel Ermitage and Amenity 1957, the latter has outdoor private baths. The best rooms at this hotel also have their own private karaoke room!
ISAWA CHO 石和町
Isawa is a large town, catering to the stress-release needs of Yamanashi’s white-collar workers. Love hotels, onsen, and yakusa will inevitably suffice in any discussion about this resort town. Starting in October 2004, Isawa will be the seat of Fuefuki City, composed of Misaka, Ichinomiya, Kasugai, Yatsushiro, and Sakaigawa.
Transportation: Train: Chuo line, Isawa Onsen Station is 2 stops from Kofu station. Some express trains stop here, some don’t, so check the time table. The last train toward Tokyo is at about 11 pm, toward Kofu trains run until almost midnight. The bus connects Isawa with Misaka, Kofu, and Fujiyoshida, Narita Airport and Shinjuku.
Other: Taxis at the station. If you have no transportation other than walking, most things can be found along Ekimae Dori. On a bike the rest can be reached in 15-20 minutes.
Recreation: Onsen: Isawa is famous for onsens and many hotels have them. You can use the onsen without staying the hotel.
Cultural/Library: Schole Center has a library with a decent English section and videos. It also has lots of cultural events and classes. There are teachers for various cultural activities, such as calligraphy, ask the BOE.
Sports: Seiryu-kan has lots of sports to offer, such as karate (for free). Nearby (toward the Schole Center) is a large area of tennis courts. Blue Earth at the intersection of 20 and Ekimae is decent gym with a 25m pool. It has other branches in Higashi-yatsushiro and Kofu. Full membership is 8000 per month.
Sight-seeing and parks: Isawa has some nice spots to find. One of them is a little park near Monde Wine (G on the map). At Seiryu-kan is a nice grassy area. Along Fuefuki River there is a paved path that runs from Yamanashi City all the way to Ichikawadaimon. Around the main Post Office there are some interesting temples. Onsen Dori is beautiful in the spring as the cherries bloom along the canal. People sit outside on special platforms and feast and sing karaoke. This is the hotel area too. Another nice walk is on the other side of 140 toward Kasugai along the river. Leisure: There is a cheap, double-feature cinema off 411 heading toward Misaka. A seedy-looking bowling alley is along the same road as Uniqlo. Monde Wine has the Morpheus Trick Art Museum with its giant Michaelangelo’s David painted on the side. Isawa has many hotels and night-life is geared toward serving hotel clientele.
Shopping: As a large department store, SATY, next to the station, also offers all the following. Clothes: Uniqlo has larger sizes and simple outfits. It is off of Rt. 20. There are many stores along Ekimae Dori. There are shoe stores along Ekimae and over near Family Park. Leisure: Books Amano is on Ekimae Dori across from Carrot (Japanese only). Dean Records has CDs and movies to rent; it’s on Rt. 20. Tsutaya also rents and sells movies and music; it’s down Rt. 20 toward Kofu.
Household: Katakura has everything from cheap furniture to pets. It’s on Rt. 20 across from Uniqlo. There is a houseware store on Ekimae Dori right after Mos Burger. In a rush, there is a hardware store at the intersection of 411 and Ekimae. A craft store is on Sushi Rd. ¥100 store: SATY. There is one much farther down Rt. 20. Other: Family Park, with its Don Quixote, has piles of stuff from body-building protein and perfume to gardening tools and puzzles. It’s an adventure just walking in the flourescent Arab-esque building. There is a toy store along Ekimae Dori below 411. Right near the intersection of 411 and Ekimae there is a Japanese pottery store (on the right heading to Misaka). A computer store is on Sushi Road.
Food Shopping: From Isawa Sta. there is SATY, and then Huga (behind a Chinese restaurant, across from Lawson’s) on the right. After crossing 411, there is a group of food stores, including stores for meat, fish, alcohol, produce, and a large store with foreign foods and bulk food items on the right across from Mos Burger. A Carrot is on the left. Misaka also has a large It’s More near Isawa with lots of food, including foreign. There is a foreign foods section and a grocery store in Family Park as well. There is a bakery in SATY, a cake shop (Misawa) across from the main post office, and another small bakery along 411 near the post office. Cook Y is an international food store in a complex that also has a fruit and vegetable shop. It’s on the main drag on the right as you go towards Route 20.
Restaurants: There are too many to count, but here’s a few. SATY has a number of cheap restaurants in it. Japanese: If you want hoto but don’t want to go to Kofu, on Ekimae Dori, south of 411, is the same restaurant as near Kofu Station. It has a big waterwheel outside. On Ekimae Dori, one block north of 411 is a decent Japanese restaurant. Across the street and down the side street is a soba restaurant. Take the first left from the station and there is a small Japanese-style restaurant at the next intersection. Along Rt. 20 and 140 are numerous small places to find ramen and curry and rice bowls. Sushi: ¥100 sushi is along Rt. 20. Another cozy kaiten place, whose owner speaks decent English (when she’s around) is Ebisu along Rt. 140. There is another sushi place along Sushi Rd. Western and foreign: On the left on Ekimae Dori heading toward Rt 20 is a Skylark. At the intersection of Rt. 20 is McDonald’s. Along Rt. 20 is Johnathan’s. Along the Sushi Road is Saizeriya and Jolly Pasta, which has excellent pasta. There is also Bel Marine for really special nights out, and Red Lobster if you miss Western-style seafood. At the intersection of 411 and Sushi Rd are McDonald’s and Denny’s. Up the road toward Rt. 20 is Maharani where you can get different kinds of curry. There is also a German restaurant called Bier Krug that is hard to find close to Kasugai (see map). West Mountain is a good place for burgers or curry rice. Get-it-to-go: HokkaHokka-Ben is on Ekimae Dori on the left just after crossing 411. Right after that is Mos Burger.
Festivals: In April is the re-enaction of the Battle of Kawanakajima. You can dress up as a samurai and take part. In August is the Kachiu Festival celebrating the history of comorant fishing and culminating in the huge Fireworks Festival. There are also festivals celebrating the first sign of fruits.
KASUGAI CHO 春日居町
Kasugai is the home of 7,000 friendly folks and is situated between Isawa and Yamanashi shi, east of Kofu. Transportation: Kasugai is 3 stops from Kofu on the Chuo line. Trains run regularly. Sports and Recreation: There is Blue Earth sports gym in both Isawa and Yamanashi shi. See firstname.lastname@example.org Shopping: Kasugai is quiet, so I generally go to Kofu or Isawa for shopping. There is an Ogino and a Huga in Kasugai. Food Shopping: 2 supermarkets, 16 and 24 on the map; 3 convenience stores, 6,21, and 22 on the map; other food shops 9 and 15; bakery 17. For foreign food I go to Cook Y in Isawa. Sites of Interest: Kasugai itself is a peach and grape orchard, but it’s not far to drive to sites of interest in Isawa, Yamanashi shi and Kofu. Restaurants: West Mountain, burgers and curry, 10 on map; Bierkrug, German restaurant, 19 on map; take out bentos 27 on map. Website: http://www5.ocn.ne.jp/~kasugai/
KOFU SHI 甲府市
Kofu is the capital city of Yamanashi ken, covering a large area and with a population of half a million.
Sports and Recreation: WIN Sports Club Iida 3-2-44, KOFU tel:055-237-1411 Midoriga Oka Park ・ Swimming Pool
Shopping Mall: GRANPARK in Kokubo , Ito Yokado. Eclan (music store @ 4F) , Yamako and Okajima are all within walking distance of Kofu station.
Food Shopping: COOK Y in Isawa has foreign food
Restaurants: Japanese> WAKAZUSHI , Kofu-shi; Kokubo 8-3-11 tel: 055-225-2228 Chinese> BAMIYAN; Italian> BAROLO , Kofu, Kitaguchi2-3-5 ; tel:055-252-0905 French> CASSEROLE, tel: 055-232-7992 Thai> Buwalluang , Kofu, Kamiishida1-17-2 tel:055-225-0647 Indian> New Maman Pumpkin tel:055-275-6306 ・ SURYA -tel: 055-227-6979 Brazilian> San BAR , Minami Alps ; tel:055-285-1912 Korean> BOKURI, Kofu, takeda2-7-20 tel:0120-141292
English maps of Kofu and Yamanashi can be purchased at the International Center in Kofu. Website: http://www.city.kofu.yamanashi.jp/ Japanese top^
KOSAI CHO, MINAMI ALPS SHI 南アルプス市
Kosai is a quaint part of Minami Alps city with lots of history and beautiful scenery.
Transportation: Buses: The buses usually leave every 30 minutes and go on Route 52 to Kofu. The last bus from Kofu is at 8:45 pm. The journey from Kosai to Kofu takes 45 minutes. There is no train station in Kosai. The nearest one is Higashi Hanawa, about 10 minutes by car or 25 minutes by bike. It is directly east of Kosai.
Sports and Recreation: There is a great onsen at Yamanami. This is tucked into the south east corner of Kosai, near to Cainz Home. At Yamanami there are also some tennis courts and a grassed area to stroll about on. There are some hiking trails near to Lake Inagako, to the west of Kosai. The lake is good for a stroll and nearby are some great views of the Kofu basin and Mount Fuji on a clear day. For other sports, Kushigata, the next town north, has a good swimming pool which isn’t too busy, and also Blue Earth, part of a chain of gyms.
Shopping: In Kosai, there is an Okajima, a big superstore, which has most things you need to eat or drink. They have a good selection of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you want some other useful stuff for the apartment, Cainz Home is the best place to go. It seems to have every useful thing you can think of. For value, try Trial just up the road in Kushigata. It works out cheaper than Okajima and sells stuff for the house too. Just behind Trial in Kushigata, there is a complex which houses restaurants, a Max Valu superstore and a decent CD store.
Food Shopping: The fruit is usually good at Okajima, but you can try Kawasumi on Route 52 for the smaller, more intimate food shopping experience. Okajima and Trial are starting to stock more foreign foods. Sites of Interest: Around Kosai, there are many small temples and shrines which can be found on a refreshing walk around the beautiful orchards. Andoke is a traditional Japanese house in the south east of the town, tying in with the history of Takeda Shingen in Yamanashi.
Restaurants: Near to the onsen at Yamanani, there is a restaurant called Kawa, which is traditional Japanese food at a decent price. They give good portions. There is a fantastic sweet shop called Nagasakiya on a corner of Route 52, where the staff are friendly (they sit you down for a cup of Japanese tea) and the sweets are tasty.
Bars / Pubs: Near to Kosai Junior High School, under a place called Kosai Residence, there is a small bar and often they have karaoke nights. Good for a few beers and sake.
Other: Ogihara Clinic is near to Kosai Junior High School. They don’t speak English but are very efficient and sympathetic. No map available.
KUSHIGATA, MINAMI ALPS SHI 南アルプス市
Kushigata is only 40 minutes south of Kofu. Its irises are one of a kind!
Transportation: There is no train line to Kushigata so the only way to get there is by bus. Buses run from Kofu through Kushigata to Kajikazawa. Bus times change often so please check the most recent timetable. Currently the last one leaving Kofu for Kushigata is at 9:30 pm. The last one to leave for Kofu is at 8:30 pm. It takes about 40 minutes and costs 650 each way.
Sports and Recreation: In Kushigata Park there is an athletics track, baseball field, local swimming pool and a playground for children. There is also a Blue Earth sports club in the centre of town, as well as a bowling alley, boxing school, and a karaoke place. Kushigata Yama offers a lot of hiking and walking opportunities. Lake Inagako is situated about halfway up the mountain and is particularly scenic in autumn. There are cabins for rent and an Italian restaurant by the lake.
Shopping: TRIAL is a 24 hr. supermarket but it has numerous floors and also sells clothes, electronics etc. It’s quite cheap. Minami Alps Garden: This new shopping complex is next to Trial. It has the following shops and restaurants: Daiso (a huge 100 shop), Nishimatsuya (children’s clothes shop), Passport (a funky shop with imported homeware), ABC Mart (shoe shop), Sun Drug (drug store), Max Value (cheap supermarket open until midnight), Docomo Shop, Tsutaya (CD & DVD and Books), Megane Store (opticians), Hair Salon, Koko Ichibankan (curry house), Kizoku-no-mori (spaghetti restaurant), KFC Food Shopping: Ogino, Max Value and TRIAL (see above).
Sites of Interest: Kushigata Art Museum has exhibits from 1886-1960. Yabusame is the spring festival held in May where people on horseback perform traditional fighting sports. Kushigata Yama is beautiful in the summer when it’s covered in irises. Many people come to climb the mountain in July.
Restaurants: Denny’s, Big Boy, Bamiyan Chinese, Foresta (Italian), KFC , Koko Ichibankan (curry house), Kizoku-no-mori (spaghetti restaurant) Bars/ Pubs: not much of a night life
MAKIOKA CHO 牧丘町
Conveniently located in the mountains north of Enzan, Makioka is the definition of accessible inaka. Transportation: The nearest train station is Enzan. We have taxis and buses (few). Trains stop/start running from Enzan at about 11pm. Taxis wait for the last trains to unload, generally. Sports and Recreation: There are two great onsens: Hanakage no Yuu and Tsutsumigawa Onsen, both fully equipped with saunas and rotenburos. Hanakage no Yuu is a mere 7-8 minute taxi ride from Enzan station. The more scenic Tsutsumigawa Onsen is tucked away in the surrounding hills of Makioka and takes 20 minutes from Enzan station by taxi. Both hot springs run 500 a head, that includes 3 hours of steeping time. Shopping: There is very little shopping to be done here. Food Shopping: Makioka has one soba shop called Kikuya. The food is quite good and the atmosphere cozy. Makioka is also a great place for purchasing those fatty grapes called Kyoho. You can snip them off of the vine yourself. Yum. Sites of Interest: On the way to Tsutsumigawa Onsen is Kuon-ji Temple. An excellent temple with an amazing array of Buddhist statues. A serious power spot. Makioka also hosts a great spot conducive to privacy and/or romance. FuFu Orchard is touted as a great weekend hide-away. Haven’t been myself but have seen it on the tube. It looks very quiet and I hear the food is great. I`m guessing that one night with meals would run around 15,000. Restaurants: No restaurants besides the one at the FuFu Orchard. No map available.
MINOBU CHO 身延町
In the deep south of Yamanashi, Minobu has breathtaking scenery and is home to Kuonji temple, an important site for the Nichiren Buddhist sect. Transportation: The Minobu Line runs north to Kofu and south to Fuji. Buses to Minobu san housing Kuonji temple run irregularly from the station. Sports and Recreation: Onsen left hand side on your way up to Kuonji Temple. You can hike to the top of Minobu san. There is a gym with pool at COMA (see below). Shopping: You can get most things at COMA. Food Shopping: There is another grocery store, liquor store, and department store located on Route 52 towards Kofu. Sites of Interest: Minobu is best known for Minobu san where Kuonji Temple is located. This is the headquarters for Nichiren Buddhism. You can see Mt. Fuji from the top of Minobu san on a clear day. Restaurants: There are mainly Japanese restaurants in Minobu. There are a couple of Chinese and Italian restaurants at COMA. Website: http://www.town.minobu.yamanashi.jp/
MISAKA CHO 御坂町
A relaxed rural lifestyle makes Misaka a pleasant place to visit. It is 25 minutes southeast of Kofu. Transportation: Buses - only buses- first about 7 am last about 7:30 pm. It’s about a 15 minute drive from Isawa Onsen Station. In the Misaka 30 year plan, a train line will eventually be build to Kawaguchi-ko, but I’m not holding my breath. Sports and Recreation: It’s rural, the farther you drive on 137 the more rural, so you can “hike” were ever you want. Shopping: There is no shopping in Misaka. I bought sandals at the Tekawa department store once, that’s across from the bank and the Kobayashi Liquor store, but the sandals brought immense amounts of laughter from my BOE so I don’t wear them anymore. Food Shopping: Selva is a gift from God! It’s a big grocery store on 137 across form the 7-11. Lots of foreign food options reasonably priced. Sites of Interest: There is a thatched roof house in my neighborhood. I show you where it is for a small fee. Restaurants: Soba, udon, tempura, ramen, soba, udon, tempura, ramen, soba, udon, tempura, ramen…. Bars/ Pubs: It’s a family place, except for one building that could possibly be a brothel, but I’m not sure. Other: The Shinohara Clinic will gladly diagnose you with tonsillitis for the small fee of 2500yen. No map available. Website: http://www.town.misaka.yamanashi.jp/
NANBU CHO 南部町
The second southernmost town in the ken doesn’t have much but the people are friendly! Transportation: There are local buses running in Nanbu and the nearest train station is Utsubuna station near the Board of Education on the other side of the river. The Minobu line runs north to Kofu from 5:30 am until about 22:30 pm, and also south to Fuji from 7 am until 9:30 pm, both express and local trains. Sports and Recreation: The local sports centre in Nanbu is called Arukadia. It has tennis courts, baseball grounds, a pool, gym, sports hall, etc. Membership is 5000 and 7500 for 3 months for Nanbu residents and nonresidents, respectively. Shopping: Nanbu is a pretty small and spread out town so small convenience stores can be found in most places. The main shopping street is just down from the junior high school. There is a photo shop, 2 or 3 food shops, a chemist, stationary store, clothes shop, and a home store. Food Shopping: The main supermarket I have found is in Utsubuna near the station and BOE. There are other small shops on the main street and throughout the town. There is a great vegetable & fruit shop right next to the station. No foreign food stores. Sites of Interest: Although it’s a small place there is still quite a bit to do here. There is a beautiful temple right next door to the ALT’s house. The big event for the year is the Fire Festival in August. There is also a small but good park on top of a hill overlooking the town…very relaxing but can only be reached by fit cyclist or car! Restaurants: There are numerous small restaurants in Nanbu, all are Japanese. My favorite one is on Route 52 between Nanbu and Tomizawa called Fougi. Bars/ Pubs: Beer is served in restaurants. Other: There is a small Christian church on the main street opposite the bank. Ask for Midori her English is fab! Dentist: Kiriko’s is great! 0556-64-4182 Doctor: Nanbu Health Clinic is just around the corner from the ALT’s house Website: http://www.town.nanbu.yamanashi.jp/ Japanese top^
NAGASAKA CHO 長坂町
see SUTAMA CHO
NIRASAKI SHI 韮崎市 (heart of Kai)
Three stops west of Kofu, Nirasaki offers lots of interesting things to do.
Transportation: (4) Chuo freeway- you can take it north to Nagano or south to Kofu (16) Nirasaki train station is big enough to have express trains stop there. It takes 1 hour 45 minutes to Shinjuku and 15 minutes to Kofu, 230 one way. (25) One-way tunnel- this road is a short cut to avoid going around the hill. Note: the tunnel is not lighted and only one car at a time. (26) Main tunnel- use this tunnel to travel to the heart of the city. (40) Yamanote Dori- during rush hour this could be your best bet to get to Kofu
Sports and Recreation: Chuo Park is an excellent choice for a picnic, jog, or walk. Every Sunday there is a miniature train that you can ride on for a small fee that takes you around the park. (5) Dean Video has a large selection of rental videos, CDs, and DVDs albeit expensive. (22) Video House costs half that of Dean Video. (15) Nirasaki Community and Library Center is a quiet place to read. You can sign up here for city sponsored Japanese culture classes such as Japanese calligraphy or cooking.
Shopping: (7) Kuroganeya- buy your kitchen and work equipment here. (8) Nojima Electronics- flat screen TVs, VCRs, etc. (19) Itoyokado Shopping Mall. (23) Shimura discount clothing store. (27) Konaka- semi-formal men’s clothing. They custom fit and tailor your formal wear at very affordable prices. (37) New York- stocks everything from Levis to grandma’s knitted jumpers. Worth a look whilst you’re picking up beer and a video.
Food Shopping: (3) Ogino shopping center- best grocery store in the city. You can also find organic grown products here. (9) Super Yamato grocery store. (34) 7-11. (38) Beer wholesaler- another chain store, has a reward point system, good for wine, spirits, snacks, etc. (39) Off-license is of note for it’s wide selection of decent wines. Also stocks some specialty beers from the UK and Europe. Sites of Interest: (18) Buddhist Goddess of Mercy Statue: the drive up is nice, the view up there is great!
Restaurants: (1) Alps Ramen has absolutely stellar ramen, gyoza, and liver! (2) Midori Restaurant is a family owned Japanese place with excellent food and service. The maguro and unagi-don is fresh and delicious. If you are a regular you can expect free coffee or even dessert! (6) Denny’s is a good place for coffee and dessert. (10) Bamiyan serves decent Chinese food. (11) Pizza Family (22-2121) delivers very good pizza. (12) Okubo is a cute, quaint restaurant with friendly owners. The food is unique with an international theme, and the quality is top notch, though service is very slow. (13) En Izakaya is the best in town. Trendy and always busy, they have the best oyster dish in Yamanashi! (14) Udon shop- the owner Hideo speaks English. Great udon! (24) Yakiniku Sakai has great Korean BBQ at affordable prices. (31) Ramen 1 has a wide selection of ramen (32) Ramen 2 is a good landmark for giving directions for people coming on Route 20… (36) Yakiniku- small cozy establishment similar to the other yakiniku place, within talking distance from the station. Other: (17) City Hall has the Board of Ed on the second floor. (21) Self car wash (28) Nirasaki Arts Hall has performances from plays to concerts. (29) Pharmacy- you can get prescriptions filled until 5 pm. (30) Video Hire has a huge selection of classics as well as new releases. (33) Rougetsudo Book Shop has a good solid magazine selection. (35) Hospital- doctors are not in on Sunday. (41/42) Yamanashi Chuo Bank- SHS employees in Yamanashi have an account here because it is the only place your pay check can be deposited. It is only in Yamanashi so plan ahead when you travel outside the ken. Cash machines open at 8 am and close at 7pm, but outside working hours you will pay a surcharge. (43) Orthopedic Hospital specializing in bones and such, “handy” if you need it. Website: http://www.city.nirasaki.yamanashi.jp/
NISHIKATSURA CHO 西桂町
Nishikatsura cho is just north of Fujiyoshida and is great place for hiking. Transportation: "The kokudo" as Nishikatsurans call Road 139, is the only major road in town, linking Nishikatsura with Fujiyoshida to the southwest, and Tsuru to the northeast. Directions are given in relation to the kokudo. There is a train station in town, Mitsutouge Station. It is on the Fujikyu line which connects Fujiyoshida to the junction at Otsuki. From the Otsuki Junction, one can transfer to the Chuo Line, which is one of the main train lines in Eastern Japan, connecting Tokyo and Nagoya, via Kofu. There is also a Keio Highway Bus stop in town, on the Chuo Expressway. The bus stop is inconvenient, with no parking, but can be an easy and cheap way to get to Shinjuku. It is both cheaper and faster than the trains, and comes about every 30 minutes to 1 hour during daylight hours. Information in Japanese can be found at https://www.highwaybus.com. Also, the Chuo Expressway passes through town. The nearest on- and off-ramps are in Tsuru, about 15 minutes away. But, from the entrance to the Expressway, Hachioji, a major station on the outskirts of Tokyo, is only 30 minutes away, and Kofu is only 40. Sports and Recreation: There are few entertainment options in Nishikatsura, unless you count the large pachinko parlors on either end of town. There are no workout gyms, movie theaters, video stores, book stores, coffee shops, libraries, or shopping areas. There are a couple of pretty parks in town; Mt.Mitsutouge provides some nice hikes. There is also a "sports ground" on the outskirts of town, which has softball and soccer fields. Also, Mitsutouge Green Center, at the base of Mt. Mitsutouge, has tennis courts, an artificial onsen, and often serves as an activity center. Shopping: There are numerous corner stores and little food markets in town, so with a little effort one can do all of one's shopping within the town limits. There is one nice second-hand store (rare for Yamanashi) which mostly sells used clothes. However, for laundry facilities, video rentals, electronics, books, or major groceries, one will have to go to Tsuru or Fujiyoshida. Without a car, the easiest way to do major shopping is to take the train to Fujiyoshida station, where there is a 100-yen store, a grocery store, a department store, and restaurants nearby. Sites of Interest: In Nishikatsura, the main attraction is Mt. Mitsutouge (literally "Three Peaks"). There is a hiking trail to the top, which is popular from May to October. It's a 4.5km climb, and usually takes 2-3 hours at a fairly easy pace, but it's also quite steep. From the top, there is an unbeatable view of Mt. Fuji, though the famous mountain can be seen from anywhere in town. Restaurants: There are several run-of-the-mill izakayas in town; none of which are worth going out of your way to visit. Shuu is purportedly the best of the bunch, and is often busy. It's on the right side of the kokudo as you head southwest towards Fujiyoshida, just before crossing into Fujiyoshida. Other: The major businesses in Nishikatsura are textile plants (which look like Japanese houses, but if you put your ear to the wall, you can hear the textile mills whirring inside), and Mt. Fuji Water, which bottles water to be sold across Japan. The town's home page is at: http://www.town.nishikatsura.yamanashi.jp/navi/default.htm, and the Middle School's home page is at: http://junior.town.nishikatsura.yamanashi.jp/index.html . Also, I have a Nishikatsura page on my website, which includes pictures of the town. It's at http://www.microchipbrain.com/microchipbrain/peter .
OTSUKI SHI 大月市
45 minutes east of Kofu, ‘Big Moon’ is the gateway to Fuji and Tokyo. Transportation: Trains: Otsuki to Kofu is 820 yen one way; Otsuki to Shinjuku is 1280 yen one way, but you can use the JR train one day Holiday Pass・2300 yen. Taxis outside train station. Recreation: Lots of hiking including Mount Iwatono plus a nice river. City Hall has interesting classes including Yoga 2500 yen/month. The nearest gym is in Torisawa, 5 minutes by train. There is a fantastic library with Internet access, and a shrine next to library. Dentist and Doctor Hotteiin’s drop in surgery open until 5 pm, a few minutes from the station. Also Yamaha music school. Shopping: There is a Daiei Supermarket plus many fresh fruit shops. Haidressers Tomi opposite Otsuki City Hall- excellent- 4200 yen for cut blow dry. You can just turn up usually. Also a Docomo shop opposite Daiei Going Out: There are two Italian restaurants: Addagios opposite station and Mustaccios behind Daiei, plus Izikakayas around the main street including one opposite the station, and pub Aladdin opposite station. Karaoke Doremifa a few minutes left of Daiei. Otsuki Festival 1st August, and Hanami viewing at the top of Iwadtono san during Spring Website: http://www.city.otsuki.yamanashi.jp/
ROKUGO CHO 六郷町
Rokugo cho is a small town on the way to Minobu from Kofu famous for making inkan, or seals. Transportation: Minobu line, last trains to Kofu and Fuji about 11 pm, from Kofu and Fuji about 9:30 pm. Sports and
Recreation: One new onsen, badminton club, kendo, shodo, etc are available but you have to know people to get involved with them Food Shopping: small supermarket/ Lawsons Sites of Interest: A great temple complex on the hill above the town. Restaurants: Standard Japanese izakaiya/ yakiniku/ sushi fare Bars/ Pubs: snack bars and izakaiya No map available. Website: http://www.town.rokugo.yamanashi.jp/ J
One stop West on the Chuo line from Kofu, Ryuo looks and feels like a suburb of the prefecture’s capital. Despite being heavily built-up and cursed with dreadful traffic on Route 20, it does have some of the best shopping in Yamanashi as well as the delightful Dragon Park with wonderful views of Fuji and the Minami Alps. Transportation: Last train to Kofu at 23:47 and last train to Ryuo from Kofu is at 23:55. Ryuo is the next stop west towards Nirasaki from Kofu. Buses are too infrequent to bother with. An average taxi fare to Ryuo from Kofu station is around 2600 yen. You can catch an Express train to Shinjuku at 07:02 and 08:06 which is convenient as it avoids having to change at Kofu. You can also catch the bus to Narita and Haneda airports from the railway station car park. Sports and Recreation: Dragon Park is located on Route 20 (c.f. BIG SIGN u cant miss it!) on the way to Nirasaki. A couple of gyms are located on the stretch from Gran Park to the Yakuba (town hall). Depending on traffic, Kosei Sports Koen (Tennis, gym, running track, martial arts etc) is a 15-20 minute car ride or 30-40 minute cycle from Ryuo. Otherwise, there’s a decent cinema at Gran Park, ten-pin bowling and games center. There are also batting cages in the Gran Park area and a fairly cheap driving range next to Ryuo station. Shopping: Sports Alpen (brilliant), D2 (bargain home store), Yamada Denki (best one in Yamanashi) and Book Off are all on the Route 20 stretch from Gran Park to Ryuo townhall. Gran Park in Showa has a great Toys ‘r ‘Us, CD shop and Uni Qlo to name a few. Food Shopping: Pax, Yamato, Ogino (technically in Shikishima but not too far), Ito Yokado and Gran Park in Showa. Sites of Interest: The Yamanashi Prefectural art museum is on Route 52 heading towards Ryuo. The town’s festival in October is worth checking out too. Restaurants: Sushi Ondo, McDonalds, Gusto, Yoshinoya, Sukiya Gyudon, a Yaki niku next to Go-Hei izakaya and a wicked Chinese restaurant in a yellow building (next to Yoshinoya) and a ton of other restaurants in the GranPark area are all on or around Route 20. Bremen is homely western-style restaurant on the road to Shikishima. There are also a few Thai, Indian and Houtou restaurants opposite the art museum. Bars/ Pubs: Go-Hei izakaya is a lively, trendy young thing’s bar on the road from the station to route 20. They do great, if expensive, food as well. Bar Two is near the Yakuba and hosts hip-hop and club nights. Web site: http://www.town.ryuo.yamanashi.jp/index2.shtml top^
SUTAMA CHO 須玉町 and NAGASAKA CHO 長坂町
Also featuring Kobuchizawa 小淵沢and Kiyosato 清里 Sutama is 45 minutes northwest of Kofu. Boasting beautiful rural scenery, a gorgeous mountain and wonderful people, it’s well worth a Saturday visit. Kiyosato is known all over for its famous soft cream! Transportation: Nagasaka: there is a station on the Chuo line, and there are regular trains to Kofu. The express train doesn’t stop here. The last train from Kofu is about 12 midnight. There is a taxi stand outside the station. Sutama: no train station, the nearest is Hinoharu or Anayama. The Chuo expressway runs from Kofu up to this area. Sports and Recreation: Nagasaka has a sports center for local clubs but no pool. Sutama has a new sports center with a gym, pool, and hot bath. Kiyosato is a tourist spot in the very north of Yamanashi. Lots of camping, hiking, and skiing at KITZ. In autumn it hosts the Paul Rusch Festival with entertainment and craft sales. Kobuchizawa has an ice skating rink, hiking, and a small ski slope called Fujiyama Panorama. Masutomi has a famous onsen and good hiking. Shopping: Kobuchizawa has an outlet shopping centre. Nagasaka has the largest grocery store in the area- Kirara City. There is a huge J-Mart next to it. Sutama has a store called Yamato. The supermarkets sell alcohol. Food Shopping: see above. Also look for stalls on the side of small roads. They usually sell local fruit and vegetables for decent prices. Please use the honesty box if no one is there. Sites of Interest: Nagasaka Art Gallery is a round red brick building with a small gallery and workshops. Akeno Flower Centre near Sutama has lots of nice flowers! Kiyosato KMOPA photography gallery. Kiyosato KEEP Environment Education Project has a museum and hosts events…they have great ice cream! Restaurants: Gusto Family Restaurant and Bamiyan in Sutama. Lots of Japanese ramen and sushi shops off Route 141. The Rock in Kiyosato has great Western food. There is an Italian place called Oishii Gakko near Nagasaka off 141 towards Kiyosato. . Bars/ Pubs: Sutama has two strip bars…dodgy.
Websites: Sutama: http://www.town.sutama.yamanashi.jp/ Japanese, but connected to translation software Nagasaka: http://www.yatsu.gr.jp/ngs/ Japanese Kobuchizawa: http://www.yatsu.gr.jp/kbc/ Japanese Kiyosato: Check out the KEEP homepage at http://www.keep.or.jp/
YAMAMIYA CHO 山宮町
Yamamiya is in north Kofu, known for onsen and the hustle and bustle of Yamanote Street.
Transportation: At the corner of Yamanote Dori and Yumura Dori is a taxi kiosk. Kofu really isn’t that far away. Walking from Yamamiya takes about an hour (trust me…I learned this the hard way). Taxis take about 25 to 30 minutes depending on the traffic and usually costs anywhere from 1500 to 1800. Your best bet is to buy a scooter or bike. These are just handy to cut out all the traffic by navigating easily through the back streets. While this may be a more costly option at first, in the long run it will save you a LOT of time. It usually takes me only 15 minutes to get into Kofu on my motor bike. Yamanote Dori is a pretty busy main street so you should have NO problem finding a taxi or bus. Buses come very regularly. Prices depend on where you are going. If you live in Yamamiya-cho you are pretty much exactly half way in between Kofu train station and Ryuo train station. Sports and Recreation: Yamamiya-cho really isn’t that exciting of a place. However, right next to it is the Yumura Onsen Village. It is said to be one of the oldest villages in Yamanashi. Head west on Yamanote Dori from Kofu Station, after about 25 to 30 minutes you will see the Tokiwa Hotel on your left. You can’t miss it. It’s the only traditional Japanese ryokan style hotel on this street. Turn right on the street right next to it. This is Yumura Dori and along this street are various onsen. Some are great (about 1000) and others are less (600). Also, since this village is nestled at the foot of some hills, there are a few really cool hiking trails. Along Yumura Dori you will eventually come across the Entakuji Temple. Start your hike here and follow the path behind the temple up the mountain. You can get a GREAT view of the Yamanashi valley below. Occasionally, if it isn’t too cloudy, Mt. Fuji can even be seen from the top. Shopping: Probably the easiest place to go shopping would be to just suck it up and go into Kofu. However, if you are really in a tight bind and need something quick there is the local OGINO to suite your needs. It is right on Yamanote Dori. It’s not only a grocery store but ALSO a small department store. You can buy anything from food, to clothes, to bedding, to kotatsus here. And it’s relatively inexpensive. Food Shopping: Of course, there is the local OGINO supermarket on Yamanote Dori. They have everything there. A simple foreign food section (they have taco kits). But if you really want a better selection, go into Kofu to Midas or Okajima. In Yamamiya-cho you will also find a COOP small grocery store. It’s very simple, but convenient…if only a tad pricey. Sites of Interest: In Yamamiya-cho the Entakuji Temple. Every year in January they have a festival here. The closest museum is the Yamanashi Prefectural Art Museum in Ryuo. It takes about 30 minutes to get there by bike, but it is great. Restaurants: Lucky for you, Yamanote Dori is littered with fast food places, and family restaurants. Within a 10 to 20 minute bike ride you will come across Denny’s, Jonathan’s, KFC, McDonald’s, MOS Burger, and Gusto/Skylark. Also along Yamanoto Dori you will find many bars and izakayas to choose from. There’s a nice sushi restaurant across from Tsutaya video rental store heading west on Yamanote Dori. There is a wonderful (albeit expensive) French restaurant up on the hill behind Yamamiya-cho, called Crepes Creule. It has a nice outdoor deck with tables and chairs, which is perfect to go to on a hot summer evening for dessert. I wouldn’t recommend dinner there, though, unless you want to shell out a ton of money. But it’s nice and fancy and an excellent place to go on special occasions. Finally, across the street from the Yamanashi Prefectural Art Museum are wonderful Indian and Pakistani restaurants. Bars/Pubs: You can find some Japanese pubs and bars along Yamanote Dori, but to tell you the truth, it’s better just to go into Kofu for this. Website: see Kofu’s website
YAMANASHI SHI 山梨市
Yamanashi shi is a small city 20 minutes northeast of Kofu. Our prefecture’s namesake is famous for peaches, grapes, and plums and has several outstanding onsen. Transportation: 4 stops from Kofu on the Chuo line, you can catch a taxi at the station. Sports and Recreation: Blue Earth gym on the way to Enzan. There are several onsen- Hottarakashi onsen is in the Fruits Park, at the very very top. It closes at 10pm, 500. Fuefikigawa onsen is on Route 140 towards Makioka on the right, costs 700, closes at 10 pm. Hatsuhana onsen is near Yamanashi Kita Elementary School. Shopping: Near the station there is a Dean Records and next to that a thrift shop. The new Ogino complex has a Hard Off and 100 store. Food Shopping: Ryukyo is near the station behind the Family Mart. I tend to walk the extra 3 minutes to Ichiyama. Sites of Interest: The Fruit Park is nice. Also Manriki Park has a wee zoo. Restaurants: Yoronotaki Izakaiya is past the station on the right with black and red writing. Fujiya Italian is next to the Yamanashi Chuo Bank. Kitahachi is next to Yoronotaki, great Chinese food and hoto! There is a Dairy Queen at Huga, but this is far from the station. Bars/ Pubs: L-River is owned by Ogawa san and is a great place to go for a drink. Turn left from the station and walk for one minute, it’s on your left. They also serve mixed pizza and other snack foods. No map available. Website: http://www.city.yamanashi.yamanashi.jp/ Japanese top^
YATSUSHIRO CHO 八代町 ・ SAKAIGAWA MURA 境川村 Yatsushiro is a quiet town immediately southeast of Kofu. Transportation: Yatsushiro is not serviced by any train system. The nearest train station is Isawa-onsen. A taxi from Isawa-onsen to Yatsushiro Town Office will cost approximately 2000 one way. There is a taxi company based in Yatsushiro. Yatsushiro is serviced by buses, the No. 90 service from Kofu. Budget on approximately 500-600 for Kofu Station to Yatsushiro one way and approximately 400 for Isawa - Yatsushiro. The last bus to leave Yatsushiro is well before 6pm. The earliest bus from Kofu is between 6.30 – 7.00 am. Timetables change, so please check with the bus company! Sports and Recreation: There is little to attract