Yamanashi prefecture (山梨県 Yamanashi-ken) is in the central Chubu region of the main Japanese island Honshu. Just hours from Tokyo by bus, train, or car, Yamanashi is good for a day trip from the big city and allows travelers to experience the "inaka" (rural) Japan. Yamanashi's major city, Kofu, lies at the center of this bowl-shaped prefecture, with some of Japan's most famous mountains rising along the horizon. On a clear day, a visitor can see Mt. Fuji to the south, Japan's second highest peak Kitadake and the majestic Minami Alps to the west, and the eight fractured peaks of Yatsugatake to the north. Yamanashi offers a wealth of cultural experiences and outdoor excursions to those searching for the offbeat side of Japan. Most foreign visitors overlook Yamanashi, but this small prefecture might be the ideal destination for a traveler tired of Tokyo's crowds.
- Kofu - the prefectural capital
- Otsuki - small city near Tokyo, with good hiking possibilities
- Hokuto - small city near Nagano
- Fuji Yoshida - small city at the foot of Mount Fuji. Famous for its amusement park, fire festival and as a starting point for Fuji climbs.
You can access Yamanashi by two lines of Chuo Line (中央線) and Minobu Line(身延線). The Chuo Line come from Tokyo,Shinjuku and Matsumoto while the Minobu Line comes from Shizuoka. From Shizuoka you can connect to the Shinkansen and can be used to access Osaka and Nagoya.
Other than Kofu station(甲府駅), other principal stations on the super express trains are Otsuki station (大月駅), Kobuchizawa station (小淵沢駅), and Minobu station(身延駅).
The super express trains of the Chuo line are the Kaiji (かいじ), Azusa(あずさ), and Super Azusa(スーパーあずさ). The fastest of these trains runs from Shinjuku to Kofu in just 1 hour 25 minutes. Compared to the highway bus, it is much faster, but also much more expensive. Tokyo station and Chiba station are accessible via Shinjuku.
Matsumoto station can only be accessed on the Azusa(あずさ) and Super Azusa(スーパーあずさ) and Kaiji (かいじ) only runs to Kofu station and Ryuo station.
The super express of the Minobu line is called the Fujikawa(ふじかわ). Each day, it makes 7 round trip runs between Kofu Station(甲府駅) and Shizuoka Station(静岡駅) in approximately 2 hours.
Highway bus services link Kofu to other cities, Shinjuku, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya. 4 different companies make these runs. They are the Yamanashikotsu, Keio, Fujikyukou, and Kintetsu bus companies. Bus service may be cheaper, but the train is generally much faster and, other than of the route which goes to Shinjuku, are comparably fewer in number.
Long-distance buses use terminals in Kofu Station (甲府駅) and Fujiyoshida Station (富士吉田駅). From Kofu Station you can take buses to Shinjuku, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, Narita Airport(成田空港 NRT), and Haneda Airport(羽田空港 HND). Fujiyoshida station (富士吉田駅), has bus service to and from Shinjuku, Tokyo, Kyoto Station(Hachijo), and Osaka.
Most points in Yamanashi can be reached by the JR Chuo or JR Minobu train lines, with Kofu Station as a transportation hub for the prefecture. The southeast part of the prefecture is accessible by the private Fuji Kyu line which connects to the Chuo line at Otsuki. The Fuji Kyu line is notoriously slow and expensive, but is only way to access Fuji Yoshida at the base of Mt. Fuji without a car except for busses.
Most cities throughout the prefecture have local bus lines in addition to trains.
Though there is public transportation, Yamanashi is quite rural and a car is the best way to see the more far flung corners of the prefecture.
One of the most visited places in the Yamanashi prefecture is Mount Fuji, Japan's highest and most famous peak. The northern half of Mount Fuji is located in Yamanashi. Also frequently visited is the Fuji Five Lakes Region, which is located at the foot of Mount Fuji. The names of the five lakes are: Kawaguchi, Yamanaka, Sai, Shoji and Motosu. In this area, people like to go hiking, camping, and fishing. There is also a popular amusement park there, Fujikyu Highlands.It stands 12,290 feet tall. The 124-acre park has 33 rides, 9 restaurants, 12 snack bars, 17 tennis courts, and 20 bowling alleys. It has one of the highest roller coasters in the world, Fujiyama. And their latest roller coaster is Eejanaika.It is a "4D" coaster. Also, you can find the world's largest house of horror, called Senritsumeikyu, in Fujikyu Highland. It is worth visiting.
Another one of the major places to visit is The Shosenkyo Gorge, which is considered to be the most beautiful Gorge in Japan. It is part of the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park.
- Meditation. Zuigakuin in Otsuki is a large international meditation center.
- Tennis'. Lake Yamanaka, one of Fuji Five Lakes, has a tennis court complex at the lakeside. During vacation, many students stay in a camp for training.
- Shingen Ko Masturi This annual festival takes place in Kofu in early April to honor feudal lord and Kofu founder Takeda Shingen. Over one thousand locals dress as Takeda's army and march through the streets of Kofu. Accessible from Kofu station by bus or by foot.
- Takeda Katusyori Festival Annual fall festival in Nirasaki City honoring feudal lord Takeda Shingen's son, Takeda Katsuyori. The parade through downtown Nirasaki features locals dressed as Takeda Katsuyori and his court. Accessible by train. Take Chuo line north from Kofu to Nirasaki station. The parade runs the length of the main street (behind the station) and passes in front of Nirasaki station.
- Fuji Yoshida Fire Festival Fuji Yoshida City (located at the foot of Mt. Fuji) holds this annual 2 day festival to honor the goddess of Mt Fuji on August 26th. Beginning at 2pm at Fuji Sengen Shrine, two omikoshi (portable Shinto shrines) are carried through torch lined streets. Festival goers can also enjoy Japanese taiko drums and Fuji Yoshida's famous udon noodles during the festival. Fuji Yoshida is accessible by the Fuji Kyu train line.
Yamanashi is famous for its grapes and peaches. The prefecture lies in a basin, so the fruit is very sweet. In addition, it has famous wine companies, such as Suntory, Asahi, and Sapporo. So, Yamanashi has good wine in Japan. And there are places which you can make wine.
Houtou is a wheat noodle that looks like wide udon. In winter, Yamanashi gets really cold, so it is sometimes eaten at home or in restaurants. The ingredients of Houtou contains various vegetables, including: burdock, pumpkin, radish, carrot, taro, sweet potato etc. Its base is miso soup.
Yamanashi is famous as the centre of Japan's wine industry. Japanese wine tends to be sweeter than the wine of other countries with a heavy focus towards white wine. Katsunuma is the major wine making town in Yamanashi and features many wine related attractions such as the 'wine cave' where you pay 1000 yen to be allowed to taste as much as you like of several hundred different varieties of Japanese wine.
For general drinking Yamanashi, despite being a very urban place in the Kofu basin, has little to offer beyond a plethora of snack bars. The car focussed design of the city leaves little room for a social city centre.