No cherry blossoms, no problem: Mount Fuji in the colder months is dreamy.
In case you were asleep during 2016, the term "glamping" is an amalgamation of two words: glamorous and camping. While the term popularized in the States has become widely mocked among self-serious campers, the luxe approach to wilderness has emerged as one of the most compelling new travel trends in Japan. Even better, the reality of glamping is so, so divorced from the tropes of "true" camping—heating beans, sleeping cold, peeing straight onto the earth—that even the most outdoors-averse will cherish the experience, which can be, forgive me, delightfully campy.
, a that opened in 2017 directly across Lake Kawaguchi from Mt. Fuji, claims to be the first-ever glamping resort in Japan, and we suspect there are many more superlatives the property can claim, including most preparations of wild boar. (They are all excellent.) The 40 modern guest "cabins," all of which offer giant, grandiose window-views of Fuji, seem to float above the forest on a lakeside hill, matching the splendor of the views with accomodations worthy of them. And while the national landmark's most traditionally trafficked time is the spring—because cherry blossoms—the late-fall through winter experience offers a magic of its own, as long as you bring the appropriate clothes.
The bright, wood-paneled rooms (which begin in the $700 range) offer visitors all sorts of high-end props that are vaguely synonymous with camping: artisanal pour-over coffee (and sleek thermoses), designer backpacks stuffed with binoculars and flashlights, boots, fashionable down jackets, and a personal balcony featuring traditional heated, futon-covered Japanese tables called kotatsu, allowing guests to enjoy cozy, private meals outside while gazing at Fuji—even in the middle of the winter. According to the resort, the balcony "serves the function of the camping chair that might be placed outside a tent." As a serial non-camper, I wouldn't have picked up on that; I had only noticed that it was delightful.
In 2017, the year the resort opened, Laurie Woolever described her "play camping" experience for mkgallery. "Nowhere are the props of pretend camping at Hoshinoya Fuji more in play than when it comes time to eat," she wrote. "Much of the food—including soft-shell turtle, trout, eel, venison, wild boar, and a range of fruits and vegetables—is hunted, fished, foraged or otherwise sourced locally. Not by the guests, of course. Breakfast, if ordered to your room, arrives in a stylized fishing tackle box that’s fitted inside a wood-framed backpack modeled on those once used by the 19th-century Mount Fuji guides known as goriki."
Indeed, the dining options here are thoughtful, expansive, and unusual, with camping a theme throughout, even if just symbolically, at times. You can sign up for the smoked foods snack activity, where a scout-styled "glamping master" helps you smoke fish, local venison sausage, nuts, Japanese cheese, and veggie chips to nibble alongside a glass of Japanese whiskey. You can enjoy an anti-social dinner on your balcony, eating assemble-yourself hot pot with sake or wine pairings arranged for you as you warm your legs under the kotatsu, or try the DIY dutch oven experience, where you prepare prized regional ingredients (just-foraged mushrooms, venison, wild boar, and whatever else is in season). The resort's elegant yet cozy restaurant, which features proteins from a local hunter and delicacies of the area, could compete with any other in the region.
Naturally, you can roast s'mores at the luxe campfire area, where teas and coffees are available all day by the fireplace. (In the evenings during aperitif hour, sparkling Japanese wines and whiskeys await.)
It's not all luxury, though you can certainly go the all-luxury route if you'd like. Private canoe tours offer spectacular early-morning views of the mountain, and you can take a low-intensity aerial stretching class in the forest, or hike around on your own. While heating devices are strategically installed throughout the property, the nights can get chilly, which means in-room hot pot—the contents of which change every season—is always a good idea. On a recent visit, I tucked my lower body under the warm kotatsu on my cabin balcony to enjoy a fragrant, steaming pot of local mushrooms and chicken. I was so glad it wasn't beans.