You can tell everyone you’re going camping, but you don’t actually need to get your hands dirty with these luxury versions of sleeping under the stars.
Described as “Japan’s First Glamping Resort,” Hoshinoya Fuji without a doubt puts more emphasis on the glam. We headed to the resort on a crisp February morning, taking a two-hour bus ride from Shibuya Mark City to Kawaguchiko Station, and from the moment we slid open the door to our cabin (there’s no sleeping in tents here), we felt something akin to falling in love. Except what we were falling for was a mountain named Fuji.
Situated on the slopes of a hill that overlooks Lake Kawaguchi, the resort’s 40 cubical cabins – designed to represent telescopes focusing on Mt Fuji – have floor-to-ceiling windows that perfectly frame the snow-capped peak. You could easily spend hours just languishing on your sun-drenched balcony – which in winter comes complete with a kotatsu (a table with built-in heater and blanket) – but then you’d be missing out on the plethora of pleasures that awaits.
Take a short walk up the hill, deeper into the mountain’s red pine forest, and you’ll arrive at the Cloud Terrace. Here’s where the camping theme comes into play: multiple wooden decks are dotted with comfy chairs and open fires; there’s a hammock in the distance; and a couple of tents are suspended between trees for night-time star gazing. There’s also a plastic igloo hidden amongst the trees and kitted out with table and chairs, books, and a couple of sheepskin rugs – in case you desire even more peace and quiet.
Some of the activities on offer need to be reserved and paid for, such as the Early Morning Canoeing (90 minutes, ¥3,500 per person) and the Mt. Fuji Lava Forest Tour (2.5 hours, ¥6,500 per person), but there is plenty to do for free, too. We tried our hand at wood chopping (harder than it looks), and gorged ourselves on toasted marshmallows and hot chocolate during the afternoon Outdoor Sweets Time. For dinner, we were served a picnic box of six salads presented in stainless steel buckets, creamy Chinese cabbage soup, wine-fed beef – which we grilled ourselves with guidance from the chef – and a Fuji-shaped sponge cake with five sweet toppings that give a nod to the five lakes surrounding the mountain.
The following morning we woke to a grumpy Mt Fuji, refusing to show her face to the world, and realized how lucky we had been the day before. The mountain is notoriously elusive, so if catching a glimpse of the peak is a main reason for visiting, then we’d recommend going in late winter for best weather and visibility. Either way, glamping at the foot of Japan’s most sacred symbol is one for the books.
More information at www.hoshinoyafuji.com
The Southern Peninsula
Part of the Village Inc. group (villageinc.jp), which offers several camping sites around Japan, The Southern Peninsula opened in Shizuoka Prefecture late last year. Enjoy glamping in the lush green mountains close to Irozake, surrounded by trees, farms, and temples. The site supplies large cotton tents raised above ground on wooden decks, and a kitchen area with cooking utensils and plenty of seating. All you need to bring is food and your sleeping bag.
More information at southern.villageinc.jp
Wild Beach Seaside Glamping Park
Perhaps one of the best things about visiting this “smart camp,” as it’s called on the website, is that you get to take a trip on the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line bridge-tunnel. Also known as the Trans-Tokyo Bay Highway, the bridge connects Kanagawa’s Kawasaki with Chiba’s Kisazaru, is 14km long, and includes a 9.6km tunnel underneath the bay. The park has a range of facilities, including stylish tents, a chic camping hotel, Airstream trailers, and a barbecue area that overlooks a patch of white sand.
More information at wildbeach.jp
Hatsushima Island Resort
Reached by ferry from the city of Atami in Shizuoka Prefecture, Hatsushima is a small island – the population is about 250, and the circumference is only four kilometers – with a warm climate and plenty of diving, snorkeling, fishing, and onsen opportunities. Head to Hatsushima Island Resort for glamping in trailers that overlook the ocean and are surrounded by greenery and hammocks.
More information at www.pica-resort.jp/hatsushima
Wild Magic Glam BBQ
New “glam” trend alert! Although Wild Magic is not offering their glam camping experience this year, we think we spot a hot new trend as the site is set to launch their glam barbecuing (glamecuing?) concept on April 1, 2017. To experience the luxurious side of cooking food over fire, hop on a train to Shin-Toyosu Station in Koto-ku, take a short walk to Wild Magic, and soak in views of Rainbow Bridge while “roughing” it like an urbanite.
More information at wildmagic.jp
This article appears in the March 2017 issue of Tokyo Weekender magazine.