Now, some may say I'm a stick in the mud, but I've never considered myself the kind of man who gets excited at the thought of going fruit picking. Call me old fashioned, but that's just the way I was brought up. However, it's always good to try something, at least once in life, perhaps... And so it was that I found myself on a bus with a group of people, heading out of Tokyo on our way to rural Yamanashi Prefecture. After a short stop at a service station, we arrived at Miharashien and found ourselves surrounded by rolling fields with crooked trees growing in orderly lines.
The small minibus wound its way up the side of the mountain, I looked around at the winter trees sticking out in prickly leafless thickets with the occasional smattering of long thin pines. The sky was blue and the sun was shining, and I was on my way to the Hotel Mt. Fuji. Sitting up high at 1,100 meters, as the name would suggest, the hotel offers some of the finest views of the majestic old mountain that any in Japan can offer. Situated on the shores of Lake Yamanakako, one of Mount Fuji's 5 lakes, this hotel provides the perfect retreat for those looking to take in some real nature while visiting Japan.
With Tokyo being the massive sprawling conurbation that it is, at times the city seems to go on forever. For those visiting Japan for the first time, this can make sightseeing quite an overwhelming prospect. As great a city as Tokyo is, sometimes it can seem difficult to find that traditional culture and architecture that many visitors are looking for. Most people opt for a bullet train to the Kansai area to explore Kyoto or Nara, which is not such a bad idea. However, for those looking to kill a day and explore some of the historical sites of the Tokyo (Kanto) area, a tour of Kamakura and Yokohama is a must.
Well, first of all, "What's a ryokan?" Well... That's an extremely difficult question to answer. In light of this fact, we at JAPANiCAN have thrown together this guide - Ryokan 101 - in order to offer information that should hopefully answer your questions. So, again, what's a ryokan? Well, try to imagine a top class restaurant that also offers comfortable accommodation, throw on top of this a building with exquisite architecture set against the backdrop of beautiful natural scenery which changes with the seasons, then we are beginning to get a picture of what the essence of a ryokan is. While, with a hotel, we pick a destination and then book a hotel nearby, with a ryokan, we pick a ryokan and that is the destination. We've written this guide and divided it into 5 different categories (and included a miscellaneous section and some useful links). If, once you've read the whole guide and there are still some questions left unanswered, please email us here and we will do our best to answer your questions. Let's begin...