They call it glamping but Hoshinoya Mt Fuji is anything but. Hoshinoya Mt. Fuji is a curated experience of Mt. Fuji and the regional cuisine. It is also a deconstructed eco-hotel hotel in the hills overlooking Lake Kawaguchi. It also doesn’t hurt the property has unparalleled views of Mt. Fuji as well.
Hanami or flower viewing is one of my favorite downtime activities in the spring. In particular, my wife and I enjoy sakura season in Japan, Taiwan, and Washington DC. There is something peaceful about experiencing the scent of sweet cherry blossoms and while soft petals rain down upon you. This year we thought it would be nice to kill two birds with one stone and celebrate our anniversary and review a Hoshino resort in Mr. Fuji. We’ve visited several Hoshino Resorts across Japan and heard the experience in Mt. Fuji was excellent.
First a little background, Hoshino Resorts started out as an operator of ryokans (Japanese Inns) in the early 1900’s. During the last two decades, the latest generation of the Hoshino family has taken the brand to eclectic heights without sacrificing their commitment to being eco-friendly, locally focused restaurants and in some cases self-sufficient energy usage. The Hoshinoya brand represents Hoshino’s flagship properties reflecting their commitment to luxurious Japanese hospitality with a modern bent.
As I mentioned before, it is a deconstructed hotel. The check-in area is separate from the hotel proper, the cabins are in different buildings from the dining, front desk, cafe, and lounge. Here’s the rundown:
During check-in, stylishly coiffed attendant dressed in traditional textiles will help you with your luggage. They will issue you a rucksack of your choice containing a headlamp, bug spray, Japanese style biscotti, and a water bottle. (You turn in the bag, bug spray, and torch upon checkout). The check-in area is so understated that a foreign visitor might mistake it for a cafe or a retail store for bags if it were not for the luggage trolleys and the hotel mark.
After check-in, the hotel transports you to the front desk using Jeep Wranglers. By this time, your luggage has already arrived in your cabins. You drive up a steep switchback carved into a ridge above Lake Kawaguchi. This is when you realize you are entering a forest of mature Japanese maple and birch trees. This hotel is serious about the Japanese tradition of Shirin-yoku, or “forest bathing” in English. The whole experience is about getting you relaxed and grounded in nature.
As you head up the ridge, you pass the “cabins” (they are anything but) on the way up to the Front Desk area. This building where the hotel’s only indoor dining area is located. The Front Desk staff will give you your keys and accompany you to your cabin down the hill through the forest.
Warning for parents and those with mobility issues: There are a lot of stairs and no ramps. In fact, for those traveling without a pram or have mobility issues, walking through a curated forest will wow you. If you need assistance, you can request a car to transport you, but it is limited to the Front Desk and Formal Dining areas. The Cloud Cafe and the observatory deck are not accessible by car. The only way there is via stairs. Where is the Cafe and Outdoor lounge? Five flights of stairs above the Front Desk and Dining Areas.
By the way, the cabin isn’t made from logs. It’s a stylish modern built into the side of a mountain. It’s what you would expect from a hotel. You walk into a simply furnished room with really really high ceiling and an unparalleled view of Mt. Fuji.
There is a separate balcony with a day bed and fireplace where you can enjoy nighttime views of Mt. Fuji without fear of the cool mountain air. As with any Japanese hotel, there is a wet bath separate from the water closet. But that’s not important. Btw, did I point out the view?
Dinner and breakfast are meals not to be missed, which I will cover in a separate upcoming post. You need to allocate sufficient time to enjoy the meal. If you are jet lagged, I suggest you book an earlier time for dinner. Like all Japanese Ryokans, you need to schedule your meals with the hotel. While you are eating, they are prepping your room for sleep.
Aside from the problems for limited mobility individuals, what other problems foreign visitors may have at the hotel? In their effort to give their customers the best possible experience while at the resort, it does lead to challenges to customers arriving early or with guests visiting the property. If you arrive early, they will send you away until the scheduled check-in time. If you have guests joining you for dinner, you do need to call ahead. Meals are planned ahead of time by the dining staff and is personalized to the individual dietary concerns. Also, guests who are not staying at the hotel cannot visit areas other than the Front Desk area at the hotel. The Cloud Cafe and other areas are exclusive to the hotel guests only. No exceptions. This is common practice for all ryokans in Japan.
Back to the hotel experience, the Cloud Cafe, electric bike tour, food smoking workshops, canoeing, and the nature tour are not to be missed. You don’t go to Hoshinoya Mt. Fuji for a single day. It’s a multi-day stay to enjoy all of what the Fuji Five Lakes has to offer. The Cloud Cafe is an outdoor lounge in the middle of the of the forest, where you can find a hammock strung between trees, lounge chairs with sleeping bags and open wood fireplaces to provide you warmth and protection from the insects.
I think everyone’s favorite pastime at the resort is roasting marshmallows and making s’ mores. It doesn’t matter whether it is day or night, it is a soothing and also communal experience. I spent time chatting with a French YouTuber and her boyfriend who came to the Hoshinoya for a digital detox. Forest bathing is good for the mind and the soul. Our always-on(line) lives drain us of inspiration and joy as we are being mentally programmed to chase likes. It is worth to try the Hoshinoya Mt. Fuji resort at least once. You might find inspiration in the forest! I did. It took an eagle to swoop down in front of me to find wonder in nature again.
P.S. Will update this post and throw up another on the dining experience shortly.
Kent is a management consultant who has spent years traveling for work. His refuge is looking for the perfect meal so that he can reproduce it at home with his wife and friends.