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Japan isn’t short of special places to lay your head. Perhaps you’ve heard of Benesse House, the renowned hotel/museum on Naoshima Island. Or traditional farm-stays at Brown’s Field or Jiji no Ie. But, what about the modern cabins at the Hoshinoya Fuji? With a vastly different experience to anywhere else, it is one of Japan’s most unique places to stay.
Welcome to Hoshinoya Fuji
On arrival, you’re shown to a dark wood-panelled building with a high wall filled with rucksacks. After taking your pick of colour and design, it’s filled with all the glamping essentials you need. Armed with a headlamp, all-natural bug spray, binoculars, you are ready to “rough” it.
A sleek black Jeep Wrangler, with soft leather seats, climate controls and touch screen navigation pulls up outside the building. A fancy way to take some serious off-roading to your cabins!
The cabins remind me of Tadao Ando’s work, with squares, rectangles and large floor-to-ceiling windows. Inside, everything is cleanly decorated with white walls, a sliding wooden door the first hint of Japanese influence. Another glass door opens onto a balcony with views of Lake Kawaguchi and Mount Fuji beyond.
Up a long flight of stairs through the undergrowth of deciduous shrubs and evergreens, there’s a building with a staff desk; comfy chairs; glass walls overlooking the forest; and a warmly lit wooden dining hall.
Further into the forest are a series of wooden platforms called “Cloud Terrace”. This is where guests participate in activities such as smoking meat, making a Dutch oven dinner, enjoying a campfire with musical accompaniment and waking up early for morning yoga. The final building has complimentary tea, coffee and mores, along with some bookshelves and a quiet reading corner.
Hiking, canoeing and horseback riding can be arranged in the town, and wherever you are in the area, the views of Mount Fuji and the surrounding mountains (on a clear day) are absolutely stunning. Some of the staff at the Hoshinoya speak excellent English, but it’s a bit of an adventure once you leave the property. As with all parts of Japan, everyone you meet will do their best to communicate with a few words (and hand gestures!).
Activities: Dutch oven cooking
Trying my hand at the Dutch oven cooking was an absolute joy. The chef was a skilled conversationalist, effortlessly taking me through cooking multiple dishes using wild boar and deer caught in the area, along with mushrooms and vegetables from the mountains and paired with wine from local grapes. The whole experience lasted over two hours, culminating with a campfire where I rounded off the evening with a bit of whisky while listening to their guest guitarist riff in the dim light.
Morning canoeing on Lake Kawaguchi
The next morning I went canoeing on Lake Kawaguchi. It had been years since my last time on a lake, and was an excellent start to the day; doing something physical before breakfast in one of the most beautiful places in Japan is hard to beat.
This was followed by a picnic breakfast brought to my room Sherpa-style in a backpack. A large wooden box opened to reveal multiple smaller boxes containing artisan bread, breakfast salad, local honey and jams, and chicken soup in a thermos. With several proprietary coffee roasts on site, I also sampled two in the morning.
Saying goodbye to the Hoshinoya Fuji
It was hard to leave this place. To be honest, I had been a bit sceptical about Hoshinoya Fuji living up to its concept and delivering an authentic experience. In the end, though, it passed with flying colours. I had so many genuine interactions with staff; truly felt the relaxation of forest bathing; felt inspired by the construction and design of the architecture; and left enriched by the quality and preparation of the food. The perfect glamping with a Japanese twist.
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