Having been to the HOSHINOYA Tokyo and HOSHINOYA Bali (and leaving both properties exceedingly-impressed) last year, I was curious to check out the HOSHINOYA Fuji which is located in Fujikawaguchiko. I spent the first couple of days leading up to the stay in Shinjuku and therefore had to find appropriate transportation from my hotel to HOSHINOYA Fuji - there were various options but I decided to take the direct Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko Station bus instead.
The bus from Shinjuku to Kawaguchiko Station takes slightly under two hours and it does stop along the way but there are no 'rest stops' so make sure you pack some snacks and drinks (eating is allowed on the bus). The journey costed me only ¥1,950 (approximately S$25) one-way and even though the seats are rather cramped and they are not extremely comfortable, it got me to where I wanted to go in a timely manner. If you prefer a slightly more expensive but possibly more comfortable journey from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko Station (without breaking the bank), you may consider hopping on the Kaiji (Limited Express) and Fujikyu Line.
I tried booking a taxi using the JapanTaxi app at Kawaguchiko Station but was unable to get any so I decided to join the taxi queue (which took maybe 20 minutes) before hopping on a taxi. The journey from Kawaguchiko Station to HOSHINOYA Fuji took roughly 20 minutes and it costed approximately ¥3,200 (S$40).
HOSHINOYA Fuji is somewhat hidden from plain sight and if you do not know what you are looking for (or know how it looks like), you will probably not notice it especially since the taxi will not be able to take you there directly. Once you arrive at the main reception area (which is actually a matte black building located at the foot of the slope), you will be warmly-greeted by the friendly staff, have your bags taken care of and most importantly have your check-in processed.
You will definitely notice the bags on the wall when you enter this space (it also screams the perfect Instagram opportunity).
In fact, you will even be offered a choice of backpack which you can keep (for the duration of your stay) - inside which is everything you will require for a glamping trip like binoculars, snacks, a headlamp as well as other nifty items that will make glamping as comfortable as it can possibly be.
Since I got there ahead of time and my cabin was not ready when I checked-in, I decided to check out the Cloud Forest to enjoy a beverage while waiting for cabin to be ready. HOSHINOYA Fuji is located approximately 100m up the steep slope of a mountain but fear not as appropriate transport (i.e. a jeep) will be arranged to take you up to the main property. Having said that, it is extremely important to take note that there will be plenty of climbing involved - getting from your cabins to the Cloud Terrace will require you to go up multiple flights of stairs so make sure you are prepared for that. The steep climb should not put you off though because the Cloud Terrace to me, is the crowning jewel of this property.
Since I had to wake up extra early to catch the bus from Shinjuku in the morning, I was really looking forward to a nice espresso-based coffee on the Cloud Terrace. Once I made my way up however, I realised that they were serving baumkuchen (which translates into tree-cake) as well as sparkling wine. At that point, I figured that a coffee was no longer important since I now have access to complimentary sparkling wine (cocktails) and delicious baumkuchen which I was just dying to eat. The cake is first being heated up on a mini skillet before handing over to you for you to go crazy on the toppings - think about fresh strawberries, cream, chocolate and pistachios! You will find 'Glamping Masters' throughout the property and they will guide you through each and every activity if you would like so there is really nothing you cannot do (all you have to do is just show up and someone will take care of you).
While the sparkling wine is really used for concocting a cocktail, I decided to enjoy it in its purest form (because who needs extra calories when it comes to alcohol?!) with the delicious (and beautiful!) baumkuchen. Shortly after that, I was approached by one of the friendly staff who informed me that my cabin was ready - she then offered to escort me to the cabin below (glamping masters must be extremely fit here having to climb the steep stairs multiple times throughout the day!).
My reservation at the HOSHINOYA Fuji was made for the T Cabin - the lead-in room category here on property. While lead-in room categories typically have negative connotations amongst seasoned travellers, every single room here (there are only 40 in total) at the HOSHINOYA Fuji have an outdoor balcony that faces the lake and Mt. Fuji (so be prepared for some jaw-dropping views here on a clear day but more on this later!). Each cabin here has a lockable front door (accessible using your key only) and once you open this main glass door (which is great at keeping the cool air out), you will have to open another sliding door before you enter your cabin.
The T Cabin in HOSHINOYA Fuji is approximately 40sqm in size and it features two twin beds (100cm x 205cm if anyone is interested in the specifics). While it does look rather basic, it exudes minimalistic charm that is often found in high-end Japanese hotels. Unfortunately the weather was pretty bad on the day that I checked-in to the hotel so the photos do not do the place justice - the weather eventually cleared up during the stay but sadly this is how the photos of the room will look like. If you are interested to know how clear the weather can be and how immensely-beautiful the view from your bedroom can be, read on and you can be rest assured that you will not be disappointed.
While the T Cabin here in HOSHINOYA Fuji is perfect for friends who are planning to share the room (and split the cost), it is not so great for couples traveling together as it is difficult to put the two beds together. The mattresses sit above a stationary platform bed (which cannot be moved) so it requires plenty of effort (e.g. rearranging the furniture) if you truly want to join the beds together. You might notice that thick jackets are also provided in the room - you might not know this but it does get pretty cold here so make sure you bring enough warm clothes if you are visiting the property during the winter and spring.
Everything here in the cabin seems to be thoughtfully-placed and you will have everything you require for a comfortable stay. Within the little drawstring bags is where you will find some cleaning items if you would like to square away your cabin (obviously housekeeping does that for you too) - this is probably to simulate some kind of camping experience.
There is a small minibar area located in the corner of the bedroom - this is where you will find actual camping equipment and items that you can use to make yourself a cup of coffee and tea. While the tea and coffee are both HOSHINOYA Fuji-branded, it goes without saying that they are of a great quality. I particularly enjoyed the genmaicha but enjoying a hot pot of coffee in the cold morning while looking out to Mt. Fuji (more on this later!) is truly an experience I will never forget.
There are only four cabin types here at the HOSHINOYA Fuji and all of the cabin types feature approximately the same size with the exception of the F Cabin (47 sqm) which is designed for three adults. With that being said, there is plenty of space for you to lounge around in your bedroom - if you prefer to stay within the cabin, there is a sofa that looks out to Lake Kawaguchiko as well as the mountain.
Similar to the HOSHINOYA Tokyo, each cabin comes with a Bang & Olufsen bluetooth speaker that you may utilise during your stay. While it is great to be able to enjoy your favourite tunes during the stay, I highly recommend for you to just simply stay away from music and soak in the beautiful nature. Listen to the sounds around your cabin and enjoy the peacefulness that you can’t quite get from the city - you have after all paid a premium for this glamping experience so you might as well make the most out of it.
Every single cabin here at the HOSHINOYA Fuji have a private balcony that looks out to the lake and the mountain. As mentioned earlier, the weather was pretty dreadful when I visited so you can’t quite see Mt. Fuji in its full glory (this is also why you should consider staying at least two nights so you can have better odds at seeing this elusive mountain). What you cannot quite tell from the photo however is that the outdoor seating area is actually heated - yes the blanket on the right is actually heated so imagine enjoying your favourite beverage here on a cold morning (or in the evening)! Seriously, this is probably where you will want to spend all your time in and the designers of this property have definitely thought this through. In the evening, you can enjoy the fire which will flicker at one end of the custom-built table - all you will have to do is to inform the staff when they come by to turndown your cabin.
While I did not expect to find a bathtub here in the T Cabin, I was surprised to see it when I arrived at my cabin - the room may only be 40sqm in size but the effective use of space has made it possible for guests to enjoy a nice soak in the tub while overlooking the lake and Mt. Fuji. There is also a separate shower area that is located right next to the tub if you prefer a standing shower. Unfortunately, there are no onsen facilities here on property (I definitely recommend checking out KAI Nikko if that is what you are after) but you will be able to enjoy a hot bath in the comfort of your own room.
Much like the HOSHINOYA Tokyo, facial products are provided to hotel guests - this includes a cleansing milk, toner and even moisturiser. Bath amenities are HOSHINOYA-branded and even though you will not be able to bring them home (I believe you can purchase them in the gift shop however), they do smell amazing and they are great for making a nice bubble bath at the end of the day.
As the sky started to turn darker and the weather started to cool down even more (do note that this was mid-April and it was still pretty cold so make sure you are dressed properly for this stay), I decided to climb all the way up to the Cloud Terrace once again to sit by the fire. If you are walking up from your cabin, you will have to pass by the reception area (this is not the same one that the taxi took you to initially) where you will also be able to purchase some HOSHINOYA Fuji-branded gifts (some of which are beautiful and I actually ended up spending quite a bit here). There is also a Dining Hall here which serves dinner - the ingredients are seasonal and it is only open in the evening from 5:30PM to 8:30PM - I believe the set dinner was priced at ¥10,000++ (SGD 126++) per person but it was excellent!
When I arrived at the top of the Cloud Terrace, I realised that I was the only one (apart from the staff of course) there but the fire was already going. Sitting there amongst the tall trees, enjoying the fresh air and listening to crackling of fire is something that I will never forget. If you are feeling cold, grab one of the blankets and cuddle up near the fire for some warmth. The cafe located at the Cloud Terrace serves drinks like coffee and tea all-day round at no extra charge to hotel guests.
Once it gets dark, hotel guests at the Cloud Terrace will be able to enjoy a music performance - there is also an outdoor screen of a classic film at the side but I was happy sitting near the fire with everyone else. What is even more interesting (at least to people who drink) however, is the wide range of Japanese Whiskies on offer in the evening - these can be purchased on a per glass basis and there are some really rare ones here. If I recall correctly, the price of these whiskies start from just ¥1,000++ (SGD 13++) but obviously the price goes up quite sharply for some of the rarer ones.
After spending quite a bit of time in the cold, I decided that it was about time to retire for the night. I went back down to my cabin located at a lower altitude to find a perfectly-cleaned room. The beds were made nicely and a fire was going in the balcony. The weather definitely cleared up by then but it was way too dark to enjoy the view of Mt. Fuji. Using my camera however, I managed to capture the silhouette of the mountain but I was still unsatisfied with the view since I have not seen it in full glory.
When I got up the next morning, I was eager to see whether I could see Mt. Fuji better - let's be honest, this is one of the main reasons why people stay at this property. When I drew the curtains, I was really in awe. Even though I do know that the property offers unobstructed views of the mountain, seeing it in reality was truly jaw-dropping. Mt. Fuji is always known to be elusive and the locals believe that being able to see it in its full glory is a sign of good luck. While I did not manage to capture great photos of the room and the mountain the day before, I was extremely thankful to be able to see it at least once during my stay. I also ditched all my plans to check out Oishi Park nearby since I wanted to stay in my cabin to enjoy the magnificent view. For a choice of breakfast, hotel guests have the option of enjoying a breakfast box (which will be delivered to your room) on their balconies. Priced at ¥2,800++ (SGD 35++), the breakfast box comes with a wide selection of items that is bound to keep your tummy happy.
I chose to take a walk up to the Dining Hall which is located midway up to the Cloud Terrace. In here I learnt how to operate the camping stove where I cooked up some ingredients in the mini skillets. As always, glamping masters are there to guide you through the activity and obviously this is in no way an accurate representation of what actual campers do in the wild (it is called glamping after all!). From my understanding, the offerings for the Forest Breakfast change by the season but the pressed sandwich was delicious!
I never thought that I would enjoy a glamping experience but being there when the weather is nice and cool (albeit a little warmer would have been nicer) changed my opinion. On a separate morning, I actually enjoyed the Breakfast Box in the comfort of my own room but between these two experiences, I definitely preferred the more hands-on experience. If you would like to find food outside of the hotel, do note that you will have to make your way down to the area near Oishi Park - you may choose to walk down the steep slope which will take approximately 20 minutes on foot but if you are traveling with infants or older folks, simply call up the friendly staff to arrange for a complimentary ride down (in a jeep!) to the foot of the mountain.
There are plenty of activities to do within HOSHINOYA Fuji (a lot of them are chargeable) and I will probably recommend staying there for at least two nights even though three will most likely be ideal. During my stay, I also learnt how to smoke food using wood chips from barrels that used to hold the famous Hakushu 12 year old Japanese single malt whisky. The glamping master definitely made the experience look very easy but I can only imagine how complicated this process is in real life.
While it is only midway through 2019, I think it is safe to assume that the HOSHINOYA Fuji will probably be my most memorable hotel stay this year. Glamping is certainly not something that I will typically consider but when you combine that with authentic Japanese hospitality and amazing food, there is really little reason to see why that can't be a winning formula. My entire stay at the HOSHINOYA Fuji has been beyond delightful - everyone was extremely friendly, there was barely any language barrier (even though every one that worked there seemed to be Japanese) and the quality of product shows itself.
Much like how I was won over by the view from my room in KAI Nikko last year, the view from my cabin in HOSHINOYA Fuji was unbeatable. Being able to enjoy such a magnificent view of Mt. Fuji from the comfort of my own cabin made all the difference. If you do venture down to Oishi Park (which has a small selection of bakery and restaurants), you will notice that the spot draws about busloads of tourists who come down all the way to enjoy the view on a clear day. Staying at the HOSHINOYA Fuji ensures that you get to enjoy the view of the lake and mountain (on a clear day) without having to jostle with the crowd. While the room rates here do go up quite a bit during the peak season (e.g. sakura season), booking early (at least 120 days in advance) will ensure that you get the most discount on your stays so be sure to check the website for more information.