Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Japan September 2016 - Part 6 Kaneyamaen Hotel

On our 4th day in Japan, we checked out of our apartment and headed towards our next destination: Kaneyamaen Hotel in Fujiyoshida, Yamanashi. This hotel came highly recommended by my friend who were there this past spring. It also had really good reviews on Agoda and Trip Advisor. We are not ones to spend a lot on accommodations, but this time we made an exception.

Checking out

The hotel was accessible by train or bus from Tokyo. They had very clear instructions on their website. This was the day we exchanged our JR Pass vouchers with the passes themselves. This was easily done at the Information Centre in JR Shibuya Station. This made the train the better option to get to the hotel, even though not all of the rail was covered.

We headed to our platform after having sipped some coffee, and on the way we spotted this cool staircase-friendly dolly that can go up and down the stairs. Pretty neat!

Then we got on the train to Ōtsuki Station to change to the Fujikyoku Line towards Fujisan Station.

The Fujikyoku Line was not covered by our JR Pass so we had to pay extra to ride on it. It wasn't too expensive anyway. Otsuki Station was not a big station at all and it was very obvious where we needed to go to catch the other train. EVERYONE was going there! Lol. The train felt rather different from the usual trains we rode, they had slightly open windows.

Almost an hour later, we arrived at the tiny Fujisan Station. It was wet and drizzling, without too many food options at the station. We crossed the road from the station and entered a small cafe and had our lunch there.

This station also had a stamp station to add to our collection.

My little furoshiki bunny
 I used a payphone from the station to call our hotel, and they sent a shuttle bus to pick us up at Fujisan Station. It turned out that there were several other people going to the same hotel. The payphone was quite simple to use, you basically insert 10 yen coin to make a call and add more when it beeps. If you use larger nominal coins, it doesn't give you change.

The hotel building itself didn't look like much at all from the outside. However as soon as we got off the bus a crew of ladies in kimono uniform greeted us and quickly got our luggage from the trunk. I almost felt bad letting them carry my bag, they dressed nicer than I did!

As soon as you entered the hotel, there was a distinct yet familiar smell in the air. Later on I discovered that it was the grass smell from their tatami. Considering we were in Japan, the hotel lobby was huge. It was fancy in Japanese style. Our room was large with tatami, tables, complete tea set, powder room, bathroom, and a balcony with private onsen (hot spring bath). Supposedly we could have seen Fujiyama had it not been raining.

Two ladies in kimono took us and our luggage to our room. They brought out our welcome snack and drink which was Japanese green tea and jelly with this cookie as lid. They gave us a brief explanation about what was available at the hotel and then left us to ourselves. They asked us if we knew how to put on a yukata and since we did, they left it at that. I think if you didn't they would have spent some time teaching you.

They had provided 2 sets of yukata and also a set of jinbei for each of us, but since I had brought my own, I used mine instead.

After we changed and unpacked, we ventured out of our room towards the tea house. A tea ceremony was included with our stay. It wasn't much of a ceremony though, they basically seated us, gave us a red bean cake, and a cup of matcha. To be honest, I had been a little worried about that because I don't usually like matcha. The matcha they served us, however, turned out to be really good! I guess the problem was that I just never had good matcha before!


View from inside the tea house
View from inside the tea house

Tea house entrance
 After the tea ceremony we walked around their garden. The hotel had 2 gardens. On one side of the tea house, they had Japanese style garden with the neatly cut trees, while on the other side they had larger and taller trees, mostly Japanese Maple trees (Momiji) and looked almost like a forest.

We walked around the gardens with a camera so I went and snapped away. DH said he wanted some credit as the umbrella holder for the pictures :D

It wasn't the greatest weather for walking but it was still very nice. It was nice and cool and the lighting was good for pictures. Not too harsh, and not too dark. The water drops also added a nice shine to the leaves.

It was only September and we didn't see any fall colours in Tokyo. In this area, however, the maples were already red and yellow!


I also made sure I spent some time to browse their souvenir shop. Their prices were actually decent, not as inflated as I expected. 


The hotel had an open air rooftop onsen, and they had a schedule for ladies and gents. That evening was the male slot but because it was raining DH couldn't go. Instead, he went to the onsen on the ground floor while I took advantage of our private onsen. 

Dinner was included in the booking and it was wonderful. I will talk about it more as soon as I get the pictures from DH's phone.

In the mean time, please stay tuned for the next post!