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Yamanashi Food Guide: 8 Delicious Food and Drinks to Try Near Mt Fuji

Located directly west of Tokyo in the Chubu region of Central Japan, Yamanashi has much to offer those who visit.

While many tourists bypass it by heading straight to Nagano or opting for the Shizuoka Mt Fuji view, if you make the trip, I guarantee you will be satisfied with what Yamanashi offers.

Without the crowds that other popular destinations are troubled by, it is an ideal location for a quick trip from the big city for fresh air, beautiful mountains, hot springs, and delicious Yamanashi food!

A snow-capped Mt Fuji on a gloriously clear and sunny winter's day. The shot has been taken from Oshino Hakkai, famous for its clear water ponds fed by snowmelt from the mountain.
Gorgeous scenery and delicious cuisine make a trip to Yamanashi well worth it /via Getty Images.

Fruit-Picking (果物狩り,くだものがり)

Known as Japan’s Fruit Kingdom, Yamanashi offers various fruit-picking experiences (kudamono-gari) from spring to fall. Fruit is even embedded in its name– yama (山 mountain), nashi (梨・pear)– making Yamanashi a perfect place to enjoy sweet, fresh fruit right from the tree. You can experience picking pears, cherries, grapes, peaches, strawberries, and blueberries!

Surrounded by mountains, including the Southern Alps and Mt Fuji which help block the area from catastrophic storms, Yamanashi’s basin has a large amount of flat land and healthy soil, ideal for growing fruit. Yamanashi also boasts the longest day of sunlight recorded in Japan, making the days long and warm, and the nights cool, which helps sweeten the fruit.

One of the most popular fruit farms is Nakagomi Orchard (中込農園, なかごみ・のうえん) because of its wide variety of fruit experiences running from June to November, with staff able to communicate in English and Chinese.

Yamanashi food: One person's hand is holding out a bunch of large purple grapes while another person's hand can be seen about to pick one off the bunch.
Yamanashi food: Yamanashi is fertile ground for delicious fruit and a top destination for fruit-picking experiences /via Getty Images.

Hoto (ほうとう)

If you visit during the winter, you can’t miss the hearty and filling dish, Hoto (hōtō). Noodles are a main staple in Japan, from ramen to soba, but this noodle dish has several characteristics that make it unique. Like udon, the noodles are made from wheat flour, although Hoto noodles contain eggs, making them richer and more filling.

The noodles are wider and flatter than udon noodles and are cooked until they are soft and chewy. They are then cooked in a miso or soy sauce broth with local vegetables of the region, with pumpkin being the favorite.

This dish is the pride of Yamanashi, and locals have been eating it for centuries. Cooked in a big communal pot over an open flame and similar to a Japanese hot pot, it makes a perfect dish to warm up over a social gathering with family and friends.

Yamanashi food: A metal hot pot filled with 'hoto' noodle soup sits amongst a table setting. Chopsticks are coming into frame from the right and are holding up several wide, flat strands of noodles, while various vegetables can be seen floating in the broth.
Yamanashi food: A classic winter warmer, ‘hoto’ is a comforting meal perfect for sharing /via Getty Images.

Koshu Wine Beef (甲州ワイン牛, こうしゅうワインビーフ)

For those who have long loved Japan’s well-known famous beef varieties–Kobe beef, Matsusaka beef, and other Wagyu beef–you can’t miss Koshu (Kōshū) Wine Beef. Its rich and meaty umami flavor stands out from its counterparts’ more subtle flavors.

The Japanese Black cattle are fed on a diet of local grains, hay, and some of Japan’s purest mineral spring water. The climate, terrain, and diet contribute to this beef’s unique flavor.

One downfall of its rarity yet highly sought reputation is that it is usually only found in expensive restaurants. It will definitely dip into your wallet, but experiencing one of the finest types of beef worldwide is undoubtedly worth it.

Minobu Yuba (身延湯葉, みのぶゆば)

If you find yourselves in Yamanashi on the south side of Mt Fuji, jump over to Minobu and try the Minobu Yuba. This traditional Buddhist vegetarian dish is said to date back over 700 years. Yuba is created by simmering soy milk until a thin layer forms on the surface and is then carefully removed with bamboo sticks.

It is often served in soups, stews, and grilled or boiled with accompanying dipping sauces. The sweet, nutty flavor and unique texture may not match everyone’s palette, but rich in protein and fiber, it is undeniably a healthy option for all.

Kofu’s Boiled Chicken Offal (甲府鳥もつ煮, こうふとりもつに)

For those looking to eat a bit more adventurously, Kofu (Kōfu) has just the delicacy for you. Offal is the innards of an animal, so if you don’t find this awful, then you can enjoy chicken liver (レバー), gizzards (砂肝, すなぎも), heart (ハツ), intestines (小腸, しょうちょう), and the immature eggs of hens (sometimes referred to as ‘kinkan’ or kumquats in Japanese) — soaked in a sweet and spicy soy sauce.

Said to have been first created in Kofu at a soba restaurant in 1950, you can now easily find this dish alongside the other offerings at soba restaurants or izakayas throughout Kofu city.

Yamanashi food: A bowl of boiled and marinated Kofu chicken offal. There is some lettuce tucked into the side of the bowl and amongst the chicken offal are the bulbous yellow sacks containing the immature hen's eggs.
Yamanashi food: A bowl of boiled and marinated Kofu chicken offal. The distinctive bulbous yellow sacks contain the immature hen’s eggs /via Getty Images.

Wild Game (ジビエ)

For those who have a bit more “wild” in them, head up to the mountains close to Nagano to try gibier. There you will find a restaurant, Kobuchizawa Yatsugatake Kozō (小淵沢 八ヶ岳小僧, やつがたけこぞう), featuring ayu sweetfish (鮎, あゆ), deer (鹿, しか・シカ), wild boar (猪, いのしし・イノシシ), badger (穴熊, あなぐま・アナグマ), and common raccoon (アライグマ).

The menu has a variety of set dishes that prepare the meat as tempura, hot pot, grilled meat, or steaks. It’s not cheap, though, so for those looking for something more casual, try Yatsugatake Vegibier, a hamburger restaurant right around the corner at the Hoshino Resort. If you time it right and beat the crowds, you can enjoy deer or wild boar burgers.

Shingen Mochi (信玄餅, しんげんもち)

While in Yamanashi, you can’t miss Shingen Mochi, a sweet treat available in souvenir shops all over Yamanashi. Its texture is similar to other sticky rice cakes, but the secret is in the sauce for this treat.

It’s made with water, agar– a gelatinous substance extracted from seaweed– and a brown sugar syrup that you pour over the mochi ball. As the syrup mixes with the kinako powder— a roasted soybean flour— it forms a jelly-like layer.

Use the kashiwa– a little wooden stick— to mix it all together and enjoy the chewy, sweet, and nutty-flavored treat! You’ll want to be seated for this, though, as it’s messy! Not only is this treat a favorite for foreigners, but it’s also a standard souvenir for the Japanese.

Yamanashi food souvenirs: Shingen mochi cut up into pieces sits on a rounded (with one straight edge) black lacquered wooden plate (the straight edge is a contrasting red). The mochi is covered in 'kinako' roasted soy bean powder and a brown sugar syrup has been poured over it, and has mostly pooled on the plate. It sits on a red lacquered wooden tray with two unopened packages of the treat sitting behind it. They are wrapped in white plastic with a pink pattern. A piece of foliage can also been seen on the tray for decoration.
Yamanashi food: Shingen mochi is typically sold in this form, and is a popular ‘omiyage’ (souvenir) available at souvenir stores throughout the prefecture /via Getty Images.
Yamanashi food: A rounded 'Shingen Mochi' sweet sits on a green plate that makes the clear and wobbly, jello-like treat appear green also. Additionally, the "vein-like" leaf pattern on the plate also makes the mochi appear somewhat like an eyeball. A brown sugar syrup gathers around the base of the sweet and has been topped with 'kinako' roasted soy bean powder.
Yamanashi food: Fancier takes on Shingen mochi like this one do exist but are more difficult to find /via Getty Images.

Natural Spring Mineral Water (天然のミネラルウォーター, てんねんのミネラルウォーター)

Last but not least, one of the main reasons all the above dishes are so delicious is the abundance of natural spring water in Yamanashi. Rain and snow in the mountains moisten the soil, creating several unique and impressive bodies of water around the prefecture, including the Fuji Five Lakes to numerous waterfalls, lakes, and rivers.

The process of natural spring mineral water can be seen in the ice caves of Narusawa (鳴沢氷穴, なるさわひょうけつ ), where the ice has formed from water dripping down from the roofs of the caves or in the greenish-blue spring water ponds of Oshino Hakkai (忍野八海, おしのはっかい), replenished by the snowmelt of Mt Fuji [English Info].

Yamanashi water: A close-up of one of the pristine spring water ponds of Oshino Hakkai. A fish can be clearly seen in the clear water as well as the reflection of surrounding trees.
One of the pristine spring water ponds of Oshino Hakkai, part of the Mt Fuji UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site /via Getty Images.

One of the most famous bottled water makers produces its product in Yamanashi, Natural Mineral Water from the Minami Alps (南アルプスの天然水, みなみアルプスのてんねんすい) as well. However, if you’d like to skip the plastic bottle, we recommend stopping at one of the unique places around Yamanashi where you can draw the spring water yourself.

Such places include the Michi no Eki Fujiyoshida (道の駅富士吉田, みちのえきふじよしだ・富士山の水汲み場、ふじさんのみずくみば), a roadside station in Fujiyoshida with water pumping stations, Sanbuichiyūsui (三分一湧水, さんぶいちゆうすい) [English Info], and Michi no Eki Hakushū (道の駅白州, みちのえきはくしゅう) [English Info].

What is your favorite Yamanashi food? What Yamanashi food would you most like to try?

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Saturday 13th of May 2023

Thank you for sharing plastic-free water sources! All the food sounds delicious (except for the egg sacs - lol).