Camping in Lake Yamanaka Mount Fuji

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“Is there shampoo in the cabin?” I had doubts but asked anyway.

“No shampoo, no soap. You’re camping.  Welcome to Yamanakako!” Fumi, the friendly Aussie-Japanese dude at the reception grinned, handing me four comforters, four pillows and four futon covers.

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Often the best of times can be found in the simplest things.  At least for our family, we have come to realise that we can also find 5-star experiences even in the cheapest accommodations and most basic adventures.

I remember during our Paris holiday five summers ago that there was an evening where we chose to forgo a fancy dinner for a laid-back picnic on the grounds of Champs de Mars with just a takeaway pizza and cans of Coke.  There was no dramatic sunset, but the view of Joaquin rolling on the prickly grass, plus the Eiffel Tower that happened to be there too *wink*, were enough to make Paris unforgettable.

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Picnic at Champs de Mars

And then there was that summer in Lake Tekapo in New Zealand, where we choose to stay in a campsite because the thought of ‘camping’ tickled us, made us feel active and adventurous.  We rented a small cabin, ¼ the price of the hotel nearby.  We did not pitch a tent but we all agreed that the cabin was the closest thing to camping since it only had basic beds and very limited toiletries.  But I remember waking up to a breathtaking view of the calm, turquoise-coloured lake.  And barbecuing by the lake at sunset was unbeatable.  It didn’t matter that we only had some pork slices, Nissin noodles and cheap wine for dinner.  For us, that experience was 5-star.

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Our cabin in Lake Tekapo Campsite

And so just last summer when we went to Japan, we wanted to experience ‘camping’ once more, be close to nature, go back to basics, and Mount Fuji seemed like the perfect place to do all those.

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Mount Fuji as seen from Lake Yamanaka

Unlike New Zealand, it was quite a challenge to find a campsite in Mount Fuji.  Most of the websites were in Japanese and I wasn’t even sure if they had English-speaking staff.  Anyway, thanks to Google translate and Google Maps, I managed to find Odakyu Yamanakako Forest Cottage at Lake Yamanaka. Lake Yamanaka is one of the five lakes around Mount Fuji.  The biggest, more touristy, and most developed with many hotels, ryokans and restaurants is Lake Kawaguchiko.   It did not seem to have any campsite by the lake, though.  Lake Yamanaka is smaller, less crowded, rugged and it had the campsite we were looking for.

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Lake Yamanaka at the campsite

The campsite has several types of cabins and camp facilities.  Most are located in the forest with a few of them even having facilities for dogs.  They only have three cabins by the lake, though, and we were lucky to have secured the last one available.

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The three lakeside cottages
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This one was ours

In front of our cabin was a small space for lakeside autocamp where people can put up their tents and mobile homes, or cars.  Right in front was the lake.

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Autocamp tents

It was very far from glamping but our cabin had some conveniences too like the kitchenette complete with a rice cooker, a small fridge and utensils, as well as a small living space, a sleeping area on the mezzanine, and a balcony equipped with barbecue equipment.

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That’s the carpeted living area, with sliding doors that lead to the balcony
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Modest kitchenette with kitchen- and tableware

My hubby and kids started the barbecue as soon as we reached our cabin, while I, I had to make the beds.  Apparently, that’s what the four futon covers, four blankets, pillows and comforters were for.

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I wasn’t able to do up the futons nicely, though, but no big deal.
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All of this food was bought at Ogino Supermarket but the charcoal was from the campsite reception

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The temperature that night dipped to a chilly 8 degrees Celsius.  We were glad we chose to book a cabin and not pitch a tent (which can be rented at the reception).

The following morning, we took a walk, went to the playground and cycled around the lake.  That’s another beautiful adventure I’d write about on my next post. 🙂

Meanwhile, here are the other pictures at the campsite.

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In front of the campsite, the quiet Lake Yamanaka was just a few steps down from our cabin
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Lakeside autocamp area. The view of the lake was obstructed by the trees though.
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Common toilets at the lakeside autocamp area
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Log cabins in the forest camp area
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On the left was the shared dishwashing area for the forest autocamp
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Small playground with seesaw, swings and a slide
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Map of the entire campsite
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Reception building with a playroom and bathhouse
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Inside the Reception building where we got our charcoal and hot choco drink
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There’s chopped wood too but I couldn’t remember why we got the charcoal instead. Maybe the wood’s for the campfire.

What we thought about camping in Lake Yamanaka: It was another unforgettable experience and we wished we stayed for another night.

Some tips from our family:

  1. Bring warm clothes.  It’s cold in that part of Japan even when the rest of the country is already 27 degrees Celcius.
  2. Book the forest cabins if you have small children and grandparents with you.  The sleeping area in the lakeside cabins is on the mezzanine and can be accessed only using a steep ladder.  Our kids loved this detail though.
  3.  Bring your own toiletries and towels.
  4. Walk down to the lake. It’s just a few metres from the cabins anyway.
  5. Book at least 2 nights if your family is like ours – ready for adventure even if there are a few inconveniences.

 Here are my earlier posts on our family’s 2018 Japan summer holiday:

Road Trip to Mount Fuji

Hiking in Mount Fuji’s Ochudo Trail 

 

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8 comments

  1. Hello dear! What a lovely little camping adventure! Those cabins and the whole place looks quite new and comfortable, a great combination of nature and simplicity as well as a decent level of comfort! Exactly the kind of thing I would go for, too! 😀 Love the cooking photo and also the public restrooms look very “kawaii”!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. That is a neat cabin! In none of our glamping or camping holidays have we had a kitchenette at our disposal. The least we had was a tiny gas stove in a yurt on which we could cook Maggi. You struck lucky, milady. 😛 I can quite imagine that it must have got cold. But look at the memories. Sometimes it is the idea of roughing it out that adds the extra dose of charm as you point out when you mention your other favourite moments from your earlier holidays.
    P.S.:Those loos are uber cool. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Maggi (Nissin noodles in our case) is a staple during our ‘outdoor’ adventures hahah. Our cabin in NZ also had no kitchen and we had to share the kitchen and bbq with the rest of campers. It was so cool! Like a community of adventurous people in there. Wearing hiking boots and all while cooking egg and noddles hahaha… And you said it, it’s that idea of roughing it out that attracts us to do these sorts of holidays. Oh special, special moments these are. 🙂

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