Paragliding, Camping and Caves in Japan! August might be over soon but it's still hot in Japan - so head outside Tokyo for camping, paragliding and spelunking hidden caves in Mt. Fuji!

As you drive into PICA Fujiyama, the first thing you’ll notice are a number of white domes scattered across the lawn. Each of these luxurious abodes, humbly called Amazing Domes, sleeps up to four guests comfortably. While these “glamping” tents are built of a heavy-duty white, waterproof material, some panels are clear, enabling guests to fall asleep gazing up at the stars. Bathrooms, showers and sinks are located a few steps away in the main hall.

Traditionalists can head down the slope to the classic tent site. There’s space to park your car, pitch a tent (available for rental if you don’t have one) and enjoy a barbecue on the deck. Autumn is prime camping weather, but while the tent sites are closed from December to March, you can stay year round in one of the cottages.

The two-story luxury cottage sleeps four and comes with two bedrooms, a kitchen, barbecue grill and a comfortable balcony. The family-friendly standard cottage sleeps six, while the cozy trailer cottage is compact and ideal for those wanting to spend the night before heading outdoors.

In the middle of it all is the Center House, a lobby and hall where you’ll find a restaurant, outdoor barbecue space, showers and bathrooms. At night, the restaurant serves local beef, salmon and other regionally inspired dishes. A breakfast buffet is also served here. Of course, you can bring your own meals but the campsite also delivers barbecue ingredients and utensils right to your doorstep (or tent site).

PICA Fujiyama opened in July 2018, so its facilities based at the foot of Mt. Fuji are brand new and perfect for families or people just getting into camping. You can show up empty handed as camping gear rentals and dining options are available on site.

Activities

You may have missed peak climbing season for Mt. Fuji, but you can still explore Japan’s iconic mountain–albeit from a side of Fuji that most people don’t visit. Only accessible with a licensed tour company, Fuji’s lava and ice caves are a must-see if you’re in the neighborhood.

The trek starts from the infamous Aokigahara Forest, a place with a history of suicides. However, this forest is far from paranormal and with a good tour guide, you can learn about the forest’s unusual landscape and mountain activity. Created by Mt. Fuji’s most recent major eruption in 864, the forest sits on porous lava creating plant life you won’t find on other nearby trails.

The lava cave tour is held year round. Inside, you’ll find the cave floor and walls lined with layers of ice. During the Meiji Period, the local residents used this cave to store food and supplies. Artifacts remain in the caves today.

Once you’ve seen Mt. Fuji from below, get a bird’s eye view by paragliding at Asagiri. Just 45 minutes away by car, Sky Asagiri operates paragliding experiences (tandem and solo training). On clear winter days you’ll get an unobstructed view of Mt. Fuji.

Canoeing, kayaking or stand-up paddling are great ways to explore nearby Lake Kawaguchi. Buses from Kawaguchiko Station run regularly to the region’s second largest lake. After a long day outdoors, enjoy the local delicacy houtouudon noodles in a hot, hearty miso soup filled with vegetables and meat.

Yamanashi Prefecture is famous nationwide for producing some of Japan’s finest fruits. Depending on the season, you can enjoy grape and blueberry picking, buy fresh fruit from roadside stalls and sample seasonal desserts.

Getting There

The best way to get around is by car, although taxis can be arranged. If you aren’t driving, take a direct bus from Tokyo (Shibuya, Shinjuku, Tokyo Station, Akihabara, Haneda Airport) or Yokohama to Kawaguchiko Station, the nearest station to PICA Fujiyama. From there, it’s a 15-minute drive by taxi to the campsite. A free shuttle bus also runs three times a day connecting Kawaguchiko Station to PICA Fujiyama, Fujiyama Onsen (hot spring area) next to Fuji-Q Highland amusement park and the other nearby PICA campsite at Fujiyoshida.

Aside from Fujiyama, PICA Resorts also operates campsites in Yamanashi, Shizuoka and Kanagawa prefectures as well as in Chichibu (Saitama). They also have a campsite on Hatsushima, an island off the coast of eastern Izu.

PICA Fujiyama
6662-10 Funatsu, Fujikawaguchiko-cho, Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi-ken 401-0301
www.pica-resort.jp/fujiyama