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Most visitors to Japan try to take at least one excursion to view majestic Mount Fuji, arguably one of the most scenic mountainscapes in the world.
Travelers relying on the ease of packaged tours to get them around will likely find themselves in the Hakone area without ever realizing there are plenty of other ways to find Fuji.
The adventurous traveler would be wise to check out the Shizuoka Prefecture for their mountain-viewing excursions. The area is serviced by the Shinkansen high-speed rail, and it just welcomed the new Shizuoka Airport (FSZ), which services domestic routes as well as several international cities throughout Asia.
In addition to avoiding some of the “commercialism” of Hakone, Shizuoka offers a long coastline, which means plenty of outdoor activities, gorgeous scenery and fresh seafood. It is also home to a large concentration of hot springs and some of the most beautiful Ryokan (traditional-style inns) in Japan, so visitors have plenty to do even when their memory cards fill up.
Mt. Fuji from the Osezaki Cape
Chichibu-no-miya Memorial Park
Mt. Fuji from the Chichibu-no-miya Memorial Park
GrinPa Amusement Park
The Ferris Wheel at GrinPa Amuseument Park
A fairly regional attraction, Grinpa Amusement Park is unknown even to some local Japanese people. The park, however, houses themed lands for the uber-popular Sylvanian Family and Ultraman Robots, so kids love it. There are also hilly areas that families can use just for sledding in the winter time. The park also houses the tallest Ferris Wheel in all of Japan, making this an excellent way to catch a unique view of Mount Fuji.
Sunrise at the Awashima Hotel
Many of these excursions are quite off the beaten path and even local Japanese may not be familiar with all of them. English can be a challenge for the people in this area, as they don’t get many Western visitors. A call or e-mail to the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) and Shizuoka Prefecture Tourism division are suggested during the planning stage. Also, Japan offers a free Goodwill Guide service which may help clients navigate some of the waters along the way. (The services of the Goodwill Guides are free, but visitors are expected to reimburse the guides for any meals, attraction entry fees, accommodations and transportation fees.)
Japan National Tourism Organizationwww.jnto.go.jp
Shizuoka Prefecture Tourism Associationwww.shizuoka-guide.com