Fujikawaguchiko, Japan

Photo: Hoshino Resorts Inc.

Japan was recently named Travel + Leisure’s Destination of the Year. It’s easy to see why. Pulsing Tokyo. Historic Kyoto. Revitalized Nagasaki. Brash Osaka. Plus their breathtaking cherry blossom festivals. These exciting cities aren’t what fill your dreams about the Land of the Rising Sun, though. It’s Mount Fuji that’s on the top of your wish list.

Mount Fuji is one of Japan’s Three Holy Mountains. The dormant stratovolcano—it hasn’t erupted since 1708—is the highest mountain in Japan. It’s also the second-highest peak in Asia and the seventh in the whole world. Mount Fuji has a perfectly symmetrical cone. At least five months of the year, it’s capped with snow. While on a clear day, you can see it from Tokyo, 60 miles to the northeast. No wonder it’s such a recognizable symbol of Japan.

You aren’t necessarily looking to hike Mount Fuji. That would require a lot more preparation and skill. But you’d love to see it in person. Fujikawaguchiko is the perfect place to do so. It’s the town with the highest elevation in Japan. It surrounds Lake Kawaguchi, one of the Fuji Five Lakes that were formed by Mount Fuji eruptions. It also sits right in the foothills of the famous mountain.

Photo: Hoshino Resorts Inc.

To feel even more connected to nature, you should stay somewhere that makes you feel like you’re living outdoors. It’s not camping. The Japanese don’t really do that. It’s not quite glamping either. That would still require a tent, albeit a souped-up one. This spot features cabins. But not the rustic ones that immediately come to mind. Instead, in true Japanese style, they’re minimalist cubes that jut out from the hillside. Three walls are concrete. The fourth is glass. It leads to a living room-style balcony outfitted with a wide sofa, colorful pillows, and a custom-built table that holds a fire pit. They all overlook the lake and, though the top is usually obscured by clouds, Mount Fuji.

These cabins are part of Hoshinoya Fuji. The resort’s 15 acres are filled with red pines, ginkgos, and cherry trees. A small hut sits at the foot of the hill. It’s the reception building, where you’re given a canvas backpack full of gear—a blanket, binoculars, and a headlamp—upon arrival. Glamping Masters—staff members who will guide you through the outdoor activities—escort you up to your cabin, which smells like hinoki when you open the door. Other paths lead to the Base Camp, hammocks, and, eventually, the Cloud Terrace. These wooden platforms, connected by stairs, have a bonfire that’s never extinguished.

On top of that, a Morning Box—containing a Spanish omelet, warm bread, yogurt, and local jam—will be delivered to your cabin for breakfast. You can eat after paddling a canoe across the lake at sunrise or soaking in a flower-filled tub. Those always-helpful Glamping Masters will teach you how to brew coffee outside, chop wood for the pizza oven, or smoke woodchips for an al-fresco dinner. Or you can just plop yourself on your balcony, pop open a bottle of wine, and stare at one of the most beautiful mountains in the world. Mount Fuji is your destination of the year.

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