You might have heard of Shizuoka Prefecture for its delicious green tea and amazing views of Mt Fuji. But there are so many other things to do there, you might be surprised! I have visited this region several times but I had the opportunity to travel to Gotemba for the first time with our team at Arigato Travel a few weeks ago, and to discover the Toki no Sumika area!
2 hours and a half by train from Tokyo, Toki no Sumika is located in the valley at the base of the magnificent Mt Fuji. With a lot of shops, restaurants, cafes, a local brewery, great accommodation and activities options, and an onsen (hot springs) resort, this is the perfect place to get your body and mind refreshed.
Make your belly happy!
One of the funny things I noticed when I arrived in Japan a few years ago is, when I was asking my Japanese friends for travel suggestions in the country, they always recommended me places according to their foods. I mean, when I was living in Paris my friends would have told me “if you go to Rome, you’ll have to check the Pantheon!” or “if you go to New York, you’ll have to visit Central Park”. But in Japan, food is definitely on the top of the list (which makes me happy since one of my favorite things to do when I travel is to discover local foods).
So of course, the first thing to do if you go to Toki no Sumika is to try some local products. The good news is that you can find everything you need in the main area. As a beer lover, I’d say that you’ll have to first have a sip at the GKB (Gotemba Kogen Resort) and try the craft beer! Made with the pure water from Mt Fuji, they have a few different ones and I can assure they are proud of it. If you’re hungry you can also find delicious dishes at their restaurant (meat, pizza, pasta, sausages, everything that goes well with beers!).
If you’re in the mood for dessert, maybe you can visit the Normandie Chocolate shop. No, sorry, MAKE SURE to visit the Normandie Chocolate shop. Why? Because I had the best softcream of my life there! They also sell cute and delicious chocolate lollipops, hot chocolate drinks (perfect if you go during the Winter season), chocolate bars with different flavors etc. Yes it’s all about chocolate (but who will complain?!).
In the complex, you can also find a lot of other options where to eat and drink (yakiniku, bakery, local supermarket, local winery and so much more!) so make sure to come hungry!
Get recharged and relax!
Look at how this goat seems to be living her best life…
Toki no Sumika is the perfect place to get your battery recharged! So drop off your phone (you might keep it to capture some great photos for your Instagram though!), leave the world behind and breathe.
First of all, (if the weather allows it) this is an underrated spot to see the beauty of Mt Fuji. Just looking at her is kind of powerful and refreshing. Gotemba is a great place to enjoy some great views and I’d recommend keeping an eye on her, especially during the Winter season (it’s harder to have a clear view during Summer!).
Want to relax? Why not join a Zen experience in a special temple? Arigato Temple is the place to go. After a pleasant walk along a path where you will gradually feel the spirituality of this unique place, you can enjoy a Zen meditation with a Buddhist monk, Machida san (who speaks perfect English!). I’m the type of person who recently didn’t take any time to give my brain and thoughts a break… and I was happy to have tried it for the first time! The experience was really immersive and I felt so chilled out and inspired after! And again… you can enjoy this session while looking at Fuji san. (By the way, our local guides would be more than happy to bring you there and on a 6-hour culture and food adventure).
Then, what’s better than hot springs to relax? Toki no Sumika resort is also a great place to enjoy onsen. They have several places and baths and this is a perfect way to end your day!
And if you’re going in the Winter to early Spring, you’ll be able to enjoy the illumination event called “Hikari no Sumika” on your way. With its 370m tunnel of lights, illuminated fountain, trees and so much more, there’ll be plenty of photo opportunities (and this is the perfect date spot too!). The illuminations start in late autumn and last all the way until just before cherry blossom season!
After the gorgeous illuminations it is time to enjoy the cherry blossoms with hundreds of trees in bloom and specialty food and craft beer made for the seasons. The chance to see Fuji-san rising up above the sakura trees is another great reason to head over to the resort.
Toki no Sumika is a really nice place for families but also for friends and couples, so make sure to add this to your places-to-visit list. You can check their website for more activities, shops and restaurants here: http://gotembakogenresort.com/
Join a local guide on a pub hopping and food tour in Gotemba!
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