If you’re looking for an overnight getaway with a view of Mount Fuji, the lakeside hot springs town of Fujikawaguchiko—just two hours outside of Tokyo—is the perfect destination for a one or two night trip. For stunning Mount Fuji views paired with top-notch service and incredible relaxation, the best place to stay is Kozantei Ubuya—a perfectly located ryokan (traditional Japanese-style hotel) with both private and public onsens overlooking Lake Kawaguchi. Here, I’m sharing a review on my blog of our memorable one-night stay at Kozantei Ubuya.
During our December trip to China, we made a game-time decision to tack on a few days in Japan to visit old friends and eat all the things. And while Tokyo is absolutely our favorite place in the world, given that combined we’ve probably spent 1,000 nights combined there, we figured we ought to see another part of Japan. Our favorite hot springs town, Nozawaonsen came to mind—but a quick search showed that there wasn’t enough snow to ski just yet. So we rerouted to Fujikawaguchiko, a Japanese hot springs resort town surrounding Lake Kawaguchiko.
A REVIEW OF OUR ONE-NIGHT STAY AT KOZANTEI UBUYA
Our Japanese-Style Room with a View
We stayed in a spacious Japanese-style room with a tatami floor, two floor chairs, tokonoma (alcove) with sofa seating and a coffee table. While the room was sizable, the bathroom was in typical Japanese fashion quite small, though there were separate rooms for the toilet and shower. Because we bathed in the shared hot springs / onsen bath area multiple times, we didn’t actually use the shower in our room at all. The room was impeccably clean.
This may be one of the most relaxing places I’ve been in the world. When we entered the room, wagashi sweets greeted us on the table and huge windows showcased the expansive Lake Fujikawaguchiko.
Upon arrival, only a tiny bit of Fuji was peeking out from under the cloud cover. The next morning, however, we woke up while it was still dark out and watched an incredible sunrise.
Kozantei Ubuya has 43 Japanese-style rooms (where you sleep on futons on the tatami mat) and only 8 Japanese-western style rooms (with proper beds). If you’ve never slept on the floor at a ryokan, I highly recommend trying it over a western-style room—contrary to what one might think, it’s absolutely heavenly and I always sleep like a rock.
All the Onsens at Kozantei Ubuya: Indoor, Outdoor, Private, Public
There were multiple indoor and outdoor onsens (hot springs) separated by sex, all with spectacular views of Fuji. The best view was from the women’s indoor onsen, a large pool with floor to ceiling, special anti-fog windows. I also loved lounging in the rotemburo (outdoor onsen)—breathing in the crisp cold air while soaking in hot spring water.
The changing rooms were spotless and felt simple but luxurious, with high-end toiletries including shampoo, conditioner, body wash, scrub, face cleansing oil, and body lotion. Small towels and lockers were provided.
Kozantei Ubuya also offers rooms with private onsens, but unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for our wallets), they were fully booked by the time we were making our reservations. Some ryokans allow outside visitors to pay to enter the onsen, but Kozantei Ubuya does not—though the hotel was fully booked, I ran into only a few women in the baths, and at times had the bath to myself.
A Shabu Shabu Dinner
We selected a specific meal time at check-in and were only offered the shabu shabu option for dinner (I believe they also offer a wagyu yakiniku option if you stay more than one night). We were seated in a semi-private tatami mat dining room with with four tables and floor-to-ceiling glass windows. Since it was past sunset, we couldn’t see the view.
The meal began with several amuse-bouches served with rose, followed by a small sashimi plate.
The main course was shabu-shabu: Japanese-style hot pot with high quality, deliciously marbled A5 grade Kuroge wagyu beef.
Dessert was a concoction of pears, melon, red bean and custard in a crispy pastry shell, topped with a scoop of ice cream.
Note that while some of the TripAdvisor reviews mentioned a kaiseki dinner served in-room or in private dining rooms, the current dinner served at Kozantei Ubuya wasn’t a true, several-course kaiseki; but a few courses served in a dining room with three other tables. Information about the meals was a little hard to come by (other than piecing it together through TripAdvisor reviews) because neither the website or staff cater to English speakers.
A Traditional Japanese Breakfast
At 8 am the following morning, we headed back downstairs to the dining room for a beautifully presented traditional Japanese breakfast. Mt. Fuji was resplendent over a peaceful Lake Kawaguchi.
Additional Amenities: Massage Chairs, Tea Service, Shuttle Service
The ryokan had a wonderful massage chair room that we enjoyed each time after exiting the baths. There was also coffee/tea/juice service on the lobby floor, a smoking room, plus several areas in which you could lounge and read.
The Price: Expensive, but Once-in-a-Lifetime
The cost of the room is steep—we paid close to $500 for the most basic Japanese-style room—and we’re normally not the type to spend more than $250 a night, except for special occasions. Most hotels I recommend on this blog are in the $150-300 range.
However, because we booked all of our other accommodations for the trip on Marriott and Sapphire points, we splurged on one “special” hotel night. The price of the ryokan stay also includes a quality sit-down breakfast and dinner for two, which together are easily worth $150+.
At $350 for just the room, the price becomes a little more palatable—and as further justification, the ryokan itself was the main attraction for us in Fujikawaguchiko. Since we spent nearly the entire time we were there on-property, I felt like we really maxed out our enjoyment of the views and the amenities. Our quick trip exceeded our expectations, and we wished we’d stayed two nights.
How to get there: From Tokyo to Kawaguchiko
We took a bus from Tokyo Station to the Kawaguchiko Station for 1800 yen. You can also depart from Shibuya or Shinjuku Stations. From the Kawaguchiko Station, a cab ride to Kozantei Ubuya costs around $15-20 USD (the hotel also offers a shuttle if you arrive before 3 p.m.). The train from Tokyo to Kawaguchiko is available as well, but bus both costs less and involves less transfers.
For more info on transportation, see: How to travel between the Fuji Five Lakes region and Tokyo.
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