You could take National Route 300, known under the nickname of ‘Motosu-michi’ when going to Minobe-cho, a famous town known as a place where there is the head temple of Nichiren BuddhismW sect from Fuji Yoshida, Fuji Kawaguchiko and Narusawa area. This ‘Motosu-michi’ route is a spectacular mountainous route, both in drinving and great views. You should drive carefully since the road is full of hairpin curves going up and down the steep hill of the mountains. The road is not that wide, in fact it is rather narrow, but the dynamic sceneries that catch your eyes on every turn when the vision spreads wide open, the views will surely attract you. But beware not to get too caught in these beautiful sceneries while you are driving! We presume that the route is one of the most recommendable routes, particularly in early spring when the mountain is fresh green with young leaves and in autumn when the mountain is colored in beautiful natural red, yellow and orange. Even on a cloudy day or on a rainy day (be very careful with your driving though!), you can see clouds being churning up from the valleys forming sea of clouds among the mountains, which is a mysterious natural view that may have given inspirations of dragons for past great artists of Japan. You could also hear the soothing sound of the river that runs along the route which sometimes turns into big noise of small falls.
After driving about 10 kilometers on the route, you will find a Michi-no-Eki ‘Shimobe’ built among mountains.
Michi-no-Eki ‘Shimobe’ is situated in beautiful mountains where you could relax and take a deep breath of fresh air after driving on unfamiliar roads. Here, you can enjoy being a part of the nature where there are lawn ground for you to lay down on, footpaths to explore the sitting area set up on the small mountain nearby, a river to enjoy and an old house that used to be a farmer’s nearby where you could freely go inside and take a look at.
Inside the farmhouse, you’ll find rooms that consist of household goods that use to be used in every farmhouse until about 1970’s around country side of Japan. It isn’t gorgeous but you could see that the house and the equipment were made with natural materials that they could easily get, and that people were seeking for more comfort and handiness in their daily living.
There is also a small pavilion where you can study the ecology of fireflies which exist a lot in this area in early summer. As we have been mentioning, Japanese have been living with many species of insects from the past and have been attracted to some of the seasonal insects that reflect the joy and agony of life that humans have. Some of the insects are thought to be good omens and have been put in artistic designs or been motifs of HaikuW key words. Firefly is one of the favorite insects in Japan where in the past, you could see them easily by the clean creek in country side. But unfortunately, with the destruction of environment, the places with fireflies have decreased within these 60 years.
Minobe town and this Michino-Eki ‘Shimobe’ is one of the places where you can still see many fireflies lighting their bottom, flying subtle and profound at night in the season. We are sure you could get the right image that the many Haiku poets wrote on this firefly in their Haiku when you see them actually flying at night.
You can also enjoy your barbecue here as there are huts of barbecue tables. You will have to take your own cooking ingredients (you can buy some vegetables at the shop but better to take your own meat and sausages). They provide you all for grilling; stove, charcoal, skewers, pan and tongs for charcoal. It is better for you to take your own disposable cutlery and gloves preventing the heat when setting and cooking apart form your barbecue ingredients. You need to pay 2,500 Yen to rent a hut of 6 to 12 people for 3 hours. A box of coal is 300 Yen. Extending time rate, every 30 minutes for 100 Yen. Reservation required beforehand by Fax (0556-20-4142) with your name, address, contact number, date when using, number of tables and number of people.
At the shop there are many kinds of local products. Their key products are MisoW, salty soy bean paste and KinakoW, yellow soy bean powder. You can get ice cream of Miso and Kinako in a cup, which may be difficult to find outside area. Worth a try! It ought to give you a good hint if you have bought your own Miso and are willing to add a new menu to your cooking when you go back to your country.
Address : 4321 Furuseki Aza Ozakai, Minobu-cho, Minami-koma-gun, Yamanashi Pref. Tel : 0556-20-4141 Fax : 0556-20-4142 Website : http://www.ktr.mlit.go.jp/honkyoku/road/eki/station/yama_simobe/index.html (Japanese only) E-mail : Not Avaliable Opening Hours : 09:00 ~ 18:00 (May ~ September)
9:00 ~ 17:00 (October ~ April)
Restaurant opening hours : 11:00 ~ 14:30 Closed : Wednesday (except National holiday, the day after the National holiday will be closed), from 31 December to 1 January. Car Park : 52 spaces (including 7 oversized vehicle spaces and 1 barrier-free spaces) Toilet : Available 24 hours