Foodie hotspots: Kofu, Fujikawaguchiko, Fujiyoshida, Katsunuma, Chuo city.
Foodies Look Out For: Hoto hotpot; soba buckwheat noodles; Fujimabushi trout on rice; torimotsu-ni; Yoshida udon; minegoshi; fruit, especially peaches, pears, grapes and cherries; Yamanshi ‘Koshu’ wine.
The Basics: Yamanashi is best known amongst alpinists, winter sports lovers, and those seeking a quiet respite from the pressures of Tokyo, as it is in only a few hours from Shinjuku on the fast train.
Foodies Go Yamanashi:
Yamanashi has always nestled in the culinary shadows of its neighbors in Nagano and Shizuoka, and its laid-back populace don’t seem to mind that at all. Its most famous dish is hoto, thick, flat wheat noodles in a broth of seasonal vegetables such as mushrooms, kabocha pumpkin, and pork, chicken or beef, with a miso flavoring. Like many rural Japanese soups and broths, precise ingredients vary from shop to shop, house to house, and according to what’s available. Fujinoochaya in Fujiyoshida and Kosaku Honten in Kofu are good places to try it.
Fujikawaguchiko’s Fujimabushi is a relative newcomer, with freshwater fish, especially rainbow trout from Lake Sai on the North-Western side of Mount Fuji cooked in an earthenware pot and served atop rice.
Although Nagano is famed as the place where soba buckwheat noodles were first served in Japan, Yamanashi also claims the historical bragging rights, and delicious soba is found across the prefecture, especially in Kofu, the main city.
What differentiates soba shops here is that almost all serve torimotsu-ni, stewed chicken gizzard, as a side dish. It tastes far better than it sounds, especially when accompanied by sake. The shop that first created it in the 1950s, Okuto Honten is still in business in Kokubo-machi in Kofu. It has a convenient branch near Kofu station.
Yoshida Udon is a favorite of Fujiyoshida district, made with the pure waters flowing from Mount Fuji. Musashi and Miyaki, near to Fuji Q Highland, are local favorites. A flat summer counterpart rather similar to kishimen is known as ozara. It can be eaten either hot or cold. Try it at Chiyoda in Kofu.
Mushroom lovers will want to look out for a particularly tasty type of mushroom minegoshi that is only found here. It is a type of shimeji, with a pink hue, hence its nickname sakurashimeji, the ‘cherry blossom’ shimeji.
The Yamanashi Budget Gourmet Try Kikkyouya Kofu Honkan's series of sweets, including kikiyoushingen mochi soft cream and chestnut dorayaki, or Manyoutei's Minobu manju. Another delight is the seishun no tomato yakisoba, which you can find throughout Yamanashi city. Shisenkaikan and Oideya in Chuo City are popular spots for it.
The Ramen Professor Recommends: Yamanashi hasn’t gone as ramen nuts as most of the nation. Tonton near Kaiueno station is famed for its salt-based pork ramen. Those who like such things have it topped with butter. Tsukemen fans head to Chuka Soba Uezu in Showa-machi, Kofu.
FGL Favorite Tipple: Katsunuma in central Yamanashi prefecture is where the majority of the nation’s grapes are cultivated. Yamanashi’s wines generally have a refreshing acidity, and are named Koshu wines after the Japanese grape used to create them. Though most Koshu wines are white, Bailey Muscat reds are increasing in popularity. Katsunuma Jozo Winery is a good place to start sampling the more than 200 Yamanashi producers’ wares.
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