If you love pastoral landscapes, you may have heard about Katsunuma Budo-no-Oka in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan. As a frequent visitor, I’m going to give you all the details of Katsunuma Budo-no-Oka with photos I took for myself.
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What is Katsunuma Budo-no-Oka?
Budo-no-Oka (ぶどうの丘), also spelled “Budou no Oka,” is a big sightseeing spot which has many different facilities such as souvenir shop, restaurants, winery, hotel and public bath. “Budo” (Budou) means “grape,” “no” means “of” and “oka” means “hill.” Budo-no-Oka therefore means “Grape Hill.” It’s a tourist attraction in the town of Katsunuma (勝沼).
Where is Katsunuma Budo-no-Oka and how to get there?
Katsunuma Budo-no-Oka (Budou no Oka) is about 2 hours away from Tokyo. It’s in Yamanashi Prefecture, a neighboring prefecture of Tokyo, but there are so many vine fields and it feels as if you are 500 miles away from Tokyo.
Let’s see it on a map. Here’s Katsunuma Budo-no-Oka:
In order to go to Budo-no-Oka, you can take either a highway bus or trains. Highway busses depart from Shinjuku and it’s the easiest way, but be careful when you take a bus on weekend. Usually highghway busses only take 1.5-2 hours, but the highway gets super crowded on long weekends and it might take 3-4 hours. If you go to Yamanashi on a long weekend, therefore, take a train instead.
There are express trains and local trains, but I would recommend local trains considering cost efficiency.
From either the train station or the bus stop, you can walk to the hill. It takes 15-20 minutes.
What to do on Katsunuma Budo-no-Oka?
As there are so much to do, you wouldn’t get bored even if you stayed on the hill for the entire day. Let’s see what you can do there!
Have barbecue at the outdoor restaurant
There are four restaurants on the hill, and one of them has a terrace with a super nice view. The restaurant is usually crowded during lunch time, but it’s worth waiting in line and have a barbecue at the terrace. Grilling nice local meat in front of the vast Kofu Basin is superb!
Go to the wine tasting cave
On the hill, there is a wine tasting cave where you can taste Katsunuma’s tasty local wines. By paying 1,520 JPY (about $14), they will give you a tate-vin tasting cup and you can go to the cellar. You can stay there as much as you want, and the amount you can taste is not limited either. You can even re-enter by showing the tasting cup even if you leave the cellar. The admission is valid for one day (the color of the strap of the tasting cup changes every day).
Take onsen at “Tenku-no-Yu”
Once you are satisfied with all the activities on the hill, take onsen (hot spa) to refresh yourself. Not only is the bath so relaxing, but the view from the onsen is breathtakingt: You can have views of Kofu Basin from the outdoor bath. The name of the onsen is “Tenku-no-Yu” (天空の湯) and it means “celestial bath.” Sounds romantic, doesn’t it?
For details on the opening hours and the fee of the onsen, see the official tourist guide in English.
Before you take onsen or public bath in Japan, make sure to learn about Japanese bathing rules reading this post.
Have dinner at the Western style restaurant
As I mentioned above, there are four restaurants on Budo-no-Oka. There are of course Japanese style restaurants, but the Western restaurant has a nice view of Kofu Basin and I would recommend this one. They have a la carte menu as well as course dishes, and they all taste amazing. Enjoy the yummy dishes with local ingredients.
If you get lucky, stay at the hotel
If you are lucky and able to book a room, staying on the hill is perfect. The hotel is always fully booked for months in advance and it’s extremely difficult to stay on the hill on weekends, but if you could book a room, it would be super cool.
It’s an ordinary hotel, but think about all the activities you can do on the hill. After having nice barbecue, visiting the cellar, enjoying the onsen and dinner, you don’t want to spend another hour to go back to wherever you stay, do you? If you stay on the hill, all you have to do is just go to bed! So far, in my case, unfortunately I was only able to book a room once when there were many cancellations. I could book a room because it was right after the huge earthquake that struck the East Japan in March 2011 and everybody cancelled a room.
If you have enough time in the Kanto area (Tokyo and its vicinity), Katsunuma Budo-no-Oka (Budou no Oka) is a must visit. A room should be available on weekdays, so try booking a room in advance.
If you are interested in other hidden tourist attractions near Tokyo, see this post.