Back to nature, back to fitness!

Feel the need to get outdoors and get away from it all? Then plan a vacation in Japan where you can fill up on nature and sharpen your body and mind.

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How about an active stay in a glamping resort by Mt. Fuji that’s specially designed to maximize social distancing? Or a total workout with Japanese-style stretching and aerobics in the forests of Karuizawa. What better way to leave behind your worries?

Fuji: serenity and social distancing

If you’re looking for a stay that will bring you peace of mind in these uncertain times, head to HOSHINOYA Fuji. This luxury glamping resort offers the great outdoors with individual dining and personalized comfort – plus vast forests as your private playground. The resort boasts prime views of Mt. Fuji above picturesque Lake Kawaguchi, and it’s currently offering a special program to avoid the 3 Cs: close contact, confined spaces and crowded places.

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As a guest, you’ll have your own glamping cabin centred on the picture-postcard view of Mt. Fuji. Large south-facing windows open onto a generous terrace fitted with a sofa long enough to recline on. This is not just a choice spot for admiring Japan’s most iconic mountain; it’s also the ideal place to enjoy your meals without social contact.

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As the sun rises over Fuji, you’ll tuck into a carefully-prepared morning bento box. And as the sky takes on hues of evening orange and red, you’ll sip sake with a meal of locally-sourced game and vegetables.

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To add to the atmosphere, the flame-lit torch on your terrace will switch on automatically at nightfall.

Forest freedom

If you prefer to venture out of your cabin, HOSHINOYA Fuji has organized everything to maximize social distancing. Relax with a Japanese whisky around a large bonfire on the Cloud Terrace.

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Make your own pizza in an outdoor stone kiln. Or eat under a well-ventilated tarp surrounded by trees. The number of seats in each dining area has been reduced, and sanitary measures have never been more rigorous – meaning you can truly relax and enjoy the experience.

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What’s more, you’ll be in the heart of the Fuji-Hakone-Izu National Park. Mountains and forest stretch out for miles in every direction, offering the perfect setting for exercise far from the crowds.

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Why not rent a bike and cycle in the foothills of Mt. Fuji? Participate in the resort’s forest stretching routine?

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Or trek on horseback or by foot in the surrounding forests? Nature is on your doorstep and it’s inviting you to explore!

Karuizawa: balancing body and mind

Located in the foothills of the Japanese Alps, HOSHINOYA Karuizawa is a mountain retreat on the edge of the forest. As soon as you step into the grounds of this hot spring resort, you’ll feel an otherworldly calmness descend on you.

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The vast gardens are scattered with footpaths running alongside streams and falls – with elegant private villas generously spaced out across the site. It’s a setting that puts you immediately at ease.

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If you’re looking to escape the pressures of modern life, HOSHINOYA Karuizawa is the ideal destination. And now, more than ever, it’s the perfect antidote to the stresses of these uncertain times. What’s more, the resort is offering a special forest fitness program this summer to rejuvenate body and mind.

Quietness and movement

The weekend-long program makes the most of the resort’s stunning setting by using the vast Karuizawa forest as a fitness studio, and was designed by Taichi Yoda, a personal trainer certified by the American Association of Sports Medicine.

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On the Saturday, you’ll take part in the Breath & Core workout at a private deck in the forest. You’ll be taught to adjust your breathing while concentrating on the natural sounds of chirping birds. And you’ll learn to stabilize the core of your body through breathing.

The following day’s session focuses on aerobics. You’ll use larch logs for full-body stretching, mimic animal movements to stimulate your muscles, and finish with some strenuous circuit training.

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The final part of the program? Purifying your body and mind in the Tombo-no-yu hot spring baths, sourced by 41-42C waters and reputed to get your blood circulating. From the outdoor rock pool, you can lie back in rising steam and release every last drop of stress from your body and your mind.

Climbing Mt. Fuji in style

Imagine yourself on the top of Mt. Fuji. You’ve just hiked up Japan’s most iconic mountain. The sense of achievement is enormous. The view of the Fuji Five Lakes area is breath-taking. And you know this is an experience you’ll remember forever – especially because you’ve done it in style.

The whole way up, you’ve been in the company of a local guide. He’s not only helped you prepare and shown you the quietest and safest way up; he’s also taught you about the history, culture and life of the mountain.

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You’ve stayed the previous night lower down Mt. Fuji in a private room of a mountain lodge, complete with luxury dinner. And you know that, when you get back down, a hearty meal will be awaiting you at HOSHINOYA Fuji.

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If you’ve always dreamed of climbing Mt. Fuji but aren’t sure how to prepare, this is how to do it! The Glamorous Fuji Mountaineering program helps you get ready, takes you to the summit in style, and enables you to make the most of the whole experience. As a bonus, you’ll get to spend the night before or after at the luxury glamping resort of HOSHINOYA Fuji.

Base camp

HOSHINOYA Fuji is set on a tree-lined hillside above Lake Kawaguchi – and every one of the resort’s luxury cabins offers a picture-postcard view of Mt. Fuji.

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Admiring the mountain from the expansive sofa on your balcony, you’ll get motivation and inspiration for the climb ahead. As base camps go, this is at the higher end of the scale.

You can choose to start the program the night before you head off to conquer Mt. Fuji. If you choose this option, staff will prepare an energy bar for you of dried fruits and nuts with coconut oil. You’ll also get to meet your guide, Mr. Kondo.

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A mountaineer with over 21 years of experience, he’s climbed Fuji-san more than 650 times and won awards for his work. He’ll explain what you can expect and, together, you’ll check your equipment.

Preparation program

Not sure what equipment you need? No worries. The Glamorous Fuji Mountaineering program prepares you well in advance. When you sign up, you’ll be contacted 1 month beforehand by the Mt. Fuji Mountain Climbing School. By phone or email, they’ll advise you on how to get in shape and what you’ll need to pack.

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You shouldn’t underestimate the physical challenge. Rocky terrain, steep sections, extreme weather and thin air can render the ascent difficult. So, make sure you follow the exercises and daily routines recommended by the Climbing School to build your fitness and be ready for the long hike up.

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You’ll also be sent advice about how to select clothing and equipment. Don’t forget that Mt. Fuji peaks out at 3776 metres – and the weather can throw anything at you. Even in the summer, summit temperatures average 5C-8C, so follow the guidelines by packing plenty of layers and wearing hiking shoes. And, if you’d rather not buy your own equipment, the Climbing School offers a rental service.

Safety first

When the big day comes, the starting point is the mountain’s fifth station – where the road ends and the only way up is on foot. You’ll start walking around noon and then stay at a mountain lodge to relax for the night.

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Many climbers leave the next morning at around 1am to be at the summit for sunrise. This may sound idyllic, but hiking in the dark is much more dangerous – and you’re likely to encounter crowds at the top. Our approach lets you rebuild your strength and appreciate the mountaintop panorama in relative calm – and you still get to see sunrise from the lodge.

During the climb, your guide will regularly point out the plants and vegetation on Mt. Fuji, explaining how it was formed after repeated eruptions.

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He’ll talk about the cultural significance of Fuji and its historical importance. To the Japanese, Mt. Fuji is more than just a mountain to climb – and you’ll get to understand every facet of its personality.

Luxury touches

The lodge where you’ll sleep adds another level of comfort to your climb. While most hikers sleep in dormitories, you’ll have a private room for up to 4 people. For dinner, you’ll be served beef stew and wine, with staff from HOSHINOYA Fuji on hand to ensure you enjoy the same exceptional service as at the hotel.

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And, when your adventure is over, you can expect more of the same. If you’ve chosen to stay the following night at HOSHINOYA Fuji as part of your program, you’ll have a special foot treatment awaiting you in your private cabin – followed by specialities from the local Yamanashi Prefecture, such as hearty Hoto noodle soup.

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And, if you have the energy, why not head up to the resort’s Cloud Terrace to enjoy a Japanese whisky by the bonfire? After the efforts of the last 2 days, you certainly deserve it!

Making the most of rainy season

From early June to late July, the rainy season works its way up Japan from south to north, bringing high humidity and heavy showers region by region. Doesn’t sound like a good time to visit? In actual fact, the rain doesn’t need to put a damper on your trip, and there are many benefits to travelling at this period.

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You’ll find tourist sights much less crowded, accommodation is easier to find, and forests and mountains are often at their most verdant and spectacular.

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What’s more, themed stays during the season range from rainy glamping near Mt. Fuji to a mud-splattered off-road rally experience in Hokkaido.

Get equipped

The Japanese refer to rainy season as tsuyu meaning “plum rain” because it coincides with the period when plums are at their best. It’s a neat way to put a positive spin on the situation – and there are many more reasons to be upbeat. In Tokyo, the average temperature high is 25C (77F) – far more pleasant than the extreme heat of mid-summer or the cold of winter.

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And rainy season doesn’t mean it rains every day. Sometimes, the entire season amounts to no more than 150mm of rain.

Still, it’s sensible to be equipped for wet weather if you’re visiting during rainy season. First and foremost, that means having an umbrella. Rain boots and a rain jacket are also a good idea.

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And you might want to consider a waterproof bag if you’re carrying valuable gear like a camera or a laptop.

Wet weather wonders

If you’re staying in a city, you’ll have plenty of indoor options to avoid the rain. But it would be a shame to miss out on the great outdoors, which is often at its best during rainy season.

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The wet weather brings lush new foliage and plant life to forests and hillsides. Head to Hoshino Resorts Oirase Keiryu Hotel and you’ll be ideally positioned to explore the celebrated Oirase Gorge.

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Here, in the depths of northern Aomori, you can follow a spectacular 8.5-mile trail from the hotel, following the ebbs and flows of the Oirase stream through the forest to its source, mighty Lake Towada.

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In rainy season, the forest turns a luxuriant green and the Gorge is strewn with glistening moss. Some 300 different varieties of moss grow here, attracting moss enthusiasts from all over the country – and you can even sign up for a Moss Watching Tour at the hotel.

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As you walk, keep your eyes peeled for seasonal wild flowers such as hydrangeas and Tiger Lilies.

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After exploring the Gorge, enjoy getting soaked all over again – in the hotel’s hot spring baths, which include an outdoor bath overlooking the bubbling stream.

Fuji tipis in the sky

At HOSHINOYA Fuji, the resort’s signature glamping experience is given a rainy season makeover.

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The luxury cabins, all offering prime views of Mt. Fuji, come with complimentary ponchos and rain boots.

Set on a forested hill above Lake Kawaguchi, the resort is spread over terraced levels. At the very top, a bonfire crackles away at the Cloud Terrace – with special “rain shelter tipis” suspended from the trees during the wet season.

These designer tipis not only provide shelter; they also change colour when they’re wet, creating a lively décor in the sky whenever the heavens open.

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The resort provides a host of rainy season activities, including a watercolour postcard workshop and seasonal sweet treats around the bonfire. Guides can also take you out to explore the vivid rainy season colours and strong scents of the forests near Mt. Fuji, including the legendary Aokigahara Jukai “Sea of Trees” forest.

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In the evening, you’ll dine outdoors (sheltered from the rain) sampling local cuisine such as game and mountain vegetables.

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Mud fun in Hokkaido

Japan’s northern island, Hokkaido, has no rainy season. But it still rains occasionally – and, when it does, you can drive through the muddy puddles in an off-road buggy at Hoshino Resorts RISONARE Tomamu.

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Set in a vast ski and farm domain, this family-friendly hotel hosts a special rally experience for guests in the summer months.

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Held only on rainy days, the Tomamu Muddy Rally features several courses taking in forests, grasslands, muddy paths, and puddles aplenty.

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You’ll be kitted out in jumpsuit and boots and shown how to operate the four-wheel drive buggy. Then it’s up to you to rev around the course as fast as you can.

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Children are welcome to take a back seat, and there’s no need to worry about getting lost: a guide will follow behind in case you need help.

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Record the fast time of the day and you’ll be awarded champagne and a medal. Then enjoy a soak in the resort’s open-air bath: the perfect antidote to Japan’s summer rain.