The holiday season is upon us and one of the favorite things we like to do as a family is Winter Illumination viewing. Last year we went to Gotemba Kogen Resort (or Gotemba Kohgen Tokinosumika) to experience the fascinating display of lights to amplify our holiday spirit. But, first we indulged in a nice buffet dinner at a restaurant called Mugibatake in the Carnival Plaza. Easily accessible by train or car, the beautiful resort should not only be explored day & night, but throughout the entire year!
On the premises of Gotemba Kogen Resort is a buffet-style restaurant named Mugibatake. The Regular Course is 3,150 per Adult or 1,575 yen for Elementary/Junior High School students and runs for 80 minutes. It is considered to be an open-style world kitchen that serves Japanese, European, Chinese, Thai, Indian, Italian, and our favorite, American style steaks. To entice you even more, the course includes a beer fountain that serves five handcrafted varieties: Pilsner (2010 Monde Selection Gold medal), Weizen, Weizen Bock and their famous Schwartz bier (Dark Beer & 2010 Monde Selection Silver medal). All are made with pure spring water from deep beneath nearby Mt. Fuji and compliment the buffet dinner very well. Especially, if you get a chance to try the homemade German style sausages.
After dinner, prepare yourself for more joy and excitement. The Gotemba Kogen Winter Illumination is a popular attraction that lights up between November and March from 4:30-10:00pm daily. There are over 4 million lights and a 340-meter tunnel you can walk through. Pictures from this years event have already been posted to the Japanese website which include 5000 white storks flying in unison! Be sure to bundle up. It’s very chilly this time of year especially if you plan on visiting the water show at the end of the 340-meter tunnel. The year 2014 marked the 5th Anniversary of the illumination show and was reported to be just as fantastic as the performances in Dubai and Las Vegas. There is no entry fee to admire the lights and water show, but it will cost you 2,200 yen for parking at the resort.
If you’d like to stay for the night and possibly witness the glorious sight of Mt Fuji, Gotemba Kogen Resort offers five different types of lodging to accommodate couples, families or solo travelers. From a few standard hotels, to stylish round villas or even condominium complexes to choose from, each has either access to their own private bath or to the nearby hot springs (Kira-Kobu or Chame Yudono). To make a reservation or submit inquiries, complete an online form or call 090-8475-4512 for assistance in English.
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Originally from San Diego, California, I lived in Japan for 4-1/2 years and now I am currently based out of Honolulu, Hawaii. In December 2010, I arrived in Yokosuka with a new outlook on my future. Mainly, to refocus on family and let my curiosities take us to places we’ve only dreamt of. Along the way, we’d hopefully develop new friendships and simply collect memories to last a lifetime. Then, there was the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. I will never forget that experience and the devastating effects it had on the entire country. I asked the community, “What can I do to help?” Collecting, sorting, and packing donations, was the least I could do. I also ended up going back to California for one month, raised a small monetary donation for Red Cross, and secured a few phone interviews to help spread the word on how others from the United States could assist. I was determined to show my family, friends, and folks across the world that it would be okay to return to Japan. After all, I wanted them to know that all of the little things that make up this beautiful country still existed. What better way than to use a platform such as JapanTravel.com to share photos and stories full of life, history, and culture. It is a pleasure to say I have contributed more than 150 articles to a database that now collectively holds more than 15,000! This journey has not only allowed me to realize my initial goals, but I’d like to think that it has somehow played a role in sparking an interest locally and across the globe for others to experience all that is published here and more. I invite you to also share your wonderful stories, offer comments, and ask questions right here on JapanTravel. Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Safe travels! ٩( ๑╹ ꇴ╹)۶