On one of our trips to Yamanashi we stopped at a site where three old school houses from three different eras have been re-purposed as a museum, a cafe, and a restaurant. At 8 am in the morning, nothing was open of course, but it was still interesting to walk around and look at the buildings.
An elegant two story Meiji Era building built in 1875 that was once Tsugane School now houses the Sutama History Museum. There is a beautiful retro style cafe on the second floor, and I really wished they were open. After a 5 am start to our trip, I was getting desperate for coffee.
The Taisho Era school building is a restaurant where you can eat hoto, the flat noodle hotpot dish that is a Yamanashi specialty. You can also acquaint yourself with many other aspects of local agriculture and cuisine there.
The Showa Era schoolhouse is now called Oishii Gakko which means 'delicious school'. They sell Japanese and Italian food, local specialties and bakery fresh bread. You can also lodge in the Showa schoolhouse and make it your base to explore the area.
The buildings and school yard are surrounded by large old cherry trees which must be absolutely beautiful in bloom.
20 minutes by car from Sutama IC or Nagasaka IC (Chuo Expressway)
You can take a Yamako Town Coach bus from JR Nirasaki station, going toward Masutomi Onsen and get off at Hyakkannon (about 20 min.); take Hokuto Shimin Bus to Yamato Kominkan, and get off at Gosho Kominkan, then walk about 10 minutes.
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I fell in love with Japan long before I came here in 2003 to teach English, and it has proved to be a lasting romance. I love the history, the traditional architecture, the food, the strange and sometimes ridiculous contrasts, and the beautiful countryside. I lived in Shiga prefecture for one year, and in Kyoto for nine years, and now I live in Machida in Tokyo. I've traveled a little in Japan, but not nearly as much as I'd like to. I like traveling by train, but my favorite way to travel is bicycle.