Your first full day in Minobusan begins early. Morning prayers at Kuonji, the head temple of the Nichiren Shu Buddhist sect, begin at 5:30am (Apr. to Sept.) or 6am (Oct. to Mar.). Although there are noon and afternoon prayers, the morning prayers are one of the religious highlights of a trip to Minobusan and should not be missed.
Kuonji is a 15- to 20-minute walk from Kakurinbo, so give yourself enough time in the morning. The prayers last approximately 40 minutes. There is a second service immediately afterwards. However, unless you understand Japanese, we recommend you skip it. Instead, spend some time wandering around the temple grounds in the morning light before heading back to Kakurinbo for breakfast.
After breakfast (7am to 9am), take a nap to prepare yourself for the rest of the day.
Later in the morning, you return to Kuonji the hard way, by climbing the “287 steps of enlightenment.” The steep stone stairway begins soon after you pass through the spectacular Sanmon, the third largest such gate in Japan. The towering cedar trees that line the walk are hundreds of years old.
At the top of the steps, trace a route to the left around the main temple to find the jump-on point for the Minobusan Ropeway, which will ferry you to the top of Mt. Minobu in 7 minutes. On a fine day, there are stunning views of Mt. Fuji and the surrounding landscape from the summit (1153 m). Be sure to ask for a ropeway discount ticket at Kakurinbo before you leave.
Minobuan, a no-frills café on the peak of Minobusan, is the perfect place to relax over a cup of tea and a snack. If you would like something more substantial, try the noodles, donburi rice dishes or the trademark curry and rice.
If you have good walking shoes and strong legs, then hike back down the mountain to Kuonji via the 5-km East Course. Keep in mind that there are some very steep sections and therefore this hike is only recommended in dry weather. The walk takes about 90 minutes. Be sure to bring drinking water with you. There are a number of interesting relics along the way, including the ancient Jorokudo temple.
If you prefer to return the way you came, then take the ropeway back to Kuonji. Your discount ticket can be used on the return trip as well.
After reaching Kuonji, head to Homotsu-kan (Hall of Treasures, admission 300 yen; last entry 3:30pm) for the more cerebral activity of sutra copying, or shakyo. Tracing a sutra takes about five minutes and is seen as a form of meditation. The entry fee allows you to copy as many sutras as you like. You may then leave some sutras at the temple as a form of prayer and take some home with you as souvenirs.
After returning to Kakurinbo, rent any one of our four battery-assist bicycles (3,000 yen) and spend some time riding around the neighborhood. A ride up to Gobyosho is a must. This serene garden on the banks of a mountain stream is the original site of Kuonji and the current resting place of Nichiren (1222-1282), the Buddhist priest who founded the Nichiren Shu sect.
Return to Kakurinbo to freshen up in time for dinner at 6pm. If you have time, wind down in one of Kakurinbo’s wine salt-infused baths before your meal. Bath times are 4pm to 10pm. All guests are provided with traditional yukata house robes and are encouraged to wear them throughout their stay at Kakurinbo. Three different sizes are available.
Alternatively, enjoy an al fresco aperitif on Kakurinbo’s Sakura Terrace. We have a wide selection of Yamanashi beers, wines and sake, as well as soft drinks made from locally grown fruit.
After dinner, try on one, or even two, of our 13 authentic wedding kimonos for an unforgettable photo shoot. We also have two men's montsuki hakama kimonos available. The kimono experience is free for all guests and takes no more than 30 minutes start to finish. Please ask a staff member when you arrive.
End the evening with a long bath or a nightcap on Sakura Terrace before retiring to your room.
We wish you a pleasant and memorable stay.
*Please note that photographing morning prayers at Kuonji is not allowed without permission. Yukata can be worn throughout Kakurinbo and even in the street. However, do not wear yukata to morning prayers.