It has been seven months since the perfect wedding proposal, I am finally done procrastinating and wrote about it! My proposal happened right in front of Mount Fuji- one of the three holy mountains in Japan that was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22, 2013. The ryokan where York proposed is called Kozantei Ubuya Ryokan (湖山亭 うぶや) in Lake Kawaguchiko district. It has one of the best views of Mt Fuji as the ryokan is situated on the northern shores of the lake. He booked the most expensive penthouse in this roykan (room 501) where the balcony has the biggest private open hot spring bath (onsen) in the area with a magnificent front view of Mount Fuji.
Location of Kozantei Ubuya Hotel
At first we were hoping to find a hotel around Mt Fuji that has a great view of the mountain to celebrate our first year anniversary. I have always wanted to stay in a hotel with a view of Mount Fuji right outside the window. I realized that you could see Mt Fuji from Hakone, however it seems quite far from the photos people posted up online. After further research, staying near Fuji Five Lakes seems like the perfect distance away from the Mountain. Out of the Fuji Five Lakes, Lake Kawaguski is the most easily accessible.
Public transport from Tokyo to Hakone is relatively straight forward by a direct express train called “ROMANCECAR”. However taking public transport from the Hakone Area to Lake Kawaguski onward is more complicated. Hence we ended up hiring a car from Tokyo to explore the Mt Fuji region to avoid waiting for public transport in the cold with our luggage.
Kozantei Ubuya Hotel is located on the northern shores of the lake. It’s one of the few hotels that has a clear view of Mt Fuji from every room. Although many other hotels in the region also has private balcony with Japanese onsen, one picture on the hotel website stole York’s heart. He spent 100K Japanese Yen (around AUD$1200) for one night to celebrate our first year anniversary.
Although you can see Mt Fuji from every room in this hotel, there were only seven rooms that has private spas. People in the other rooms can still go to the public ones, but neither of us went as we wanted to maximize our time in our room.
Since I didn’t know about the proposal, I told York not to spend so much money on one night! However York insisted on spoiling me, so I just gave in. Luckily I did, or else we would’ve missed out on one of the best views in my life! Unfortunately on the day of check-in, there was a huge blizzard in the area. It was York’s first time driving in the snow. Luckily we were safe despite driving without snow chains on our wheels.
Due to the unexpected storm, we skipped the remainder attractions in Hakone and drove straight to Lake Kawaguski. En-route we stopped at Gotemba Premium Outlets, a must-stop for females where over 200+ brands are on discount annually. What’s special about this place is that you get to enjoy magnificent views of Mt Fuji while you splurge. Of course due to the weather we didn’t see anything except snow.
From Hakone to Lake Kawaguski is only 58km (1.5 hours of driving) however due to the snow we took a bit longer. We were quite impressed with the road quality in Japan, no wonder the tolls on the highway is relatively expensive compare to the neighbouring countries. We arrived at our destination around 4pm and a hotel staff dressed in a kimono showed us our park for the night and promptly brought some hot tea and Japanese treats while we filled in the forms.
Kozantei Ubuya Hotel- Room 501
Kozantei Ubuya’s website has detailed floor plans of each rooms they provide. It also dedicated a separate page to show the floor plans of rooms with private onsen. Room 501 is located on the top floor and it is the largest room in the ryokan. When you book on-line, you cannot choose between Room 401 and 501 as the prices are the same. Room 401 has a western-style bedroom within the room, however it does not have a roof-top onsen.
We really wanted Room 501 as it was the penthouse and is a traditional Japanese style room. York had to make a booking over the phone to secure it specifically. The English level in this hotel is quite good, definitely a lot better than Hilton Tokyo Bay where the concierge couldn’t help us at all with car rental. From that day onwards, staying in Room 501 looking over Lake Kawaguchi and Mt Fuji was the most look forward moment for our Japan trip.
As soon as we got to our room, our bags were waiting for us already. The first thing I did was to run towards the balcony and as expected, the combination of fog, snow and clouds hide Mt Fuji quite well. However the ice on Lake Kawaguchi plus the surrounding scenery was stunning. At that time we knew the weather forecast was sunny and clear on the next day but we have to check out by 11am.
In Kozantei Ubuya, all the rooms with a private onsen have western style beds except for this one. In this room, the hotel staffs will use the beddings stored in the wardrobe to set up one of the tea rooms as a bedroom after our dinner. They also have traditional Japanese wear such as the yukata in the wardrobe. Next to the entrance there is a whole section where you could prepare your beverages. As we were in Japan they have top quality green tea and tea set prepared. York and I were not very good at tea preparations so we ended up using normal tea bags.
We also had a small western style lounge near the window, which was perfect for sitting there and enjoy the views. The room was equipped with Sony audio system which one can enjoy while relaxing in the spa, however the environment was so serene I didn’t want to disturb it with music.
We had so much space in this hotel that shower, toilet and basins were all separated into different areas. The Japanese toilets are usually automatic has a button that can cleanse your bum and the toilet seats are always warm in winter. I really hope that we can have a toilet like this at our house. It also had a double basin and all the required top quality shampoo, conditioner and body soap. They even labeled them in Chinese for us so we know what we were using.
The dinners at ryokan are always included and is known to be quite fancy. York and I both wanted the later session so we could relax and enjoy our room a bit first. By now, the blizzard has ceased and there were only a small amount of snow flurrying from the sky. I never thought I could enjoy the hot spring in such a relaxing environment. It was very quiet and we enjoyed our hot spring in peace. I lied my head on the rock pillow, bathed in hot silky spring water and watched the fluffy snow drifting towards me. When I raise my head by the slightest, I could see the soft light on the other side of the lake. The moment was surreal.
I thought dipping in the hot spring and watching the snow fall was romantic enough, but when I was busy showering, York took out some candles he carried all the way from Australia and made a love heart with them. It was quite windy, so the lighting process took longer than he anticipated, hence I caught him doing the act. It was such a dorky act but it was nice and really sweet. In addition to the candles, he also bought me flowers.
York had the hotel to prepare the flowers and it may have ended up a little different to what he had in mind. It still looked pretty despite that it wasn’t a normal bouquet. However we were going to leave Japan in just 4 days and we couldn’t bring it home with us. I even got cross at him for being so wasteful with money but deep down I was very secretly happy that he was so thoughtful for our one year anniversary.
湖山亭 うぶや Dinner
Dinner was served on the second floor of the hotel. We had a table next to the window, which we could have seen Mt Fuji on a clearer night. Half way through our meal, our waitress dressed up in a Mt Fuji costume to have a picture with us! She said “Since there is no Mt Fuji tonight, I’ll be your Mt Fuji!”.
A bit of Japanese humor always highlights the trip.
The hotel was super thoughtful. They even framed that photo and gave it to us as a gift as well as a bottle good quality Japanese wine over dinner.
The meal we had is called Kaiseki– a traditional multi-course meal that is analogous to Western haute cuisine. It requires a collection of skills and techniques to prepare. The meal starts with an appetizer set called “Sakizuke” which is light and refreshing. Followed by the set “Hassun” which consists of seasonal vegetables matched with sushi. Then, you’ll have the “Mukōzuke” set which are the seasonal sashimi. The prawn head and the beef sushi were my personal favorites. The qualities were superb.
We also had a miso soup which is known as Futamono “lidded dish” served in a tea pot. we had to pour it in a small cup which was quite different to the Japanese meals we had in the Western world. Just like degustation, the variety beats the quantity. We were super full by the end!
For our main dish, we had top quality Wagyu beef with intense marbling patterns. Each piece melted in our mouth after some gentle heat on the hot plate.
We got offered to move to the lounge for desserts. It was very modern and bar like setting. We were seated next to a decorated fireplace where the staff took a photo for us. Japanese people never fail our expectations at taking nice photos.
湖山亭 うぶや Public Facilities
There were a row of nice massage chairs next to the restaurant, however, the place were packed with people by the time we finished dinner. They also have a massage center as well and the prices were not too expensive. We waited our turn for the massage chair and used the internet there for a while. The only area that you can get access to free WI-FI is around the restaurant. Although no internet in the bedroom was not an issue for us though as we rather spend more time enjoying the view and our hot spa!
Public spas for men is located at level 2-3 and women’s is located at level 4-5. At the public spa, they got natural spring, sonar, steam room, foot spa and multiple treatment pools. Thinking back, it was a pity that we did not go there to check the public spa out. In addition to these services, the hotel also had a library and a small temple.
Our beds were already prepared in the main tea room when we arrived back from dinner. The bedding were super comfy! Japanese people usually air the quilts under the sun to make them extra fluffy. I wish our own quilts at home could be this comfortable! It was our first night in our Yukata, so we thought we should do some funny selfies.
We had another round of hot spring after our photo shoot. The weather was freezing at this time and was the perfect time for a dip in the hot water. I love the feeling of a combination of hot spring and cold air! We had our own water tank as well to keep ourselves hydrated. By the time we finished with it, we were super relaxed and ready for a good night sleep!
On the next day I was woken up at 5 o’clock in the morning by York. At that moment I was slightly confused at why I was woken up so early but York explained that the clouds had all cleared up and the scenery of Mt Fuji was perfect. I would have regretted forever if I did not wake up to see the sunrise over Mt Fuji at that moment. It was stunning, amazing and right outside our window!
Mt Fuji did not seem impressive from afar when we saw it for the first time from Tokyo, but from up close, it was a different story. I could now understand why Mt Fuji is listed as one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites and a symbol for Japan. It was HUGE from where we were staying and I don’t believe any photos we took that day could represent how magnificent this Mountain is.
A slight reflection of Mt Fuji could be seen from the photo above. Usually the reflection, also known as the inverse Mt Fuji, can only be seen at dawn. It also has to be clear sky with minimal wind (so the lake can form a mirror) for the inverse Mt Fuji to appear clearly. A perfect reflection is not commonly seen and is one of the most treasured views of Mt Fuji. If only there were no ice sheets on the lake that day, we would have been able to see it!
The perfect time to see Mt Fuji is during autumn or winter. During other seasons, Mt Fuji can be at a higher risk of being covered by cloud.
After admiring the mountain for a while, York remarked that we should take some photos to remember this moment. He then busily setup the camera on top of some chairs, pretending we were to do some more timer shots but switched the camera mode to video without me knowing. He came back pretending to be ready for a photo but instead of pulling a funny face, he knelt down and pulled something out of his pocket. I was completely stunned when he revealed a Bvlgari box and inside, a ring that I dreamed of having since high school. Then, York proposed to me.
From high school, I keep telling all my friends that when I get proposed, I must have the whole process recorded by a secret camera man and York knew about this. That’s why he used the camera that he set up to record the whole proposal. I was quite suprised that he could think of such a way. I have taught him well!
I honestly do not remember what York said during his proposal. Just remember he shed some tears and stuttered some words. Honestly, it was super cute. I, on the other hand, kept smiling and laughed a little. I even joked that he is tearing up because he realized that he will be my personal slave for the rest of our lives. Muahahahaha!
I really didn’t thought my wedding ring was going to be the ring that I had a crush on since Uni! I loved the Corona right designed by Bvlgari (offical website) and the Corona Paved was my favorite. That ring has really fine works of little diamonds paved on either side of the main diamond. It takes top craftsman ship to create a unique ring like this one. I really didn’t believe that I could find a man that will be willing to give me this ring. I know my branded Jewelry very well as my mum was a Jeweler. My favorite branded designs were always Cartier or Bvlgari, but Cartier’s design is a little pain for me. I do refer the elaborate design of Bvlgari as people could see the uniqueness from the first glance!
湖山亭 うぶや Japanese Breakfast
Breakfast time, but my my eyes were still fixated on this shiny diamond. I thought that after a proposal I would stare into my lover’s eyes but couldn’t stop staring at this shiny ring! This wonderful and delicious breakfast was all a little bit of a blur, but at least I took some photos of the food we had.
We had the opportunity to choose Japanese or western style breakfast before we finished dinner on the previous night. We picked the Japanese breakfast as we were in a Japanese Ryokan. It was quite tasty and very traditional. I questioned York during breakfast that why he proposed here instead of my dream destination in Greece. He smiled and said that it will be a lot easier to come back here to celebrate our future wedding anniversaries than going to Greece. True… but I don’t think we will need to book room 501 again. I only need a room with a private hot spring!
During breakfast, the server of our table yesterday presented us with the photo they took with special blessings from staff members. We never received anything hand written from any other countries we visited before, so this was quite unique and personal. I will definitely treasure this memorable photo.
Last two hours of my perfect hotel room
Finally our stay in this ryokan was coming is coming to an end. We had a late check out at 11a.m . Due to the perfect weather, we had a clear sight of Mt Fuji. We spent our last moments in this hotel on our balcony!
When we left this hotel, we went to many look outs around Hakone to see Mt Fuji from different angles. None of them could beat our view from our balcony. More importantly, everywhere else with a view was packed full of people. I didn’t think I could have ever appreciated Mt Fuji’s beauty if we didn’t stay in this hotel. Our efforts on searching the hotel with the best view of Mt Fuji was not futile!
湖山亭 うぶや Conclusion:
Room 501 was truly the most beautiful hotel room with a view of Mt Fuji. The starting price in this hotel is from 44,100 Japanese dollars. Although it is a little pricier than most hotel in the area but it’s definitely worth it. please press here if you want to look at prices for the hotel.
湖山亭 うぶや Hotel Information:
Address: 日本〒401-0303 山梨県南都留郡富士河口湖町浅川１０
Phone: +81 555-72-1145 or book through English booking.com (link)
Round the World in 2016
Before we get married in two years time, we will be quitting our jobs to travel around the world for one year! Follow us on my Facebook page: Travel with Winny. Come and travel with us!