Sitting around a campfire makes one more perceptive of the woods around them,
awakening instincts that have been numbed by contemporary life.
Glamping is a stylish form of play designed to stimulate these dormant senses
--without the toil and labor associated with camping--
but it requires a suitably sophisticated playground to be effective.
Such a playground exists at HOSHINOYA Fuji,
a glamping resort located on a red pine slope overlooking beautiful Lake Kawaguchi,
a stone's throw away from Mt. Fuji.
HOSHINOYA Fuji is nearly hidden by the surrounding woods, located 100 meters up the slope of a mountain. Slender paths meander through a landscape of soil, grass, and tree roots. You inhale deeply and gaze up at the ceiling of red pine needles and multi-shaped leaves that hangs far above you. Leaves and branches cast shadows on you that shift over time, allowing you to perceive the sun's position in the sky. You find that your eyes are now instinctively drawn to every subtle change or occurrence that graces the scenery.
The fresh scent of conifers and other trees enters your nose, exhilarating you even as it beckons you further up the slope. You follow the scent to the top of Cloud Terrace--a series of wooden platforms connected by stairs--until it is replaced by the smoky aroma of an enormous bonfire. The fire is maintained at all hours of the day, drawing people to it day and night, its smell appealing to something primal in all of us. A tiny object falls from the sky and lands on the platform with a pleasing clatter--a pine cone, perhaps? Having satiated your nose, eyes, and ears, you decide to quench your palate with one of many whiskies on hand. The woods are truly a sensory wonderland.
You decide to explore a grassy path designed to be walked barefoot. New sensations travel from the soles of your feet to your head, and a smile forms on your face. How soft and relaxing the leaves feel beneath your feet, you think. Eventually, the leaves will return to the soil to infuse it with their comforting texture. As you walk through the resort's vast, fifteen-acre premises, you become aware of your senses sharpening, freed from the dulling numbness of city life. You have discovered a new self--one who can experience so much just from the sensations coursing from the bottom of your feet.
Minimalist cabins jut out from the slope, like telescopes aimed at the beautiful lake that lies directly ahead--and majestic Mt. Fuji just beyond. Living room-style balconies occupy a third of each cabin, blurring the line between interior and exterior. You watch the ripples traveling across the lake; just beyond, you can make out the foot of Mt. Fuji, the rest of the mountain veiled by clouds. At night, orange lights glow in the darkness, signaling the presence of a town somewhere in the distance. You never realized a room could simultaneously contain so little and yet so much. As you ponder such thoughts, the stars above slightly shift their positions.
There are some areas where one can eat game meat all year round. In such places, deer and boar feed on a range of seasonal fruits and flowers, which is why their meat tastes differently depending on the time of year. By eating game, you are, in a way, also partaking of the woods themselves. You dig into a cut of venison that you grilled yourself, with some help from the chef; its flavors are remarkably deep. Glamping, you realize, is simply a conduit for delivering the finest offerings of the wild. You decide to thank the woods for their blessings.
Guided by the resort's Glamping Masters, you tick off a wish list of outdoor activities you have always wanted to try: smoking food, cooking with a Dutch oven, and making pizza in an oven fueled by wood that you chopped yourself. You understand it is never this easy, with every tool and ingredient provided upon request. The next time, perhaps, it will take longer to start that fire. But the idea does not concern you; having had a taste of these activities, you now welcome the challenge. Something in you has been unlocked, and it can never be sealed away again.