Health & Beauty: Green house effects
At the foot of Mt Fuji, Solar Café and Earth Embassy offer
weary Tokyoites a taste of an eco-friendly lifestyle and a reprieve from
the city frenzy. Stuart Braun takes a breather.
Yearning for space and solitude? Need a detox weekend? Within striking
distance of Tokyo and tucked among the daikon and cypress pines at the
foot of majestic Mt Fuji, the Solar Café and Earth Embassy offers clean
food, a clean vista, and clean fun. At this PC retreat, you can drink
organic tea, or coffee if you have to, take in the wonder of the volcanic
behemoth stretching before you, and best of all, just think.
You might want to think about a hike along rugged lava ravines, about
setting up your tent, about mountain biking, a trip to the Narusawa ice
caves, reading, or traversing the foothills by horse in the tradition
of the samurai who once roamed the area. When you get back there'll
be fresh, locally grown food to enjoy at the café, and of course there'll
be Fuji, whose mere presence, even when shrouded in vast pillows of rolling
mist, is breathtaking.
Minutes from Lake Saiko, one of five glacial lakes skirting the base of
Fuji-san, the Solar Café and Earth Embassy was created as a place for
the jaded urban warrior to rejuvenate, revive and relax. Not a health
farm, fat farm, or New Age retreat, the Solar Café represents a way of
life, says founder Jake Reiner. "It's a commitment to environmentally
sustainable lifestyles and businesses through participation in the creation
and operation of a self-sufficient education center, organic farm, restaurant,
fair trade shop and eco-technology development and demonstration center,"
Even the exterior
soothes at Solar Café
It's also a place to chill out. Wander around the storestocked
with jewelry from Fiji, hemp goods from Nepal, organic tea from America,
t-shirts from India and Thailand, musical instruments from Chile. Take
in the aroma of the herb garden stretching around the property. Order
a glass of locally brewed beer or wine. Look back over to Fuji from the
pagoda, or saunter over the road to the market to purchase fresh and cheap
local fruit and vegetables for your wanting fridge in Tokyo.
Located in Narusawa-mura, a short drive or bus ride from both Kawaguchiko
and the Fuji Q Highland amusement parkfeaturing one of one the
world's biggest, and most feared, roller coastersthe Solar
Café is a gateway to hiking, horse-riding, caving, canoeing and onsen
around Fuji. Though in summer this fabled stretch of Yamanashi Prefecture
can be expensive and crowded, the Solar Café occupies a niche among the
corn and daikon farms, and better still, offers one of the best unobstructed
views of Fuji in the area. It also offers sanctity for your body and your
Clean and green
The Solar Café was established according to the principle of tote tabete,
which literally means to pick and eat. In an effort to avoid processing
and packaging, Reiner has set up an organic farm to grow all the food
available at the café. "We also aim to go 100 percent organic to
demonstrate the affordability and health benefits of a non-chemical lifestyle,"
|Solar Café's organic lawn mower
An architecture graduate who continues to work in Tokyo, Reiner decided
to establish a self-sufficient café, complete with chickens and a lawn-mowing
sheep, as a prototype for clean green living near the city. He is also
currently designing self-sufficient eco homes and imports various environmental
technologies from America and Europe. And as an urban complement to his
rural retreat, Reiner recently started the Roof Top Garden Project in
Tokyo where eco-technology types will work together to establish organic
herb tea gardens on rooftops around the city.
In addition to fresh air and food, the Solar Café makes and markets a
range of natural soapsgreen tea soap, organic chamomile, coffee,
etc.and cosmetics including shampoos and creams for people with
sensitive skin (atopi). These complement a selection of delicious herb
oilsrosemary-togarashi (chili) oil, garlic thyme oil, basil oiland
vinegar made on the premises with homegrown organic herbs. Potted herbs
including basil, lemon balm, chamomile and Echinacea are for sale.
For those with a greater commitment to the eco-lifestyle, opportunities
to work as a volunteer on the farm or in the café in exchange for room
and board are available. Camping space (¥1,000-1,500/night) and
lakeside cabin accommodation can also be arranged. The café has a stage
and occasionally hosts live music and events. Mountain bikes and horse-riding
can be organized at the café, while the Narusawa ice caves are within
walking distance. Otherwise, the rest of Fuji is your oyster, and the
Solar Café staff will help you with queries about hiking trips, canoeing
and general exploration in the area.
Although this mountain retreat offers a myriad of salutary activities,
perhaps the most beneficial is a beautiful setting to kick back and do
Take Keio Highway Bus from Shinjuku west exit, next to Iidebashi Camera,
to Kawaguchiko station (1h 45min, ¥1,700). Then take the Motosuko
Bus from Kawaguchiko Station (20min, ¥600) to Koyodai Iriguchi.
Get off the bus at Koyodai Iriguchi and walk straight 2 minutes towards
Motosuko The Solar Café Earth Embassy is on the right side of Rte 139.
By Car, take Chuo Expressway to Kawaguchiko, get off and take a right
onto Rt139. Go straight for 11min. Solar Café on right side of 139, just
before Narusawa ice caves.
Guest room ¥2,000
Camp with rental tent ¥1,500
Treehouse (max people) ¥3,000 per night
Bike Rental ¥500 per day
Horse Riding ¥3,000
Call for reservations, 090-9346-3774.
Photos courtesy of Solar
Café and Earth Embassy