If you enjoy visiting lush forested mountains, clear blue rivers and a rugged gorge, then a day trip to Shosenkyo Valley in Yamanashi prefecture should be in your future.
Located about 6 miles north from Kofu City, Shosenkyo Valley is part of the Japan’s Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park. It took about two hours to get there from my apartment in Hamura City outside Yokota Air Base — just close enough to make for a decent day trip.
I first made the trip with my friends last year in spring and I enjoyed myself so much I decided to make a second visit this summer. Whether you go in the springtime, summer or autumn, Shosenkyo Gorge and its surrounding mountains are stunning, especially on a clear sunny day. I’ve been told by friends, though, that the best time to go is in the fall to see the leaves change color.
The walkway through the gorge and towns is easy and pleasant. Among the more prominent sights are the oddly shaped rock face of the Kakuenbo Cliff, which stands about 600 feet high, and the Sengataki Falls, a 100-foot waterfall that flows into the gorge.
The nearby Shosenkyo Ropeway takes you up near the top of Mount Yasaburo-take. On a clear day you’ll get a breathtaking view of Mount Fuji along with a great view of the mountaintops of Japan’s Southern Alps.
At the top of the ropeway, you can either enjoy the sights from the ropeway station or hike a short distance toward other vantage points on the mountain. Use caution, as some of the scenic spots are a little more steep and dangerous.
In addition to the scenery, the area is also known for grapes. Among the appetizing grape-flavored delights is a tasty soft serve ice cream, or if you prefer something a little more adult, there are various places to do a little wine tasting.
Know & go
Admission to Shosenkyo Gorge is free. Parking is available at varying prices nearby, but free spots can be found a short distance outside the gorge. A round-trip ropeway ticket is 1,000 yen.
The nearest train station to Shosenkyo Valley is the Kofu Station on the Chuo Main Line or the Minobu Line. From there you can take about a 30-minute bus ride to Shosenkyo. If you’re driving from Tokyo, take the Chuo Expressway toward Nagoya. Then take the Kofu-Minami Interchange exit to Route 20, which will immediately show road signs directing you to the Shosenkyo area.