If you are looking for an inexpensive, short, unforgettable getaway for your weekend, a trip to Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, would be a perfect choice. One famous sightseeing spot where you would feel totally refreshed is the Shosenkyo Gorge (御嶽昇仙峡, Mitake Shōsenkyō). It is part of the Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, which covers more than 1250 square kilometers of forested hills, valley, and rural town in Yamanashi, Saitama, Nagano, and Tokyo prefecture. Shosenkyo Gorge is well visited during the autumn leaf season from late October to mid-November, but it was also gorgeous in summer as I had my visit last August.
- Reach the top of Shosenkyo!
- Smell the fresh air and watch Sengataki Waterfall
- Visit the Shadow Picture Art Museum
- Eat good food and buy souvenirs
From the Shosenkyo Guchi stop, you can hike for about four kilometers along Arakawa River from the Nagatoro bridge to the Sengataki Waterfall surrounded by beautiful scenery of the mountain. From Greenline Shosenkyo stop, it is only about 1 km to reach the waterfall and Shosenkyo Taki Ue stop. From Shosenkyo Taki Ue, do not miss the chance to ride the Shosenkyo ropeway (cost 1200 JPY return trip), you will have the best panoramic view for about 10 minutes trip on your way up. From the arrival point, you can hike a little bit more to the top of Shosenkyo (or you may have a delicious grape ice cream first!). Enjoy the perfect greenery view, and don’t forget to take picture from the top.
About 5 minutes by walk, you can follow the path to Sengataki waterfall with some souvenirs and food shops around. It is one of the 100 best waterfalls in Japan and has about 30 m (100 ft.) height.
The museum was registered as the first shadow picture museum in the Guinness Book of Record. It is a gallery that would take you into the fantasy of Seiji Fujishiro’s artworks, the master of shadow picture. Entrance ticket are 800 JPY, but you can get it for only 400 JPY if you purchase the ropeway ticket as well.
Yamanashi Prefecture is famous for its fruits, wine, and also houtou (udon). You can have a tasteful bowl of houtou for about 1100 – 1500 JPY for lunch, and buy raw houtou in a box for 800 – 1000 JPY for souvenirs. Other shops around the waterfall also sell colorful crystal stones and Japanese traditional souvenir.
Besides the gorge, Kofu also had interesting streets and sights. Koshu Dream Road, right opposite the Kofu station, has cute cafes and craft shops. Moreover, you can see a lot of grape field around and you can enjoy grape picking for only 1000 JPY for 45 minutes! For one or two night trip, you could have an inexpensive but extremely refreshing and fun getaway!
A highway bus from Shinjuku to Kofu station (takes around 130 minutes) cost 4000 JPY for return trip on the weekend, and 3000 JPY on weekdays. According to Yamanashi-kankou website, foreigners can even have a bus ticket pass valid for 7 days to get around Yamanashi Prefecture for only 5000 JPY. The ticket pass can be purchased at the Shinjuku Highway Bus Terminal.
If you prefer commuting by train, you can also start from Shinjuku station and use Chuo Line Limited Express (takes around 90-105 minutes) cost about 4000 JPY one way trip.
In front of Kofu station, you can find buses to the Shosenkyo Gorge every 1-2 hours. There are three different bus stops: Shosenkyu-guchi (30 mins, 590 JPY), Greenline Shosenkyo (40 mins, 820 JPY), and Shosenkyo Taki Ue (50 mins, 900 JPY). Shosenkyo Taki Ue stop is the most preferable if you want to ride the Shosenkyo Ropeway and watch the Sengataki Waterfall.
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