Nature and Culture at one of Japan’s most beautiful gorges

By Yuri Yuhara


Located in the north area of Kofu City, Shosenkyo is part of the Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, a 1262 square km park full of mountains, rivers and gorges that spread in four Prefectures: Tokyo, Saitama, Nagano and Yamanashi.

Due to its breathtaking natural landscape and location – Kofu is just a 90 min train ride from Tokyo -, Shosenkyo is a popular day-hike destination, especially in autumn, when the maple leaves turn into deep red. But Shosenkyo has different attractions that can be enjoyed in every season.

The 4 km trail along the Arakawa River gets a vibrant green color in summer, contrasting with the  many gray giant rocks and stones, as Shosenkyo’s main peak, Kakuenpo, a 180 m high rock wall.

Hiking enthusiasts can start the trail from Nagatoro bashi, close to Shosenkyo-guchi bus stop and walk for about 3 km in the middle of a stunning nature, until the Greenline Shosenkyo bus stop. 

From there, in the 1 km road that leads to Sengataki waterfall, Shosenkyo’s main attraction, you can see the Ishi mon, a natural gate formed by rocks, the already mentioned Kakuenpo and many other differently shaped rocks. You can also get close to the water and refresh yourself little bit in cafes and shops along the trail.




We joined a guided tour to enjoy Shosenkyo to its fullest. Our visit started at Greenline Shosenkyo bus stop and from there we walked in direction to the Sengataki waterfall while our guide, Mr. Yoichi gave us all sorts of information about Shosenkyo, in English. 

One of the best parts of the trail is the amazing view of Kakuenpo that we can see from the riverside. And just next to the viewing spot, small outdoor cafe provided us a great place to rest and admire the landscape.
Kakuenpo
From there, we walked the last part of the trail, passing through other interesting shaped rocks full of coins. Some visitants put the coins into the cracks, as an offering to the deities who inhabit the rocks. And just a few meters later we reached the 30 m high Segataki waterfall.


Sengataki Waterfall
After seeing the waterfall, we had some time to check the souvenir shops nearby and set for our next destination, a Hoto (Houtou) noodles shop.

Hoto is the traditional dish from Yamanashi, a kind of soup made of flat noodles and vegetables, using miso paste as base. There are several Hoto restaurants in the Prefecture, but in Shosenkyo you can not only eat but make you own Hoto at the Hoto Kaikan. Flattening and cutting our own noodles, and learning how to prepare Hoto was a unique experience that made us understand better the local culture.




The tour prepared by our guide also included a visit to the Kanazakura Shrine. Located in the top of Shosenkyo, this shrine is famous for bringing luck, especially for those who come to see the Ukon Zakura Tree in full bloom during spring. Kanazakura Shrine was built to worship Mt. Kinpu and it is considered a power spot due its privileged location: a crystal producing area from where is possible to see not only Mt. Kinpu but also Mt. Fuji.

Shosenkyo is famous for being a crystal rock producing area, and there are many shops specialized in crystals along the trail and in the village next to the waterfall, where you can find crystals in all sizes and shapes.
But the one that caught our eyes was the crystal used as a goshuin stamp at Kanazakura Shrine, as you can see in the pictures below.



The last part of our tour to Shosenkyo was a calligraphy class at a traditional building located nearby the shrine. There, we learned how to write some words, as sakura (cherry blossom) and the famous Fu-rin-ka-zan, usually translated as “as swift as wind, as gentle as forest, as fierce as fire, as unshakable as mountain”, Chinese characters extracted from the Sun Tzu’s book “The Art of War” used as the motto of Lord Takeda Shingen, the ruler of Yamanashi during the warrior states period.


The tour started around 9:30 am at the Greenline Bus Stop and we departed from Shosenkyo at 4 pm. Mr.  Yoichi provided us all the essential information for understanding Shosenkyo’s history, geography and the Japanese culture. It was a full day that covered nature, local cuisine, Japanese religion and traditional culture in one of the most beautiful gorges in Japan.
 
For more Information about the guided tour, click the link below 
Guided Tours in English

About Shosenkyo


 

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