Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Shōsenkyō Gorge and the Scenery Second Only to Mt. Fuji

Anyone who has the slightest knowledge of Japan knows the mighty Mt. Fuji. But do you know which landscape closely follows? The scenery at Shōsenkyō Gorge (昇仙峡) in Yamanashi Prefecture will blow your mind off just as much as Mt. Fuji. It is a lot less packed, and you can get some of the best grape wines in Japan from one of the shops (=゚ω゚)ノ.

If you love fruits, you won’t regret visiting the area because you will easily find the best grapes, peaches, and Asian pears in the supermarket in Kōfu City (甲府市), where the gorge is located!

Shōsenkyō Gorge Loop Bus

The Shōsenkyō Gorge Loop Bus is the bus that operates locally within Shōsenkyō Gorge. It is like the taxi in Shōsenkyō Gorge as it doesn’t operate according to a timetable but on demand.

To access the bus, you will need to call the bus company at +81-55-251-8899. Please let the operator know where you want to board the bus and where you plan to get off (within Shōsenkyō Gorge only). The operator will let you know when the bus arrives at the boarding point.

Shōsenkyō Gorge Loop Bus Fare

 A ride through each section will cost you 300 yen. You can get a set ticket of 4 for 1,000 yen (200 yen savings) from several facilities along the trail. The one closest to the car park is a restaurant called Ikkyū (一休).

The remaining set ticket can be used as a cash voucher at all shops that sell the set tickets. One ticket is worth 250 yen.

The list of participating facilities:

Shōsenkyō Gorge Loop Bus’s Operating Hours

  • April – November: 9:00〜17:20
  • December – March: 9:00〜17:40

Nagatoro-Bashi Bridge (長潭橋) – The Impressive Scenic Walk Starts Here

Shosenkyo Gorge's Nagatoro-bashi's Autumn Foliage
Ⓒ photo-ac.com/tw

 If you are coming to Shōsenkyō Gorge from Kōfu City by bus (and want to hike up the mountain like us), remember to get off at Shōsenkyō-Guchi (昇仙峡口) stop. The bus stop is really close to the bridge. If you found yourself on the bus crossing this bridge, you have already missed the stop.

The bridge that was completed in 1925 serves as the entrance to the beautiful gorge. Your camera shutter will be really busy from this point onwards!

The Arakawa River (荒川) runs underneath the Nagatoro-Bashi bridge. The water is crystal clear, and you will soon find a series of oddly shaped stones that were named using the abundant imagination of the locals!

Tips:
☛ Before you get too excited and start trekking along the valley, utilize the toilet in the car park on the other side of the bridge (as the next toilet is located 2.2kkm, 40 minutes away).
☛ There is no pedestrian path on the road tracking the valley. On weekdays, be really careful about the vehicles coming from behind (the road is a one-way only road, vehicles are forbidden to path the road during weekends and public holidays).

Spot Some Incredible Rock Formations

As you trek up the mountain, you will start seeing a series of directory signs along the valley. They are there to point you to the many interestingly shaped rocks and cliffs along the 4 km long trail (Refer to HERE for the hiking route map on the English official website).

Can you spot a bear-like rock formation in the photo on the left?

It was incredibly difficult to figure out just how the locals saw Mt. Fuji or a cat in some of the rock formations. Perhaps we just lacked imagination (´▽`*)…

The rocks along the long valley were formed by magma from millions of years ago. After the magma solidified, it was shaped by a series of natural events and has now become the various shapes that we see now (such as this Big Buddha Stone in the photo on the right-hand side!).

From a geologist’s standpoint, the rocks are even older than Mt. Fuji!

Due to these volcanic activities, from the late Edo period (1603 – 1868), Shōsenkyō Gorge has been developing crystal grinding technology. Currently, the area is producing the most crystal in Japan.

Fun fact: according to a local we met, the source of the crystals that this area has been grinding isn’t from Shōsenkyō Gorge anymore. The gemstones are actually imported…(´▽`*).

Toilet Break at Tenkorin (天鼓林)

Shosenkyo Gorge's Tenkorin's Autumn Foliage
Ⓒ photo-ac.com/

After 40 minutes of trekking, you will find Tenkorin in front of you.

At specific points in the area, if you step hard enough, you will hear a drum-like echo come back to you from the ground (because of the hardness of the ground). This is why the area was named Ten-ko-rin (Sky Drum Forest).

Apparently, the number of spots that echo has decreased recently, but it never hurts to give it a go as we were not lucky enough to find one of these spots…

GreenLine Car Park

It takes approximately 45 minutes to hike up from the car park to the top of the mountain. The scenery along this segment of the trail is even more spectacular than what you have seen so far in Shōsenkyō Gorge!

Not too far away from Tenkorin, you will see the GreenLine Car Park. If you are tired and don’t want to keep hiking up the mountain, You may catch a bus to the top of the mountain here.

There are two types of buses you can catch from this car park. One is the same bus you caught from JR Kofu Station (click HERE for more information). The other bus is the Shōsenkyō Gorge Loop Bus.

Kakuenpō (覚円峰) – The Symbol of Shōsenkyō Gorge

Kakuenpo Cliff at Shosenkyo Gorge
Ⓒ photo-ac.com/tw

Shortly after passing the car park, the picturesque cliff – Kakuenpō will be in front of you.

We are sure you would want to snap a few photos of it with the cliffside plants acting as the backdrop!

Ishi-Mon (石門) – The Stone Gate to the Main Dish of Shōsenkyō Gorge’s Beauty

This gate is formed by two huge granite slabs.

And the most interesting thing about this gate is that the point where it looks to be connected is actually not connected Σ(゚Д゚).

We only found it out while writing this article…(´▽`*). So make sure when you go there, see for yourself!

Senga-Taki Falls (仙娥滝)

Senga-Taki Fall with rainbow, Shosenkyo Gorge
Ⓒ photo-ac.com/tw

After passing the Shōsen-Bashi bridge and climbing up a set of staircases, you will see the most scenic spot in Shōsenkyō Gorge; The Senga-Taki Falls!

It has a height of 30 meters. If you are lucky, you will be able to see a rainbow next to the waterfall (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The waterfall is especially picturesque during the fall foliage season when the trees around the waterfall turn red.

Close to the waterfall, there is a cluster of souvenir shops and cafes. All our friends liked the grape wine and grape products we bought. So make sure you grab some if you have families/friends/colleagues waiting for you to bring back some delicious souvenirs!

Shōsenkyō’s New Landmark – Crystal Fountain (クリスタルファウンテン)

In between Senga-Taki Fall and Shōsenkyō Ropeway, there is a huge crystal fountain that was recently built in Shōsenkyō.

Due to the high quality of the crystal being used, rainbows can be seen in the crystal at certain angles. It is said that the crystal will bring happiness to people who have seen the rainbow (^_-)-☆.

Click HERE to see what the fountain looks like on the Japanese official website!

Shōsenkyō Ropeway (昇仙峡ロープウェイ)

Mt. Fuji from Shosenkyo Gorge
Ⓒ photo-ac.com/tw

When you come to Shōsenkyō Gorge, don’t miss out on the ropeway!

After all, how can anyone say no to the scenery with Mt. Fuji and Southern Japanese Alps as a backdrop (≧▽≦)?

Also, if you have a partner, pay Yakumo Shrine (八雲神社) a visit. It is said that the God at the shrine will bring happiness to your relationship!

It takes around five minutes to get to the Panorama Dai Station (仙娥滝駅パノラマ台駅) from Senga-Taki Station (仙娥滝駅). The cart comes every 20 minutes (5 to 10-minute intervals during busy periods).

The Cost of Boarding the Shōsenkyō Ropeway

  • Junior high school students and above: 1,300 yen for a return trip and, 700 for a one-way trip
  • 4 years old to elementary school students: 650 yen for a return trip and, 350 for a one-way trip
  • Free for anyone who is 3 years old and below
  • Get 8% off when you pre-purchase your tickets online on the official website HERE. The booking website is in Japanese only. If you need assistance, please contact us HERE!

Shōsenkyō Ropeway’s Operating Hours

  • April to November: 9 am to 5:10 pm from Senga-Taki Station
    • The last service from Panorama Dai Station at 5:30 pm
  • From December to March: 9 am to 4:10 pm from Senga-Taki Station
    • The last service from Panorama Dai Station at 4:30 pm

Klook.com

Arakawa Dam (荒川ダム)

Your exploration of the spectacular Shōsenkyō Gorge shouldn’t just end at the ropeway!

Trek further to the Arakawa Dam to enjoy some time away from the crowd whilst being surrounded by mountains and forests. With the sun shining from the correct angle, you will be able to see the reflection of the mountain on the dam’s reservoir – Nosenko (能泉湖) (^^)/.

From the end of October to Mid-November each year, the fall colors around the dam will be alluringly rich. Take a look at the photos on the official website HERE to get some ideas!

The Mysterious but Magnificent Waterfall – Itajiki Keikoku Ōtaki Falls (板敷渓谷 大滝)

Looking for some less explored spots in the area? If you are relatively fit and are equipped with non-slip footwear, hike past the Arakawa Dam and explore the Itajiki Gorge!

The most scenic part of the valley is the Itajiki Gorge Ōtaki Falls. From the entrance just before a tunnel to the waterfall, it is a 15 minutes walk for a one-way trip. On this journey, you will be crossing some steep mountain roads and slippery rocky areas, but with nice nature around. The waterfall, standing 30 meters tall, awaits at the end of the 1km journey!

The fall season, between the end of October to mid-November will have the most vivid colors. However, we feel the waterfall is worth visiting all year round (^^)/. This is especially the case in winter when you will be able to see a frozen waterfall with the surrounding covered by sheets of white snow!

How about a Crystal Picking Experience?

We have all heard of fruit-picking, and some of us may have done it ourselves, but have you ever handpicked crystals?

Shōsenkyō Gorge’s crystal industry goes back a long way, and whilst the locals don’t source the gemstones from the gorge anymore, there are still crystals lying here and there in the Arakawa River.

On your way to Senga-Taki Falls, if you see these two noticeboards in the photo below, you can make your decision on whether to go down to the river to test your luck (well, you will need to be quite unlucky to not be able to find at least one small piece of the crystal).

And, after you have had your fun, please leave what you have picked up in the river. This is for people who come in the future can still be able to find some crystal!

Shosenkyo-Gorge-Arakawa-River-Crystal

Even with the non-slip footwear, be extremely careful when you go down to the river as there isn’t any readily available track for you to walk on.

As we were fortunate enough to be guided by an experienced local, we didn’t really worry about reading what is on the noticeboard.

But, if you are on your own, keep your ears open. As soon as you hear the siren, please head back to the road immediately if you don’t want to be swept to wherever the Arakawa River heads to…

The siren is from the Arakawa Dam upstream, and soon after the siren, the dam will start releasing a huge amount of water.

When Is the Worst Season to Visit Shōsenkyō Gorge?

Shōsenkyō Gorge is a beautiful place to visit throughout the year. But, if you can, avoid the hottest summer months (Jul & Aug). That way, you won’t end up like us – ready to melt at any moment whilst hiking up the mountain (though, we were lucky enough to be picked up by a kind local guy who drove us around…(´▽`*)).

If you are after the vivid autumn color, the best time of the year is from the beginning to mid-November each year. However, this is also the most crowded period.

Various Events at Shōsenkyō Gorge

  • The light-up event at Senga-Taki Falls: The event usually takes place from mid to the end of November. But in 2021, this was shortened to a Two-Day event which took place on the 5th and the 6th of November
  • Matsuri at Kanazakura Shrine (金櫻神社): various festivals are held at Kanazakura Shrine located around Shosenkyo Ropeway. The dates are:
    Setsubun Matsuri (節分祭): on the 3rd of February
    Haru no Rei-Daisui: (春の例大祭): on the 4th weekend of April
    Sakura Matsuri (櫻まつり): from the 28th of Apr to the 5th of May
    Nagoshi-Dainukisui (夏越大袚祭): on the 30th of June
    ☛ Gion Matsuri (祇園祭): on the 15th of July
    ☛ Akirei-Sai (秋例祭): on the 17th of October
    Chinka-Sai (鎮火祭): on the first Sunday of December
    ☛ Akihashi-Sai (秋葉社祭): on the 18th of December
    ☛ Toshikoshi Dainuki-Sai (年越大袚祭): on the 30th of December

How to Get to Shōsenkyō Gorge

You can catch a bus from JR Kofu Station’s South Exit Bus Terminal no. 4. The bus routes that will bring you to Shōsenkyō Gorge are no. 3 and no. 4 only.

There are a total of 3 stops that you can get off for Shōsenkyō Gorge.
☛ Shōsenkyō-Guchi (昇仙峡口): at the bottom of the mountain for you to hike up. A one-way fare from JR Kofu Station is 600 yen. It takes around 30 minutes from JR Kofu Station.
☛ Greenline Shosenkyo (グリーンライン 昇仙峡): in the middle of the mountain. This bus stop is the closest to the famous Kakuenpo cliff. A one-way fare from JR Kofu Station is 840 yen. It takes around 40 minutes from JR Kofu Station.
☛ Shosenkyo Takinoue (昇仙峡滝上): at the top of the mountain. This bus stop is the closest to the Shosenkyo Ropeway. A one-way fare from JR Kofu Station is 920 yen. It takes around 50 minutes from JR Kofu Station.

You can look up the bus timetable in Japanese HERE and translate the webpage to English using Google Chrome’s translation function (if you need assistance reading the timetable, please contact us HERE). The first bus departs from JR Kofu Station for Shōsenkyō Gorge at 7:30 am. The last bus departing from the Shōsenkyō Takinoue stop (昇仙峡滝上) departs at 5:32 pm. Missing the last bus from Shōsenkyō Gorge means you will need to catch a taxi to get back to Kofu City (not ideal).

Note the bus services marked with a triangle icon terminate at Shōsenkyō-Guchi stop (昇仙峡口) from December to March each year.

Connecting JR Kofu Station with Mt. Fuji

Shōsenkyō Gorge in Kofu City is actually quite close to Mt. Fuji. So why not add two of the most stunning spots in Japan the next time you visit the country?

You can easily get to or come from Mt. Fuji by taking the Fujikyuko Bus. Please find further information regarding bus fare and timetable HERE on their official website!

If you are going to Mt. Fuji from JR Kofu Station’s north exit, please head to bus stop no.2. If you are coming from Mt. Fuji, then please head to bus stop no.4 of JR Mt. Fuji Station (富士山駅).

Tip: Refer to the official Shōsenkyō Gorge map HERE for your exploration!

Extra Bus Services during Autumn Foliage Season

Extra bus services operate on weekends and public holidays from the 3rd Saturday of October to the 30th of November.

Nishizawa Valley and the Picturesque Waterfalls

Nanatsugama-Godan-no-Taki nishizawa valley
Click the photo to find out more information about this stunning spot!

If you love hiking in between beautiful waterfalls, you won’t want to miss Nishizawa Valley!

It is close to Shōsenkyō Gorge, and the 5-hour hiking course will be the most unforgettable experience in your life (=゚ω゚)ノ.

To find out more information about the gorge, refer to our Nishizawa Valley article!

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