Mitake Shosenkyo (御嶽昇仙峡, Mitake Shōsenkyō), outside central Kofu City, is one of Japan's most beautiful gorges. It is part of the Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, which covers more than 1250 square kilometers of forested mountains, valleys and some rural towns in the prefectures of Yamanashi, Saitama, Nagano and Tokyo.
A hiking road leads for about four kilometers along the Arakawa River from the Nagatoro Bridge to the Sengataki Waterfall, offering beautiful scenery of the mountain river and the narrow valley. Many interestingly shaped rocks which resemble and are named after animals or items can be seen along the hike.
The lower section of the hiking road (about 3 kilometers) from the "Shosenkyo-guchi" bus stop (near the Nagatoro Bridge) to the "Greenline Shosenkyo" bus stop is paved and open to one-way motorized traffic, except on weekends from May to November, when it is for exclusive use by pedestrians and horse drawn carriages.
The upper section of the hiking path (about 1 kilometer) from the "Greenline Shosenkyo" bus stop to the top of Sengataki Waterfall leads through the most spectacular part of the gorge and includes the sight of the 30 meter high waterfall.
Above the waterfall, there is a small village consisting of souvenir shops, restaurants and the terminal bus stop "Shosenkyo Taki Ue". It is also the departure point of the Shosenkyo Ropeway, which provides access to an observation point with panoramic views of the Southern Japanese Alps and Mount Fuji on clear days.
Shosenkyo Gorge is particularly beautiful and well visited during the autumn leaf season, which typically reaches its peak from late October to mid November.
From Tokyo to Kofu
Kofu can be reached from Shinjuku Station in central Tokyo by direct limited express trains (90-105 minutes, about 4000 yen one way) or local trains (160 minutes, 2270 yen one way, one transfer of trains at Takao along the way). The trip is fully covered by the Japan Rail Pass, JR Tokyo Wide Pass and JR East Nagano Niigata Area Pass.
There are also frequent highway bus departures from the Shinjuku Bus Terminal in Tokyo to Kofu Station. The one way trip takes 130 minutes and costs 2000 yen.
From Kofu into the gorge
Buses to the gorge leave in front of Kofu Station once every one or two hours. They take 30 minutes and cost 590 yen to "Shosenkyo-guchi", 40 minutes and 820 yen to "Greenline Shosenkyo", and 50 minutes and 900 yen to the terminal stop "Shosenkyo Taki Ue". Above fares are one way fares.