by Scott, staff writer of japan-guide.com
This journal is a log of my travels within Japan. Here you'll find my personal opinions on the places I've been and the things I've seen. Also expect to see the occasional review and editorial. Thanks for reading.
2008/10/21 - Nishizawa Valley
Today we made a second trip out to the Chubu Region to check out the fall colors. This time we headed south to Nishizawa Valley in Yamanashi Prefecture. This narrow valley has hiking trail which leading along a mountain stream to Nanatsugama-Godan-no-Taki, a beautiful five tiered waterfall. The trip to the waterfall takes about 90 minutes along mostly narrow, rocky trails. Sturdy hiking books are recommended.
The hike started out pretty green with only a few red or yellow trees here and there. Also, there were only a few other hikers on the trail which was quite different from last time I came here when it was pretty crowded. Of course that was on a weekend during the peak season, yet still we were a little surprised that there weren't more people.
The trail was more like a dirt road for the first couple hundred meters until you reach a set of toilets. From there the trail becomes narrower and is mostly covered by the trees which shelter you from the direct sun but also block your view of the colors on the opposite side of the river. All of a sudden the view opens up as you come to this suspension bridge.
After the bridge the trail continues to follow the stream and was still mostly covered by green trees. The fall colors were showing up more often, but since we were in the bottom of the valley we didn't get any spectacular, expansive views. The different colored trees over the river did create a nice atmosphere though.
Still, it was relatively green, which may have to do with this part of the valley being in the shade of the neighboring mountains. On the plus side, the stream that the trail follows has a number of pools and small waterfalls that were covered by the shady canopy. While it didn't make for great koyo pictures, it was perfect for taking shots of the running water. It would have been easier if we had brought a tripod though.
About 90 minutes after we left the car we came to Nanatsugama-Godan-no-Taki. The trees were nicely colored with a satisfying mix of yellow, red, and orange. The picture above was around 11:00 and the light was just reaching the falls.
From the falls a different trail leads back along the opposite side of the valley that you came in on. A short hike and a bit of elevation gain later brings you to some benches and a toilet. From here we were high enough to get some good views. The opposite and sunnier side of the valley had a lot more color with lots of red, orange, and yellow.
The trail back was along what used to be an old rail line. It was a lot wider and smoother than the earlier trail. Every now and then at a bend in the road or a break in the trees you could get some pleasant views across the valley. There were also a number of short bridges along the way that reminded you how high up the mountain you were.
About 3.5 hours after we first started hiking we returned to the trailhead and headed home. Today we saw some nice autumn colors along a not too strenuous hike, overall a nice way to spend an autumn morning.