Take a scenic walk in Yamanashi and spot some awesome rock formations. Is that one shaped like a cat…?
Shosenkyo Gorge, known in Japanese as Mitake Shosenkyo, is an incredibly scenic spot in Yamanashi Prefecture. The narrow gorge is lined with interestingly shaped rocks and cliffs with a comfortable four-kilometer long hiking trail.
Located about a 30-minute bus ride north of Kofu City, the Shosenkyo area encompasses not only the gorge with its rock formations but also the surrounding mountains.
Though the gorge is beautiful in all seasons, it is especially impressive during the autumn months.
Breathtaking views and hiking
The best way to explore the area is to take the Shosenkyo Ropeway on the upper, northern end of the gorge.
At the top of the ropeway is the Panorama Dai (Panorama Platform) offering breathtaking 360-degree views of Mount Fuji and the Southern Japanese Alps. You’ll even spot the expansive Chichibu Mountains in the distance. There is also a beautiful little shrine called Yakumo Shrine known for bringing luck in marriage.
Next, start hiking toward Shosenkyo Gorge from the ropeway ground station. You will first pass through a small village with stores selling colorful crystals found in the area, some of them quite large.
While you’re in the village, try the local mitake soba. We highly recommend the kinoko soba which comes with a large helping of wild mushrooms!
This isn’t the same Arakawa River flowing through Saitama and Tokyo, it’s a rather short river in Yamanashi Prefecture bearing the same name!
About those rocks…
Cross the bridge over the river and immerse yourself in the world of the curious Shosenkyo rocks. Towering to your right is the Kakuenpo, a steep rock which monks were said to have meditated on.
Duck through Ishimon, a stone gate formed by two rocks extending from the cliffside and a riverside boulder. There is a tiny space where the rocks meet just big enough to put your hands in between the two colossal pieces of stone. People leave coins inside the crevices here for good luck.
Further ahead, the tall cliffs give way to a wooded valley. From there, you’ll see the strangely shaped rocks down by the riverbed rather than towering over your head.
Spot the neko ishi (cat rock), saru ishi (monkey rock), and rakuda ishi (camel rock). With a little imagination, you will discover that the rocks look exactly like what they have been named after. Figuring that out and discussing it with hiking partners is a great game.