Shosenkyo Gorge, a Scenic Japan Hike in Yamanashi
An uncountable number of hiking trails exist in mountainous Japan. In the near-Tokyo areas, Mt Fuji, Mt Takao and Shosenkyo Gorge trails are popular destinations.
Hiking Spots in Japan
Close to 70% of Japan is covered with mountains and forests. Perhaps for that reason, hiking is a popular activity among Japanese. Young children to the elderly walk up mountains for various reasons; to see the foliage, to view the city from the peak, to go to a Shrine, for a date. It is therefore easy to find short hiking trails as well as more challenging ones. Here are three of the best places to go near Tokyo.
1. Mount Fuji
At 12,388 ft (3776m) and located only two hours away from Tokyo is Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain. A Japanese proverb sums up the hiking experience. “If you don’t climb once, you’re a fool, but if you climb twice, you’re an even bigger fool.” The proverb tells us that we should challenge ourselves to climb the tallest mountain in Japan, but why do it again when the mountain is more beautiful from the outside? The view from the peak is breathtaking but the hiking trails aren’t the most scenic. Mount Fuji is, however, the most revered mountain in Japan, so it’s a must-try to climb it if you have the opportunity. Trails are open from July 1st to early autumn and four different hiking trails are available. It takes about 1 to 2 days for the entire hike.
Walking slowly up the mountain is key to avoid altitude sickness. Also, even if the mountain is open in mid-summer, remember to bring a winter jacket because it’s freezing at the peak. You can buy a wooden walking stick at a souvenir shop before you start the trail. Bringing water and some sort of food would be a plus because everything sold on the mountain is expensive. For more information on climbing Mount Fuji, visit their
2. Mount Takao
Located only one hour away from Tokyo is a small mountain of 1,965 ft (599m) called Mount Takao. You’ll find many children and the elderly on the hiking trail (avoid weekends if possible because it gets crowded on a sunny day). If the weather permits, you can see Mount Fuji from the peak. It’s open all year long and takes about 1.5 hours to reach the peak. The temperature doesn’t change that much but bring along another layer, just in case.
3. Shosenkyo Gorge
Located only 1.5 hours away from Tokyo is the Shosenkyo Gorge. Ranked at the top of the 100 Best Sightseeing Spots among gorges, its scenic views have moved many Japanese over the years. It is best known for its clear stream running in between the gorge, its huge rocks and caves, and the long waterfall.
Considering its easy access to the city and its beauty, here we focus on giving you more details about what Shosenkyo Gorge has to offer.
Shosenkyo Gorge: Japan’s Stunning Hiking Trail
Picture provided by: Yamanashi Tourism Organization
Located along the Arakawa River in Kofu city, Yamanashi prefecture, Shosenkyo Gorge is part of the Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, a 487 sq mi (1,262 sq km) park of mountains and valleys, that spans a total of four prefectures.
It’s beautiful all seasons from spring to winter but autumn is exceptional. Autumn leaves float gently on the stream, and the contrast of leaf on tall rocks, the reflection of red leaves in the river, transforms the gorge into an even more scenic destination.
Walking the Shosenkyo Gorge trail is a popular activity. It’s an easy walk with no time to get bored. People of all ages walk this trail of 2.5 mi (4 km) in about 1 to 1.5 hours. The gorge consists of an incredible waterfall dropping down onto huge stones, unique and towering rock formations, and picturesque mountains. Saving the best for last, the last half mile at the end of the trail is the most beautiful. It consists of the Sengataki waterfall of 98 ft (30 m), which is the most calming waterfall to watch. By the waterfall, there are shops and restaurants available for lunch/coffee or souvenir-shopping. The trail is in a natural setting but is also convenient and easily accessed from Kofu station (about 30 minutes).
About a ten-minute walk from Sengataki waterfall is the Shosenkyo Ropeway- a five-minute ride in the sky. It’s half a mile long, and departs every twenty minutes. From your cable car, you can catch sight of Mount Fuji and the rest of the Chichibu Tama Mountains.
Hiking in Japan
For all of the hiking trails mentioned above, you need a pair of comfortable and durable sneakers. Perhaps having the right footwear is the most important factor for hiking. You may also want to bring a thin jacket just in case you get cold. The mountain peak is always a few degrees colder. It goes without saying, the more intense the hiking trail, the more things you would need to bring along.
With short hiking trails such as Shosenkyo Gorge and Mount Takao, you don’t need to worry too much because there are shops close to the trails.
In addition, public transportation is easy at Shosenkyo Gorge making it an easily accessable destination. However, at a place like Shosenkyo Gorge, you want to prioritize relaxing. You don’t want to get frustrated with your traveling partner or be lost in translation; you want to enjoy the moment and concentrate on soaking in the beautiful panoramic view of Shosenkyo Gorge and trying to capture some amazing photos.