Shosenkyo Gorge is a strip of Japan's natural beauty at its finest. Located in Yamanashi Prefecture, it is a wonderful place to hike and explore year-round, and is particularly beautiful during the autumn season, when the colors of the leaves highlight an already breathtaking scene.
Shosenkyo Gorge (Mitake Shosenkyo) is located along the Arakawa River, and is part of the Chichibu Tama Kai National Park, which spans four different prefectures. The gorge is a scenic delight, filled with towering stone cliffs, beautiful waterfalls, incredible rock formations, and more beauty than your camera is capable of capturing. It's a pretty but also quite easy walk, and the trail was being taken by people of all ages.
The entire path is about 4 kilometers long, but with different bus stops along the way, you can choose just how far you want to go on foot. The most beautiful portion is the top 1 kilometer, from the "Greenline Shosenkyo" bus stop to the 30-meter Sengataki Waterfalls at the end.
At the end (top) of the trail, there is a small village filled with shops and restaurants aimed at tourists, and some nice places to spend time filled with large windows overlooking the picturesque scene. A bus stop in the village is the terminus on the line, and is called "Shosenkyo Taki Ue."
There is plenty more to do in the area, as well. Within walking distance is the Shosenkyo Ropeway, a cable car up to the top of a very picturesque mountain with amazing views of Mt. Fuji, and much further on, the very interesting Arakawa Dam and Nosen Lake, one of the prettiest areas around if you're up for the walk. Also, when you get hungry, be sure and try some hōtō, a specialty in this area. It's a heavy, udon-like noodle served in miso broth with vegetables. It's excellent!
Shosenkyo Gorge is easily accessed from Kofu Station (JR East Chuo Main Line, JR Central Minobu Line), where there is a tourism office and plenty of information and brochures available, as well as an area map in English that you can pick up. From the station's South Exit, board a bus bound for the gorge. Busses depart every hour during most seasons, but more frequently during autumn. The bus ride takes between 30 and 50 minutes (and costs from 590 to 900 yen), depending what point along the gorge you want to get off at. Be sure to note the time of the last bus heading back to Kofu Station. It's an excellent day trip from Tokyo, as Kofu can be reached in about 90 minutes from Shinjuku.