Japanese people are really specific about each season of the year. In autumn, the autumn leaf colour are no doubt everyone’s main point of interest! All the weather forecasts on TV or online are adapted to provide real-time information on the autumn leaf colour status across the country, using photo and live cameras. This is the perfect opportunity for me to go to Yamanashi Prefecture where I spotted two beautiful valleys: Shosenkyo Valley and Nishizawa Valley. A rental car is booked in Kofu and I am ready for this colourful adventure.
PS: This article was originally published 2 years ago on the french version of Totoro Times. But oh, well, I don’t think it changed much since then, so please enjoy this article!
The trip started with a short tour of Shosenkyo to locate the best view point. I eventually stopped at a parking near the main entrance (didn’t knew there was one!). The parking has a very Japanese way of charging its customers; I had to spend at least 1000 yens at the shop to which the parking lot belongs. This kind of parking areas sometimes belong to restaurants as well, you are then forced to eat if you want to park next to beautiful places.
I first visited the waterfall of Shosenkyo. It is magnificent! I actually spent more time fighting with the other tripods around me than enjoying the view. Amazing, just when you think that you discovered a new place, there are always photographers faster than you.
Not far away form it was another waterfall. It is very small and narrow, could be easily overlooked.
Many 1 cent coins are found on top of each other between the rocks. Are they offerings? The sight a everyone stop and look… and sometimes participate That’s possibly how it got started.
A cable car can take you at the top of Shosenkyo-Mitake. The ascent to the highest point turned out to be quite dangerous, especially considering the Japanese standards. If you look too much to one side, you will find yourself rolling down the Shosenkyo valley. If you look at the other, you would throw yourself to Kofu city in front of the majestic Fuji-san.
There are so many good opportunities to photograph Mount Fuji from here, but it is also way more difficult than expected. Colored leaves are rather difficult to find here (a bit too early maybe?) and it is very hard to find stable positions to shoot.
On the way back to Kofu, I stopped in the middle of nowhere to enjoy this panorama with Mount Fuji overlooking the city.
Kofu is a city famous for its wine. They want to create their own “Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC)” which would be the first for Japanese wine! The city is twinned with Pau (but shouldn’t they have choose another city? we are here in the Japanese Alps and Pau is the French’s Pyrénées!), and also with Chengdu in China! Ha, that brought back good memories.
Nishizawa Valley is located much further in a different direction from Shosenkyo. Upon arrival, the sight is breathtaking. Autumn leaves are beautiful here, the coulour so alluringly rich.
The hike was difficult, the mountain was quite steep, luckily the scenery was amazingly beautiful.
After falling a few times, I regained stabilization to take pictures from the middle of a stream. For the first time, I truly understand the difficulties but also the pleasure of photographing natural landscape!
Here is how the “path” looks like. We are not alone! There are many more visitors here than in Shosenkyo.
Only the noise of the torrent can be heard. No pets, no birds, no insects, the freshness scareed everyone and everything off.
Higher up, there are waterfalls. And soon, we’ll get to the point of interest…
Here is Nanatsugama Godan no Taki. A beautiful waterfall of 7 steps !
The hike is not finished yet, as we decided to go back to the car park by taking a different route.
I’m glad I have participated in the autumn rite this year, both for the pictures I took and the happiness of a refreshing hike. Going back to Tokyo now, the head full of colored leaves!