Kofu - My First Trip In Japan
Kofu (sometimes known as Koufu) is the capital city of Yamanashi Prefecture. It is a major rural city with a population of about 194,837.
Kofu was the stronghold of General Shingen Takeda in the Sengoku period (16th Century). The kanji for Kofu actually means: “Capital of Kai Province.”
Kofu City is located almost in the center of the prefecture. It is surrounded by the Japan Southern Alps and Oku-chichibu mountain ranges. Kofu is not far from Mt. Fuji and could be used as a base for exploring the Yamanashi-side of Fuji-san.
Kofu is the economic, industrial and cultural centre of Yamanashi Prefecture. Kofu, and its surrounds, is endowed with nature and one of the highlights would have to be the Shosenkyo gorge. Every season brings new changes to this beautiful valley and it’s truly worth visiting all year round.
One other highlight of a trip to Kofu is the abundance of hot springs in the area. Kofu city has its own hot springs and there are gorgeous hot springs scattered throughout the surrounding mountains and in Yumura and Sekisuiji town.
Kofu and Yamanashi in general, is famous for its fruit growing. Japanese tourists love to head to Yamanashi and pick strawberries in spring and grapes in summer and autumn. If this is something you’d be interested in then Kofu is the perfect base for such activities. I should mention, however, that Yamanashi often flaunts itself as a wine producing area. Generally, as a rule of thumb, wine produced in Japan (with the exception of traditional wine such as sake) is horrendously woeful! Do not drink it unless you’re very game or have no sense of taste!!!
I went to Kofu a month or so after I first arrived in Japan… way back in 1999. I had a friend who was visiting her mother there so I jumped on a train from Tokyo and headed down. This was my first holiday in Japan, so everything was still new to me and I thought everything was pretty darn fantastic! I still think back very fondly of my trip to Kofu.
Kofu is a large city and quite spread out. We had use of a car so we traipsed about a bit, but mainly we just enjoyed the warmer air and did a lot of swimming. My friend, having lived in Kofu, knew the area very well, but we found it easy to navigate on days when we weren’t with her. The definite highlight was Shosenkyo, what a beautiful place. We drove up, parked the car, found a spot we liked with water and rocks and dove in. Now, I don’t know if this was the done thing or not, but it was heaven. We could climb rocks and jump into the flowing water. The rocks were warm from the sun and perfect for catching a few rays from. We were soon joined by some local lads and we felt less nervous about what we were doing (mind you passing tourist kept stopping and laughing and taking photos of our shenanigans).
Shosenkyo was so wonderful that I begged to go back on our last day. The day before there had been a typhoon and the water had risen dramatically – it was also flowing very quickly through our little “pool”. Not to be deterred by the aftermath of a typhoon we decided to brave the water. Amber dived in… deep dive… didn’t come up… “Oh, crap” I’m thinking when her head pops up and she’s grasping for air. By this time I am across the rocks and ready to grab her as she comes by, but she finds her footing and reaches shallow water… was a bit scary but we laugh about it now. My dive, less deep, gets me through the harder current to calmer waters. We are less playful in the water that day, but we still enjoy it. The clean, fresh water makes your skin feel alive and there is truly no better “pool” in the world. Perhaps after a typhoon is just not the best time to enjoy it.
Whether you’d like to swim in Shosenkyo or not it is a wonderful place. It’s a great place for a walk or to take in the beauty of what is said to be the most beautiful valley in Japan. I highly recommend Shosenkyo to anyone who loves the outdoors and wants to see part of Japan often only seen by the locals (most tourists to Shosenkyo are Japanese).