Senga Waterfall (Senga-taki [仙娥滝])

Shosenkyo Gorge / near Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan

Rating: 2.5     Difficulty: 1.5
Senga Waterfall

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

The Senga Waterfall (Senga-taki [仙娥滝]; or just Senga Falls) was our waterfalling excuse to explore the vertical Shosenkyo Gorge just up the mountains from the city of Kofu. The waterfall itself was said to be 30m tall though it appeared shorter than that as it reminded me very much of a slightly thinner version of Joren Falls, which was said to be 25m tall. That said, like the Joren Falls, this waterfall was also gazetted as one of Japan's Top 100 Waterfalls. However, the Shosenkyo Gorge which encompassed this waterfall as well as the immediate gorge area both upstream and downstream of the falls featured impressively tall and vertical cliffs featuring scary-looking overhangs, balanced rocks, and giant boulders as the Arakawa River (荒川) weaved its way down towards the Fujigawa (富士川) or Fuji River. Thus, I tended to think of the Senga Falls as more of a side attraction to the Shosenkyo Gorge, which was something we didn't realize or appreciate during our trip research but did come around to it once we were here.

The Senga Waterfall was actually supposed to be one of the easiest waterfalls to access and see. To illustrate how popular and easy this place was, around the nearest trailhead to the waterfall, we saw a tourist village further upstream. Even the trail itself passed by some cafes and shops selling local gemstones. Once we finally found the nearest parking spot (see directions below), we merely walked across a road bridge towards the village before making another left beneath a signpost above the archway to go in the downstream direction on the opposite side of the river to the car park. After passing between the cafes and shops, we then went through a natural-looking gray torii gate before descending some steps for a few minutes until the Senga Falls came into view a few minutes later.

If we were content with our visit of this falls, then we could have gone back up and returned to the car park (roughly 300m in each direction), and the whole excursion could have taken about 15 minutes. However, curiosity got the better of Mom and I, and we continued walking down the trail to see where it went. After rounding the first bend downstream of the Senga Falls, that was when we started to appreciate the verticality and overhangs within the Shosenkyo Gorge. We actually walked as far as the next "developed" area which was a smaller car park with some smaller food and souvenir stands, which was about 800m from where we parked the car, but that stretch of trail was full of photo opportunities so there was hardly a dull moment. Thus, our round trip walking distance was 1.6km, but if you're visiting the falls, I'd highly recommend experiencing this interesting part of the Shosenkyo Gorge in addition to the waterfall. Even with the extra walking distance, we wound up spending about 45 minutes away from the car.

The trail actually kept going beyond the next "developed" part as there was more to the gorge. So you can easily spend even more time here and fully experience what the gorge had to offer. Apparently, I've seen photos in the literature showing the Shosenkyo Gorge with beautiful koyo (Autumn colors) but our visit probably happened a week or two too early so we didn't get the full effect.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Earlier in the day before visiting the Senga Falls, we visited the Chureito Pagoda near Kawaguchiko for this classic view of Mt Fuji in gorgeous weatherEarlier in the day before visiting the Senga Falls, we visited the Chureito Pagoda near Kawaguchiko for this classic view of Mt Fuji in gorgeous weather
This was the scenery within the Shosenkyo Gorge, which I'd argue was the greater attraction than the Senga Falls itself even though the falls was why we came hereThis was the scenery within the Shosenkyo Gorge, which I'd argue was the greater attraction than the Senga Falls itself even though the falls was why we came here
The Senga Falls was under a couple hours drive south of Matsumoto, which is well-known for its wooden castle as shown hereThe Senga Falls was under a couple hours drive south of Matsumoto, which is well-known for its wooden castle as shown here
In addition to the Matsumoto Castle, we also enjoyed an atmospheric stroll through the serene Nakamachidori District of Matsumoto CityIn addition to the Matsumoto Castle, we also enjoyed an atmospheric stroll through the serene Nakamachidori District of Matsumoto City
This was the car park that we stopped at for the Senga FallsThis was the car park that we stopped at for the Senga Waterfall

Looking upstream from the car park along the Arakawa RiverLooking upstream from the car park along the Arakawa River

Mom and Dad passing beneath the signposted archway leading past some cafes and shops towards the Senga WaterfallMom and Dad passing beneath the signposted archway leading past some cafes and shops towards the Senga Waterfall

We showed up late enough for most of the cafes and shops to be closed, but there were still some shops like this one that had their lights on and were open for businessWe showed up late enough for most of the cafes and shops to be closed, but there were still some shops like this one that had their lights on and were open for business

Beyond the shops, we went down this set of steps amongst some giant boulders leading to views of the Senga WaterfallBeyond the shops, we went down this set of steps amongst some giant boulders leading to views of the Senga Waterfall

Mom approaching a spot where we would finally get to view the Senga Waterfall, which was where the people up ahead were atMom approaching a spot where we would finally get to view the Senga Waterfall, which was where the people up ahead were at

This was our first look at the Senga FallsThis was our first look at the Senga Falls

Partial angled view back at the Senga Falls with some downstream cascadePartial angled view back at the Senga Falls with some downstream cascade

It was a good thing we went further downstream in the Shosenkyo Gorge where we got to experience the scenery that the area was famed forIt was a good thing we went further downstream in the Shosenkyo Gorge where we got to experience the scenery that the area was famed for

Looking along the Arakawa River cutting right through the Shosenkyo GorgeLooking along the Arakawa River cutting right through the Shosenkyo Gorge

More vertical scenery within the Shosenkyo GorgeMore vertical scenery within the Shosenkyo Gorge

Balanced rocks like this one made us better appreciate why giant boulders could wind up at the floor of the Shosenkyo GorgeBalanced rocks like this one made us better appreciate why giant boulders could wind up at the floor of the Shosenkyo Gorge

This little 'archway' was where a couple of rocks were wedged together though I suspect there might have been some help from the trail building as wellThis little 'archway' was where a couple of rocks were wedged together though I suspect there might have been some help from the trail building as well

This little develooped spot was as far down the Shosenkyo Gorge as we went before turning backThis little developed spot was as far down the Shosenkyo Gorge as we went before turning back

On the return hike, we got to experience the Shosenkyo Gorge scenery all over againOn the return hike, we got to experience the Shosenkyo Gorge scenery all over again

Mom passing by some shelter on the way backMom passing by some shelter on the way back

Here's a look at the somewhat developed trail through the Shosenkyo GorgeHere's a look at the somewhat developed trail through the Shosenkyo Gorge

On the return hike, we got to pay a little more attention to cascades on the Arakawa River like this oneOn the return hike, we got to pay a little more attention to cascades on the Arakawa River like this one

Almost back at the bridge traversing the Arakawa River and taking us to the view of the Senga FallsAlmost back at the bridge traversing the Arakawa River and taking us to the view of the Senga Falls

Mom passing beneath the overhanging cliffs just downstream from Senga FallsMom passing beneath the overhanging cliffs just downstream from Senga Falls

Back at the Senga Falls againBack at the Senga Falls again

Mom checking out the Senga Falls one last time before continuing back up the stepsMom checking out the Senga Falls one last time before continuing back up the steps

About to go under the torii gate at the top of the steps. Funny how we didn't notice this on the way down.  Perhaps we weren't paying attention at the timeAbout to go under the torii gate at the top of the steps. Funny how we didn't notice this on the way down. Perhaps we weren't paying attention at the time

Looking up the Arakawa River from the road bridge before returning to the carLooking up the Arakawa River from the road bridge before returning to the car


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Sweep showing the falls as well as the viewing area and walkway in immediate area


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

While the Senga Waterfall was supposed to be one of the easiest and most straightforward waterfalls to see, our Japanese GPS took us on another one of those detours or "joyrides" that almost prevented us from visiting this falls as we were running out of time. Fortunately, we still managed to see this falls while there was still daylight as you can see on this page. And so we'll detail how we should have come up here from the city of Kawaguchiko via the city of Kofu in this section and spare you the details of the more roundabout paths that the Japanese GPS took us on. This waterfall was straightforward enough to reach that we noticed there were public transport options to get here from Kofu. However, since we didn't exercise this option, we can't say anything more about it.

There were actually a couple of ways we could have done this drive from Kawaguchiko to at least get to Kofu. The first way was by driving a local highway straight through the mountains and towards Kofu, then go up into the mountains towards the Shosenkyo Gorge. The second way was by driving the Chuo Expressway then getting off at one of the nearest exits before continuing on local roads into the mountains towards the Shosenkyo Gorge. We'll first describe the shorter route. Then, we'll describe the expressway route. Both ways would have taken a similar amount of time, but the expressway route would cost more money given that expressways required tolls and it would probably require more gas given the longer distance.

So for the shortest route from Kawaguchiko, we would have driven on the Route 137 for about 33km as it would pass through the mountains towards the city of Kofu. Once in Kofu, we'd make our way towards either Road 104 or Road 7 (both via Road 6), which would eventually head north into the mountains where the Shosenkyo Gorge could be accessed. According to GoogleMaps, this drive be about 50km total and take under 90 minutes barring traffic in Kofu.

As for taking the Chuo Expressway route, we would have driven on the high speed motorway for about 68km to the Futaba IC rest stop and exit. Then, we'd make our way towards the Route 106 heading north, then Route 6 heading east, then Route 7 heading north. The 7 would eventually take us into the mountains and eventually the Shosenkyo Gorge. While there are other exits around Kofu City, this way would avoid the most traffic. However, it was also possible to exit at the Kofushowa IC exit (this was the one we wound up taking, and it's about 4-5km before the Futaba IC rest stop and exit) though this route made us have to navigate through more city streets and traffic lights before finally reaching the Route 7. In any case, this drive would have taken us around 90 minutes to go the roughly 70km.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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