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.
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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