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Kofu is the capital and largest city of Yamanashi. It is a particularly popular destination among history buffs, who come to tour sites associated with the famous sixteenth-century warlord Takeda Shingen. These sites include the Kofu Gozan, or Five Great Zen Temples of Kofu, Kai Zenkoji Temple, and Takeda Shrine, which enshrines Shingen as a deity.

Kofu is home to several excellent museums operated by Yamanashi Prefecture, including the Museum of Art, the Museum of Archaeology, and the Science Center, all conveniently located near the city center.

Just outside of Kofu proper is Shosenkyo Gorge, one of the most beautiful gorges in Japan and among Yamanashi’s most popular destinations for nature tourism. There are also plenty of inviting hot-spring resorts in the area, including Yumura Onsen, which Takeda Shingen himself is said to have frequented to hasten his recovery from battle wounds.

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    Shosenkyo Gorge

    Shosenkyo Gorge is known as one of the most beautiful gorges in Japan and counts among Yamanashi Prefecture’s most popular destinations for nature tourism. The gorge is part of the large Chichibu-Tama-Kai National Park, which spans Yamanashi, Saitama, and Nagano prefectures as well as the Tokyo metropolis.

  • The Sengataki Waterfall is located at the foot of a towering rock formation in Shosenkyo Gorge. Formed by erosion across a fault line due to deformation in the Earth’s crust, the waterfall is roughly 30 meters tall and marks one end of the gorge.

  • Said to have been established roughly 2,000 years ago, Kanazakura Shrine is one of the oldest Shinto shrines in Yamanashi. It is dedicated to the deity of Mount Kinpu and the main shrine stands at the top of the mountain, while a village shrine is on the mountainside above the Shosenkyo Gorge.

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    Ryuo Station

    Ryuo Station juxtaposes contemporary architecture by the celebrated Tadao Ando against a backdrop of mountain ranges. Completed in 2008, the construction draws upon local inspiration while simultaneously being an emblematic Ando work that blends into the surrounding nature.

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    The Yahata-imo is a variety of white-skinned taro, a starchy vegetable similar to the yam, that is literally rooted in the culture and history of the city of Kai. It boasts a superior taste and a texture that is smoother and more glutinous than taro grown elsewhere.

  • Geijutsunomori Park houses Yamanashi's two principal arts and culture-focused museums – the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art and the Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Literature – within picturesque, sculpture-dotted gardens backgrounded by Mount Fuji.

  • Important archaeological finds from the past few decades reveal that what is now Yamanashi Prefecture has been populated by communities of humans since as far back as the Paleolithic period of 30,000 years ago. The Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Archaeology displays artifacts, mainly locally recovered, that span the entirety of Japanese prehistory.

  • The Kai Choshizuka Tumulus is eastern Japan’s largest surviving example of an ancient burial mound.  It can be thought of as Japan’s equivalent of the Ancient Egyptian pyramid.

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    Kai Terrace

    Kai Terrace is a gallery-like shopping facility that brings together, under one expansive roof, products that the city of Kai and wider Yamanashi have long been renowned for. Opened in 1985 and now welcoming more than 200,000 visitors each year, it is housed within a specially constructed building that lets its contents shine.

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    Shingen Zutsumi

    Shingen Zutsumi on the Kamanashi River is a series of dikes said to have been constructed on the orders of preeminent sixteenth-century warlord Takeda Shingen. Shingen Zutsumi Park offers a picturesque, mountain range-backed view out over these historic attempts to tame once-wild waterways.

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    Kofu Castle

    The peaceful Maizuru Castle Park in central Kofu holds the ruins of Kofu Castle. Open 24 hours a day, the park is particularly popular in spring for its abundant cherry blossoms that bloom beside the old castle walls.

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    Chozenji Temple

    Chozenji Temple is one of the Kofu Gozan or Five Great Zen Temples of Kofu, chosen by the warlord Takeda Shingen, who ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from 1540 to 1573. The temples were tasked with praying for the protection and safety of the province.

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    Nojoji Temple

    Nojoji Temple is one of the Kofu Gozan or Five Great Zen Temples of Kofu. Nojoji’s grounds are not as extensive as some of the other Kofu Gozan temples, but the temple’s elevation gives it a clear view over the city and the mountains behind it, while its calm stillness makes it an ideal space for quiet contemplation.

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    Tokoji Temple

    Tokoji Temple, one of the Kofu Gozan or Five Great Zen Temples of Kofu, is popular for its magnificent garden. Using the natural slope of the hill, lines of carefully placed rock draw the eye to the garden’s focal point: a small pond with a “waterfall” of rocks flowing into it.

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    Enkoin Temple

    The peaceful Enkoin Temple sits on the slope of Mount Atago overlooking the city of Kofu and the Kofu Basin. It is one of the Kofu Gozan or Five Great Zen Temples of Kofu, chosen by the warlord Takeda Shingen, who ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from 1540 to 1573.

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    Hosenji Temple

    Despite its great historical significance, Hosenji Temple is quiet and secluded. The rustling trees on the temple grounds and the calm surroundings create a sense of being alone, making Hosenji a particularly spiritual place and an ideal spot for quiet contemplation.

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    Dragon Park

    Dragon Park in the city of Kai is a spacious, family-friendly destination, with fun elements themed around the mythical creature that gives the surrounding Ryuo (“Dragon King”) district its name.

  • Yamanashi Prefectural Science Center takes an immersive, hands-on approach to conveying the wonders of science. Though the facility is aimed primarily at children of around elementary school age, adults too will find themselves enthralled as they both brush up on scientific basics and discover new phenomena.

  • The quiet, peaceful Sakaorinomiya Shrine has a very long history, being the only Shinto shrine in Yamanashi Prefecture mentioned in the Kojiki and the Nihon Shoki, the two eighth-century chronicles of early Japanese history.

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    Yuki Park

    The peaceful Yuki Park is popular with people of all ages and is home to the Kofu city zoo. Both the zoo and the park stand on land that once belonged to the Ichirenji Buddhist temple, and old temple buildings can still be seen on the edge of the grounds.

  • Zenkoji Temple was established in 1558 by the warlord Takeda Shingen, who ruled Kai Province (present-day Yamanashi) from 1540 to 1573. The temple’s atmosphere invites solitary acts of quiet contemplation, and on clear days, there is a stunning view of Mount Fuji from the main hall’s front steps.

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    Yumura Onsen

    Kofu’s Yumura Onsen is famous for the sheer number of different hot-spring resorts located on and around Onsen Alley, a narrow, winding street at the foot of Mount Yumura. Some are full-service hot-spring hotels, while others are more casual Japanese-style inns.

  • Takeda no Mori Forest Park occupies a 2,500-hectare stretch of verdant woodland and runs from east to west, directly facing Mount Fuji. The park enables visitors to enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities amidst breathtaking scenery and historical remains.

More Venues in the Area

  • Shingen Mochi (Rice Cakes)

    Dip the rice cakes coated with kinako (soybean flour) and enjoy.

  • Takeda Shrine

    Takeda-jinja Shrine was dedicated to Takeda Shingen, the famous leader of the Kai country, and is located on the place where three generations of Takeda, Nobutora, Shingen, and Katsuyori, actually lived.

  • Shosenkyo Ropeway

    You can enjoy the 5 minute aerial walk on the Shosenkyo Gorge Ropeway from the ropeway gate to the Panorama-dai station at the summit.

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