Nishizawa Keikoku Bus Stop 西沢渓谷入口 – Nanatsugama Godan Falls 七ツ釜五段の滝
Distance: 9.4 km
Elevation change: 261 metres
Highest point: 1380 metres
Start: Nishizawa Keikoku Iriguchi Bus Stop
Finish: Nishizawa Keikoku Iriguchi Bus Stop
Difficulty: ▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅▅ ❶
Map: Yama to Kogen Chizu 山と高原地図 ［No.27 金峰山・甲武信 KINPU-SAN·KOBUSHI］
GPX TrackKML TrackGSI MAPPDF Topo Map
Emerald Waters of the Nishizawa Gorge
In the Kanto region there are few places more beautiful than the Nishizawa Gorge (Nishizawa Keikoku) 西沢渓谷 and surprisingly it is not all that well-known. I first stumbled upon the Nishizawa Gorge almost by accident returning from Mt. Kobushi last year, however with exhausted legs, I vowed to return another day.
One reason for the Nishizawa Gorge’s relative anonymity lies with the fact it’s an hour’s bus ride from both Enzan and Yamanashishi Stations. At Enzan Station 塩山駅 head out the south exit and transfer to a bus bound for the Nishizawa Gorge (1 hr, 1,050 yen). Note this timetable is seasonal. From mid-April to the end of September it runs only on weekends and public holidays. Exceptions to this rule include Golden Week, 9 July to 15 August and 1 October to November 20 where it runs daily. If hiking on a weekday out of season you will need to alight two stations further along at Yamanashishi Station 山梨市駅 and take a bus from there. Whichever bus service you decide upon both routes terminate at the Nishizawa Keikoku Iriguchi Bus Stop 西沢渓谷入口. If you’re coming by car there is free uncover parking beside the michi no eki. From the bus stop follow the road which dips under the Karisaka-michi 140 and continue along the road closed to traffic. After 20 minutes you will pass by a small picnic area and the Nishizawa-sansou which marks the start of the hike. Note the hike flows counter-clockwise.
Before entering the gorge you pass over a suspension bridge and a little further along there is a mountain trail pointing to Mt Keikan 鶏冠山 on your right as well as a surly warning that entry to the Higashizawa Keikoku is prohibited. The final descent is by way of a narrow trail and it is here the magnificent emerald waters of the Fuefuki River come into view.
Meandering along the clutches of the gorge you find many of the waterfalls and rock formations are given fitting names such as the Kaeru Ishi (frog rock) and Fugu Ishi (pufferfish rock). Given the popularity of the hike, safety is maintained through chained railings and wooden steps. After about 90 minutes from the trail head you finally arrive at the pièce de résistance the Nanatsugama Godan no Taki 七ツ釜五段の滝 which is appropriately bestowed as one the 100 best waterfalls in Japan. For a lunch stop continue heading up hill where there is a toilet and some stone benches to take in the view. From here you can also find the trail head to Mt. Kurogane 黒金山.
The return trip to the bus stop has a gentle gradient and follows an old narrow gauge railway that operated from 1933 through 1968 for transporting timber. Much of the remnant railway tracks remain and in sections you can see them dangling perilously where erosion has given way. In the railway’s infancy horses were used to haul up the empty carriages until arrival of diesel locomotives. The final section routes back past the rest area before heading back to the bus stop.
While the hike can be tackled year round, be prepared for heavy snow falls in winter and substantial crowds during the autumn season when the gorge plays host to colourful leaves koyo.
wow, awesome shot!!!
Thank you for your kind words 😉
Wow, this trail looks gorgeous! And your shots of the river are fantastic. I hope to move back to the Tokyo area someday to take advantage of all of these trails. Have you done much hiking down in Kyushu at all?
Thanks for that Mandy..If you’ve got a couple days up your sleeve it’s definitely worth a trip out to the gorge. Embarrassing as it is to say I’ve never actually been to Kyushu let alone hiked there. Though I’ve only heard good things about the place and my dream is to someday visit Yakushima.
I’ve spent a lot of time in this area over the last couple weeks. I overnighted at Kobushigatake and Kentokusan. Yesterday my wife and I went to the gorge. Slow-going because we wanted to take pictures every 5 feet. Beautiful!
There is one thing I wanted to announce to the world somehow. Google maps is not always reliable for bus info. I should already know this, but didn’t learn my lesson. Before yestereday’s trip I checked google for bus times and saw the same bus I’d taken last weekend was scheduled to run from Enzan yesterday (Monday) am. Well, the bus didn’t come on schedule. I called the bus company and was told they didn’t run on weekdays at this time of year. Then he gave me another possible route from Yamanashishi Station on the city bus http://www.city.yamanashi.yamanashi.jp/citizen/docs/bus.html. That bus doesn’t appear on googlemaps but was, in fact, running. We got there ok via that route after all.
I had an unfortunate experience like this once at the Tomin no Mori coming down off Mito and realizing I was off-season for the bus. I had to walk to Kazumanoyu to get to the nearest bus stop. After that, I have usually been more diligent about researching transportation but got caught off guard this time.
Thanks for your blog. It’s great. I have passed it along to some friends who are really grateful.
Good to hear you enjoyed the gorge, absolutely beautiful spot and would love to visit again in the autumn. Bus schedules can be tough to decipher and recommend checking the relevant bus company websites. On my Kobushi hike I almost suffered the same fate; I assumed the bus from Nishizawa Gorge to Enzan Station ran year-round and was only luck that I finished on October 2nd. This year they are running daily from Oct 1st to Nov 24th https://bit.ly/2oJzpNG