The lovely parkland encompasses five rivers, hiking trails, ancient shrines and lots of mountains, with eight of them inching over 2,000 meters in height. The rivers are: Fufuki (富士川, Fuji-kawa or Fuji-gawa); Tama (多摩川, Tama-gawa); Ara (荒川, Ara-kawa); and Shinano (信濃川, Shinano-gawa) the longest river in Japan.
Approaching from Saitama-ken, sites to see include the Nakatsu Canyon (中津峡, Nakatsu-kyō), a 10-kilometer long ditch carved by the Nakatsu River - a tributary of the Ara-kawa. This is on the Saitama-ken part of the park. There’s also the Tochimoto Sekisho Historical Site (栃本関所跡, Tochimoto Sekisho-ato) with a small hamlet located there, retaining its feudal era look.
|To be honest, the Tochimoto Sekisho Historical Site looks like any other place I've ever visited in Japan outside of Tokyo and Osaka. Image from www.chichibu.co.jp.|
- Daibosatsu Pass (大菩薩峠, Daibosatsu-tōge) that cuts through three mountains peaking at around 1,900 meters. Lots of flowers to see at certain times of the year;
- Mitake Shosēn Gorge (御岳昇仙峡 Mitake Shosēn-kyō) carved by a tributary of the Fuefuki River - lots of birds in the gorge, plus the Shosēnkyō Museum of Art, which mainly displays shadow play (paper puppets) and kirigami (see HERE) exhibits. Oh… and apparently plenty of traffic jams;
- Nishizawa Canyon (西沢渓谷, Nishizawa-keikoku) carved by the Fuefuki River, there are lots of stream pools, a nice walking trail, and plenty of waterfalls including Nanatsugama-godan Fall (七ツ釜五段ノ滝, ), one of the best 100 falls in Japan.
|The Nanatsugama-godan Waterfall is one of the prettiest waterfalls in the world, in my opinion. http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6951.html|
|Jūmonji... pass. Image from http://navi.city.chichibu.lg.jp.e.qg.hp.transer.com/p_flower/1872/.|
Now, the smaller Mount Mitake is considered to be a sacred mountain where the shinto Musashi-Mitake Shrine (武蔵御嶽神社, Musashi Mitake Jinja) was first erected in 90 B.C. It houses a Zaōgonge statue made in 736AD… and since we are all lazier than the ancient Japanese, you can now take a cable car up to see it.
By the way… if you look up Zaōgonge on-line… there are four entries exactly the same, with NO explanation of just what the Zaōgonge statue is all about. There are 28 images in Google—but not one of them actually shows the statue.
So… since I may be working against myself by using English, if anyone out there can find me a link to an image or a description of what the hell the Zaōgonge statue is all about, it would be greatly appreciated.
Andrew “One of the best 100 gaijin not currently living in Japan” Joseph
PS: Image at very top is from https://www.japantimeline.jp/en/yamanashi/kofu_city/shosen_gorge, showing the Mitake Shosēn Gorge.