Shosenkyo is a wonderful place to visit, particularly when autumn illuminates the trees along the Arakawa River. One of the activity options available is taking the rope-way to the top of Yasaburo-dake, also known as Mount Rakanji.
The mountain is one of those distinctive bare granite peaks that the area is so famous for. When I see a rope-way, I always wonder if it will be worth the cost, both in time and money. Anyway, I took a chance on Shosenkyo Rope-way, and I conclude that it was definitely worth it.
Queue with a view
We went to Shosenkyo mid-week, arriving early in the morning, and walked along the river to the village where the rope-way station is located. We got there moments after a busload of elderly Japanese tourists, and expected we would have to queue for ages. I was delighted to find that it was a case of ‘queue with a view’. Behind the station there is a pond edged with a small stone torii and full of large yellow koi. I can happily watch koi for hours, but I didn’t have to. The rope-way staff whisked everybody off to the top of the mountain with practiced speed.
If you want to be lucky in love
Yakumo Shrine is a striking green-roofed red and white shrine standing on the summit near the rope-way. It is a popular place to pray for marriage. There is also a bell hanging in a metal arch near the shrine that young couples and their families ring for good luck. And if you are still looking for love, you can pay 100 yen to toss a ‘happy bell’ into a heart-shaped hole in a round bell named Suzuresu. If your aim is true, you can expect that a happy outcome is imminent!
The summit is believed to have a number of power spots. When the rope-way opened in Showa 39, a tree god referred to by locals as Gongen was relocated to the summit, and now stands in a small hexagonal hall facing Mount Fuji, forming one of the major power spots located on the summit. Visitors pray to Gongen for marriage, children and prosperity.
A second power spot is formed by the clear view from the open space near the rope-way on the summit to the distant peak of Mount Fuji. There are mounted binoculars if you wish to inspect Fujisan more closely.
A third power spot, considered the most significant on the mountain, is Yosaburo-dake, a natural platform of solid granite happily free of ugly safety fences and the redundant yet ubiquitous signs that mar many other beauty spots. From this platform you can experience a 360 degree view.
The 360 degree view from Yasaburo-dake was my favorite part of this experience. Standing on solid, sun-warmed stone at the top of the world, with Mount Fuji and the Minami Alps in the distance, the Ara River winding through the gorge far below like a silver dragon, and Kofu City spreading out in the basin beyond the hills. It was both beautiful and awe-inspiring.
If you want to eat or drink something there is a restaurant on the summit too.