For many people, Yamanashi prefecture is mainly a land of fruits: in Summer, it’s where they come from Tokyo to enjoy some apple or grape picking. And Kofu, the main city, stands for Takeda Shingen, the famous 16th century warlord. But there’s more to discover around the city.
For Nippon100, we were willing to go there to reach the most intriguing landscape of our list, the night view of Kofu Basin. And not far from the city, an other sight is easy to reach, the Shosenkyo gorge (soon on Nippon100). But what was not planned is that we did visit Kofu during the weekend just before April the 12th. Meaning at the time of Shingen-ko matsuri, when Japan biggest samurai parade is held, with more than 1300 samurai!
The Shingen-ko matsuri is held each year before the 12th of April – the date of Takeda Shingen’s death in 1573. The festival and parade commemorate the spirit and virtues of the Sengaku warlord. This year, more than 1300 samurai walked along the streets of Kofu, as Shingen’s army. Himself being played by a famous Japanese actor.
Takeda Shingen is well known by Japanese, and the name is linked to Kofu’s area where he lived and fought many battles (among others against the unifier of Japan Ieyasu Tokugawa). His influence on strategy, both on the battle and political field, is quite famous. His banner is a direct reference to the Furinkazan (the four characters for wind, forest, fire and mountain), and points out the fact that the man was “rapid as the wind, quiet as the forest, fierce as the fire and calm as the mountain”.
Kofu’s Takeda Jinja
Takeda Shingen’s long history, pictured by Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha, might be discover all year round in Kofu. A shrine is dedicated to the warlord 2,5km north of the station. During spring time, the place is famous for its many cherry trees.
Our first goal coming to Kofu was the nightview. The sight is famous and included in the 100 landscapes of Heisei as Kofu’s basin is beautifully enclosed by mountains (including Fuji-san at the South). And the night’s lights remind of jewels, not by chance as the neighboring Shosenkyo area provided the most part of Japan’s precious stones for a long time.
How to get there?
From Tokyo Shinjuku, Kofu is only one hour and a half away with the JR Chuo Line (JR pass-ok), for 4130 yens. It is possible to travel by bus from Shinjuku bus station (South exit side) for 2000 yens. Reaching the view is more comfortable with a car (only a few buses running), and the trip might also be the time to discover Japan’s oldest cherry tree, only 20 kilometers away in Hokuto.