Places of Interest in Kofu

Akeno Flower Center

akenopark

If you are a flower person, you may be interested in the Akeno Flower Center. The grounds are large with all sorts of flowers including a rose garden. There is a souvenir shop, snacks, and they sell plants and flowers at the center also. Across from the center is a large sunflower patch in bloom in Aug. See the calendar for more details.

Directions

About 10 minutes by car from the Nirasaki Chuo freeway IC. From the IC, make a right onto route 27. Pass the first signal and make the next left turn on route 616. After about 1 km, route 616 will make a sharp left, instead continue straight on this road. THe road will continue through two tunnels and continue for about 1-2 km. The flower center will be on the right.

Daizenji Temple, Katsunuma

daizenji

What drew me to Daizenji was that I heard there was a Yakushi Buddha statue holding a bunch of grapes in one hand. Katsunuma is known for wineries. This turned out to be nothing more than a image of Yakushi with a small bunch of toy grapes someone put in his right hand. However, the temple turned out to be a great find. Lots of images that can be viewed up close. In the main hall up the stairs in this photo is the main image. An image of Yakushi Nyorai from the Heian period (795-1185). This is enclosed in a box and only a photo of the real image is shown. The actual image is only shown once a year, I think in June. In front of this is the small Yakushi holding the grapes. Besides Yakushi, the statues are all from the Kamakura period (1185-1333). These are cool because of the realistic expression and the quartz eyes. On both sides are large images of Gakko (Moon) and Nikko (Sun) Bohisattva. There is an image of Bishamonten and Monju Bohisattva. These are very realistic. Behind the main alter are two images of Cannon. One of seikanzeon and one 1000-arm, 11-face Cannon. Besides the main hall there are many small images in the other building which also contains a restaurant and a great view of the garden.

Directions

If going by the Chuo expressway, from Kofu head toward Tokyo and get off at the Katsunuma exit and continue onto Route 20 heading toward Tokyo. This will cost 750 yen from the Kofu/Showa IC and take about 20 minutes. If not going by expressway take Route 20 into Katsunuma pass the Katsunuma IC. The temple is just past the IC on the left. It is easy to miss so loog for the sign in Kanji and English. Pull into the temple grounds, stop you car and pay the admission at the front. You will get a card that lets you into the parking lot. Admission plus parking is 400 yen.

Dragon Park, Ryuo

Dragon park, what the locals call it, is a fairly new park. The park is a large open grassy area surrounded by a walkway/track. There is a large playground for kids, water fountains, vanding machines, and bathrooms. The track is great for running since it has distance markers every 100 meters for the entire length of 900 meters.

Directions

About 20-30 minutes by bicycle from Kofu station. 15 minutes by car. There is a parking lot. From the Pax supermarket in Shikishima, travel west. Make a left when the road ends. There will be an Ogino on the right. After making the left you will pass Bamiyan family restaurant (Chinese) on the right. Continue past the 7-11 on the left following the curve to the left. Turn right at the overhead sign for the park. The park is about 5 minutes by bicycle from the 7-11.

Itchiku Kubota Kimono Art Museum

This small museum was far more interesting than I had expected a kimono museum could be. There are several points of interest here besides just the kimonos. The building is a sight in itself down to every detail, such as the white stone jewelry display cases, the carved wood stools, the waterfalls visible from the tea room, as well as the planned view of Mt. Fuji. Oh no, now I m starting to sound like a guide book... Itchiku Kubota built the museum with his own money to display his work on his terms. As a result the kimonos are unprotected by glass. Ask for an English guide when you pay. At the entrance there is a jewelry display, which comes from all corners of the world. I found some of the African jewelry and photos reminiscent of my trip to Kenya. The photographs displayed on the first floor all seem to have been taken on the grounds. The compositions are somewhat interesting. I would suggest watching the video before you spend time checking out the kimonos. Ask to see the English video. The video is 45 mins. but worth the time since it adds to the appreciation of the kimonos and their artist. Afterwards, we had a cup of macha (green tea) in the back room facing the small waterfall.

Lake Kawaguchi, Yamanashi, Japan
2255 Kawaguchi, Kawaguchiko-machi
Minamitsuru-gun, Yamanashi
tel. 0555-76-8811, fax. 0555-76-8812

Katsunuma Winery, Katsunuma, Yamanashi

katsunuma-sm

Katsunuma does not actually produce wine on the grounds but instead represents the smaller local wineries in the area. For a fixed price, about 1100 yen, you can try wines from wineries around Katsunuma, Yamanashi. Although it is all-you-can-drink, I suggest you make good use of the spit buckets or you will get trashed in a hurry. If you are interested in the actual wine making process, try Suntory Wineries in Hakushu, Yamanashi.

Kenmin Bunka Hall

Kenmin Bunka Hall is Kofu's cultural Hall where you can see operas, concerts, and other performances. I saw Taro Hakase (violist) there in concert in Oct. 2001 during his "Endless Violin" tour and again in June 2002. I have also seen Japan female rock stars Yaiko amd Kuraki Mai there.

Directions

The best bet may be to grab a cab from the station. If you walk it is about a 15-20 min. walk. From the south exit of the station, walk south down Heiwa dori to the third pedestrian overpass. Make a right turn. You will pass Royal Garden Hotel on your left. Continue to the first medium size intersection. There is a Sumitomo bank on the left. It you pass the Family Mart convenience store on your right, you went too far. Make a left at the bank. Go 1 block and the North entrance of the Hall will be on the right.

Kofu City Library

Although smaller, the 2-story city library is newer and much nicer than the prefectural library. There are movies that can be watched in the library with headphones. There is a small tea shop inside on the 1st floor. On the 2th floor is a small study area.

Directions

It is about a 15 min. bike ride or a 5 min. drive from Kofu station. Exit the station towards the south and continue south down Heiwa dori to the second pedestrian overpass. Make a left turn. This is Route 140. The road makes a sharp left followed by a sharp right. Continue to the Kofu City Library sign over the road and make a right turn. The library will be just ahead.

Kose Sports Park

Kose Sports Park is within bicycle distance and has plenty of covered bicycle parking. Kose has a baseball field, basketball courts, pool, ice skating, tennis courts, a soccer field used by Ventforet the local Kofu soccer team, plus more. Kose hosts many festivals including "Festa Kose" the Kose Park festival at the end of July.

If your into sports, go check out a Ventforet soccer game, Kofu's J.League Division 2 pro soccer team. The season is from mid. March until mid. November and the home games are played at Kose Sports Park.

Directions

About 20-30 minutes by bicycle from Kofu station. 10-15 minutes by car. From Kofu station take Heiwa Dori south. Pass Route 20 and turn left at the third traffic light. There is a Mister Donut at this 'T' intersection. Continue past Route 113 and Kose will be on the right.

Maizurujo Castle Park, Kofu

maizurujo

The castle park is a nice place for a stroll. Look for the koi, turtles, ducks, and frogs in the castle moat. The building in the photo is often used for Judo and Kendo (bamboo swordsmanship) training.

Directions

The most direct way to the castle from Kofu station is to exit the South exit. Turn left out of the station and make the first left at the corner of the Mos Burger. Go up the stairs to the bridge and turn right. Cross the street at the first cross walk and enter the park there.

Suntory Winery, Hakushu, Yamanashi

suntory

Here you will be guided by your Suntory tour guide through the grounds, and will watch the wine making process, visit the cellar, and visit the vinyards. Off-season you can still tour the factory, see the equipment, and watch the wine making process via video. After you will receive two wine samples. There is a shop with various wine and wine related souvenirs. Suntory Winery shown off season in this photo.

Directions

Continue on Route 20 towards Nagano. Suntory Winery will be on the left. Parking is free.

Yanamashi International Center

The international center offers a variety of services including free internet, Japanese and foreign books and videos, and a bulletin board used to post ads for roommates, language exchange, a number of free information pamphlets in English and other languages, and more. The lobby is open until 9 p.m.

Directions

About 20-30 minute walk from Kofu station. 5 minutes by car or bus. If going by bus, take the bus from Kofu station bus stop no. 4 and get off at "Iida 2 chome" stop. From Kofu station take Heiwa Dori south. Make a right at the Prefectural Office. Continue to Alps Dori. Make a make a right. The Center will be on the right before the Chuo Line tracks.

Yamanashi Prefecture Library

The library is a 4-story building with the front of the building all windows facing a small park. There is an English directory at the entrance. You need to check any bags or backpacks into a 100-yen locker behind the front desk. Children's books are on the first floor, down the hallway through a door on the right. On the 3rd floor are vending machines with coffee and other drinks and an outside area with chairs on the roof. On the 4th floor is a study area.

Directions

It is about a 5 min. walk from the south exit of the station. Walk south down Heiwa dori to the first pedestrian overpass. Make a right turn. You will reach a park on your left. Continue to the library immediately after the park on the left corner of the same street.

Yamanashi Prefectural Museum

The basic admission of 500 yen was worth the money. The museum grounds have a garden area with a path leading to a rose garden. The claim to fame here is the exhibit of the French artist J. F. Millet. Specifically the piece titled "Man spreading Seeds". One of my favorites is "Woman Feeding Chickens".

Directions

Located on Route 52 ("Bijutsukan Dori") about 10 minutes from Kofu station by car or Taxi. I would guess it is about 25 minutes by bicycle. From the station head south on Heiwa Dori. Make a right on Route 52. Continue on Route 52 and bear right at the fork which becomes Bijitsukan Dori. Continue past the Alps Dori intersection and the Museum is on the left.

Zenkoji Temple

zenkojism

The temple was established by Takeda Shingen, the founder of Yamanashi. The original Zenkoji Temple is in Nagano prefecture. The similarity to the Nagano temple is the pitch-black chamber under the Temple. This temple has a lot to offer visitors including a small museum and a daibutsu, a large statue of Amida Nyorai, similar but smaller than its counterpart in Kamakura. Zenkoji Temple at one time was the largest wooden structure in East Japan.

As you enter there is a wooden image of Yakushi Nyorai on the right. After paying the entrance fee, stand on the two foot marks in the main hall and clap your hands once. Your can hear the dragon painted on the ceiling above crying. Between here and the chamber there are a number of buddhist statues. Continue down the small staircase, feel your way through the winding corridor keeping your left hand on the wall and try to feel for a large wooden key on the left-hand side. If you find the key which is about waist high in the blackness it is said you will find happiness too. In the museum there are a number of interesting statues and scrolls. There is a wooden statue of a reclining Shaka Nyorai, a statue of Amida Nyorai with Kannon and another servant, a few statues of Dainichi Nyorai, as well as other statues.

Directions

Take the Minobu line from Kofu station to the Zenkoji station. Down the stairs on the fence will be a map to Zenkoji temple. It is a 5-10 min. walk from the station. Go down the stairs and head to the right. You will come out onto Route 140. Make a left onto Route 140. Make the next left, continue past the large wooden gate to the parking log a little further up on the right-hand side.