A plateau that makes you feel at peace, surrunded by clean air, where you can get around while touching nature: this time we are going to talk about a place where to spend a relaxing week-end: here is Nagano prefecture’s Kamikōchi.
What’s special about Kamikochi?
Kamikōchi is a mountainous area located about 1500 meters above the sea level in the heart of Nagano’s northern Alps’ Chubu-Sangaku National Park. The surroundings consist of Azusa river and 3000 meters high mountains, like Nishi-Hotaka-dake, Oku-Hotaka-dake and Mae-Hotaka-dake. In Kamikōchi there is a car traffic limitation, so buses and taxis are the only way to access the place. This might feel a bit uncomfortable, but this environment protection policy gives you the opportunity to enter in a deep contact with a genuine nature. Many hiking and photography fans visit Kamikōchi.
In the beginning of Summer it is possible to see the spreading mountain vegetation, while around the half of October the gorgeous red maple trees become the main attraction.
The area is particularly crowded during the O-Bon in middle August and autumn foliage season. Moreover, hiking trails are constantly developed in Kamikōchi. However, the more you walk, the more they get steep: certain paths need a a more professionale training.
Visiting Kamikōchi is only possible from Spring to Fall. Usually the opening period goes from mid April to mid November.
How to get to Kamikōchi
Click here to see how to get there.
We visited Kamikōchi in August, a few days before the O-Bon, but fortunately the place wasn’t crowded as we expected. The weather was great and the contrast between the blue sky and the mountains’ green was nice. If you visit Kamikōchi in May or June you will probably see that the surrounding mountains are topped in white: in August a few snow was still present on the surrounding mountains’ top.
Getting off the bus you immediately notice restaurants and souvenir shops. The closest attraction from there is the suspension bridge called Kappa-bashi. The visitors center is also really close, there you can learn about Kamikōchi’s nature and characteristics and find maps and brochures.
On both banks of the river there are paths following the stream; we first crossed the Kappa-bashi. We saw some people camping with tents, which you can rent or bring from home, of course.
You can find some wild animals in Kamikōchi: we could spot many monkeys clinging on trees.
After a little walk we crossed a bridge called Myōjin-bashi: just before this bridge the Kandamyōjin Shrine takes place and, close to it, there is a soba restaurant where we had lunch. After the meal we went back to the river and reached a place called Takezawa: this spot just enchanted us. It is a pond where the water is barely moving, as if nature was holding its breath, still. Walking for a while we could behold the majestic shape of Hotaka-dake from far away, one of the tallest mountains of Japan.
Kamikōchi is a place where we always wanted to go and we weren’t disappointed at all: we could feel on our skin pure air and an untouched nature. It is a must-see place for those who seek Japan’s true nature.