Well, the long wait is just about over! “Kaizansai,” the annual festival which officially opens Kamikochi to the public, will be held from 10:50 to 2pm tomorrow around the Kappa Bridge Area. A turnout of about 3,000 visitors is expected which should make for a jubilant celebration worthy of such a grand place. Temperatures in the park have been quite high of late, but cloudy conditions with even odds of rainfall are expected, so be sure to take that into account when packing your clothing.
As always, admission to the actual event is free.
What to Expect:
The purpose of the Kaizansai is to celebrate the opening of mountains to the public while offering prayers of safety to those who venture to higher ground. For this reason, Shinto ceremonies are an important part of the event. Since alpine culture in Japan is also quite international in flavour, the Shinto rituals are also the most reconizable element of age old Japanese tradition. If you’re lucky, you might might get a dram of nihonshu to warm your spirits as you look on.
There will also be other cultural events including alpen horn playing and other performances.
What to Bring:
A selection of clothing that allows you to swap out layers to accommodate changes in temperature is a good idea. The anticipated 18 degree high means you needn’t dress for winter, but since rain is a possibility, a waterproof lightweight jacket isn’t a bad idea. And just to be on the safe side, why not shove an extra layer or two in your bag? A small umbrella could serve you well in a pinch too.
When to Come:
The earlier the better. Real early birds who catch the first bus in could get off at Taisho Pond, enjoy and hour hike to the Kappa Bridge area, then another hike of a similar distance to the Myojin Pond/Shrine area (preferably about an hour before the 10:50 start to get a good place). Or you could just get off at the main bus stop near Kappa Bridge and enjoy a shorter hike. It’s up to you.
How to Come:
Anyone still unfamiliar with the details of getting to Kamikochi from Matsumoto should have a look at this handy step by step guide from our homepage: http://www.kamikochi.org/articles/featured-articles/33-matsumoto-to-kamikochi.html
We’ll be sure to follow up with a report of this year’s event within the next week. Till then, stay tuned for regular updates on Kamikochi’s 2016 spring opening!