Spring Mailbag: FAQ and important dates

Good morning to all our loyal readers.  It’s a warm and sunny day in central Nagano and as I sit here writing this blog, the cherry blossoms outside my office window are nearing full bloom.   Mere weeks ago it was still quite chilly, but now you might just break a sweat walking down a city street.

More to the point, Kamikochi will open its doors (tunnel, actually) to the public later this month, ringing in another season of fun and adventure in the Northern Alps.  We’ve naturally received a ton of questions about the opening, with 95% percent of them asking about opening dates.  Since these issues are of general interest, we’ll be sharing the questions and answers in this blog, along with other Qs and As from the archive.  Get comfortable folks, ’cause this is a long one.

Question: When does Kamikochi open this year.

Answer: Kamikochi’s official opening is on April 27th, when the Kaizanshiki Opening Ceremony is held at Kappa Bridge and businesses and services open up across the board.  HOWEVER, you can travel to Kamikochi by taking a bus or taxi through the Kama Tunnel as early as April 17th when the tunnel opens to public transport.

Question: Can we enjoy hiking in Kamikochi between April 17th and the official opening?

Yes you can.  Due to the fact that it may be chilly and there will almost certainly be snow snow remaining on the ground, you’ll want to dress appropriately and wear sturdy footwear (hiking boots are best).  Also, due to the limited accommodation options, most visitors opt for a daytrip and return by bus in the afternoon.

What will be open from April 17th on?

This is a tricky one.  Kamikochi’s official Japanese site lists only approximate dates for many business and services.  Here’s that list in English:

Facilities: opening dates and hours of operation

Kamikochi Visitors’ Center

Open from late April to November 15th

Business Hours: 8am to 5pm

Kamikochi Bus Terminal Ticket Window:

Open from mid-April to November 15th

Business Hours: 6am to 6pm

Kamikochi Information Center

Open from Late April to November 15th

Business Hours: 8am to 5pm

Kamikochi Tourism Center

Open from mid-April to November 15th

Business Hours: 5:30am to 7pm

Kamikochi Post Office:

Open from April 27th to November 15th

Business Hours 9am to 5pm

Kamikochi Luggage Check Service

Open from April 27th to November 15th

Business Hours: 6am to 5pm

Tokyo Medical School Kamikochi Medical Center

Open from April 27th to November 15th

Hours of Operation: 9am to 5pm

Matsumoto Police Department, Kamikochi Branch

Open from late April to November 15th

Hours of Operation: 8am to 5pm

As you will have noticed, several of these facilities are listed as opening in late April (sometime in the final third of the month).  It’s best to assume that only the most basic services like public toilets and the bus ticket office will be operating before the official opening on the 27th.

QUESTION: What kind of of clothing should I prepare for the end of April in Kamikochi?

ANSWER: Since Kamikochi is 1200m above sea level, it’s considerably cooler than the warm spring temperatures of other locations in Japan.  We recommend packing some gear suitable for winter.  You might not need these items throughout the day, but sunny and warm can turn to damp and chilly surprisingly fast in the mountains.  For most areas, hiking boots will provide adequate support on paths, but 8 to 12 point crampons are required when venturing into the hills.  Rain resistant gear is always a good idea and an actual necessity in the case of longer treks.

 

That’s all for this edition of Mailbag.  We’re sure you have more questions, so please feel free to download our digital brochure, which has a detailed map and lots of useful info: http://www.kamikochi.org/pdf/Kamikochi_Leaflet.pdf

And of course, we also field questions of our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi/

We hope you all find time to get out and enjoy the spring weather as we await Kamikochi’s spring 2018 season.  Almost there!

Sources of Information and Images:

Kamikochi Offical Site (Japanese): http://www.kamikochi.or.jp/facilities/public/

National Park Guide blog: https://npg-alps.net/blog/npg-info/18889/