For weeks on end, the rainy season had been making things…interesting for those of us who wanted to get out and enjoy the great outdoors. Just the other day, I found myself being pelted by rain well up above the 2,500m mark in the Northern Alps as an especially long wet spell turned my dream hike into a soggy slog.
But no more! The Rainy Season has been declared officially over in the Kanto Koshinetsu area, meaning that blue skies and sunny weather will be the norm from now on. I celebrated by watching the 1999 samurai drama 雨あがる (“After the Rain”), which I highly recommend.
This time of year also marks what the Japanese call 夏の本番 (“natsu no honban”), or “real summer heat,” as opposed to the somewhat cooler temperatures of the rainy season. Sure enough, Matsumoto has seen temperatures rising to 35 degrees celsius and nearby Kofu, in Yamanashi Prefecture recorded a high of 39 the other day!
Luckily, anyone wishing to escape from the sticky, oppressive heat will find the cool highlands of Kamikochi to be the perfect getaway.
As you can see here, the umbrellas, which had provided shelter from the rain, have been replaced by “higasa,” or compact parasols to prevent sunburn. That’s a sure sign that times are a’ changin’.
And packing some kind of sun-protection, whether sun-block or a wide-brimmed hat, is always a good idea. Despite the cool temperatures (currently dipping to around 10 degrees!), Kamikochi has very high UV levels. Visitors who fail to protect themselves from the sun will quickly find themselves sunburnt.
And on that note, it’s important to mention that, in spite of the rainy season officially being at an end, rain can still occur, frequently and without warning in Kamikochi. In the area around Kappa Bridge, you can probably make do with a convenience store umbrella, but if you plan to hike anywhere beyond that, be sure to pack rain gear. It can quite literally be a life-saver on long hikes!
There really is no time like the present to visit Kamikochi. The crowds that will clutter the walkways in August have not yet arrived in force, so get in there while you can and enjoy a cooler summer experience in Japan’s premier outdoor destination.
As always, please visit our Facebook page with any questions or comments you might have: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi
Sources of Information:
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net/
Shirakabaso Hotel Website: http://shirakabaso.com/