A Symphony of Color at Karasawa

Whatever the time of year, Karasawa is just about my favorite part of Kamikochi.  Sitting in the shade of the Hotaka peaks, it’s beyond picturesque and a must-visit for anyone wishing to get the most out their time in the gateway to the Northern Alps.  These past few days have shown us powerful reminders of why Karasawa is Kamikochi’s most celebrated spot for autumn leaf-viewing.  At its peak, it offers an explosion of color across a broad pallet framed by some of the tallest mountains in the area.


As these pictures show, this year will be no exception:



Located about a six hour hike from the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, Karasawa might me a bit beyond the reach of the most casual hikers.  Those who put in the time and effort, however, will be richly rewarded with gorgeous views and (for those with an interest in going further) easy access to the surrounding peaks.


With no snow currently on the ground, special equipment is not needed to reach the Karasawa Cirque, making it accessible to people of all ages and varying abilities.  Time and fitness, as well as the ability to tolerate crowds at peak times are the main issues here.


And the payoff?


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That’s right, the payoff is a kaleidescopic display of colors rarely seen in the natural world or realistic depictions thereof.  People rave about the brilliant reds, yellows, and oranges that make up the mosaic of color on the slopes, but what completes the effect is the unbelievably blue autumn skies.  On a fine day, you can see the whole color spectrum laid out before on a grand scale.  It is truly a feast for the eyes.


If you are looking at these pictures and kicking yourself for missing this past weekend at Karasawa, do not despair.  We are well informed that the peak period of foliage may be enjoyed until October 15th (next Tuesday), so you’ve got a bit of time yet to pick a sunny day and plan a trip down.


Considering the time you’ll spend in transit, as well as the fact that you’ll want to take your time savoring the scenery and snapping pictures, staying overnight is advisable.  The Karasawa Col is currently served by two yamagoya (“mountain huts”): the Karasawa Hyutte and, further up the hill on the right, the Karasawa Goya.  A night’s accomodations are similarly priced with a stay in the common room around, 6,500 yen.  This rises to around 9,500 when you tack on dinner and the next day’s breakfast.


Meanwhile, the scene at Dakesawa produced images such as these:


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I myself paid a visit to Mount Yakedake this past Sunday and was greeted by a lively array of colors.  While not as dramatic as the Karasawa foliage, the journey to Yakedake offered a stark contrast between bright colors along the paths leading to the summit and barren volcanic rock up above.  It was my first time doing this hike and I highly recommend it.  Here are a couple of shots I took alond the way.  If you like what you see, follow this link to the full story elsewhere on the SHK homepage: https://www.kamikochi.org/articles/featured-articles/253-mount-yake-ablaze-with-color.html



Further down the slopes, true autumn foliage has yet to arrive in Kamikochi but will gradually creep down over the coming weeks.  In the meantime, stay tuned to Sacred Highland Kamikochi for regular coverage of this year’s autumn season.  As always, feel free to drop by our Facebook page with any questions or comments you might have (https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi)


Sources of Information:


Tokusawa-en website: http://www.tokusawaen.com


Gosenjaku Group website: http://www.gosenjaku.co.jp


National Parks Foundation website: http://www.bes.or.jp