First Frost on Fallen Leaves

Kamikochi has been getting colder and colder of late with spells of seasonal rainfall sometimes adding a damp accent to the autumn chill.  And now that first frost (初霜) reports are pouring in from all over Japan, it should come as no surprise that the peaks of the Hotaka range are already quite frosty, so expect to see a dusting of snow if you are visiting in the near future.  Up in Karasawa, the peak season for foliage is winding down, but there’s still pelnty to see down below.  In short, we’ve only got a few weeks of autumn left to enjoy and we aim to enjoy it to the fullest.



As visitors to the area have no doubt noticed, there was a mid-week rainy spell in Nagano that didn’t end until the sun finally reappeared yesterday afternoon.  This came with the obvious downside of making everything colder and wetter, but those who tough it out will also notice that the thick mists following the rainfall can create scenes of otherworldly beauty.


マユミ  割谷山


But that’s not what you’re here to see, is it?  As mentioned above, the current hotspot for taking in autumn foliage has moved from Karasawa to the easier to reach Karamatsu area.  As is often the case, pictures speak louder than words, so please enjoy these images from the Shirakaba-so website:






Yes, it’s a lovely time for a brisk autumn stroll, but take care to dress warmly.  As the above picture makes clear, coats and gloves are fast becoming mandatory.  Fleeces, down jackets, and the always necessary rainwear are what we recommend–even potentially for warmer daytime temperatures.


Of further interest to anyone planning a visit in the next couple of weeks is that most of the mountain huts serving Kamikochi and surrounds will be shutting around the beginning of November, with the majority posting closing dates on the 2nd or 3rd of the month.  The hotels stay open somewhat longer, but in general business shuts down around the park around the time of the closing ceremony in mid-November.


I mention this partly because I just learned that a couple of my friends camped down for the night last weekend and were so cold that they couldn’t get to sleep in their tent.  Don’t attempt this unless you have proper cold weather gear.


All of this reminds us of one inescapable fact: winter is coming.  Kamikochi will soon be transformed from autumnal playground to a wintery fortress of solitude, where only experienced, well equipped outdoors-people dare to tread.  In the meantime, let’s make the most of the rest of this glorious 2014 season!


Sources of Information:


Kamikochi Hotel Shirakaba-so website:


National Park Guide website: