Golden Week may have come and gone, but spring is here to stay. All around Nagano prefecture, it’s a time of change and anticipation of warmer weather. In Kamikochi, however, we are still seeing tantalizing climpses of the spring to come: sunny days cast golden light on Kappa Bridge, plant and animal life are gradually reappearing, and people are arriving in ever-increasing numbers. This was especially true of the well-attended Opening Ceremony and of course the Golden Week Holiday itself.
And then, of course, there are the carp…
Yes, as any Japan-savy person can tell you, the “Flying carp” mentioned in the headline were a bit of a red herring. “Koinobori,” as they are called in Japanese are decorative streamers which are hung up in celebration of “Boy’s Day” all around Japan. The natural hardiness of the carp makes it a natural symbol for health and vitality, qualities traditionally associated with growing boys.
Another group of people who highly prize health and vitality are hikers of all ages, such as those setting out from Kappa Bridge here.
And here we can see some more groups equipped for treks of various lengths:
In the Myojin Pond area, the snow has mostly melted leaving the paths clear of obstacles.
So, how close are we to experiencing true spring weather? The blooming anemonies seen here are definitely a good sign:
And here we see the softening buds of some “takanezakura,” a form of wild cherry blossom that grows in mountainous regions. These ones should be in full bloom in about two weeks. Sidenote: cherry blossoms have all but vanished from the cities, so being able to see a wild varient at Kamikochi is a real bonus.
As always, the arrival of spring is also being heralded by the return of tiny life all around the park:
Visitors, especially those planning to spend the night in Kamikochi, should be aware that the temperature still drops below zero overnight and are urged to pack warm clothing: thermals, down jackets and vests, rainwear and gloves are all recommended especially in shaded areas. My winter hike in Kamikochi back in January taught me to love the sun and that lesson still holds true in the lead-up to spring.
We hope you’ll join us in welcoming spring to Kamikochi this season. As always please feel free to post any questions or comments you might have on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi
Sources of Information:
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net