With summer heat rising to a fever pitch all over Japan, the cities have quickly turned in urban saunas making even the simplest tasks a sweaty ordeal. It’s a time of year when such bourgeois affectations as closing your windows at night (or wearing clothes) will mostly just earn you a grade A case of heatstroke.
But fear not! Kamikochi is currently basking in relatively cool, but sunny weather and offers the perfect escape from the sweltering heat at ground level. Simply looking at the photograph below should make you feel cooler, and if it doesn’t, you’re made of sterner stuff than I:
How much cooler is Kamikochi than nearby cities? Well, temperatures in Matsumoto have been in the early to mid-thirties of late. In contrast, morning temperatures in the Kamikochi’s central area dip to around 12-15 degrees centigrade, with midday highs rising to a very comfortable 20 to 22.
That’s just one of the many benefits of being located 1,500m above sea level.
And it’s not just the elevation that makes Kamikochi feel cool. Many aspects of the park are simply refreshing to be around, such as the sight of a fish swimming in tranquil, shallow waters. This frisky little guy was spotted a short distance from the Shimizuya Hotel, near the Weston Relief:
In addition to all the soothing, running water in the park–of which the cool and crystal clear Azusa is the centerpiece–there are many shady lanes and even cooler spots to be found for those hiking up to higher elevations.
If you decide to stay the night to enjoy the evening stary skies, you might even have the novel experience of putting on a warm fleece for the first time in months to keep warm outside. I recently found myself sleeping in full thermals while hiking elsewhere in the Northern Alps. It’s like a whole other world up there!
As we rejoice in the cooler climes of Kamikochi in summer, let’s take a moment to reflect on a well-established bit of hiking wisdom: if you are heading to high altitudes, you should pack gear suitable for both the previous season and the coming season. That means, in addition to the hot weather hiking gear you have for summer, you should also include warmer gear suited for autumn and spring hiking. Always have some form of protection against both the sun and the rain as both can pose a danger to your comfort and safety in the mountains. Clothing-wise, anything goes around Kappa Bridge, but it’s a different story up near the peaks!
To anyone who’s planning a weekend summer getaway to Kamikochi, but is uncertain of any of the details of traveling or staying here, please feel free to visit our Facebook page at this address: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi?ref=hl
We hope to see you here soon!
Sources of Information:
Shirakabaso Hotel website: http://shirakabaso.com
Simizuya Hotel website: http://www.kamikochi-shimizuya.com
Gosenjaku Group website: http://www.gosenjaku.co.jp/
Taishoike Hotel website: http://www.taisyoike.co.jp