It was with high ceremony and a touch of sadness that we attended Kamikochi’s 2013 Heizansai, the ceremony that marks the end of tourist season with the closing of the Kama Tunnel and all services within the park. Despite some rain in the morning, the event was well-attended and a fitting farewell to a wonderful season.
Now that Kamikochi is effectively closed to casual visitors, some intrepid winter hikers will no doubt be wanting to know about the park’s accessibility in the off season. If that’s your priority, please scroll down to the link at the bottom of the page for lots of essential info. (We’ll only be covering the basics in this entry).
Owing to early signs of inclement weather, much of what we are used to seeing outside was held under shelter this year, as can be seen in these photographs:
As you can see, umbrellas were the hot accessory at this year’s event. Despite the less than ideal conditions, it was great to see so many people in attendance. 2013 was something of a special year in Kamikochi and it was fitting that a ceremony held partly in thanks for safe passage through the mountains during the season would benefit from the presence of many appreciative visitors.
And that devotion was in turn rewarded with hot, delicious sake:
We should take this opportunity to mention that public transportation will recommense at 7am on April 18th, 2014.
…winter is casting a daunting shadow over the Hotaka Mountain Range and surrounds. Kamikochi proper will also soon be covered in deep snow, significantly changing the terrain. For those who choose to enter the park on foot via the mouth of the Kama Tunnel, some rules apply. Some of these are for the benefit of visitors. Others for the common benefit of nature and all of those who enjoy it, people and animals alike.
A detailed guide on how to conduct yourself in Kamikochi during the off season may be found in this article posted last year: https://www.kamikochi.org/component/content/article.html?id=186
Some key points that I’ve been asked to mention are as follows:
* There will be no buses or any other forms of transport going to Kamikochi until next spring.
* While it IS possible to enter the park by tranversing the Kama Tunnel on foot, there are no services such as shops,lodges, etc. ope during the off-season, so you must take FULL RESPONSIBILITY for your own safety.
* Winter is a time of rest for nature. Those who visit are asked to treat it with respect and not do anything to pollute or otherwise harm the natural environment. Watch where you step and clean up after yourself.
As this is the last blog entry for the regular season this year, I’d like to extend our sincere thanks to all who followed us on our homepage as well as on Facebook and whose shared interest in Kamikochi continues to envigorate our thriving community.
Unilke Kamikochi, however, we are not going to sleep for the winter. Be on the lookout for regular (if not quite as frequent) bulletins over the next few months.
Sources of Information
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net
National Parks Foundation website: http://www.bes.or.jp
Shirakabaso Hotel website: http://shirakabaso.com
Shimizuya Hotel website: http://www.kamikochi-shimizuya.com