The calendar would have us believe it’s February 22nd, but Nagano Prefecture has seen a very mild winter season this year, with only brief cold snaps and infrequent snowfall. With the exception of a few blustery days, winter hasn’t really turned. On the one hand, this has robbed Shinshu of some of its undeniable majesty. On the other hand, we find our thoughts naturally turning to the coming spring season, which is definitely a good thing.
In answer to many many queries from our readers about Kamikochi’s opening, the “Kaizansai” has been scheduled for the 27th of April, 2016.
To give our readers an impression of what to expect from the ceremony, we thought we’d share some images of past Kaizansai celebrations, beginning with the one above from last year.
One of the event’s uniquely appealing qualities is the blend of native Japanese culture (and you can’t get much more native than Shinto rituals) and alpine culture imported from the West as seen in this alpen horn performance which is a regualr Kaizansai fixture:
Very occasionally winter doesn’t get the memo about the spring opening and bestows an unseasonal blizzard on the festival participants. This was the case in 2013:
This probably won’t happen this year, what with the unseasoable warmth, but you never know. Anyone planning a visit is advised to dress warmly as temperatures will likely be nippy in any case. It is about 1,200m above sea level after all.
We should also mention that the Kama Tunnel which grants access to Kamikochi via buses and taxis typically opens about a week before the Kaizansai is held. I have yet to see an official date for this, but sometime around the 20th seems likely.
That’s all for now. We’ll be posting more info on Kamikochi’s upcoming spring season as the hotly anticipated date draws nearer. To anyone considering a visit, we wish you luck with your preparations and hope you have an unforgettable time.