The close of 2014 finds Kamikochi peacefully slumbering underneath a thick blanket of snow where it will remain until the start of the 2015 season this coming April. Unfortunately, an up to date report on what’s going on in the park now would consist of something like “Lots of snow. No people.” So, instead of focussing on the here and now, why not do the classic end of year thing and look at a retrospective of last year’s spring season. Here, for your delight and edification, is a year-end review and also a peak at what we have to look forward to when the Gateway to the Northern Alps re-opens this spring:
Let’s begin with a look at the condition in the week preceding opening last April. As you can see, there’s still a lot of snow on the ground:
By the time Golden Week rolled around, the area around Tashiro Pond was a lot less snowy (if not exactly green yet):
Jumping ahead to mid-May, we find traces of cherry blossoms or, to be precise, “takanezakura” (高嶺桜), a more richly colored variant of the pinkish white blossoms found at lower altitudes. It bodes well!
Along with the flowers, spring also brings in the usual migratory wildlife like this handsome Blue and White Flycatcher here (as well as the flies he feasts on). Brids are much easier to see in the springtime while the leaves have yet to grow in densely.
Another distinctive and colorful sign of spring appeared in the form of the scopolia japonica, a highly poisonous flower whose Japanese name 走野老 refers to the fact that any luckless soul who ingests them will soon himself running around in a blind panic. Is that warning enough for you?
As you get ready to ring in the new year, we hope you also give a thought to how you will enjoy the Northern Alps in 2015. From Hakuba’s ski fields to the upcoming Nozawa Onsen Fire Festival, to the Ice Candle festivals of the Kiso Valley, there’s plenty to keep you occupied until this chilly but rewarding season in Shinshuu comes to a close.
We extend the warmest wishes to you and your loved ones at the close of the year and hope 2015 will bring you all health and happiness!
From the Sacred Highland Kamikochi team: 良いお年を！
Source of Information:
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net