It’s been nearly 100 years since Mount Yake, now the only active volcano in the Northern Alps, erupted in such dramatic fashion that it created one of Kamikochi’s best known landmarks, Taisho Pond. Today, the pond still lies beneath the glowering peak that created it, welcoming visitors to the park with its tranquil early morning mists and mirror-like sheen. And yes, it was Taisho that captured my heart when I first visited Kamikochi back in 2005, supplying me with photos that went into the “Japan Highlights” album I’d show to friends from back home to convey some of the wonder of my adoptive homeland.
As Taisho Pond is one of the popular destinations in the Kamikochi area, I often advise day trippers to begin their visit by getting off the bus at the Taisho stop. Better yet, get there as early as possible to enjoy what’s generally agreed to be the best time to view the pond: early morning. So doing, you can also get off to a flying start in taking in several major Kamikochi landmarks in the popular Taisho — Kappa Bridge — Myojin Pond — Kamikochi Bus Terminal course.
Standing by the pond, you get a great view of Mount Yakedake in the foreground as well as the Hotaka range on the horizon and everything in between, all sublimely mirrored in the surface of the water. In the early morning, however, the pond is famously often shrouded in mist, giving the whole seen an otherworldly feel like something out of a fantasy novel.
Here are a few more shots showing the view from Taisho. It should be said however, that to get the full panoramic effect, you need to see it with you own eyes (as well as feel the early morning chill that completes the ambiance).
On the subject of “early morning chill,” it has been getting quite chilly of late, with morning temperatures dropping to four degrees Celsius. That explains why some photos I saw of people climbing Okuho this past weekend included what appeared to be winter jackets. At any rate, it is rare to see the temperature drop so far before October, so consider this a heads up for a cool autumn.
Down below, of course, you can still make do with thinner jackets and maybe a fleece for good measure. Also, bear in mind that this is a time of year when the temperature fluctuates dramatically between morning and midday, so layering up like a Russian doll and then shedding layers as you warm up over the course of the day is recommended.
Looking over this entry, I notice that I have said a lot about Taisho Pond and not much about Mount Yake. With October only a couple of weeks away, now might be a good time to share this article from last year: https://www.kamikochi.org/articles/featured-articles/253-mount-yake-ablaze-with-color.html
The above offers a peek at what we can expect from the autumn season: deep azure skies, brilliant foliage, and spectacular views. Stayed tuned for continued coverage of Kamikochi and, as always, post any questions or comments you might have to our Facebook wall: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi
Sources of Information:
Gosenjaku Group website: http://www.gosenjaku.co.jp
Kamikochi Taishoike Hotel website: http://www.taisyoike.co.jp