For lovers of the great outdoors, June can be something of an emotional roller coaster here in Japan. On the one hand, the weather can be quite pleasant when the seasonal rain isn’t bucketing down on your picnic plans. On the other hand…well, see the previous point. June is, however, the beginning of one of the peak hiking seasons in The Japan Alps and in Kamikochi summer is nothing less than paradisal. Never as oppressively hot as the Japanese summer in cities, the summer season offers the perfect mix of blue skies, lush green foliage, and very comfortable climates…when the weather cooperates…
Right now, we stand at the gateway of the vaunted summer season. The rainy weather is winding down and it’s only going to get better from now on.
Serving as the heralds of the approaching summer season is a bumper crop of glorious seasonal flowers, starting with the rhododendron pictured above.
Called レンゲツツジ (rengetsutsuji) in Japanese, the rhododendron japonicum is a local variation on the heather family flower found in other countries (including, possibly, your home country). What we’re seeing now in Kamikochi is a richly flowering, colorful plant that adds an elegant accent to the ever-increasing summer atmosphere in the park.
Turning our gaze to the lily family, we also find the ニッコウキスゲ (nikkoukisuge) also know as the ゼンテイカ（禅庭花 — zenteika), a bold flower with a very summery shade of yellow. Curiously, the first kanji appearing in the name is the same “zen” used in “Zen Buddhism.” Don’t ask me why as I’m not an expert in plants or religion. They strike me as a little loud for Zen gardens hower.
Strolling around the Konashidaira Campgrounds, you’ll likely spot some of these geraniums:
These distinctive white flowers spend the latter part of rainy season pointed downward to avoid spilling their precious pollen before coming gloriously to life once the weather clears up. Sign of imminent summer? Yeah, we’ll take that.
And what would any summer welcome party be without butterfiles?
If you require further proof of the arrival of hotter weather, look no further than the mountain tops.
Ah, the Hotaka Range! If you have been reading this blog with any regularity, you will know that the Karasawa Col is one of my favorite places on earth, partly for the wonderful view and partly for the easy accessibility of nearby peaks like Kitaho and Okuho. These peaks are now losing their snowy crows, which takes away a bit of their majesty but will in time make them MUCH more accesible to beginner and intermediate hikers. I belonged to the former category when I first hiked these peaks back in autum of 2012 and got fully hooked on mountain adventure. Looking at the most recent snow reports I can see that hiking to the peaks still requires proper winter hiking gear, but until the snow melts completely, you can just hike up to the Karasawa lodges to enjoy a close-up view of the mountains.
If you fancy making the trip up to Kamikochi, remember to check the weather and prepare accordingly. Whatever the weather calls for, you’ll want to have sunscreen, a good hat, and rain gear just in case. And, with summer coming, you should always have the option to bust down to lighter clothing as conditions require.
As always, please feel free to direct any questions or comments to our Facebook page (we are no longer fielding questions posted directly on the SHK homapage): https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi
Join us for what we know will be a wonderful summer season at the gateway to the Northern Japan Alps!
Sources of Information
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net
Kamikochi Hotel Shirakabaso website: http://shirakabaso.com