We’ve received a number of questions this past week about the current conditions in Kamikochi and exactly how “spring-like” the weather here is. While the morning air can still be quite chilly and temperatures can drop to around freezing at night, we’re now seeing the first blooming of hardy wildflowers around the park.
The English term “wildflower” is broadly applied to a genus of flowering plants found in the earth’s temperate zones. In contrast, the Japanese word nirinsou (二輪草 or ニリンソウ) describes a white variety of wildflower such as the one seen in the picture above.
The flower’s scientific name, anemone, comes from the Greek word for “Daughters of the Wind” and ancient tradition held that the first anemone grew from the blood of the fallen hero Adonis.
Druing peak periods, the wildflowers of Kamikochi can spread out into rich patches of white along the pathways, prompting many a passerby to stop and snap pictures. Because they are among the first flowers to bloom and also among the most numerous, anemone are also unofficially known as 春の代表 or “representatives of the spring.” Let’s make that “heralds of the spring.” It just sounds more poetic.
Despite their small size, anemone are very popular in Japan and it is not unusual to see people growing them in their gardens. There’s something soothing about soft white on a lush green background that reflects the swelling vitality of early spring.
This month has also seen the first blooming of trilliums, also coincidentally the official flower of my native province of Ontario, Canada. You might spot some of these along the footpaths leading to the Myojin-kan:
Elsewhere, we find a small flower that the Japanese call “nekonomesou” (猫の目草, literally, “cat’s eye grass”) and which is known in the West as golden saxifrage. Tiny flowers with a pleasing yellow hue,these are also highly representative of spring:
As you can see, flowers are starting to bloom all around Kamikochi. It’s also a good time to see and hear various species of birds, though we didn’t manage to catch any on film.
What I personally find most appealing about the spring season, however, is that it’s a time when you can enjoy the sight of snow-capped mountains amid warm and sunny conditions (during the day).
For those wishing to spend the night, packing a fleece and rainwear is still recommended due to the sharp drop in temperature in the evening. For sunny days, be sure to dress in a way that makes it easy to swap out warm clothing for lighter jackets etc. It’s allready warm enough to be breaking a sweat during a brisk walk in daylight.
As in past years, we’re having a grand old time welcoming the spring to Kamikochi in 2014. And we hope you’ll join us soon. Please feel free to post any questions or comments you might have on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi
Have a great weekend!
Sources of Information:
National Park Guide website: http://npg-alps.net
Kamikochi Gosenjaku Hotel website: http://www.gosenjaku.co.jp