Winter Hits the Northern Alps

There is now a very visible accumulation of snow on the peaks surrounding Kamikochi.  This, along with a casual glance at a calendar, confirms that the 2014 season is almost at an end.  But Japan’s most active prefecture is not going to take this lying down.  Even as the Gateway to the Northern Alps gets ready to close, the door is opening to other opportunities for adventure all around Nagano.  A few brave and skillfull outdoors-folk will be trading in their warmer weather gear for crampons, ice axes and other accoutements of winter hiking.  For a much larger number, however, winter means hitting the slopes at Shinshuu’s many fine ski resorts (some of them set to open within the next month or so).


But I’m getting ahead of myself here.  Let’s take a look at the sights that are heralding the end of the hiking season:


Around Taisho Pond, the past week has seen the arrival of a a blanket of hoarfrost, as picturesque as it is forbidding.



In the blink of an eye, the lustrous hues of autumn have been replaced by a serene white:


Up above the treeline, the Hotaka peaks are sporting a new winter look.  This is actually what they look like for most of the year, with the majestic chalk white lasting well into summer.


For those who wish to visit Kamikochi while it’s still up and running, we still have a few days before the closing ceremony this coming weekend.  The past few days have brought a mixture of rain and sun, but with the temperature dipping well below zero degrees Celsius overnight, it has been consistently chilly.  Be sure to dress appropirately.


We’ll be bringing you full reports of this year’s closing ceremonies in the near future, so please be on the lookout.


Now, as for the matter of the coming ski season alluded to earlier in this post, there are many fine locations in in the Northern Alps and elsewhere that are currently preparing for the winter sports season that draws closer each day.  Some favorites include Goryu-dake, Hakuba 47, Happo-one, and Iwatake, all of which are in the Hakuba Area.  Omachi’s Kashimayari is another popular destination along the Oito line which links Matsumoto and Hakuba.  Elsewhere, the huge Shigakogen area (technically comprised of several resorts linked together) is a great place for a weekend-long getaway, while Nozawa onsen offers some brilliant long courses in a unique setting.  I could go on listing other worthwhile resorts like Tsugaike and the powder-rich Cortina, but there simply isn’t enough room in a blog entry to cover the vast wealth of winter sports options in Nagano.  Suffice to say, they’ll be waiting for you here if you find yourself in Nagano this winter.


Whatever your pplans for the coming week and the coming season are, we wish you all a safe and enjoyable vistit to Japan’s Northern Alps!


Sources of Information:


Kamikochi Taishoike Hotel website:


National Park Guide website: