Not much has changed since the last time this blog was updated. Snow may come and go on the city streets of Matsumoto, but in Kamikochi it has settled in for the winter. It’s the snow, of course, that keeps casual visitors out of Kamikochi and obliges the hotels and shops to close up for the season.
As we look forward to next spring, we thought we’d give you a quick rundown on some of the popular hiking routes in Kamikochi to give frequent visitors and newcomers alike something to get excited about. It’s never too early to start planning, right?
Myself, welcoming the spring season last year in Karasawa.
Considering the great effort that some people take to get to Kamikochi, we feel that it’s very important to make the most of a visit here. Most of the popular routes take two or more hours to complete, so if you don’t make good use of the time you have you might not get to see everything you want to. Remember also that the last buses departing from Kamikochi leave quite early, meaning that you must give yourself enough time to get back to the bus stop if you don’t wish to spend the night in the park (a good option if you’ve got the time and money, but we know a lot of you lead pretty busy lives).
The following are some tips about which locations in the park can be visited within various time frames. Thanks to the National Park Guide for providing many valuable insights in their Kamikochi blog.
If, for some reason, you find yourself with only an hour to spend in Kamikochi…well that’s not a lot, but let’s make the most of it.
With such a limited amount of time to work with, you can concentrate on the famed Kappa Bridge and its surroundings. The bridge itself offers an arresting view of Mount Yake and is thus a popular spot for snapping photos.
The Konashidaira campground can be reached by a three minute walk from the bridge and boasts a variety of seasonal flowers and some great views as well as pleasing strolls along the Azusa River. A little further away is the Takesawa Marsh, famed for beautiful seasonal vegetation, more great views, and a soothing atmosphere, especially in the morning.
Lastly, if you’re up for a slightly brisker walk, you can do a quick round trip hike to Tashiro Bridge in the other direction. It should take about 40 minutes to get there and back.
Scenes of otherworldy beauty at Konashidaira (L) and Tashiro Marsh (R)
Now we’re talking! Two hours, while still very short, will give you enough time to visit Taisho Pond at a relaxed pace. The pond is one of Kamikochi’s most famed landmarks and also (relatively speaking) one of its newer additions: it was formed in the aftermath of a volcanic eruption during the Taisho Period. Views of the pond and the mountainous landscape behind it are spectacular, especially in the early morning.
It’s about an hour walk from here to the bus terminal, so one way to see both areas is to take the bus from Sawando to Taisho Pond and then, after spending some time to take in the atmosphere and snap a few photos, proceed on foot to the Kamikochi Bus Terminal near Kappa Bridge. And why not take a few minutes to check out the Tashiro Marsh along the way. You should have plenty of time to do so.
A famously arresting view from the Taisho Pond area (L) and a soothing scene from Tashiro Marsh (R)
Now at last, we have some time to work with. With a little planning and suitable footwear, you can manage to see Taisho Pond, Kappa Bridge and Myojin Pond in a single three hour visit to Kamikochi. While it’s far from being all the park has to offer, you’d be hitting three of the main sweet spots, making for a very pleasant (if brief) visit.
If that’s not enough for you, consider coming in the early morning. Or, even better, think about staying the night either by camping or checking into one of Kamikochi’s numerous hotels and huts.
There’s something for everyone here: casual walks for the casual visitor, brisk hikes for those with the time and endurance, and more demanding courses leading to higher elevations. For climbers of varying abilities, the sky is quite literally the limit with famous locations like Oku Hotaka and Mount Yari (NOT FOR BEGINNERS!) being reachable from Kamikochi.
So whether you’ve got a little time or a lot of it, we hope to see you here this spring!
In the meantime, please go to our Facebook page with any questions you might have about Kamikochi: https://www.facebook.com/kamikochi
Source of information:
National Park Guide Website: http://npg-alps.net/