50 Days to Opening! (plus your questions answered)


Good morning to all our loyal followers around the world!

With winter now past its peak, we can now turn our attention to the approaching spring season in Kamikochi. It’s now just under 50 days till the park opens to public transportation on April 17th. Judging by the large amount of mail we’ve been recieving of late, many of you are already busy planning your spring visits to the park. So we’ve devoted this installment of our popular Kamikochi blog to answering some of your questions. These are all based on actual queries, but we have altered the wording slightly and withheld the names of the people who sent them.

Q: When can I travel to the park this year?

A: Kamikochi will open to public transportation on the morning of April 17th, and as we understand it this will be the early opening date from now on.  The official opening ceremony will be held on April 27th and the park will remain open to the public until it closes for next winter on November 15th, 2019.

Q: When can I travel to the park this year?

A: See above

Q: I’m interested in using the Shinshu Hida Alps Wide Free Passport to travel around the area and take the Shinhotaka Ropeway. Do you have any information for this service?

A: Yes! Read all about this popular offer at the Alpico website: https://www.alpico.co.jp/en/special/


Q: My significant other and I want to do some mountain climbing in early May, can you advise us on a good route?

A: This is a tricky one. most mountains in the Japanese Alps are still snowy in early May so mountain climbing remains out of reach to most people. Only fit, well-equipped, and experienced winter climbers should attempt early spring ascents. If you have crampons, you can do an overnigth trek up to the Karasawa area without too much trouble.

If you have your heart set on enjoying the scenery from mountain tops, consider taking the Shinhotaka Ropeway or possibly the popular Tateyama Kurobe Alpen Route. Also, warmer locations in Japan offer accessible peaks at time when Nagano and surrounds are still snowy.

Q: What are the options for eating in Kamikochi

A: I think you’ll find Kamikochi offers a wide variety of dining options. Hotels serve up sumptuous meals in their restaurants and other shops offer a variety of snacks and sundries. Mountain lodges famously serve up hearty and affordable curries which are a great hit with hikers on the move. If you’re looking to economize, consider getting some onigiri at a convenience store before departing the city.

Image: Tammy Akahane


Q: Is it OK to leave my luggage in the car while its parked overnight at Sawando Parking Area?

A: We urge caution and common sense here. Japan has quite a low rate of crime such as theft, but it’s not unheard of. Please be sure to take any money and valuables such as jewelry and electronics with you when you leave your car. Not leaving items such as purses out in the open is also advised.


Q: Can I use a drone in Kamikochi?

While there is no strict prohibition against drones in Kamikochi, there are some rules and guidelines, beginning with laws that apply to the whole country. Please start by consulting the Civil Aviation Bureau’s rules for operating unmanned aircraft: http://www.mlit.go.jp/en/koku/uas.html

As far as using drones in a national park, a set of broad guidelines require you to do the following:

  1. Don’t operate drones in areas where they might disturb wildlife.
  2. Don’t fly your drone over a private business such as a hotel or hot spring bath.
  3. Get permission from authorities at the park before using a drone.

The final point is obviously of key importance as park staff have the authority to refuse such a request. Please give them details on where and how you wish to use your devise and be prepared for possible refusal.

Q: What’s the average annual rainfall in the Amazon Basin?

A: 2300 mm, give or take.

Q: My future spouse and I wish to have a wedding ceremony in Kamikochi. Is this possible?

A: Firstly, congratulations! Secondly, yes it is possible. Hotels such as Gosenjaku and Shirakabaso offer wedding services to interested parties.

Well, that concludes this edition of reader mail. Thanks as always to the fine folks at the National Park Guide Kamikochi blog for allowing us to use images from their wonderful site.

Sources of Information:

The National Park Guide Kamikochi Blog: https://npg-alps.net/blog