With the closing ceremony just a week away, Kamikochi is already in the shadow of winter. And the signs of the silver season are everywhere, from the snowy mountaintops, to the carpets of fallen leaves on the forest trails, to the inside of your nostrils (which might register a slight sting as you breath in your first lungfull of chilly morning air).
Yes, winter is coming…this time with no contrived plot twists or eleventh hour heel turns.
That said, you can still see a decent amount of color on the trees, certainly much more so than you normally would at this time of year:
As regards the closing ceremony itself, it will be held by Kappa Bridge at 10:50 on the morning of Friday November 15th. As is custom, a Shinto Ceremony will take place in which prayers are offered in thanks for safe passage through the mountains. While this ceremony officially marks the end of the tourist season, visitors will be allowed to remain in the park until the last buses depart later that evening.
Please be aware that Kamikochi is quite cold at this time, with morning temperatures dropping to -3 degrees Celsius. Visitors are urged to dress for winter to ensure a safe an comfortable time in the park. Even if you feel warm walking in the sun, you’ll feel a dramatic difference when passing under shadows or if the sky suddenly clouds over. You can stash an unneeded jacket or fleece in your pack, but you can’t just conjure one out of thin air.
The bloggers at Five Sense recommend a few spots in particular which are noted for getting more sunlight than others.
Pictured above, the Dakesawa Marsh has no mountains to the east of it and therefore gets sunlight from early in the day, remaining warm until well past noon.
The same can be said of Myojin Pond. Located on the right bank of the Azusa River, this area also receives direct sunlight for much of the day and makes for a perfect late morning stroll from the Kappa Bridge area. Keep in mind that, due to the small number of bridges across the Azusa River, there are few opportunities to cross, meaning that if you find yourself in the shadows, you’ll probably be chilly for a significant portion of your hike.
Lastly, if you don’t feel like straying too far from central Kamikochi, the Shimizu River is mere minutes from Kappa Bridge. You might spot a few mallards with their bills stuck in their plumage–a sure sign that they are having a midday snooze:
Here we see a male (L) and female (R) of the species taking a deserved rest from the grueling profession of being a duck. Judging by their proximity to one another, we can probably infer that these two are mates. They’ll be seeking warmer climes soon, but remain part of the menagerie for the moment.
Well, that’s all for now. We’ll be back next week with more up to date info and images as Kamikochi’s 2019 season winds down. Thanks as always to the intrepid bloggers at Five Sense for making these posts possible!
Sources of Information:
Nature Guide: Five Sense, Kamikochi blog: https://fivesense.guide/blog/today/25875/