Hello to all of our loyal readers. We hope you’re having a good week.
In the interest of introducing variety to our usual posts, we’ve asked our panel of experts to devise a quiz to test your knowledge of Kamikochi. There are a couple of tough questions in this batch, so if you answer eight or more correctly, you can consider yourself an authority on Japan’s favorite alpine retreat.
HINT: All of the questions include photographic clues to help discerning readers narrow the answers down.
And now, with no further ado…
- Which peak, often approached via Kamikochi and the Karasawa Col, is the highest peak in the Northern Japan Alps and the third highest in all of Japan?
- Mount Yari
- Mount Kitahotaka
- Mount Okuhotaka
- Mount Yake
- Which historical figure from the western world is most closely associated with Kamikochi?
- Will Wheaton
- Walter Weston
- Walt Whitman
- Wim Wenders
- Which of Kamikochi’s famous ponds was created by a volcanic eruption in 1915?
- Taisho Pond
- Myoujin Pond
- Tashiro Pond
- Goruden Pond
- What special purpose did the Tokusawa area serve before being turned into a campground?
- An open air moon-viewing pavillion
- a skunk cabbage patch
- A pasture for grazing cattle
- None of the above
- Kamikochi became a car free resort in what year? (Hint: the Datsun Cherry pictured above was being produced that year).
- On what calendar day does Kamikochi close for the winter every year?
- November 1st
- November 15th
- December 21st
- January 1st
- About how long does the celebrated Murodo to Kamikochi hike take to complete?
- two weeks
- three days
- six days
- 24 hours of pure toil
- In Autumn, the maples in Kamikochi typically display their brightest foliage around October 20th. What trees famously show peak colors at the end of the month?
- Where does Kappa Bridge get its name from?
- A mischievous water-dwelling creature of Japanese legend.
- A novel by Japanese author Akutagawa Ryunosuke.
- Both A and B
- Neither A nor B
- Prior to the opening of the Kama Tunnel, how did people typically enter Kamikochi?
- Through the Tokugo Pass
- By climbing up and over Mount Yakedake
- Via the Nishihotaka Ropeway
- They didn’t
Notes on the Answers
- At 3,190m, Mount Okuhotaka pips Mount Aino (in the Southern Alps) to the title of third highest mountain in Japan by just one meter. Some have alleged that this was achieved artificially by stacking rocks on the peak of Okuhotaka to increase its height.
- Reverend Walter Weston published his book Mountaineering and Exploration in the Japanese Alps in 1896, helping to spread the fame of Kamikochi around the world. A relief monument and annual festival honor his legacy to this day.
- The eruption of Mount Yake in 1915 blocked the flow of the Azusa River and created the body of water we now know as Taisho Pond (so named because the eruption occurred in the Taisho Era). The pond’s shimmering, mirror like surface is still one of Kamikochi’s top attractions.
- Tokusawa’s use as pasture land ceased when Kamikochi became part of the Chubu Sangaku National Park in 1934.
- Although private buses weren’t banned until 2005, private cars were banned all the way back in 1975.
- The closing date has been fixed at November 15th for the past few years. Snowfall around that time isn’t unheard of.
- Six days is the recommended time frame for the hike which traverses most of the Tateyama arm of the Northern Alps.
- The Japanese Larch or karamatsu (唐松) is the star attraction of late October.
- Akutagawa’s 1927 novella, “Kappa,” tells the story of a traveler who goes to Kamikochi only to tumble down a hole into the bizarre world of the titular creatures of legend. The narrator relates his observations on the Kappa’s customs and society.
- While no longer the main way to enter Kamikochi, the Tokugo Pass is still a popular hiking spot, due to its spectacular views of the surrounding mountains.