Spring Mailbag, 2024

A hearty hello to all of our loyal readers around the world!

It’s been a hot minute since I last took to my keyboard to bring you news about Kamikochi, but given the volume of questions we’ve been receiving, our readers’ interest in the topic hasn’t cooled at all. This week, we’ll be sharing some of those questions for the benefit of our greater readership.

In most cases, we’ve paraphrased these questions for the sake of brevity and will be withholding the names of those who sent them out of respect for their privacy.

But enough of my yakkin’. Let’s get to your questions.

Q: When does Kamochi open this year?

A: Oh yes. We get this one with frightening regularity.

The TLDR version is that Kamikochi opens to the public on the morning of April 17th every year. You could describe it as “early opening” since, at this point, many hotels and facilites are not yet open for business. This is why the first few days of the season at Kamikochi are best suited to day trips. You can hike around central Kamikochi for a few hours then take the bus back to a nearby city or town.

The official opening is on the 27th. This is when the Kaizan-sai opening ceremony is held at Kappa Bridge with hundreds of onlookers typically in attendance.

Which hotels are open on the 17th?

Q: Only one or two are open that early. I have not yet seen the list of opening dates for this year, but typically The Park Lodge Kamikochi offers accomodation from the 17th onward (confirmed: also the case this season). Almost all other hotels are up and running by the 27th. Please also note that the Nakanoyu Onsen Ryokan, located just outside the park, opens its doors on April 15th.

Will I be able to buy food on April 17th?

Yes, you will. The Kamikochi Shokudo is open from the first day of the season as are several other restaurants. These include The Gosenjaku Kitchen and Trois-Cinq. You can also purchase souvenirs at shops around the central bus terminal.

Which trails are accesible on opening day?

Typically, you can expect to access all trails in central Kamikochi from the beginning of the season. Expect to be able to hike around Tashiro Marsh, Konashidaira, and even as far as Myojin Pond early on. Unfortunately, it’s hard to say for sure what conditions will be like on opening day. One reason for this is that snow often continues to fall sporadically well into early May, with blizzards sometimes occuring. We’ll offer a detailed preview a week or so before opening.

Q: Are there any barrier-free paths in Kamikochi?

Yes, there are. You can explore a network of paths in central Kamikochi. The courses marked by a blue dotted line on this map should be easily accesible from early in the season.

Q: What sort of clothing should I wear if I visit early in the season?

Please bear in mind that winter conditions can persist well into the spring in Kamikochi. Expect morning highs of around 0 degress Celsius and midday highs of around 10, with the caveat that it could get significant warmer or colder depending on the weather on the day. A warm jacket, gloves, and study hiking boots are all recommended for early spring excursions.

That’s all for this installment of Mailbag. Thanks as always to the fine folks at Five Sense for allowing us to use their photos.

We’ll be posting more updates on the 2024’s spring opening in the weeks to come.

Till then, we wish you all the best.

Source of Information:

Nature Guide Five Sense Kamikochi blog: https://fivesense.guide/blog/column/134455/