The First Days of 2022

A hearty hello and a belated Happy New Year to all of our readers!

Now that we’re halfway through January 2022, we’ve made it through two of the five months that separate Kamikochi’s closing in mid-November to the reopening in mid-January. Huzzah!

As I sit at my desk not 100m from Lake Suwa, I wonder if this will be the year that I’ll finally get to see my first 御神渡り (o-miwatari), a phenomenon whereby the surface of Lake Suwa freezes and then cracks dramatically as hot spring water from the lake bottom heat the ice from underneath.

With that, my thoughts immediate turn to Kamikochi, that high, cold bastion of solitude in Japan’s Northern Alps. Happily, the folks at Five Sense have posted some recent photos of the park during the first week of the year. Let’s have a look,

The third of the month saw periods of blizzard-like conditions as clouds all but obscured the surrounding mountains. Even with the weather being mostly clear in nearby Matsumoto, the scenes are higher elevations were stark and wintery.

Fortunately, the skies were clearer on April 6th when the next two pictures were taken:

Note that the water in the second shot is not frozen and that steam can be seen on the left side of the frame. As you’ve no doubt guessed, Kamikochi enjoys significant hot spring activity in various locations around the park. The animal footprints visible in the snow attest to this spot’s popularity with the local wildlife.

Five Sense have also thoughtfully shared an except of a recent online guided tour here.

We’ll be back in the not too distant future with more coverage of Kamikochi. Given that there isn’t much to report these days, we might follow Five Sense’s example and instead post a few info pieces on wildlife and the like.

Till next time, stay safe and keep warm.

Sources of Information:

Nature Guide Five Sense Kamikochi blog: