The Hiker’s Guide to Kamikochi

Overflowing with splendid scenery and some of the freshest air around, Kamikochi is the perfect place to head for a weekend outdoors whether you’re looking for a beautiful setting to take a leisurely stroll or a full weekend of intense hiking or mountain climbing.

The Hiker’s Guide to Kamikochi

One of the most scenic spots of central Japan, Kamikochi is a well-protected area in the Chubu-Sangaku National Park. Access to the area is limited to keep it in its notably pristine condition with the only way in via bus or taxi. The majority of visitors are dropped off at Kamikochi Bus Terminal next to the iconic Kappa Bridge. Found along the Azusa River, the terminal is a central point to start your adventure with different hikes and attractions branching off both north and south along the river whether you’re looking for relatively horizontal routes around lakes and through forests, or an attempt at a more vertical climb up one of the surrounding mountains.

The Hiker’s Guide to Kamikochi

Hikes in the area vary hugely in difficulty. The Azusa River route is among the flattest and easiest trails in the area with open views out over the surrounding mountains, lakes, and past temples, while heading to Tokusawa takes you down a covered trail through the alpine forests. For a more challenging hike, there are a few mountain routes that make a good half-day or full-day trip. Mt. Yakedake offers one of the gentlest climbs at 2,455 meters which is estimated to take between five and six hours to complete. The other mountains are expected to take one or two days to ascend and descend which include, in order of increasing difficulty, Mt. Chogatake, Mt. Nishi-Hotaka, Mt. Kita-Hotakadake, Mt. Yari, and Dai-Kiretto.

The Hiker’s Guide to Kamikochi

Whichever route you take, it’s recommended to dip through the surrounding woodland areas to check out some of the local wildlife. The tranquil forests are home to troops of macaque monkeys which can be seen playing in the trees. Also known as snow monkeys, these pink-faced primates are celebrated in Nagano Prefecture as they’re tough enough to stick out the bitterly cold winters the prefecture is known for. Other wildlife to look out for include the adorable kamoshika, a fluffy horned animal similar to a goat, and a whole host of birdlife which reside in the national park.

The Hiker’s Guide to Kamikochi

Like much of Japan, the colours of Kamikochi transform with the seasons. Autumn is a particularly spectacular time of year when the larch trees fade to orange and the birch trees glow in vibrant yellow and red hues. As the Hida Mountains become buried in snow in winter Kamikochi can only be accessed between April and November but warm clothes are needed throughout the year with the fresh mountain air growing chilly especially at night. Those camping will need proper sleeping bags and are required to stay in one of the park’s campsites with Onashidaira one of the best spots for a quiet place to set up camp.

The Hiker’s Guide to Kamikochi
Facility Name
Chubusangaku National Park
Address
Toyama prefecture, Nagano prefecture, Gifu prefecture, Niigata prefecture
Introduction
It is a national park that was established as one of Japan’s earliest and consists of mountains of the Northern Alps such as the Ushiro-Tateyama Mountain Range, Tateyama Mountain Range and Hotaka Mountain Range. It is home to various organisms that are renowned in Kamikochi such as the Japanese black pine butterfly and the Japanese rock ptarmigan. There are many scenic spots such as Tsugaike Nature Park and Kamikochi and is gaining popularity mainly by climbers. In the area there are many visitor centers, information centers, and museums, making it a base for sight-seeing and climbing. At Sawatari National Park Gate, multilingual brochures are available.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Kappa Bridge
Address
Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Adumi Kamikouchi
Closed
Mid Nov.-Mid Apr.
Introduction
Kappa Bridge is a landmark suspension bridge in the highland valley of Kamikochi. The bridge is a well-known scenic spot from where you can see the crystal clear waters of the Azusagawa River flowing beneath, as well as the peaks of Mt. Hotakadake, and the Yakedake mountains. It is also said that the bridge became the backdrop for the novel Kappa, written by the great Taisho period writer, Ryunosuke Akutagawa.
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN
Facility Name
Kamikochi Bus terminal
Address
Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture
Information Sources:
NAVITIME JAPAN

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PLACES IN THIS ARTICLE

  • dummy image

    Konashidaira Campground

    Fun/Leisure/Hobby
    Nagano Pref. Matsumoto City Azumi
  • dummy image

    Kamikochi Bus terminal

    Transportation
    Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture
  • Chubusangaku National Park image

    Chubusangaku National Park

    Fun/Leisure/Hobby
    Toyama prefecture, Nagano prefecture, Gifu prefecture, Niigata prefecture
  • Kappa Bridge image

    Kappa Bridge

    Travel/Sightseeing
    Nagano Pref. Matsumotoshi Adumi Kamikouchi
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