Translated by Jasmine Nishino
Trekking And Hot Spring Spots In Kamikochi, Nagano
Kamikochi, located in Matsumoto city in Nagano, is a well-known resort area within the mountains. Find out more about the gorgeous scenery and wonderful hot springs in this article.
Written by ISHIGAKI KUMIKO
Designated an important cultural property of Japan in 1952, Kamikochi is a famous mountain resort in Matsumoto city, Nagano.
Thought to have been under the sea 300 million years ago, Kamikochi's landscape was made by many years of tectonic movement and erosion by the river. The breathtaking natural scenery was then called Kamikochi (the God send land). Let's take a closer look at the charms of Kamikochi.
Go Hiking Casually!
Kamikochi is surrounded by mountains standing 1,500 meters tall: the Hotaka mountains, Yakedake mountains, and Kasumisawadake mountains. Just from that, you may think you would need serious hiking equipment, but as long as you have shoes that are comfortable to walk in you will be fine. Along the calm Azusa river, there is a paved walking course that makes hiking easy for those with small children or people who have trouble walking long distances.
Walk the Course of Your Choice
The walking courses in Kamikochi are arranged according to the length of your stay and strength.
Lake Taisho in the morning mist
For instance, if your stay is around two hours, you can get off at the Lake Taisho stop. It is the first stop of the bus and you will be able to witness the only active volcano of the North Japanese Alps, Yakedake mountain, right before your eyes. Lake Taisho was made from the volcanic activity in 1915 that stopped the flow of the Azusa River. Now, you are able to witness a dreamy landscape where mallards and mandarin ducks gather. In the distance, you can spot the traces of the molten lava on the sides of the mountains from the intense volcanic action in the past.
Japanese monkey eating acorns in a nearby tree
Approximately an hour away, you will reach the Kappabashi bridge, which is an iconic landmark of Kamikochi. If you are lucky, you may be able to encounter a wild monkey. There are some signs about bear sightings, but if you are making noise and chatting, bears will not appear. Visitors are advised to make some noise or chat while walking.
The splendid torii gates of Hotaka Shrine
For those who wish to spend four hours or more, why not extend your journey and go further past the Kappa bridge to the Hotaka shrine? Past the gourd-shaped Myojin lake, you will find the rear shrine behind the main shrine. Surrounded by evergreen trees, this lake is very clear and does not freeze even during winter. It is also known to be a strong spiritual spot as well. Hotaka Shrine has a 300 yen entry fee.
Go to a One-Day Hot Spring After Walking
After a hike, there are hot springs nearby where you can soak and relax. At Kamikochi Hotel, you can bathe in a free-flowing hot spring. It costs 800 yen for adults and 200 yen for a towel; this hot spring is also open to those not staying at the hotel as well. There is an open-air bath along with a barrel tub which many visitors enjoy using.
Kamikochi closes during the winter season due to the snow and opens around April 20th to mid-November. During this time the national road leading to Kamikochi is open.
Address: Nagano, Matsumoto, Azumi, Kamikochi
Closed: November 16 - Mid April the following year
WiFi: Not Available
Credit Cards: Not Available
Nearest station: Shin-Shima Station on the Matsumoto railway Kamikochi line
Access: From JR Matsumoto Station, take a local bus (one departure a day) or taxi. Or take the Matsumoto Railway Kamikochi line for around 30 minutes and get off at Shin-Shima Station and take the local bus (7-17 departures a day) or taxi.
Website: Kamikochi Official Website