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Regions of Japan

Hokkaido Tohoku Hokuriku
Shinetsu
Kanto Tokai Kansai Chugoku Shikoku Kyushu Okinawa Islands SAPPORO TOKYO NAGOYA OSAKA FUKUOKA FURANO KUSHIRO AOMORI SENDAI FUKUSHIMA NIKKO HAKONE SADO TAKAYAMA KANAZAWA ISE KYOTO NARA HIROSHIMA NAGASAKI KAGOSHIMA NAHA
Hokkaido
Hokkaido
  • Hokkaido
Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush Japan's great white north offers wild, white winters and bountiful summers—a haven for dedicated foodies, nature lovers and outdoor adventure fans seeking an adrenaline rush
Tohoku
Tohoku
  • Aomori
  • Akita
  • Iwate
  • Yamagata
  • Miyagi
  • Fukushima
Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan Fearsome festivals, fresh powder snow and vast fruit orchards—the rugged territory of Tohoku offers a new perspective on travel in Japan
Hokuriku Shinetsu
Hokuriku Shinetsu
  • Niigata
  • Toyama
  • Ishikawa
  • Fukui
  • Nagano
An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare An easily accessible slice of rural Japan offering unrivaled mountainscapes and coastlines, endless outdoor adventure and amazing ocean fare
Kanto
Kanto
  • Tokyo
  • Kanagawa
  • Chiba
  • Saitama
  • Ibaraki
  • Tochigi
  • Gunma
Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife Jump from the neon glow of Tokyo to Gunma's mountain retreats, Kamakura's cultural heritage and the Ogasawara Islands' exotic wildlife
Tokai
Tokai
  • Yamanashi
  • Shizuoka
  • Gifu
  • Aichi
  • Mie
Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan Hallmark attractions such as Mt. Fuji and Takayama coexist with major cities and famous heritage in the center of Japan
Kansai
Kansai
  • Kyoto
  • Osaka
  • Shiga
  • Hyogo
  • Nara
  • Wakayama
The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara The Kansai region is one of contrasts, from the glittering lights of Osaka and Kobe to the cultural treasures of Kyoto and Nara
Chugoku
Chugoku
  • Tottori
  • Shimane
  • Okayama
  • Hiroshima
  • Yamaguchi
Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower Welcome to Japan's less-explored western frontier, where the weather is warmer and the pace of life is slower
Shikoku
Shikoku
  • Tokushima
  • Kagawa
  • Ehime
  • Kochi
Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving Island-hopping, cycling, soul-warming spiritual strolling and red-hot dancing—the island of Shikoku gets you up and moving
Kyushu
Kyushu
  • Fukuoka
  • Saga
  • Nagasaki
  • Oita
  • Kumamoto
  • Miyazaki
  • Kagoshima
The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky The southern island of Kyushu is home to hot springs, rugged geography, undeveloped beaches and volcanoes ranging from sleepy to smoky
Okinawa
Okinawa
  • Okinawa
Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings Fly to Okinawa and discover a distinct island culture born of subtropical sun, white sand, coral, mangrove jungles and the age of the Ryukyu Kings

Nature

Kamikochi 上高地

The jewel of the Japanese Alps

Kamikochi, a largely undeveloped resort in the Northern Alps, is home to some of Japan's most splendid mountain scenery. Whether for a leisurely walk along the Azusa River or an extended trek in the glorious Northern Alps, visiting Kamikochi is a must for any visit to Nagano Prefecture.

Don't Miss

  • Experience the spectacular views of the Hotaka Range peaks from Kappa Bridge
  • Take a hike out to Myojin Pond
  • Go for a trekking adventure in the alpine wonderland of the Northern Alps

How to Get There

Kamikochi is not the easiest place to access, so research accordingly before heading off.

If you want to travel by train, aim to get to Matsumoto Station and jump on a train to Shin-shimashima. From there, you'll have to take a bus as private cars are banned from Kamikochi.

There are direct bus services that depart from Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto, and Nagano.

Quick Facts

At 1,500 meters, Kamikochi and the surrounding peaks are all part of Chubu Sangaku National Park

Kamikochi is accessible from mid-April until mid-November, but you can snowshoe in during winter

Peak season

Kamikochi is popular throughout its open season but is especially busy during summer holidays from mid-July through to August and on weekends during the autumn foliage season.

Stand in awe amid the beauty of Kamikochi

While certain famous destinations can never live up to their hype, Kamikochi is rightfully renowned. The fifteen-kilometer valley, with its lush forests, offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks, including the volcanic Mt. Yakedake. The Hotaka Mountain Range dominates the area, and at 3,190 meters, Mt. Oku Hotaka is the highest peak in the Northern Alps.

An introduction to the area

The bus into Kamikochi arrives at a visitor's center not far from Kappa Bridge, a 36-meter wooden structure spanning the Azusa River. It's a major Kamikochi landmark, and one of its most popular spots for snapping photos.

While the valley as a whole is relatively undeveloped, the central area has some guest houses, hotels, and a smattering of shops and restaurants. This zone can get busy at times, but if you keep hiking along the river, you'll soon be away from the crowds.

Hike along the turquoise Azusa River

Casual day hikes from this area along the turquoise Azusa River can be supremely rewarding with tremendous views along the way. Myojin Pond and Taisho Pond are both popular sightseeing spots for their pristine waters which reflect the surrounding peaks. Keep your eyes peeled for the troops of monkeys that frequently come romping through.

Climb into the wild Northern Alps

Heading towards Myojin Pond, hike further still and you'll soon begin the ascent into Japan's alpine realm. Along the way, the valley's forest foliage presents a mix of larch, birch, and hemlock. It's also home to such local wildlife like deer, a Japanese breed of goat called serow, raccoon dogs, foxes, plenty of monkeys, and the occasional bear.

An autumnal delight

The valley is at its most splendid in the fall. While legions of visitors descend on Kamikochi in October, if you keep walking up the river valley, you'll soon leave most of them behind. Another option is doing a day hike up nearby Mt. Yake; this path lets you take in the autumn hues minus the crowds.

Snowshoeing in winter

Snowshoeing into Kamikochi is an amazing way to experience the valley in the off-season. With the park officially closed during winter, this is a unique opportunity to experience Kamikochi without any vehicles or crowds. A winter hike from the tunnel at the entrance of the resort to Kappa Bridge takes about two and a half hours. You can rent snowshoes in Matsumoto.

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