Minami Alps National Park
Lofty summits engraved with the history of the sea
The Minami Alps are characterized by a geographical feature called a tectonic hill. The massive appearance of rapidly elevated non-volcanic mountains occurred one million years ago, because of pressure in the east-west direction. The Minami Alps continue to rise even now; an increase in height of 3 to 4 mm annually shows the fastest uplift rate not only in in Japan, but in the world.
Visiting Japan's National Parks
Minami Alps National Park, like all of Japan's national parks, has no entrance fees, no opening and closing hours, and a permit is not required to enter or stay in the park. The national parks of Japan differ from national parks worldwide in that the land within the national parks is not exclusively designated for national park use and is made up of private property as well as public and protected areas. Visitors are free to enter and leave at any time.
The area has numerous V-shaped valleys, linear depressions, and landslide scars. Other features are the cirques formed by a glacier and many periglacial landforms created by repeated freezing and melting, resulting in patterned grounds.
- The three peaks that make up the dramatic Hoo Sanzan Mountains
- Mt. Senjogatake—the queen of the Minami Alps
- Try and spot the rare Japanese stoat
Adjacent to the border of the alpine and subalpine belts is a forest of Erman's Birch trees. The mountain ridges of the Minami Alps are the best place to gaze upon beautiful alpine meadows with a backdrop of imposing mountains.
The second tallest mountain (3,193 m) in Japan, after Mt. Fuji. Together with Mt. Ainodake and Mt. Notori it is called “Shirane Sanzan,” meaning Three White Summits. The Kitadake Buttress is a 600-m tall rock face that extends from the summit on the eastern slope of the mountain.
MT. KAMIKOCHI AND MT. CHAUSU
In between Mt. Chausu (2,604m) and Mt. Kamikochi (2,803 m), there is a geographical feature called hexagonal pattern soil (patterned ground), which is caused by the ground repeatedly freezing and melting during the cold season. This results in polygonal-lined pebbles of various sizes.
The Minami Alps are home to wildlife that expanded their habitat during the ice age and survived the process of rising temperature in a low-temperate high mountain zone, these are relict species from a former age. The alpine floras that grow here include Callianthemum hondoense, the eightpetal mountain-avens (Dryas octopetala), and the Silene uralensis (Rupr.) Bocquet.
Thanks to the remnants of deep and primeval forests, the fauna of the Minami Alps has a large variety of mammals. More than 30 species have been confirmed, including the Asian black bear, Japanese serow, Japanese red fox (Vulpes vulpes japonica), Japanese macaque and the Japanese stoat.