Vegetarian's Japan Guide

Kamikōchi – The Heavenly Place Where God Descends

Kamikōchi (上高地) in Japanese literally means “the ground that God descends upon”. It is the perfect name to describe how beautiful this area is. Surrounding by the magnificent Northern Japanese Alps, it is the ultimate tourist destination for nature lovers. There is not a single day that Kamikōchi looks the same because nature changes as the seasons pass.

Azusa River Kamikochi Nagano Japan
Ⓒ https://www.photo-ac.com/

Kamikōchi in Nagano Prefecture is the plain lying between the Northern Japanese Alps. While it is located 1,500 meters above the ground, the trekking courses are fairly flat and well-maintained in Kamikōchi. These tracks are up to 10 km long. There are rivers, ponds, forests, and wetlands along the tracks. All of these have disappeared from the life of most people nowadays.

This is why over 1.5 million Japanese or foreign tourists choose Kamikōchi when they are after a getaway from their busy urban life! And if you are an experienced hiker, basing at Kamikōchi to hike the spectacular Hotaka mountain range can be a great choice as well (=゚ω゚)ノ.

The Best Time to Visit Kamikōchi

Kamikōchi is open to the public from late April to mid-November each year. Because the temperature is still chilly even in mid-summer (August in Kamikōchi has a similar temperature as May or June in Tokyo), there is not a standout tourist season.

From April to mid-May, as well as November (November depends on when the first snow of the year happens), you are able to see the Japanese Alps covered in snow.

If you plan to camp at Kamikōchi, visiting during the warmer months in July and August is probably better. The fall color will start replacing the vibrant green summer color in October. The autumn foliage can be best seen from mid to late October.

Ⓒ https://www.photo-ac.com/

By the way, from late May to mid-June, the number of tourists is usually not as many as in other months. It is probably the best time to enjoy Kamikōchi (although it is also the rainy season). But be aware the weather is still cold with around 6~10℃ in the early morning and at night, 12 to17℃ during the day.

Lastly, on the 11th of August each year, the Shikatayama Festival (四方山祭り) is held at Kamikōchi. You will find it particularly interesting if you love to stroll around craft markets (^_-)-☆.


5 Rules to Follow in Kamikōchi

Before we move on to introduce this stunning place to you, please take note of the below 5 rules when you get there:

  • Don’t pick any plants or try to capture any insects
  • Don’t feed the wild animals here
  • Take all your rubbish home
  • Don’t bring your pets of different species to Kamikōchi
  • Don’t walk off the promenade

Following the above 5 rules will ensure that Kamikōchi’s beauty is able to pass down to future generations!

Scenic Spots in Kamikōchi

Click HERE for a full map of Kamikōchi on their official website.

Click HERE for more information about how to access Kamikōchi!

Guided Tours in Kamikōchi

If you would like to join a guided tour, here are a few options.

  • Multilingual Mountain Guides
    • They have a Kamikōchi Nature Tour. You can choose from 2 hours, 4 hours, and full day options depending on your preference
    • Please refer to HERE for further details
  • NIGN (Nagano Interpreter / Guide Network)
    • Customized private tours with an English-speaking guide
    • The fee varies according to your plan
    • Please email them at [email protected] to further details and quotation
  • Karuizawa Guide Service (KGS)
    • They have various tour plans for you to choose from. Whilst currently they don’t have one in Kamikōchi, you can go for the customized option
    • The fee varies according to your plan
    • Please refer to HERE for all the tour plans available
  • For experienced hikers, you can consider joining the Mt.Norikura & Kamikōchi Tour
    • A 3-Day tour that will guide you through hiking through Mt. Norikura and Kamikōchi
    • Please refer to HERE and tranlsate it to English by Google Chrome’s transation function at the right of the address bar for further details

The Most Relaxed Trekking Course – Taishō Pond to Kappa Bridge

The walking track between Taishō Pond (大正池) and Kappa Bridge (河童橋) is the easiest track in Kamikōchi. With the track almost flat, even for those who don’t normally enjoy trekking, the one to two hours course should still be a great experience with beautiful nature.

Taishō Pond (大正池)

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Taishō Pond was only formed in 1915 when Mt. Yake (焼岳) erupted. The Azusa River (梓川) was dammed, and the Taishō Pond was formed. The Pond is famous for the reflection of the magnificent Mt. Yake, with a few dead trees standing here and there in the Pond.

If you ever wonder where the dead trees came from, those are actually victims of the Mt. Yake eruption. We still find it amazing how those trees can still stand there without falling apart (*’▽’).

As soon as you get off the bus, you will see a staircase. Walk down the stairs, and your field of view will suddenly open up! In front of you is the emerald-colored Taishō Pond reflecting the only active volcano of the Northern Japanese Alps – Mt. Yake with the Hotaka mountain range further back (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Don’t forget to look down as well. You will be impressed by the transparency of the water!

Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

As a side note, this gorgeous Pond will eventually disappear as its size is decreasing gradually due to the inflow of soil and sand (also the number of dead trees)…

Before you walk too far from where you get off the bus, there is a soft drink vending machine as well as a toilet for anyone who needs the facilities. Note there will be no toilet until you reach Kappa Pond!

The Best Time to Visit Taishō Pond
Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

The best photo opportunity at Taishō Pond is during the early morning, especially at sunrise. Before sunrise, photographers and tourists will gather at the lakeshore, so they don’t miss out on that precious moment when the first rays of sun hit the Pond.

But even if you miss the moment the sun first peeks above the mountains, the morning haze will be around for another hour or two. So you will still have a chance to capture this fantastic morning landscape!

Also, if waking up early is just not your thing, come back in the late afternoon! The Pond’s surface should also be calm at this time, making it a perfect mirror reflecting the great Mt. Yake (^_-)-☆.

The other choice is to stay at Taishoike Hotel (大正池ホテル), which is just in front of the Pond. So all you need to do is wake up just in time to see the sunrise from your room’s window! For more information about the hotel, please refer to their website HERE.

Important: Choose your room type carefully as not all rooms in the hotel come with a lake view.

Stargazing at Taishō Pond

You can stargaze wherever you like as long as there is no light pollution. But how about stargazing at the beautiful Taishō Pond? The land itself is dark, but the Pond glows, reflecting thousands of stars in the sky!

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association
How to Get to Taishō Pond

For any bus services you take, get off at the Taishō Pond stop.

Mt. Yake (焼岳)

Mt. Yake is the only active volcano in the Northern Japanese Alps. The 2,455-meter tall mountain is at the border of Nagano Prefecture and Gifu Prefecture.

This is a volcano that has exploded dozens of times in the past. And even now, smoke is still emitting from multiple craters. So if you decide to hike the mountain, please be really aware of your surroundings. It is highly advisable to get away as soon as possible if you sense something is not right (‘ω’)ノ.

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Tashiro Marsh (田代湿原)

After a 5 to 10-minute walk from Taishō Pond, the massive untouched forest that covers the promenade will suddenly come to an end. Instead, you will have the majestic Hotaka mountain range in front of you. The area with such a superb view is Tashiro Marsh!

Ⓒ Kamikoōhi Resort Hotel Association


At Tashiro Marsh, you will find a lot of alpine plants unique to the area. And the highlight of Tashiro Marsh? We would say it is the contrast between the stark mountain peaks against the lush and vibrant marsh.

Tashiro Pond (田代池)

Not too far away from Tashiro Marsh, there is a smaller track to your right leading to Tashiro Pond. Make sure you make this detour because you will find the only lake in Kamikōchi that has a red color! And the reason? It is probably due to the iron-rich soil in the pond (‘ω’)ノ.

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association
Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

If you stay at Kamikōchi during colder seasons, take a stroll to Tashiro Pond in the early morning. The trees around the lake are most likely surrounded by morning dew and frost, creating a mysterious atmosphere (*´ω`).

As always, autumn is one of the best seasons for scenic photo opportunities. But, in April and May when the peak of the Hotaka mountain range is covered by snow (or even November, depending on when it starts snowing), it is another great time to visit Tashiro Pond. You may even be able to see frost on the surrounding trees if you are lucky (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Important: If you ever visit Tashiro Pond when the area is already snowing, even if the Pond’s surface seems frozen, don’t attempt to ice skate on top of the Pond. Because the Tashiro Pond has underground water gushing out from mountains close by, the Pond won’t freeze completely, even in the middle of winter!

You might notice this Pond is actually quite shallow. Due to the sand and soil carried by the stream from the Azusa River, the Tashiro Pond has been gradually filling up with silt. Sooner or later, we won’t have a Pond anymore. The whole area will be marsh…

This is why you need to visit the Pond when it is still there!!!

Which Course Will You Choose?

Not far away from Tashiro Pond, there is an intersection. You have 2 courses to choose from, the Azusa River Course (梓川コース) or the Forest Course (林間コース).

If you don’t have time to explore both courses, we would recommend you go with the Azusa River Course because you will get a greater variety of views!

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Walking along the Azusa River, apart from being surrounded by the spectacular mountain range, because the water is so clean and clear, you can also see the fish swimming in the river!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Tashiro Bridge (田代橋)

Soon after the two divided tracks merge, there is another intersection just in front of Tashiro Bridge – the Left Bank Course (左岸コース) and the Right Bank Course (右岸コース).

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

If you choose not to cross the Tashiro Bridge, take the Left Bank Course. This course consists of a really smooth road, and the first half of the course has a nice view of the Hotaka mountain range. If you cross the Tashiro Bridge, you are on the Right Bank Course. This course is for those who are after a great view of the Roppyakusan mountain (六百山) and like to detour to different attraction spots.

Tip: If you often take toilet breaks, we recommend choosing the Right Bank Course because the only public toilet you will get from here to Kappa Bridge is on the other side of the Tashiro Bridge. Or, what you can do is, as the public toilet is not too far away from the Bridge, you can always come back from the other end of the Bridge and continue with the Left Bank Course (=゚ω゚)ノ.

By the way, you might find many cute monkeys lingering around Tashiro Bridge. They are really used to humans, so taking a selfie with them shouldn’t be a hard task (^_-)-☆.

Kamikōchi Onsen Hotel (上高地温泉ホテル)

If you choose the Right Bank Course, Kamikōchi Onsen Hotel is not far away from Tashiro Bridge. As you have been walking for a while, how about taking a rest at the free foot spa (足湯) outside of the Kamikōchi Onsen Hotel?

Note the temperature is a bit high so don’t put both of your feet into the onsen water all at once. If it is around lunchtime, you should be able to buy some lunch from the hotel’s restaurant as well (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Kamikōchi Lemeiesta Hotel (上高地ルミエスタホテル)

Around Kamikōchi Onsen Hotel and Kamikōchi Lemeiesta Hotel, there are quite a few benches and tables, perfect for a picnic! Of course, carrying a picnic box with you to trek Kamikōchi is pretty cumbersome, which is why lunch boxes are sold at Kamikōchi Lemeiesta Hotel!

The lunch boxes look mouth-watering, but there are probably no vegetarian options. So, if you like to picnic in Kamikōchi’s nature, it is probably a good idea to get some onigiri (rice ball) and snacks from the convenience stores in Nagano (or wherever you board the bus bound for Kamikōchi)!

Or, you can always utilize our Essential Japanese Travel Phrases for Vegetarians and Vegans article to check with the staff (^_-)-☆.

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Weston Monument (ウエストン碑)

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Passing the Kamikōchi Lemeiesta Hotel, you will see this relief of Walter Weston. He was a British missionary and mountaineer. Without him, we probably would only know about the charm of Kamikōchi after the internet boom! The park nearby is named after him as well.

From Weston Park, the view is also stunning. It is the spot that many photographers come to Kamikōchi for. The view of Mt. Kasumizawa (霞沢岳) and Roppyakusan mountain (六百山) is just splendid!

Also, on the first Sunday in June each year, there is Weston Festival held here. If you are interested, plan your trip ahead!

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

The most important to us, however, is the public toilet in the park (´▽`*). Without knowing there is a toilet there, we probably wouldn’t dare to drink much water or tea…

How to Get to Weston Monument

The Weston Relief is located around a 20-minute walk from Kappa Bridge!

Kamikōchi Information Center (上高地インフォメーションセンター)

If you were running out of time to map out where in Kamikōchi to visit before you depart, Kamikōchi Information Centre is the perfect place to sort everything out!

The center provides all information about Kamikōchi, such as trekking or climbing, transportation, and accommodation. You can also find advice on the highlights of the season that you are in.

If you are going to enter one of the hiking tracks in Kamikōchi, definitely drop by the Centre before you head off, as it provides critical information regarding the weather and whether there is anything you need to watch out for during the hike.

Ⓒ Kamikochi Resort Hotel Association

The Information Center also has a small shop selling rain gear and emergency and survival products.

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Also, wheelchairs and baby carriers can be rented out for free without a reservation.

But if you absolutely need one of these two pieces of equipment, you will want to reach the Information Centre as early as possible because once they have all been rented out, you won’t be able to get one until someone else returns one.

Lastly, there is a coin-operated shower room for those who need to refresh themselves. A multi-purpose room (for breastfeeding for example) can also be found here.

Kamikōchi Information Center’s Opening Hours and Access Information
  • The Information Center is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily from late April to the 15th of November.
  • For any of the bus services that you take, get off at the last stop – Kamikōchi Bus Terminal (上高地バスターミナル).
  • The Information Centre is just opposite the Kamikōchi Bus Terminal.
  • Click HERE for more information about how to access Kamikōchi!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Kamikōchi Post Office (日本郵政 上高地郵便局)

The Kamikōchi Post Office has an appearance of a forest lodge. It blends in really well with the surrounding nature.

Anything sent out from this post office will be sent on the Kamikōchi commemorative stamp! Whether it is to your family or your friends, or even just to yourself, we think it will be worthwhile to spend a few hundred yen on the stamp and postcard because this will make the perfect souvenir!

  • The post office is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm from late April to the 15th of November.
  • But note it will close on Wednesdays between late April to the 14th of July, and the 1st of September to the 15th of November.
How To Get To Kamikōchi Post Office
  • To get to this Post Office, take any bus services bound for Kamikōchi and get off at the last stop – Kamikōchi Bus Terminal (上高地バスターミナル)
  • The Kamikōchi Post Office is a 10-minute walk from where you get off!

Click HERE for more information about how to access Kamikōchi!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Klook.com

Kamikōchi Sightseeing Center (上高地観光センター)

If you are taking a bus to Kamikōchi, the last stop – Kamikōchi Bus Terminal, is located in the Kamikōchi Sightseeing Center.

Here, you can find the bus ticket sale counter, shops, restaurants, and most importantly, the baggage storage facility!

  • Bags up to around 10 liters will cost you 350 yen to store a day.
  • Bags around 60 liters will cost you 600 yen.
  • The price is around the same as coin-operated lockers in Japan.
Kamikōchi Sightseeing Center’s Opening Hours and Access Information
  • The Sightseeing Center is open from 5:30 am to 7 pm between late April and the 15th of November
    • Baggage storage service is available from 6 am to 5 pm
  • To get to Kamikōchi Sightseeing Centre, for any of the bus services that you take, get off at the last stop – Kamikōchi Bus Terminal (上高地バスターミナル).
  • Click HERE for more information about how to access Kamikōchi!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Kappa Bridge (河童橋)

Kappa Bridge is the landmark of Kamikōchi. The suspension bridge over the Azusa River is actually the 5th generation (´▽`*).

A kappa (河童) is an amphibious imp found in Japanese folklore. They have a human face and a plate-like surface on their head that retains water. Their body is of green color and has a shape somewhat like a turtle, but they do stand up like humans.

There are a couple of theories of why the Bridge is called Kappa Bridge, but we think it is most probably because, during the good old times when there was no bridge, people who were trying to cross the Azusa River used to have to carry their clothes on their heads, so the clothes don’t get wet. And those clothes must look like the kappa’s plate!

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Each year, at the foot of the Bridge, the Kaisan Festival (開山祭) and Heizai Festival (閉山祭) are held on the 27th of April and the 15th of November, respectively. These two festivals are the ceremony announcing the start and the end of the traditional climbing season (although the actual start and the end of the season may differ from these two dates).

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

The view of the Hotaka mountain range and Mt. Yake is one of the most stunning views anyone could ever see. But, you will also have a hard time if you want a photo without all the tourists in the background…(;´・ω・).

Recharge Yourself at Kappa Bridge

As the center of Kamikōchi, you will also find quite a few dining places and hotels around Kappa Bridge. It might be best if you plan your trekking courses in advance so when you reach Kappa Bridge, it is just around lunchtime!

By the way, early or late lunch around Kappa Bridge is recommended. This is so you have more chances to avoid the crowd…

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association
Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

The view from Kappa Bridge is said to be most beautiful in the early morning. So if you aren’t a morning person, booking one of the accommodations around the Bridge is recommended (you still need to get up early, but at least you don’t need to spend much time getting to the Bridge).

  • To get to the Kappa Bridge, take any bus service bound for Kamikōchi and get off at the last stop – Kamikōchi Bus Terminal (上高地バスターミナル)
  • The Kappa Bridge is just a 5-minute walk away from the bus stop. The bus journey takes around 70 minutes
  • Note the area is closed for travelers from mid-Nov to late Apr.

Click HERE for more information about how to access Kamikōchi!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Trois Cinq by Gosenjaku (トワ・サンク)

Just next to the Kappa Bridge, there is The Parklodge Kamikōchi. Trois Cinq By Gosenjaku, which is most famous for its apple pie, is located on its ground floor. Instead of using any spices like cinnamon, the apple pie at Trois Cinq by Gosenjaku contains six whole apples (if you order the whole pie, that is)! You are guaranteed to enjoy the pie with pure apple fragrance!

If you aren’t vegan and can eat eggs, the apple pie will be the perfect dessert for morning tea, after lunch, afternoon tea, or anytime that you feel like something sweet! No matter how full we are, we always have another stomach for dessert anyway (´▽`*).

The Trekking Course to The Mysterious Myōjin Area

This loop course starting from Kappa Bridge will take around 2 hours. While the scenery is extraordinary, there aren’t as many attraction spots as the trekking course between Taishō Pond and Kappa Bridge. This is perfect for all nature lovers who just want to indulge in Kamikōchi’s beauty!

Compared to the trekking course from Taishō Pond to Kappa Bridge, the course leading to Myōjin Area has a deeper slope. While it is not as hard as mountain climbing, you may get tired if you don’t normally exercise. We therefore highly recommend wearing proper trekking footwear to complete this course.

Tip: make sure you go to the bathroom before you start this journey. The only toilet in this loop course is located at Myōjin Shrine, which is an hour away from Kappa Bridge.

Dakesawa Marsh (岳沢湿原)

If you choose the Right Bank course (that is, the track on the side of the Parklodge Kamikōchi), after walking for 10 to 15 minutes in the coniferous forest, you will reach Dakesawa Marsh.

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

The view of Roppyakusan mountain from Dakesawa Marsh is just spectacular! Make sure you get onto the wooden deck because that is where you will get the best photo!

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association
Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Different from the Tashiro Pond, the pond at Dakesawa Marsh is a sapphire color. Reflecting the bright blue sky and the greenery nearby, the view is just a painting itself! The moss that grows on the tree is also beautiful (^_-)-☆.

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Myōjin Pond (明神池)

Trekking further for another hour upstream of the Azusa River, you will reach the Myōjin Area. Here, is the ground of God. Not sure if it is because this is where God lives, the atmosphere around the area is just different from Kappa Bridge.

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

The Myōjin Pond consists of one big and one smaller pond. Because the Myōjin Pond is within Hotaka Shrine’s (穂高神社) precinct, to visit the Pond, you actually have to pay a 500 yen entrance fee (200 yen for elementary school students)…

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

But, if you have the time, we still recommend paying that 500 yen. Because the view of Mt. Myōjindake (明神岳) as a backdrop with withered trees at the far end of the Pond is just breathtaking! And, you should find a lot more birds (or ducks) around the Pond (*´ω`).

Tip: The sunrise at Myōjin Pond is also stunning. So if you stay overnight at a hotel close by, wake up early and venture out to the lake be the sun appears from the horizon. Just note to watch your steps on the way and remember to bring a bright enough flashlight.

Important:
☛ Please refrain from giving food to the wildlife here. It is prohibited!
☛ Also, this is another pond where you shouldn’t attempt to have an ice skating session. The Pond’s surface won’t completely freeze is one reason, and you really won’t want to invade God’s backyard…(´▽`*)

Regardless of whether you visit the actual Myōjin Pond or not, this is a perfect spot for you to take a rest as there are a few restaurants and toilets around Hotaka Shrine (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Tip: If you love flowers, visit Myōjin Area from late May to June. During this short period of time, the area is covered by numerous types of flowers, making the Myōjin Area more colorful!

Festival at Hotaka Shrine

The God of Hotaka Shrine is said to be the guardian of the Northern Japanese Alps. If you wish to stay safe during your time in the Alps, making prayers at Hotaka Shrine may be a great idea!

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

On the 8th of October each year, a sacred ritual is performed on Myōjin Pond. The priests of the Shrine will dress in traditional clothes and pray to the God of Hotaka Shrine for the safety of those who entered the Japanese Alps.

It is also a service for those who have had an accident and passed away in the Alps. The aim is to pray for the peace of those spirits.

  • To get to the Myōjin Area, take any bus services bound for Kamikōchi and get off at the last stop – Kamikōchi Bus Terminal (上高地バスターミナル)
  • From the Bus Terminal, it will take you an hour to get here!

Click HERE for more information about how to access Kamikōchi!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Myōjin Bridge (明神橋)

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

This magnificent suspension bridge was actually only replaced by the old one in 2003. During the replacement of the Myōjin Bridge, the project team decided to move the bridge a couple of meters downstream, probably so the visitors could get a better photo of the Mt. Myōjindake (明神岳).

The number of tourists around Myōjin Bridge is probably less than half of those around Kappa Bridge. This means you have a great chance to get a photo of just yourself with the surrounding spectacular scenery!

At the end of the Bridge is the returning point of this course (if you don’t plan to further trek to Tokusawa (徳沢), which is another 2 hours of exercise).

Resort Konashi (森のリゾート小梨)

The accommodations provided by the Resort are the most affordable ones in Kamikōchi. You get to choose whether you want to spend a night in one of their tents or cabins. While you have to cook your own food at night, they have a shop selling ingredients for you to prepare your dinner, so come with enough clothes and your wallet and you will be able to survive a night in Kamikōchi!

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

For further information about everything you need to know, they have this really handy information sheet on their website HERE.

Important: The temperature at Kamikōchi rarely exceeds 23 degrees, even in summer (which is why it is the perfect spot to escape the heatwave of summer). Especially at night, it can be freezing cold. So before you book one of their tent sites, make sure you are prepared to carry thick clothes with you to Kamikōchi!

Resort Konashi’s Access Infomation and Opening Hours
  • To get to the Resort Konashi, take any bus services bound for Kamikōchi and get off at the last stop – Kamikochi Bus Terminal (上高地バスターミナル)
  • The Resort is just a 10-minute walk away from the bus stop
  • Note the area is closed for travelers from mid-November to late April

Click HERE for more information about how to access Kamikochi!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

Kamikōchi Visitor Center (上高地ビジターセンター)

Compared to the Kamikōchi Information Centre, the Kamikōchi Visitor Centre is more of a natural education center. You will gain valuable information about Kamikōchi’s nature and wildlife here. And if you somehow want to sit in a library in Kamikōchi, this is the spot that you need to visit (´▽`*).

And while we haven’t confirmed if there are any English-guided tours that you can join, there are definitely Japanese tours, so you don’t miss out on any rare plants and/or wildlife (=゚ω゚)ノ. The tours can be booked when you get to Visitor Center.

There are two tours available, one brings you to Taishō Pond, and another brings you to Myōjin Pond. Both costs you 500 yen and 2 hours of your time.

Kamikōchi Visitor Center’s Access Information and Opening Hours
  • The Visitor Center is open from 8 am to 5 pm daily from late April to the 15th of November
  • It is just located less than a 5-minute walk from Kappa Bridge!

Shimizu River (清水川)

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Between Kappa Bridge and Kamikōchi Visitor Center, you might spot a clear stream with beautiful green algae swaying with the water flow at the bottom of the river. Instead of only having water feeding from the Azusa River, the Shimizu River is actually also flooded with underground water!

So although the length of the Shimizu River is around 200 meters only, it will never dry out (well, as long as Roppyaku Mountain still gets rain from time to time because that is the underground water source).

Apparently even on a heavy rainy day, the River still stays clear without getting muddy (*´ω`).

This River is an important source of drinking water in Kamikōchi, by the way, and home to some really cute ducks!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

The Most Difficult Trekking Course in Kamikōchi – Myōjin Area to Yokoo Area

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Although we said the “most difficult”, the track’s difficulty is still nowhere near mountain hiking. You will just travel through a gentle mountain road (with ups and downs).

And why do we recommend it? Because Yokoo (横尾) is a particularly beautiful place surrounded by silence. Along the way, you will be welcomed by rare plants and wild birds!

Yokoo is also the starting point for climbing the Northern Japanese Alps. So if you plan to do some real hiking, basing at Yokoo Area is definitely what you would want to do (^_-)-☆.

By the way, if you are looking for the starting point of the gorgeous Azusa River, Yokoo is the place that you need to visit!

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

Yokoo Bridge (横尾大橋)

Ⓒ Kamikōchi Resort Hotel Association

The view of the Hotaka mountain range from Yokoo Bridge is definitely more magnificent than Kappa Bridge because it towers over you! (≧▽≦).

Just to see this spectacular view, the 3 hours trekking from Kappa Bridge will totally be worth it!

  • To get to the Yokoo Bridge, take any bus services bound for Kamikōchi and get off at the last stop – Kamikōchi Bus Terminal (上高地バスターミナル)
  • The Yokoo Bridge is a 3-hour walk away from the bus stop
  • Note the area is closed for travelers from mid-November to late April

Click HERE for more information about how to access Kamikōchi!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

What to Bring to Kamikōchi

  • Water bottle with a lot of water inside
  • Snacks (as there aren’t that many restaurants around Kamikōchi)
  • Plastic bags for your own garbage (because there aren’t bins placed around the trekking tracks)
  • Rain gear (folded umbrella, and if you have a raincoat with top and bottom separated, this will be the best option)
  • Insect repellent
  • Sun cream

What to Wear at Kamikōchi

Footwear:

  • If you only plan to explore between Taishō Pond and Kappa Bridge, a pair of sneakers will do.
  • But, if you plan to trek to Myōjin Area or even Yokoo Area, then a pair of trekking or even hiking shoes should be a better choice.

Clothing in General:

  • The temperature difference between morning and nighttime can be significant in the mountains, not to mention the sudden weather changes. This is particularly true in Kamikōchi. Therefore, we recommend clothes that can be easily taken off and put back on (such as windbreakers and hoodies). Innerwear that is sweat-absorbing and quick-drying will be handy too.
  • Even in mid-summer, Kamikōchi rarely has temperatures more than 23 degrees (with the lowest being below 10 degrees). And to avoid bug bites and accidental injuries, long sleeves and pants are always recommended.
  • Also, wearing a hat will protect you from the occasional dazzling sunlight!

Clothing Depends on the Season:

  • From April to mid-May and in October and November: Kamikōchi may be snowing during these periods of the year. Normal winter clothes that if suitable for areas such as Tokyo are recommended. Wearing a windproof jacket over the fleece or down jacket will keep you really warm!
    • The average temperature in April is 7.4℃ and 12.7℃ in October
  • From mid-May to the end of June and from mid-August to the end of September: Kamikōchi may frost during the early morning and at night. If you are arriving at Kamikōchi early or staying over at Kamikōchi, remember to bring a jacket and a pair of gloves with you!
    • Recommended clothing is a thin fleece, windbreaker, comfortable long pants, brim hat, and thin gloves.
    • The average temperature in May is 14.3℃, 17.1℃ in June, and 17.3℃ in September
  • From July to mid to late August: On a day with good weather, a T-shirt will do, but the temperature will drop in the morning and evening and on a day with bad weather, so remember to bring a thin jacket with you!
    • The average temperature in July is 21.2℃, and 21.4℃ in August

Tip: a cap on a rainy day is really handy. Even if you have a hoodie on, you can still walk comfortably without poor visibility!

Click HERE to get back to the list of Kamikōchi’s scenic spots.

How to Get to Kamikōchi

To get to Kamikōchi, you can either drive or get a direct bus from the below places.

Tip: The 2-Day Haruyama Snow Wall Bus Ticket can save you some money on transportation. It gives you unlimited bus and train rides in Kamikochi, Norikura, and Matsumoto areas. Please be aware that the ticket is invalid on JR trains. For more information, please refer to the official website HERE.

By Alpico Kōtsū

  • From Shinjuku Bus Terminal: 2 services each day (one in the morning and the other at night).
  • From Tokyo Station, Shibuya, Osaka, and Kyoto: 1 night time service each day.
  • From JR Nagano Station: 1 morning service each day.
  • From JR Matsumoto Station and JR Shinshimashima Station (新島々駅): several services are running each day.

Note there may be special services running on the day you plan to travel to Kamikōchi. For more service details, please refer to Alpico Kōtsū’s website HERE.

Important: Please note all bus services departing from Kamikōchi to JR Shinshimashima Station (新島々駅) requires a reservation to board. Please follow the instructions on Alpico Kōtsū’s website HERE to book your return trip.

By Nohi Bus

Nohi Bus (濃飛) provides bus services to Kamikōchi from Takayama Bus Terminal (高山濃飛バスセンター). If you are also planning on visiting all the nearby popular destinations such as Takayama and Shirakawa-gō, you can board this bus service from Hirayu Onsen (平湯温泉) as well (if this is what you are going to do, then don’t forget the discount bus ticket Alps Shinsyu/Hida Open Ticket)!

By Meitetsu Bus

If you are coming from Nagoya, then utilize Meitetsu Bus’s services departing from Meitetsu Bus Centre (名鉄バスセンター). We will update this article once the English website is back online.

Getting to Kamikōchi by Train then Bus?

Per the above, you have quite a few choices to choose from to board the bus bound for Kamikōchi. However, except for services departing from Matsumoto Station, you only get two services at most per day.

This leads to the benefit of getting to Kamikōchi by train to Matsumoto Station (or any other places that suit your schedule more), then changing for a bus from there!

Tips: As mentioned before, watching the sunrise from Taishō Pond and Myōjin Pond is highly recommended. The nighttime buses usually arrive at the Taishō Pond at 5:20 in the morning. This means from October onwards, you will be at the Taishō Pond before sunrise. So, to save time and money, what you can do is, get off the bus at Taishō Pond and watch your first sunrise at Kamikōchi there, stay one night at accommodations in Myōjin Area, and the next morning before sunrise, head to Myōjin Pond!

Combine Your Visit With Other Nearby Popular Destinations and Save on Transportation

If you are visiting Kamikochi and at least 2 of the following spots, the 4-Day Alps WIDE Free Passport might save you money! The ticket is valid for 4 consecutive days, allowing you ample time to sightsee in each of the destinations!

Shirakawago-Gifu-Japan
Learn more about all the great attractions in Shirakawa-go by clicking the photo!

More details about the ticket are in our Chūbu region transportation article HERE (=゚ω゚)ノ.

Tip: If you plan to spend more time in the Nagano Prefecture, it might be worthwhile to consider the 5-Day Nagano Pass, which gives you unlimited rides on Shinano Railway, Nagano Dentetsu, Ueda Dentetsu, and Alpico Kotsu buses. Please note you must hold a valid (unexpired) JR East Pass, Hokuriku Arch Pass, or JR Tokyo Wide Pass to purchase this ticket. For more information, please refer to the official website HERE.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.