Kamikochi is a popular mountain resort in the Japanese Alps of Nagano prefecture. For almost half the time in a year, this place is closed from visitors due to heavy snowfall.
During my second trip to Japan this time round, I have been looking forward to visiting Kamikochi. I was initially planning to go for a bus tour but it was pretty troublesome. As a result, I decided to scrap it.
Just a day before the 25th October, Nakagawa-san asked me about the Kamikochi trip. As I mentioned to him a month before that I would like to visit it someday, Nakagawa-san decided to bring Howard, me and his family for the Kamikochi trip. I am really grateful to him for bringing us for this fabulous trip.
He came to fetch us from our lodging on the saturday morning at 8am. By car, the entire journey is around 3 hours long. The route we are taking this time round is different from the previous two trips to Takayama and Kanazawa. We will be travelling eastward follow by a northward ride into the heart of Nagano prefecture.
Today is a cloudy day. As we approach the higher reaches, the clouds seems to flow through the mountains like river.
Here we are in Nakagawa-san's car. It goes through several tunnels with some spanning a few kilometres long.
We arrived at Kamikochi entrance at around 11.30am. But before that, we went to a convenient store along the route and got some bento set. According to Nakagawa-san, there are few restaurants up in the mountain. Those that are available are really expensive.
All visitors travelling by car have to leave them at the entrance parking area. From there, they have to either take a taxi which cost around 5000Yen one way or by bus. The return journey for a single adult is 1800Yen. As there are group of 4 discount, we got it for 1600Yen each. The mountain is covered with multi-coloured trees.
Here we are on the bus and on the way into the mountains.
After a 20 minutes ride, we arrived at the first stop in Kamikochi park, the Taishoike(大正池) area. Taisho is actually one of the Japanese calendar period, which is approximately 100-80 years ago. According to Nakagawa-san, before that period, there is no lake in Kamikochi. An active volcano next to it erupted and narrowed the river way, forming a lake. It is indeed beautiful against the backdrop of the multi-coloured trees.
Here I am. It is slightly cold. Think it is around 12 degrees.
Here is the active volcano. Can you notice smoke coming from the mountain top? There is not much smoke today. But on other days, it can be seen steaming.
Here is Howard and me.
We walked further up to the north of Taisho pond. According to Nakagawa-san, the yellow trees are chinese pines. It gave a very colourful contrast with the surroundings.
There are several lone burnt out trees in this area. It is here where we stopped for our lunch.
We noticed there are several shades of colours in the river water.
Here is another view from the same spot towards the mountain ranges. There are a bit of snow up there.
We walked along the wooded path to an enclosed lake call the Tashiro Lake (田代池). This is just amazing. It is the photographer's dream place - a gentle stream flows through the multi-coloured trees against the mountain ranges at the back.
Here is Nakagawa-san with his family.
The wooded pines with mountains at the back.
Kamikochi is highly walkable and all the paths are typically wooded roads. We just have to follow along it and it is pretty much impossible to get lost.
We arrived at the mid-point to our final destination. Here is Tashiro bridge.
Starting from Tashiro bridge, here are the hotel areas. The famous Imperial Hotel is here together with a number of onsens (hotspring baths).
Kamikochi is also notable for its large group of monkeys. While walking along, we noticed this monkey pair that just came up and sit on the table.
Ok. They are sitting closer together.
Hmm... What are they doing?
There is this area which have straight row of yellow chinese pines where visitors can slowly walk through and appreciate the beauty of autumn.
Directly across the river is a breathtaking view of the mountains.
Here I am playing with Nakagawa-san's two kids: Momo and Toshimune. I spent too much time playing with them this trip round as compared to the last two trips.
We arrived at Kappa Bridge, our destination. The bus terminal is also here. We took a short afternoon tea break in this area. The view from Kappa Bridge are the best.
As it is approaching sunset at 5pm, we were able to catch the setting sun against the mountain peak.
The sky is truly beautiful against the gentle mountain river.
We took the bus back to the parking area. From there we hopped on Nakagawa-san's car and he drove us downhill. Along the way, we stopped by a mountain hut which serve pretty good mountain hot pot soba.
Here we are preparing our meals.
We got back to our lodging at 9.30pm. I guess all of us are exhausted from this trip and we fell asleep along the way while Nakagawa-san drove us back safely. This may be one of the last trip which I am joining with Nakagawa-san and his family. I am really thankful for all the memorable trips.