Chubu Sangaku National Park / Japan Alps
The Undiscovered Heart of the Japan Alps
Be amazed by this untouched natural paradise where the gods descended.
Welcoming more than 1.5 million travelers from every corner of the world, Kamikochi, one of Japan's leading mountain resorts, is situated in the area within Chubu Sangaku National Park and listed as a national cultural asset. It is said that a god that was originally housed at Hotaka Shrine came down to Mt. Hotakadake and was enshrined there. This is the story behind the name of Kamikochi, which means "the place where gods descended".
Owing to the beauty of its natural landscape, Kamikochi was appointed as a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, meaning it falls under thorough protection. It was also designated as a Special Natural Monument with particularly exceptional value. Kamikochi is one of only two places that holds both titles at once, with the other being Kurobe Gorge.
Kamikochi is open from April 17 to November 15.
Where to Visit
- Taisho Pond
- The volcanic explosion of Mt. Yakedake in 1915 resulted in a landslide that blocked the path of the Azusa River and formed Taisho Pond. The combination of trees that have withered on the stalk and continue to withstand the test of time after more than a hundred years, as well as the morning haze that occurs on less windy days in summer time, is a must see in Kamikochi.
- Tashiro Pond
- Tashiro Pond is formed by underground water from Mt. Kazumizawa, spreading over a patch of grassland in the heart of a primitive forest. It is a picturesque scene with several small islands in the middle of the pond. Because the water comes from an underground spring, the water temperature remains unchanged throughout the year.
- Kappa Bridge
- Located in the center of the park, Kappa Bridge is the symbol of Kamikochi and perhaps the most popular spot for taking commemorative photos with the Hotaka mountains towering in the background. There are several resort hotels, restaurants and a camp ground near the bridge.
- Myojin Pond
- Myojin Pond was once a path of Azusa River, but the collapse of gravel in Mt. Myojin-dake dammed up the river stream and formed Ichino-ike and Nino-ike, two larger and smaller ponds. The inner altar of Hotaka Shrine is located at the edge of the pond, creating a solemn and dream-like atmosphere that impresses anyone who visits.
- Star Photography
- With an altitude of over 1,500 m, Kamikochi turns even more magical when night falls, as the stary sky make you feel like you are in a natural planetarium. Chosen by Nikkei as one of the ten best hotels for stargazing in 2017, Kamikochi Lemeiesta Hotel holds a star photography event 4 times a month where a professional photographer is invited to teach you how to shoot the night sky. Aside from the photography event, you can closely observe the stars by using the telescope located near the hotel entrance.
- Dakesawa Wetlands
- This wetland was formed when underground water consisting of rainwater and melted snow flowed into Dakesawa. Even if it rains heavily, the water will not become muddy and since it has a constant temperature year-round, it won't freeze over in winter. In early summer, the Nikko day lilies and the Japanese azalea will bloom beautifully and compete for beauty.
- Konashidaira Campground
- At just a 10 minute walk from the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, this campground lies amid the trees and overlooks the Azusa River and Hotaka mountain range. Necessary tools and cooking utensils are available to rent and there is even a shop which sells food and fuel amongst other things, so even a beginner can rest assured. You can also come empty-handed and enjoy camping in a tent that's already been set up.
- Hotaka Mountain Range
- The Hotaka mountain range consists of Mt. Hotakadake, the highest mountain in the Northern Japan Alps, in the center and lined up with Mt. Mae-Hotakadake, Mt. Kita-Hotakedake, Mt. Nishi-Hotaka and so on. Some of these mountains were selected to be among the 100 Famous Japanese Mountains. This mountain range is one of the most popular high mountains because of its numerous challenging rockfaces, which fascinate the alpinists.
In order to pass the beautiful nature of Kamikochi on to the next generation, private vehicles (including rental cars and motorcycles) are not allowed to enter Kamikochi. Please use a taxi or bus when visiting.
4-Day Alps WIDE Free Passport
Just show your ticket to ride for free on the buses in Matsumoto City area, Kamikochi, Norikura Highlands and Shirahone Onsen for 2 consecutive days. A must for money-saving travel.