Nature enthusiasts and mountaineering folk rejoice! The Chubu Sangaku National Park’s Kamikochi is officially open for the season!
The Trip Up
If you get tickets in advance, free shuttle buses will take you from the Matsumoto Station area directly to Kamikochi. While you can technically board buses at Shin-Shimashima Station, the buses will be very crowded with limited seats available at that point.
Although you can take the bus all the way to the bus center, this year I was able to get off before that near Taisho Pond and walk along the trails to Kappa Bridge. Although snow typically blocks certain paths even until the end of April, this year’s warm weather allowed us to access trails that would otherwise still be closed.
Hotels and lodges are scattered throughout the lowland areas of the park. Lemeista’s La Riviere offers a cute recreation of the famed mythical creature, the kappa, in the form of a cake.
Lemeista and the neighboring Kamikochi Onsen Hotel offer day-trip bathing.
Despite the cool, overcast weather, many people gathered to witness the opening ceremony and take part in the celebrations that followed.
Once the priest blessed the sake, some of it was ladled into the river below as an offering. A shishi (lion) dance followed. After that, the sake was shared with eager onlookers! Food, such as yakitori (grilled chicken skewers) and yakisoba (fried noodles) were also distributed to registered guests.
The sun came out later in the day, making for a pleasant conclusion to the day’s festivities.