Whether you’re an avid hiker or just looking to take in the world-famous scenery on a stroll at the base of the mountains, Kamikochi is an unforgettable outdoor experience. Even on a hot summer’s day, like the one I visited on, I was treated to a cool breeze, icy-cold water, and plenty of shade on well-maintained paths. Unless you hire a guide, you cannot access the park in the winter, but spring, summer, and fall give you a unique landscape depending on when you visit. The green season offers a barrage of colors including vibrant greens and other colors from the various foliage and sediment.
Even before entering the heart of the park, you are treated to a expansive reflection of the mountains on Taisho Pond.
In order to preserve the environment of the park, there are strict regulations including not allowing cars into the area. The regulations, higher altitude, and natural springs make for fresh air and stunningly clear water.
Kappa Bashi (Kappa Bridge)
The view of the Kappa Bridge overlaid on Mt. Hotaka is one of the most famous images of the park. Crossing the suspension bridge, you can gaze out over the pristine water of the Azusa River.
This century-old mountain hut now serves as a restaurant as well lodgings and makes for a great place to rest before visiting the nearby Hotaka Shrine and Myojin Pond. Try a classic summer dish, grilled ayu.
Raised in the nearby river, this sweet-fish is fresh and juicy. Grilled over an open fire, the salted skin makes for a delicate crust while the meat is kept moist. You can eat the entire fish from head to tail!
If eating fish heads isn’t your thing, not to worry, there is other food such as soba (buckwheat noodles) and cake available for you to enjoy.
This area is said to be sacred to the gods and thus known as a place where the gods come down.
Myojin Pond has two areas: Ichino Pond and Nino Pond. The Hotaka Shrine sits just in front of Ichino Pond.
Although you cannot ride in them, two boats float on the pond and are used during a local festival.
Tashiro Pond and Wetlands
Although it has been steadily filled in by natural decay and sediment buildup, water still flows through this area, creating a stark contrast between the orange sand and the surrounding greenery.
Mt. Yakedake is still an active volcano. It’s activity is constantly monitored and the current level is level 1.
Access and Accommodations
Details on how to get to the park and more information such as hotel and campsite information are available on the official English website here.