The masterpiece in the Japan Alps - Waku Waku
The masterpiece in the Japan Alps

Travel

The masterpiece in the Japan Alps

Upon reaching Kamikochi - a beautiful spot located in the Azusa valley, the first thing I could see was a vast space filled with the breath of nature.

Linh Linh

Linh Linh

Published on 22 Dec 2020, 12:00

It was my first trip after the pandemic gradually died down. Therefore, I decided to go to Kamikochi - one of the most scenic mountain spots in Japan.

Being a part of Chubu-Sangaku Park in Nagano Prefecture, Kamikochi is considered a masterpiece of art that is being preserved in a natural museum in Japan.

If you come here in the mid-autumn, you will have the chance to witness how the trees change their colours, but if you go in the late autumn like me, you can also enjoy the caress of winter and catch sight of the white scenery filled with falling snow.

The yellow colour of autumn and the white colour of winter together create an uncommon beauty for the natural surrounding
The yellow colour of autumn and the white colour of winter together create an uncommon beauty for the natural surrounding

This place is a part of a nature reserve so I could not drive my car into the valley to sightsee. Instead, I had to park my car in the parking lot and went by the resort's specific bus.

The parking fee is 500¥. The one-way ticket and the return ticket cost 2450¥ and 4550¥ respectively.

Taisho Pond caught my attention from the very first moments.

Winter is coming on Taisho Pond
Winter is coming on Taisho Pond

I could see the beauty of Kamikochi with every step I took, but Taisho Pond is probably the most special place. Taisho is considered as the soul of the whole land and possesses a magnificence that could not be put into words.

An eruption of Mount Yakedake in 1915 created this pond and at the same time destroyed all the surrounding trees.

However, the image of barren trees and the blue water were still able to create a mysterious and peculiarly beautiful picture. That painting was even more stunning on an early winter morning with beautiful flying snowflakes.

A fairyland on Earth
A fairyland on Earth
Looking from the riverside of the Azusa River, Mount Hodaka was spectacular and beautiful as an ancient Nordic painting
Looking from the riverside of the Azusa River, Mount Hodaka was spectacular and beautiful as an ancient Nordic painting

Next to it was Lake Tashiro, which was like a shallow pond nestled in a bare old-growth forest. Small mounds of land scattering around the lake made this place look a little bit barren and isolated. Strangely, I liked it. Here, there was a sense of peacefulness that I had been looking for and could never find in a cramped city.

Mount Hodaka and Mount Kasumizawadake surrounding the lake made the scene even more magnificent and spectacular.

Every time the sun is up, the mountain ranges appear with clear and splendid vision
Every time the sun is up, the mountain ranges appear with clear and splendid vision
While wandering, I could take pictures of the scenery and observe the red leaves
While wandering, I could take pictures of the scenery and observe the red leaves

Along the path of the Azusa River, I came across the famous Kappa Bridge.

Snow covering the board that says
Snow covering the board that says "Kappa-bashi Bridge" - Kappa Bridge
This bridge is the starting point of every hiking trip in Kamikochi
This bridge is the starting point of every hiking trip in Kamikochi

When the fog lifted, I could see a remarkable painting of faraway mountains. This 37-meter suspension bridge is said to be one of the most photogenic spots for taking pictures in Azusa valley.

The first thing I did after stepping on the bridge was, of course, taking some pictures. The more I watched, the more I was touched by the scenery of this place. It would not be an exaggeration to say that Kamikochi was a miniature Europe on the top of the Japan Alps.

Looking from one side of Kappa Bridge
Looking from one side of Kappa Bridge

You can see the Kamikochi bus stop next to Kappa Bridge. If you go from JR Matsumoto Station, this stop will be the last one. However, I got off at Taisho Pond and walked along the footpath to fully enjoy the majestic view of the mountains and the valley.

Myojin-bashi Bridge is the next spot I found on my journey of exploring Kamikochi.

When the fog had not fully lifted
When the fog had not fully lifted
I could catch a glimpse of Mount Myojin from the bridge
I could catch a glimpse of Mount Myojin from the bridge

From Kappa Bridge, I had to walk for about 2km more to reach this bridge, which was located upstream of the Azusa river. The bridge was pretty far from the center area, so the place was relatively quiet, almost like it was abandoned by the outside world. Still, the scenery here was breathtaking.

People often say that Kamikochi is the most beautiful in autumn when the water turns blue and the sight of mountains and forests becomes indescribably poetic. However, for me, the winter here is no less magnificent and even has a unique beauty, lonely yet mysterious.

My experience of travelling to Kamikochi

Kamikochi only opens from April to the middle of November and will be closed during winter. Therefore, if you want to see the valley in both autumn and winter, you can come here in late October like me.

You can go to Kamikochi Station by taxi or bus. However, apart from that part, you have to walk quite a lot, so remember to consider and choose spots that are suitable for you!

Kamikochi Station in the early morning
Kamikochi Station in the early morning

There is a limited number of food stalls in the valley since this place is a nature reserve. Plus, the food here is pretty expensive. Besides, owing to the danger of mountainous terrain at a height like this, the temperature is extremely low. Do remember to dress warmly!

Lastly, a camera is an indispensable accessory when you come here because you definitely don't want to miss a corner of Kamikochi to take great photos to show off to your friends.

One thing to admit, this place is stunning, right?

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Linh Linh

Linh Linh

Super humorous and active person, I myself am interested in writing and sharing my experience in Japan. Hope to find someone to travel with 🗻🗻🗻

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