Actually you only need one…
and until you have walked along the Azusa river, surrounded by the glorious peaks of the Hida Mountains and taken in the now famous sight of Mount Hotaka sloping sharply to mark out this historic valley – until you have walked the trail from Taisho Pond to Myojin Bridge surrounded by the preserved natural splendor of one of Japan’s most popular nature walks – when you have seen for yourself why Kamikochi is something the Japanese people are proud to share with the world, only then, will you know why you only need one reason to go – and that is to experience the place for yourself.
Ironically it was a British missionary named Walter Weston who is credited as being the first to recognized the importance of Kamikochi as not only a place of spectacular beauty but also as one of the best places to enjoy a bit of mountain climbing in Japan, if not the world. After lobbying to stop the extensive logging that had been taking place up until the mid 19th century, Reverend Weston was instrumental in getting Kamikochi listed as a protected area and helping to promote it as a must see place in Japan. Incidentally, he is also partly responsible for popularizing the idea of calling the surrounding mountain range the Japanese Alps.
Kamikochi has gone on to become a very popular destination for the Japanese summer holidays when people come from all over Japan to experience the Alpine valley first hand. And it doesn’t disappoint. With a convenient visitors center at the heart of the valley where you can fill up on delicious Soba (buckwheat) Noodles, camping grounds and trails for everyone from experienced hill walkers to those looking for a casual stroll through some of Japans foremost scenic views. At Myojin pond you can enjoy fish freshly caught and cooked over an open fire and in Autumn you can experience the changing of the seasons as all the leaves turn copper orange for a time leading up mid October.
To get to Kamikochi from Matsumoto you can catch a train from Matsumoto Station to Shin-Shimashima Station (30 minutes) followed by a bus direct to Kamikochi (about 1 hour).
The one way fare is 2400 Yen, while a discounted round trip ticket costs 4400 Yen.
Please note that the Japan Rail Pass is not valid on the Matsumoto Electric Railway and or the buses to Kamikochi.
There are also a small number of busses travelling direct from Matsumoto bus station.
Kamikochi can also be accessed by car but please note that as private vehicles are prohibited from the park you must park in one of the parking lots that are available around the entrance gate to Kamikochi. Cost of parking is approx. 500 Yen per calendar day.
From the parking lots you can reach Kamikochi in about 20-30 minutes by bus (around 1000 Yen) or taxi (around 4000 Yen).
Kamikochi is closed from November 16 until the opening ceremony festival on the 27th of April.
For more information or help in getting there do not hesitate to ask a member of staff or check the official Kamikochi website here .