Kamikochi, Japanese Alps, Nagano, Japan (with Map & Photos)

Kamikochi (上高地) is a National Park in the Japanese Alps of Nagano Prefecture. 'The picturesque mountain area is open to tourists from mid/late April to mid November. The Kamikochi area is closed during winter.

Kamikochi is a plateau stretching over 15 km in the Azusa River Valley at an altitude of 1500 m above sea level. The valley is surrounded by high mountains. The most famous among them are the mountains of Nishihotakadte (2090m), Okuhotakadake (3190m), Maehotakadake (3090m) and the active volcano Yakedake (2455m).

Kamikochi
Kamikochi

There are several hotels and mountain huts in the Azusa Valley. In the Kamikochi area, trails and routes of various levels of difficulty have been laid, both for hiking enthusiasts and for mountaineers.

Kamikochi
Kamikochi

The Buddhist monk from Toyama Banryu is considered the first conqueror of the Kamikochi Mountains. In ancient times, during the time of the monk Banryu, mountain travel was an integral part of the monks' practice. Later, during the Meiji period, mountain tourism as an independent type of active pastime and sport was popularized in Japan by visitors from the west.

Kamikochi
Kamikochi

The English mining engineer William Gowland, in a report on his work as part of a group of Western engineers who worked at the invitation of the Meiji government in the Yarigatake mountains in July 1877, for the first time used the phrase "Japanese Alps", which was firmly entrenched in the mountainous region of Nagano Prefecture.

Mountain roads and a railway line from Shimashima to Yarigatake were laid before a visit to the area by Prince Higashikuninomiya in 1918, who later became Prime Minister of Japan in the post-war period. After the Prince's visit to Kamikochi, mountain tourism became especially popular in Japan.

Kamikochi
Kamikochi

How to get to the Japanese Alps


Driving from Kamikochi is prohibited by car, you can use buses and taxis. Some buses leave from Matsumoto, but it is best to take the train to Shin-Shimashima and then take the bus that goes to Kamikochi from Takayama.

WHEN TO GO: The park is open from mid-April to mid-November. Serious trips to the mountains are best taken from June to September. Alpine meadows bloom from mid-May to July, autumn foliage is brightest in mid-October.

MUST SEE: Kamikochi Visitor Center, where you can find a lot of interesting information about the flora, fauna, geology and folklore of the region, as well as hire guides for trips to the mountains.

Kamikochi Map