Nestled high in the Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is one of Nagano and Japan’s most beautiful alpine landscapes. Renowned for its pristine nature and spiritual importance, the stunning alpine valley has long been considered a domain of the gods – a true alpine oasis sitting below some of Japan’s highest mountain peaks.
Inaccessible through winter, Kamikochi opens to the public each spring, from mid-April onward, and from that time onward attracts visitors from all over the world. Stretching 18km in length from Mt Yari in the north, past the imposing triple peaks of Mt Hotaka down to Mt Yakedake in the south, the valley lies between 1400 and 1600 meters in altitude with the dramatic North Japan Alps rising to over 3000 meters above.
Leisurely walking trails follow the beautiful Azusa River and span-out across the valley before ascending the mountains, offering some of Japan’s best hiking experiences.
Blessed with stunning beauty and some of Nagano’s most iconic spots including Kappabashi, Mt Hotaka, Taisho Pond and Myojin Pond, walking trails in the valley are well-maintained and suitable for anyone of reasonable fitness, with walks ranging from under an hour to multi-day hikes.
Most visitors spend their time in and around the Kappabashi area. Located less than five minutes walk from the Kamikochi Bus Terminal, the view of Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge) set against Mt Hotaka is instantly recognisable to Japanese. Also boasting the greatest number of restaurants and cafes, this area is by far the busiest in Kamikochi.
Walking 10 minutes away from this area on the trails following the Azusa River takes you away from the crowds and into the pristine, tranquil valley. A popular walk taking between 2.5 to 3.5 hours depending on your pace, the circuit leading from Kappabashi to Myojin Pond captures the beauty and spiritual importance of Kamikochi. The trail includes several areas of raised walkways to preserve the sensitive environment and hugs the azure waters of Azusa River through forested areas and wetlands.
Taking around 1.5 hours to reach Hotaka Shrine, visitors are thrilled by the beautiful alpine backdrop and mirror-like water of Myojin Pond.
A popular destination for day-trippers, Kamikochi also offers accommodation ranging from camping to luxury hotels. Staying overnight in the valley affords guests an outstanding experience and allows for quiet morning and evening walks, when wildlife including monkeys, deer and other animals are active.
Access to Kamikochi is controlled to ensure the important ecosystem is preserved for generations to come. A long-standing ban on private vehicles means visitors must use coaches, private taxis or tours to access the valley. For visitors travelling to Kamikochi, our 1-Day Matsumoto Castle & Kamikochi Alpine Valley Tour combines a morning visit to one of Japan’s few remaining original castles followed by exploration of Kamikochi.
Led by a locally-based, English-speaking guide you will be taken on a guided walk from Taisho Pond to Kappabashi before enjoying free-time to explore a little further into the valley or sitting down to enjoy the stunning alpine views.
Kamikochi is due to be open to the public from April 17th to November 15th. Please note, some facilities will not open until April 27th.
Nagano’s No.1 Tour & Charter Operator
For guests wanting the comfort and convenience of their own vehicle and guide, we can also arrange private transport to and from Kamikochi. Private tours and charters are fully customizable to suit your needs and travel plans, starting and ending at any destination.
Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you directly to and from Kamikochi, without the need to transfer onto public buses or taxis.
Why choose us?
Awarded a 2019 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for our 1-Day Snow Monkeys, Zenko-ji Temple & Sake Tour – recognised as one of the Top 10 Experiences in Japan – Snow Monkey Resorts is Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator.
Locally-based and operating all year round, we offer the local knowledge, support, and service that you need to get the most out of your winter adventure in Japan.
Got a question about Kamikochi or any of our services? Feel free to contact us at email@example.com and let’s get planning together!