Preparing for Your Visit
Widely regarded as one of Japan’s most beautiful natural attractions, Kamikochi is accessible from nearby hubs including Nagano, Matsumoto and Takayama along with the major cities of Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka. Whether you will be in the region for an extended stay or simply passing through, a visit to Kamikochi is perhaps the quintessential alpine experience in Japan.
Though development in the valley has seen the introduction of accommodation and eateries, private vehicles were banned from entering in Kamikochi in 1975 and other controls were put in place in an attempt to preserve its pristine nature. As a result, Kamikochi retains its natural splendour despite being one of Nagano’s most popular destinations.
Around Kappabashi there many eateries, hotels and other public facilities but it’s worth remembering, this is an alpine landscape where conditions can change quickly. In order to get the most out of your visit, it’s worth considering the following:
What you should wear
Our ‘Seasons & When to Visit’ page provides a snapshot of what to expect throughout the year. Please refer to this page and confirm your understanding of the weather conditions you are likely to encounter at the time of your visit.
Please also note that Kamikochi is located between 1400 to 1600 meters above sea level. This is an alpine climate where conditions can change quickly. The wettest months are likely to be June and July however we recommend carrying a waterproof jacket and umbrella at all times. Please also ensure you have hat as the sun can be strong during the day, especially in August.
Good quality walking shoes or boots are essential if you are going to undertake a walk in Kamikochi. While the trails are well-maintained, we always recommend that your footwear is suitable for walking in alpine conditions.
What you should bring
We recommend carrying a small backpack with all the essential items for extended outdoor walking. Water, light snacks, sunscreen, and a map (available at the tourist information centers) are invaluable. Although not a major concern at altitude, some visitors choose to carry insect repellent while others choose to use walking sticks. Most importantly, bring your camera!
Bears are present in Kamikochi and you will hear some visitors coming because of the ring of their bear bells. If you are concerned about the presence of bears, bells are available in the shops around Kamikochi Bus Terminal and Kappabashi but it is worth noting that the bears are timid and typically want nothing to do with humans.
Tourist & Information Centers
The Kamikochi Information Center – open 08:00-17:00 – is located at the Kamikochi Bus Terminal and provides lots of information about the valley. The Kamikochi Ranger Station, Mountaineering Technical Advice Center and police are all based here.
The Kamikochi Visitor Center – open 08:00-17:00 – is approximately a 5 minute walk from the bus terminal, on the same side of the river. The center provides information about the history, geography, and importance of the park.
Eating in Kamikochi
The main concentration of eateries is around Kappabashi. Several restaurants and cafes offer a good range of food – both Japanese and Western – from sit-down meals to snacks you can take with you. During peak times, it can be hard to get a table so be prepared to grab something and go, noting that if you intend walk and eat, wildlife including monkeys may well take an interest in what you’ve got! Please remember to take all rubbish with you and do not feed animals.
For guests intending to walk longer distances at Kamikochi, it’s worth carrying food and drinks with you as options are limited away from Kappabashi. Either side of Myojin Bridge – located 1 to 1.5 hours north of Kappabashi depending on the trail you choose – Kamonjigoya and Myojinkan both serve food, including authentic local cuisine during the peak season.
Staying in Kamikochi
Visitors wanting to stay in the valley have a range of accommodation options including camping, mid-range and luxury hotels. Be prepared, prices are expensive and book-out well in advance. When choosing accommodation, be careful to note its proximity to the bus terminal. Some accommodation options are located at distance from the bus terminal – an hour or more on foot – with guests required to carry their luggage in and out.
For guests looking to save on their cost of accommodation or wanting a true outdoor experience, camping grounds are located within easy walk of the bus terminal and Kappabashi.
Another option is staying outside of Kamikochi with nearby Okuhida Onsen and Hirayu Onsen offering numerous accommodation options. Please note, accommodation in those areas is outside Kamikochi are between 20 to 40 minutes away by car.
Access to Kamikochi is controlled in order to preserve the pristine character of the valley and retain an important ecosystem for generations to come. In order to do so, visitors are asked to adhere to the following rules:
Take all rubbish with you
Stay on the trails and do not step on/into marshes and other fragile areas
Do not feed any animals that you encounter
Do not collect or take any plants or wildlife from Kamikochi
Camping is only permitted in designated camping areas
Fires can only be lit in designated camping areas
Water is scarce above the tree line. Please conserve those water sources
Do not throw stones, rocks or other items into the water
Basically, take all the photos you want but please leave Kamikochi as you found it.