Walking in Kamikochi – Where to Go & What to See

Walking in Kamikochi – Where to Go & What to See


Nestled in the southern end of the Hida Mountains, Kamikochi lies deep within Japan’s highest mountain range – a mecca for mountaineers, hikers and climbers. Inaccessible in winter, the melting snows of spring reveal an enticing and dramatic alpine landscape waiting to be explored and as such, is one of Japan’s best hiking destinations.

Trails span-out across the valley and into the mountains, leading to each of the highest peaks – Mt Yari (3180m), Mt Hotaka (3190m) and Mt Yakedake (2455m). These trails are at a minimum, an overnight undertaking with longer multi-day hikes drawing mountaineers from all over the world. Trails into the mountains can be treacherous and should not be undertaken without appropriate preparation, expertise and notifying park staff when and where you will be going.

For day visitors to Kamikochi the trails leading to and from Kappabashi present easy and highly enjoyable walking. Trails leading from Kappabashi to Myojin Pond and Taisho Pond, are well-maintained with sections of  raised wooden walkways to preserve the sensitive ecosystem. Please ensure that you stay on the trail and walkways at all times, and be mindful not to walk through or damage the surrounding environment.



This easy walk can be undertaken by anyone of reasonable fitness. The walk is completely level and offers some fantastic views of Taisho Pond (pictured below), Mt Yakedake and Mt Hotaka, Azusa River and includes a pleasant mix of walking through forests and open areas on a well-maintained trail or raised walkway known as the ‘Nature Research Trail’.


By starting from Taisho Pond, you are immediately introduced to one of Kamikochi’s most famous vistas – the triple-peaked Mt Hotaka rising above the valley, which on a still, clear day, will be reflected magnificently on the water surface. The trail then leads you into a lightly forested area and crisscrosses pristine waterways. The clarity of the water is stunning and the verdant aquatic plants below the surface are a captivating sight. As the trail continues you will intermittently come to open areas, offering outstanding views of the surrounding mountains. Around the mid-point of the walk you will pass Hotaka/Tashiro Bridge, which takes you onto the opposite river bank where several hotels and lodges are located.


The walk concludes at Kappabashi (Kappa Bridge, pictured below), an immensely popular scenic point catered for by many restaurants and cafes. An ideal walk when you don’t have much time but want to experience the beauty of Kamikochi. Want to do this walk on a guided tour? We offer both group and private tours to Kamikochi – see our ‘Make It Easy – Join A Guided Tour To Kamikochi’ page.

KAPPABASHI TO MYOJIN-IKE (MYOJIN POND) / full circuit = 2.5 to 3.5 hours


From Kappabashi we recommend walking along the trail on the western bank of Azusa River – on your left but actually referred as the Azusa River Right Bank Trail as the river is flowing in the opposite direction to which you will walk. You will immediately be captivated by the expansive view of Mt Hotaka and the river shimmering below.

As you move along the trail you’ll pass through cool forests and over pristine waterways including Dakesawa Marsh (pictured below) before diving back into the forest and eventually arriving at Myojin Pond/Hotaka Shrine. The trail is well-maintained and features some raised walkways. While mostly level there are occasional uphill or uneven sections but these are easy to deal with for anyone of reasonable fitness.


This section of the walk takes approximately 1.5 hours. Allowing time to enjoy the pond and shrine, you can either head back along the same trail or cross Myojin Bridge and walk the shorter, more direct eastern trail back to Kappabashi. You will spend most of this walk on a wide walking path and within the forest – visitors often encounter monkeys in this area – with beautiful views of Hotaka. To complete the full circuit and return to Kappabashi takes between 2.5 and 3.5 hours depending on your pace and how long you want to spend at Myojin Pond.



Hiking to the Tokusawa Area takes you well away from the crowds and to an area most visitors don’t have the time or motivation to reach. If you have both one (or hopefully both!) of those going for you, covering the extra distance is well worth it! To access the Tokusawa Area, simply follow the trail from Kappabashi to Myojin Bridge – either side of the river is fine – and once there, come onto the Azusa River Left Bank Trail (remember the river runs in the opposite direction so this is the trail on the right hand side when walking away from Kappabashi) and undertake the final 50 to 6-minute walk to the Tokusawa Area. It’s clear where to go as there is no trail on the other side of the river.

This section of the trail is more undulating and requires good fitness and mobility to complete. Once at the Tokusawa Area you will find a camp ground and lodge – an overnight stay is a great option if you want to walk this far – and just a little further on, the trail head leading into the mountains above can be found near Shinmura Bridge.


When planning your visit to Kamikochi, your first concern should always be safety. Do your research and ensure you are well-prepared and have the time, fitness, and expertise to complete the walk or hike that you are attempting. Be mindful that the mountains rise above 3000 meters and weather conditions can change quickly. Different trails present different challenges and for any visitor planning to head into the mountains, appropriate steps should be taken to ensure your safety.


Kamikochi is one of Japan’s most captivating outdoor destinations. Following the Azusa River, the alpine valley has leisurely walking trails leading to iconic views of natural features including Taisho-ike, Myojin-ike and multiple mountains including Mount Yakedake, Mount Yari and most famously, the triple-peaked Mount Hotaka. Our ’15 Things To Do In Kamikochi & Where To Stay’ page has suggestions of things to do and see, including accommodation listings, in and around Kamikochi.



Based in Nagano and operating all year round, we are Nagano’s No.1 tour and charter operator. We have the local knowledge of where to go, when to go and what to do when you’re there to make sure you get the most out of your adventure in Kamikochi and Central Japan! As a registered travel agent we can arrange experiences and tours, transport, accommodation and inclusive packages including transport to, accommodation, and guided walks in Kamikochi. So no matter what you’re looking for, we’ve got you covered including getting you to the best destinations and events in the region.


For guests wanting to access Kamikochi in the comfort of their own transport and without the need of transferring to and from pubic transport, we can arrange a private tour or charter straight to Kamikochi, starting and ending at any destination in the region. Our drivers and vehicles are fully certified, allowing us to transport you to and from your preferred destinations in combination with any activity that suits your schedule. All vehicles are fitted with a protective screen – separating the driver from passenger and luggage area – and our drivers wear protective masks, allowing you to move between your destinations in comfort and safety.


We can arrange both private tours with an English-speaking guide or a private charter, including a private vehicle and driver but without a guide. We’d love to be part of your adventure in Central Japan and help you discover even more!

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 – we have the local knowledge and experience to help you get the most out of your time in Nagano and Central Japan.

Got a question about visiting Kamikochi and Central Japan? Contact us and let’s get planning together!

Walking in Kamikochi – Where to Go & What to See