Best Places to Stay In & Around Kamikochi
Kamikochi is one of Japan’s beautiful and rewarding outdoor destinations boasting some of the country’s best alpine hotels, rustic mountain guesthouses and scenic campgrounds. On this page you will find the following information:
— 15 Best Things to Do in Kamikochi
— Book With Us! Nagano’s No.1 Tour & Charter Operator
Part of the larger Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is a beautiful alpine valley nestled within Japan’s highest mountain range. Open to the public from April to November, it is without question one of the most rewarding outdoor destinations in the country. A visit to Kamikochi transports you deep into Japan’s mountainous heartland and to one of its most cherished alpine landscapes. Long considered the domain of gods, Kamikochi has special significance for many Japanese while also offering some of the best hiking in the country. Leisurely trails follow the beautiful Azusa River while more intensive, expert courses lead high into the mountains and to above 3000 metres to the summits of Mount Hotaka, Mount Yari and other peaks.
15 Things to Do in Kamikochi & Where to Stay
Part of the larger Chubu Sangaku National Park, Kamikochi is a beautiful al…
When planning your visit to Kamikochi, it is important to note that private vehicles are not allowed into the valley meaning that you cannot drive yourself. You will need to use a bus, taxi or tour to enter. Once there, you’ll have access to some of Japan’s best alpine hotels including high-end, modern options as well as more rustic, mountain hotels with loads of charm.
WHERE TO STAY IN KAMIKOCHI?
Visitors to Kamikochi have the option of staying in the valley, nearby in some convenient and beautiful hot spring areas, or a little further away in the cities of Takayama and Matsumoto. In this section we provide accommodation information for the following areas:
IN KAMIKOCHI – HIRAYU ONSEN AREA – OKUHIDA ONSEN AREA – TAKAYAMA CITY AREA – NORIKURA KOGEN AREA – SHIRAHONE ONSEN AREA – MATSUMOTO CITY AREA
It’s important to reiterate that Kamikochi is only open from April to November due to heavy snow that makes it mostly inaccessible, including all of its hotels and guesthouse, through winter. All other accommodation areas discussed are accessible at all times of year. Kamikochi offers some of Japan’s best alpine accommodation with prices often high and hotels booking-out well in advance. Thankfully there are also excellent nearby including in Hirayu Onsen and the wider Okuhida Onsen area, along with the always popular Takayama to the west and other destinations to the east of Kamikochi. Let’s start inside the valley with your accommodation options:
Kamikochi includes a range of accommodation options from camping to high-end hotels that provide immediate access to its walking trails and beautiful alpine vistas. In total, there are approximately 20 options for accommodation in Kamikochi however due to popularity, finding accommodation during the high season can be difficult. Booking early is highly recommended and while popularity also equates to high prices, the experience of stargazing at night or your walks through this gorgeous landscape will be a highlight of your visit to Japan.
Most hotels and campgrounds a located along Azusa River with Kamikochi Imperial Hotel being the most famous within the valley and those around Kappabashi including Hotel Shirakabaso, The Parklodge and Gosenjaku all very popular. As noted, that popularity means the hotels often book-out well in advance – especially during the August school holidays and into September and October due to the beauty of the autumn colours – and prices can be exceptionally high (making staying outside of Kamikochi a good option for many visitors – see below for details). For accommodation listings, see our ‘Kamikochi Area’ hotel page.
HIRAYU ONSEN AREA
Located only 20 minutes drive from Kamikochi, Hirayu Onsen is easy to get to using public buses running from the Kamikochi Bus Terminal. As the name suggests, this is a hot spring (‘onsen’) area with most hotels and guesthouses offering their own in-house baths. Unlike Kamikochi which is open to the public only from April to November, Hirayu is accessible all-year-round with most hotels and guesthouses within walking distance of the bus terminal. Accommodation prices can vary greatly in the town with many hotels fully booked on weekends and public holidays in the months that Kamikochi is open to the public – mid-April until mid-November. While some guesthouses are expensive, you will be able notably cheaper rates in Hirayu Onsen than available inside Kamikochi; and while quiet at night, Hirayu has a number of restaurants open for dinner (unlike Kamikochi). For accommodation listings, see our ‘Hirayu Onsen Area’ hotel page.
OKUHIDA ONSEN AREA
Hirayu Onsen is one of five towns making-up the wider Okuhida Onsen area – with numerous guesthouses spread through the area including some of Japan’s best hot springs. Conveniently located between Takayama and Kamikochi, Okuhida boasts numerous guesthouses, hotels, and public hot springs. Prices vary greatly from budget to very expensive, with something to suit all tastes. Alon with Hirayu Onsen, the towns of Shin-Hirayu Onsen, Shin-Hotaka Onsen, Fukuji Onsen and Tochio Onsen make up the expansive area, with hotels and guesthouses spread throughout. If booking accommodation in the wider Okuhida area make sure to check the exact location and whether you can arrange pickup from the bus terminal. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Okuhida Onsen Area’ hotel page.
TAKAYAMA CITY AREA
Around 50 to 60-minutes drive or 90 minutes by bus to the west of Kamikochi, Takayama is the starting and/or end point for many visitors headed to the valley using the Nohi Bus services operating from Takayama Bus Terminal. Famous for its historic old town and thriving food scene, Takayama is another of Central Japan’s most popular destinations and as such, boasts are large number of hotels and guesthouses. The greatest concentration of accommodation in Takayama is found on between the station – adjoining the bus terminal – and Miyagawa River. There are multiple large hotels in the area with Western-style rooms and amenities along with good mid-range and budget options. Visitors wanting a traditional guesthouse should look around the old town, located 10 to 15-minutes walk from the station. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Takayama City Area’ hotel page.
NORIKURA KOGEN AREA
Heading to the east from Kamikochi,bus services operate to and from the Sawando Bus Terminal – around 25 minutes from Kamikochi. Also located around 25 minutes by connecting bus from Sawando, Norikura Kogen is another of Central Japan’s most popular hiking destinations. Rising to over 3000 metres above sea level, this is a beautiful mountain that can be hiked by anyone of reasonable fitness, making it a popular destination through summer and autumn while in winter, a small ski resort draws a devoted group of mostly skiers and the odd snowboarder. Most accommodation in the area are family-run lodges and guesthouses offering a warm welcome. Buses run from the Sawando Bus Terminal to Norikura in around 25-minutes, allowing visitors to take the bus from Kamikochi to Sawando and transfer to that service – a total journey time of around one hour (depending on whether the service times match-up). For accommodation listings, see our ‘Norikura Kogen Area’ hotel page.
SHIRAHONE ONSEN AREA
Moving further away from Kamikochi, Shirahone Onsen is a renowned hot spring area sitting high in the North Alps, around 20 minutes from Norikura. Shirahone Onsen is a good option for travellers moving from Kamikochi to Matsumoto using their own car. Accommodation is limited to ‘onsen’ hotels and guesthouse ranging from basic to high-end. Most popular in summer and autumn, try to avoid weekends and holidays when prices can be very high. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Shirahone Onsen Area’ hotel page.
MATSUMOTO CITY AREA
Matsumoto is the nearest major city on the eastern-side of Kamikochi – around 2 hours by public transport – and the start or end point for many visitors heading to the valley. Most accommodation in the city is located to the east of Matsumoto Station, around the station itself and toward the castle. Accommodation is mostly mid-sized, mid-range business and other Western-style hotels, with some smaller guesthouses and a couple of high-end options. Most hotels and guesthouses are within 10 to 20-minutes walk of the station and castle making it easy to choose where to stay. For accommodation listings, see our ‘Matsumoto Area’ hotel page.
15 BEST THINGS TO DO IN KAMIKOCHI
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’ page has lots of great tips and suggestions of things to do and see when there.
HOW TO GET TO KAMIKOCHI
Many if not most visitors heading to Kamikochi will do so via Matsumoto – when approaching from the east – or Takayama – when approaching from the west. Our ‘How to Get to Kamikochi’ page has everything you need to know about getting there from Matsumoto, Takayama, Nagano, Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond.
BOOK WITH US! NAGANO’S NO.1 TOUR & CHARTER OPERATOR
Operating all year round, we are Nagano’s No.1-rated tour and charter operator, offering a range of services including group tours, private tours and charters. We can arrange transport including a private vehicle and driver, along with an English-speaking guide, to transport to, from and between any destinations in the region including Kamikochi.
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 2022 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.
Got a question about visiting Kamikochi? Contact us and let’s get planning together!