One of the most scenic spots in Japan. The area features vast virgin forests of birch and Japanese larch trees.
Kamikochi is a small basin some 1,500 meters above sea level on the upper stream area of the Azusa-gawa River, which runs through the western part of Nagano. The Hotaka Mountain Range, Mt. Yake-dake and the Jonen Mountains surround Kamikochi, which is a part of Chubu-Sangaku National Park. It was Walter Weston, a British missionary and mountain climber, who introduced Kamikochi to the world in the 19th century. Since then many climbers have come to know about this place, considered to be one of the most scenic spots in Japan.
The whole area is covered with virgin forests of birch and Japanese larch trees, and Japanese hemlocks. The Taisho-ike, Tashiro-ike and Myojin-ike ponds are scattered throughout the forest and produce a beautiful landscape by reflecting the high-rising mountain peaks. Among them, the Taisho-ike Pond presents a very special scene: In the early 20th century, Mt. Yake-dake erupted and dammed the Azusa-gawa River to form the pond, where trees now stand decayed in the blue water. The young leaves of birch trees are so beautiful in June that they are called a "light green mist," and attract many tourists. The foliage is at its peak in October and many visitors travel there to admire its beauty.
The symbol of Kamikochi is the Kappa-bashi Bridge, a 36.6-meter-long and 3.1-meter-wide wooden suspension bridge over the Azusa-gawa River. With the Hotaka Mountain Range rising in front and the volcanic Mt. Yake-dake in the south billowing white smoke, Kappa-bashi is known as one of the most scenic spots in Kamikochi.
[Rail] 2h 40 min from Shinjuku (Tokyo) to Matsumoto Station by JR Chuo Line (limited express Azusa), and 30 min from Matsumoto to Shin-Shimashima Station by Matsumoto Dentetsu Kamikochi Line. 1h from Shin-Shimashima Station to Kamikochi by bus.