Tuesday, September 6, 2011

上高地 Kamikochi walk

picturesque Tashiro Pond in the softly falling rain
Kamikōchi is in Chubu-sangaku National Park. Surrounded by North Japan Alps, it is a long plateau in the valley of Azusa River approximately 16 kilometers in length at altitude of about 1500 meters.  Walking leisurely on rather flat topography is refreshing, and if you like mountain climbing, this is a gateway to the mountains of North Japan Alps.

On September 1st, it was raining on and off with occasional little patch of blue sky.  

This scenery reminded me of 緑映 by 東山魁夷 .

Taisho-ike pond was formed by the volcanic activity of Mt. Yake-dake (2455 m) in 1915.  Mud avalanche blocked Azusa River.  On a sunny day, the reflections of Mt. Yake-dake beautifully appear on the surface of pond. 

On my first visit when I was a student, I was enchanted by the view of numerous standing withered trees and boulders in the pond which created unique atmosphere.  The number of standing withered trees had drastically decreased since my second visit of a decade ago.


Passing Taisho Pond, we followed hiking trail in the forest of Erman's birches (岳樺, ダケカンバ) and white birches.  I once saw Japanese monkeys who are around here all the year round.

This spider is new to me.

At Tashiro Pond, clear water reflects sky, mountains, and the flowers covering the edge of the pond.   Tashiro-ike Pond never freeze completely because water from Mt. Kasumisawa-dake (2646 m)springs underneath.  Since the earth and sand made by the erosion of Mt. Kasumisawa-dake has flowed into the pond with water, the pond area has been decreasing little by little.  In some area, the pond has turned into marshes with accumulation of dead leaves.


The current Tashiro Bridges was completed in 1998.  This  is made of Japanese larch and cypress produced in Nagano prefecture.  Here is the starting point of Nishi-Hotaka Mountain trekking course.

Kamikochi Imperial Hotel built in 1933 is the most prestigious mountain resort hotel.  The timber-sided architecture with red roof is eyecatching but in harmony with the forest. 

upper part of the front entrance

Ten years ago, we stayed one night at one of the rooms with balcony in the photo.


We got back to the river and walked along.  The water is clear and quite cold even in the middle of summer because the waters are mainly from melted snow runoff.

Kappa Bridge, a wooden suspension bridge, is a symbol of Kamikochi. Toward upstream, summits of Mt. Nishihotaka-dake (2909m), Okuhotaka-dake (3190m) and Myojin-dake can be seen from the bridge. Toward downstream,  Yake-dake with slight smoke coming out due to its volcanic activity can be seen.

We had planned to walk farther to Myojin-ike Pond, but we stopped here because of worsening weather. Thankfully my husband and I could avoid soaking
downpour.  Karasawa beyond Myojin-ike Pond is a base for Oku-hotaka Mountain trekking course.

An English missionary, Walter Weston, introduced Western style mountain climbing to Kamikochi and also introduced the Japan Alps to the world.   He is known as the Father of Mountain Climbing of Japan.

Weston Plaque
image via Wikimedia
Kamikochi has been developed moderately.  There are not many hotels, restaurants, and mountain huts.  Private cars can't enter Kamikochi and visitors must take shuttle buses. 

- This post is linked to Our World. Enter the site from the photo on the sidebar, please. -


  1. your images of the place are so beautiful and refreshing. all the greenery reflects the vibrancy of the place.

  2. I was so sad to hear of the terrible mudslides you have been having. Glad to hear you are OK.

    And thank you for sharing these marvellous photos full of wonder and beauty and above all - serenity.

  3. Such a peaceful, serene and incredibly beautiful place. Thanks for showing it. Too bad with all the typhoons and such.

  4. Hello Yoko:
    We have so enjoyed walking with you through this most verdant of landscapes. We were particularly taken by the reflections of all the beautiful trees in the pond, making a magical scene.

    We had never heard of the Japan Alps and so have found your account extremely interesting and informative. Mountain climbing would definitely not be for us, but staying in the red roofed hotel and gazing out from the balcony would be something we should love to do.

    We are so pleased to read that you have escaped the worst of the typhoon. Our thoughts are with those who have suffered painful losses.

  5. It is lovely to see a pond created from a traumatic natural event sit so quietly in the forest. And what picturesque reflections it provides. It is always promising to see the lush green return as it has so clearly in the areas you photographed. The bridge surrounded by all the trees is beautiful. And I would love to spend one day in that historic hotel. What fun you must have had there, stardust!

  6. What an utterly delightful place and walking on even ground is something even I can still do. Masterful photos of wildflowers and that birch forest. Thank you so much for taking us along on your splendid walk.
    I am only sorry for the landslides, they are always very disturbing.

    Thank you for this post for Our world.

  7. Hi there - sorry to hear about the mud slides - but the pictures you posted show that it is a beautiful place.

    I spent two week in Japan when I was a teacher - I never saw anything like the places in your pictures! I must have gone to the wrong places!

    Stewart M - Australia

  8. such beauty and peacefulness. thank you for sharing it with us.

    i was sorry to hear of the typhoon hitting your already wounded country...

  9. Loved the photo of the wooden suspension bridge and the dreamy image of the lavender wildflowers. We are having a similar cool misty rain here today, your photos and words conveyed your feelings of the day well, Yoko.

  10. What a beautiful place! The nature is so rich and I love the bridge - it's so lovely!
    Have a great afternoon:)

  11. What a beautiful place to walk. Such gorgeous photos. Thanks for sharing.

  12. It's a very enjoyable walk by the lake despite the rain, it's just peaceful and you managed as usual to translate this very soft ambiance.
    Japan is a beautiful country...

  13. What a wonderful place in the natural surroundings... The lake provides a serene and scenic setting, the light rains and the greenery all around makes me go there...
    Thanks for sharing this heavenly place, have a nice week ahead Yoko:)

  14. Really beautiful and lovely photos. I really like the color, the beautiful views and the nice place.

  15. I am so sorry to hear about the typhoon. I am afraid I can't see your latest photos yet because I'm not at home and I have slow Internet but I will return to your post when I get home. Jenny

  16. This is a wonderful series of photos. I love mountains, they're my favorite place to be.

  17. Hey Yoko,
    thanks again for sharing this beautiful information and beautiful photo's. Bit by bit I learn more about your beautiful landscapes of the Japan Alps. Thanks. I wish you a beautiful day.
    Gr. Marijke

  18. Everything is beautiful in this post. It's a wonder what beautiful places you're able to visit.

  19. I am glad to hear that you did not suffer with the typhoon. I was concerned for my blogging friends.
    This park looks lush and green - a lovely place to spend some quite time.

  20. The green of mountains in Japan is so very green. With a relaxing depth, and neither too hot nor thinly barren. The mist hangs like peaceful refreshing music about to be played that does not disturb the stillness, the water in the air and lakes and streams so thick you can feel moisture through the photos. It looks like the mountains are professionally manicured every night so that they look brand new in the morning.

    I've been to the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and each set of mountains has its own look, feel, and almost, personality.

  21. so much beauty all in one place, you always share it with gorgeous details.

    so sad to hear about the typhoon and flooding...mother nature had been so angry this year!!

  22. 「ここはそうだった」「ここも行った」と頷きながら、写真を見ています。主人兄弟は焼岳へ、女性群は散策コースをとりました。焼岳に登りたかったのですが、足をひっぱってはいけないと。義兄は途中でギブアップして戻ってきましたが。義弟もその夜は足に膏薬を奥さんにあちこち貼ってもらったそうです。見た目よりきつかったようです。


  23. 美しい風景にただうっとり。かなり前に訪れましたが、池に立つ枯木は確かに減っていますね。河童橋の下に水煙が立っていて印象的だったので、帰ってから芥川龍之介の「河童」を読みました。人間界と河童界の法則の違いが面白かったです。

  24. You have captured such a beautiful array of greens, lovely photographs.

  25. Thank you for taking us on your lovely walk. The scenes are breathtakingly beautiful! So many of your landscape shots look like priceless paintings.

  26. Thank you for the tour of this lovely part of your country. I would like to come back when the sky is clear, so the tops of the mountains can be seen!

  27. Hello Yoko, Thank you for taking me along on your visit to Kamikochi. I liked the misty/smoky wreaths at the mountain tops. The symmetry of the heart leaf against the rock is wonderful. You captured many magical moments on your hike. That bug looks like a "Daddy Long Legs." It is cool and damp here in Denver today - our mountains are expected to get some snow.

  28. Your photos of nature are so beautiful. Your natural gems fascinate me again and again. To my blog: Photography is just a detail of nylon nets for washing body in bathroom. Are my structure and color. I wish you good light for photography and nice days. Peter.

  29. It's such a beautiful place. And lovely photos too Yoko.

  30. Hello Yoko,
    Your google translator worked well. In Holland we have a sea climate wich means mild summers and mild winters. Nothing wrong with it but when there's not enough sunshine for a long period I notice the emotional behavour of a lot of people is changing. Very quick irritated. I think the warmth en light of the sun has a lot to do how people are acting. Last weekend the weather was beautiful and you directly see a smile on people's faces.
    Anyhowe I wish you a lovely day.
    gr. Marijke

  31. I'm glad you're alright, Yoko!

    Ah, such a beautiful place... It made me imagine a movie scene or maybe a musical video - the place offers perfect scenery for it. I guess many artists visit this place for inspiration.

    So much green, my favourite colour... Thank you for this journey, once again :-)


  32. I like Kamikochi,too. I stayed Teikoku-Hotel,too. It's very cosy.
    I climbed Mt.Nishi-hotaka from Shin-Hotaka-Onsen in Gifu prefecture, not from kamikochi. That course is easier than from Kamikochi. We saw Mt.Oku-hotaka from Nisiho.It's divine beauty. Of course I can't go there. It's advanced course.
    Thank you for sharing Kamikochi.

  33. There is something so unmistakable about Japanese landscapes. It is as if even nature submitted herself to the calm and beauty of order and harmony.

    It is unbearable to me to think how much damage has been done to Japan by the tsunami catastrophe. Taifuns are great wreckers too but on a much lesser scale.

  34. Hello, stardust.

    Kamikōchi holds precious quietness.

    The deep green is Japanese grand property.

    Thank you.

  35. The area is very pretty. The North Japan Alps seem quite high for being on an island! The trails must be quite steep in places.

    It's very good that cars cannot drive all the way to Kamikochi. Too many tourists can ruin a least I think so. :)

  36. Out of focus and just focus.
    As for your photography, the balance and harmony are exquisiteness.
    At the time of just focus, the outlines and color are very vivid.

    In your photographs, the intentions of the photographer are definitely expressed.
    You seem to be totally professional !!

    Your contents are accepted around the world.
    You are the Japanese precious introducer for foreign countries.

    You are never proud of photography "machine parts".
    It is splendid attitude.
    I love it, and agree, too.
    I love all of such photographers, and respect all of them.

    Expensive "camera" never guarantee photographs impressed by.
    It is only just a machine.

    I want to see the stories in photographs, all over the world.
    I look forward to the your elegant "Story".

    Viewer of your great works, ruma

  37. Yoko,these photos are wonderful,they so clearly illustrate many aspects of this landscape....really special!
    I think in this case an image is definitely worth a thousand words!
    The weather seems to be behaving strangely everywhere,it must be very difficult for people directly affected.
    Best wishes,

  38. Beautiful pictures around Tashiro-ike pond, wild nature of Kamikochi make me feel calm and relax.

    Not only this post, but I like your photos and expressions in English.
    Thank you for sharing your absolutely beautiful work and please let me follow your blog from now on!

    And thanks for visiting my blog, too ;)

  39. Another lovely post. What beautiful scenery you have in Japan and what lovely photos you take of it. So glad all is well-it has been a challenging year for you. Take care and have a nice week. Mickie ;)

  40. Beautiful scenery! So green and fresh. And I love the lines of the suspension bridge. I would love to visit Japan one day, but meanwhile I'll keep reading your posts and looking at your lovely photographs.

  41. Thank you dear Friends for your comments. I always enjoy reading your feedback or impression and am encouraged by each of you for the next post. I’m sorry for not being able to reply to you individually here.

    My camera is Digital SLR Lumix G2, which was presented on my birthday by my children, when I was looking for the ones by Canon or Nikon. I know my children presented it with the thought it was the best for me and I appreciate it and treasure it. I also use digital compact Sony Cybershot and sometimes borrow my husband’s Canon Eos Kiss which is rather old model. I’m an immature photographer and my camera is not such a gorgeous one, nonetheless I enjoy photography and blogging (while struggling with English) with all my heart, as “ruma” kindly wrote. Your encouraging comments, and silent readers as well, are the part of the driving force of my blogging, which is greatly appreciated.


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